Marvel makes comics. Single-issue comics that you buy every month at the comics shop, or, if you’re a digital type, on comiXology. Sometimes they gather those comics into trades, but until now, Marvel has mostly shied away from the original graphic novel format. The standard model in comics is to have a monthly comic that both brings in the dollars and keeps readers engaged with your story, and original graphic novels don’t allow for that. In a press call covered by Heidi MacDonald of Publishers Weekly, Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort acknowledged that graphic novels are “more and more a preferred format, even with the rise of digital” but were always a “fiscal problem” until “openings of various other distribution channels allowed this to work.”
As is increasingly common these days, digital is a big piece of this picture. As MacDonald reported in March, “Purchasers will also get a code for a digital edition, and it will be available for download via the Marvel Comics app and online in the Marvel Digital Comics Shop. The digital edition will include extra AR [Augmented Reality] content via the Marvel AR app.”
The download code is a nice touch, as it enables the purchaser to read the book in two different formats. However, there was no mention of the book being available on e-book platforms (Kindle, Nook, iBooks), which is a bit puzzling given that part of the point of the new format is to bring in new readers. In an interview on the Marvel website, Brevoort said that the Avengers were picked as the main characters because “the entire world knows who they are,” thanks to the movie, and that writer Warren Ellis was chosen in part because of his large following. Given that, you would think Marvel would want to make the book easy for new readers to find, not lock it up in a branded app and force them to get a new account in order to buy it. Still, it’s early days yet, and while Avengers: Endless Wartime is not listed in the Kindle or Nook stores right now, that may change by the time it is released in October.
Either way, there is time for the model to evolve, because Brevoort says this is just the first in a series of new original graphic novels.