Digital comics have been around for a while (and not just the kind found on torrent websites) but, for the most part, they’ve either been a direct translation or bastardization like motion comics… until now.
“Marvel ReEvolution seamlessly brings the worlds of print and digital media together for a comics experience like no other,” touts a Marvel press release. “The first two elements of this exciting new initiative were revealed as Marvel Infinite Comics, a new comic book format, and Marvel AR, the first major augmented reality app from a comics company.”
Infinite Comics debuted with a digital prologue for Avengers Vs. X-Men #1. It features Nova, who is desperately trying to out run the Phoenix Force in order to warn Earth. The story is free with either the print or digital version of the comic and also available for separate purchase at Marvel store for 99 cents.
Infinite Comics are specifically designed to be read digitally as many panels play off the previous panel in a flip book fashion. The inspiration was French artist Yves Bigeral and his digital comic “about DIGITAL COMICS” which was itself inspired by comic theorist Scott McCloud’s “infinite canvas” concept. The unifying theory between all of them is that comics are about creating time with space. Infinite Comics accomplishes this with progressive word balloons & captions, unfolding panels, and shifting focus while maintaining the static moments that are the staples of comics.
“The great thing about Infinite Comics is that even the writer gets to play with the medium in ways they never have before,” explains Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada. “Not only can the artist guide the reader through the story, but the writer now has control of not only the pacing of the visuals, but the pacing of their narrative. It used to be that the only tools a writer had to pace their narrative in a standard comic was the placement of their balloons and caption boxes, the number and sequence of panels and the turn of the page. Now in an Infinite Comic, they control the caption boxes and how they’re delivered to the reader. It’s pretty damn sweet.
“One of the other cool things about the Infinite Comics technique is that it’s going to allow us to tell different genres of story in a much more effective fashion. For example, I’ve always found that horror never really quite translates to comics like it does in movies, and it’s incredibly difficult get that visceral moment of shock that all great horror movies do so well. The reason for this is the reader’s ability to control the timing and rhythm of a scene with the turn of the page as opposed to the control a director of a movie has over their audience. With an Infinite Comic, while you control the timing of the panels and captions, you don’t know what the next panel or caption is going to be. This allows storytellers scare as well as shock and surprise us in ways we’ve previously not been able to do in comics. So there are little things like that that I think creators will be experimenting with as we move forward.”
Print comics will also be startling readers thanks to augmented reality (AR) that literally makes the pictures jump off the page. The Marvel AR app, which can be downloaded for free on smartphones and tablets, unlocks exclusive extras that play over the print. It’s mostly behind the scenes content and previews but it’s not hard to imagine more interactive uses like simulating X-ray vision, showing speedsters in two places at once or even decoding those intentionally unreadable whispers between characters.
“Marvel AR is a perfect example of how digital innovation not only gives added value to print comics, but also brings a delivers an entirely new reading experience,” explained Peter Phillips, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Marvel Digital Media. “Now fans will have access to more behind-the-scenes material from their favorite Marvel products than ever before—and it’s all absolutely free.”