Digital Comics
Motion Comics by Marvel Comics
By Hervé St-Louis
August 30, 2009 - 07:25

Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller(s): Alex Maleev
$1.99 US

Marvel Comics presented two demos of their new motion comics at the 2009 Toronto FanExpo. The first is based on a new Spider-woman series by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev following the heroine’s struggle to adjust to Earth after having being captured by the Skrulls for years. The second one was an adaptation of the Astonishing X-Men #1. Neal Adams’ Continuity Studio worked on the Astonishing X-Men adaptation. Another studio worked on the Spider-woman short for a period of six months.
Motion comics are quite popular these days. To coincide with the launch of the Watchmen’s film in March 2009, Warner Brothers and DC Comics released a Watchmen direct to home DVD adapting the comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons into a motion comics. While many of the current motion comics produced have been promotional products to highlight new product launch, Marvel Comics want their motion comics to be full-fledged products distributed on iTunes, and according to their press representative, viewers should “stay tuned” for other platforms.

Motion comics for Marvel Comics are experimental projects. According to Joe Quesada, editor in chief at Marvel Comics, “Marvel is working on getting digital comics’ first build and getting them perfected.” Spider-woman was designed as digital comics from the onset with storyboards being developed by Alex Maleev. Astonishing X-Men was an adaptation, although the creators that worked on the original comic book, Joss Whedon and  John Cassaday also assisted with the project.

Marvel Comics does not see its motion comics as loss leaders. For them, they are more aggressive on motion comics than other producers and expect them to provide a return on their investment. Spider-woman will be offered first to American audiences for $1.99 although an introductory offer for 99 cents has been promoted. Canadians can expect to be able to purchase Marvel Comics- based motion comics later this year. New episodes of Spider-woman should appear as they are ready. Eventually, Marvel Comics would like to see a majority of their products as motion comics.

This writer, who’s also a Flash animator, thought that the Spider-woman short was much better than the Astonishing X-Men adaptation. In Astonishing X-Men, the animators tried to animated walk cycles and lip syncs which detracted from the experience as the quality of the movement was cheesy. On the other hand, the Spider-woman motion comics relied on the visual strength of the material avoiding overt motion and favouring multiplane camera effects, pans and mood building.

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