After its recent experiment with a comics and animation hybrid via the “graphic video” adaptation of Stephen King’s short story N, Marvel Comics announced at New York Comic Con on Saturday that it will be translating Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men into a motion comic, and also launching an all-new Spider-Woman motion comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev this spring.
“It’s not quite comics, and not quite animation,” explained Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada after a preview of the Astonishing X-Men motion comic, which used images from the original comic to create animations and added voice actors for dialogue. Quesada said that original Astonishing X-Men artist John Cassaday will be acting “almost like a director” for the comic, which is slated for release on iTunes and later in 2009.
The new Spider-Woman motion comic will be an ongoing monthly series in regular Marvel continuity, and will be released first online, followed by a print version several weeks later. Because the format will require numerous images to create the animation, Maleev said it would be necessary to “cherry-pick the best parts of the digital and put it into the print comic.”
Asked whether he had concerns about the retailer response to releasing comics digitally before releasing them to the direct market, Marvel publisher Dan Buckley responded that "we are aware of it… and we will make sure our retail partners get benefit out of this.” He also added that “there will be unique opportunities for retailers” tying into the motion comics that he was not yet ready to announce.
Bendis added that digital diversification was necessary in light of the difficulties currently facing print media. “Every day magazines and papers are folding, and large chunks of print media are disappearing… We want comics in [pamphlet] form to continue, and we’ll do whatever we have to do to make that happen," said Bendis. “This will hopefully tease people who wouldn't normally come into the [comic book] store to come into the store."
Marvel also announced that their Ultimate brand of comics, launched in 2000 as an alternate universe where they could create new versions of classic characters, will be cancelled and replaced by a new line called Ultimate Comics. Currently slated titles include Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, Ultimate Comics: Avengers, and Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates, eliminating the X-Men and Fantastic Four titles from the previous brand.
Following in the footsteps of previous weekly comics pamphlets 52 and Trinity, the next weekly series from DC Comics will be a limited series, which unlike its predecessors will run for less than a year. While the title and content of the series remain unannounced, the title will be presented in an unusual format that DC executive editor Dan Didio said that readers will nonetheless be “very familiar” with.
Blackest Night, the upcoming DC event that centers around the superhero Green Lantern, will release a #0 issue at Free Comic Book Day in May, and launch its primary series in July. At the DC Universe panel on Saturday, Blackest Night writer Geoff Johns asked if he could announce “the format” of the miniseries before being cut off by Didio, suggesting that it too may have an atypical format.
In a move aimed at attracting readers to its periodical comics as well as its trade paperback collections, DC’s Vertigo Comics imprint plans to launch all of its new monthly titles for 2009 with first issues priced at $1.00, including the newly announced Greek Street by Peter Milligan and Davide Gianfelice, and The Unwritten by the Lucifer creative team of Mike Carey and Peter Gross. G. Willow Wilson’s Air will also be priced at one dollar to coincide with the release of the first Air trade paperback in March. “Now nobody has an excuse now not to check out our monthlies this year,” said Vertigo executive editor Karen Berger.
Vertigo also announced a new slate of original graphic novels including How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Ignatz winner Sarah Glidden, a collection of the minicomics about the story of her birthright tour of the Jewish homeland; Cuba: One Story by Dean Haspiel, a heartwrenching retelling of a friend’s real life experiences as a surgeon in Fidel Castro’s army; Gone to Amerikay by Derek McCullough and Colleen Doran, a historical drama about Irish immigrants, and Luna Park by Kevin Baker Danijel Zezelj, a time travel tale about a modern-day gangster transported back to Coney Island in the early 1900s.