Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
I would be doing a great injustice to the publishing industry if, in discussing the evolution of serial novels, I failed to consider the changes currently happening in the world of graphic novels and comic books. As a medium that is both widely serialized and intensely visual, comics have taken to digitization with a keen eye for evolution.
On March 11 of this year Marvel introduced Infinite Comics, a new format designed specifically for the digital realm. This format is also a key component of Marvel ReEvolution, Marvel’s bold leap into the future of comic book publishing by “seamlessly [bringing] the worlds of print and digital media together for a comics experience like no other.” A news release on the Marvel Comics website clarifies the goals for the project:
“Infinite Comics are a new technique in comics storytelling that is built specifically for the digital world yet in a very elegant way manages to keep the purity of what makes a comic a ‘comic,’” explains Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. “…like the turn of the page in a traditional comic, the reader still controls the pace of the action [and] the timing of the story, but the creators now have more control over how that action is delivered and more tools by which to deliver that story in a much more powerful manner […] Also, we’re no longer confined by the limitations of the page.”
Of course, the size of a tablet is itself a limitation, but the capabilities of a dynamic screen can do things for a visual storyline that paper pages could never manage. Furthermore, readers can experience a greater sense of movement and tension even without the aid of full-blown animation. Purity, apparently, is the key here. (Animated graphic novels are something else altogether and already in the works by other parties.)
The first release from Infinite Comics was Avengers vs. X-Men #1 Infinite, available on the iPad- and Android-friendly Marvel Comics app.
Less than a week before Marvel’s announcement, Kobo—owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten—announced its partnership with Dark Horse Comics and the availability of top titles such as Mass Effect, Star Wars, Hellboy, and Sin City, on the Kobo Vox ereader:
“All of us at Kobo are thrilled to be adding Dark Horse’s amazing titles to our library,” said Michael Tamblyn, Kobo’s EVP of Content, Sales, and Merchandising. “Based on strong visual storytelling, comics are a great fit for the e-reading industry. This partnership truly marks a continuation of Kobo’s ‘Read Freely’ philosophy, where we’re dedicated to providing a world-class catalog of titles suitable for any market.”
While a number of issues and questions arise when it comes to the production of enhanced ebooks, for some reason the notion of enhanced e-comic books seems to present less of a logistical problem given that the genre is already a “visually enhanced” form of literature.