Marvel Makes Digital Announcements at SXSW

I don’t know if I’m hip enough to properly describe what South by Southwest, or SXSW, anymore, but it’s in Austin, and it’s got something to do with music and the technology industry, and what any of that has to do with anything else, I’m not sure. Anyway, Marvel decided they should go down there and make some announcements that have to do with comics and your computer and/or devices. Perfectly clear right?

Let’s run it down.

First up, Marvel will be releasing regular, original, serialized content, labeled Marvel Infinite, starting on July 9 First up? Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted, from Jason Aaron, Jason LaTour, and Paco Diaz. The series will hit on Tuesdays, when your jonesing is at its nadir. There will be 4 series, each consisting of 13 chapters, available on their Marvel Comics app.

WeeklyInfiniteComics_Promo

 

Then there’s Project Gamma, which will add music and audio to digital comics. There’s not much else known, including when it will be live, and that no one has asked for this, ever.

 

Marvel previously offered their Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, which, unfortunately for them, formed the acronym MDCU, which obviously includes the name of their biggest rival. Whoops. So they upgraded, renamed it Marvel Unlimited, and broke it out from just being on your computer, to being available on your iOS devices too, which should be up and running soon, but no exact date was provided. Subscribers will be able to read the back issue archive both on and offline. The desktop based system is still functioning, and they’re charging about $60 for the year if you sign up before April 15. You’ll still have to go a la carte for current issues.

MarvelUnlimited_iPadLaunchScreen

 

Finally, if you’re the kind of person who needs Marvel news–like, NEEDS IT–then there’s a new online show just for you. Our buddy Blair Butler, fresh off of the newly shuttered G4, will be hosting Marvel’s Earth’s Mightiest Show, a weekly video show set to cover all things Marvel in movies, comics, video games, and television. It promises Marvel-related celebrity interviews and exclusive first looks at Marvel Studios movies.

 

One thing that’s now abundantly clear is that Marvel, along with rivals DC, have made clear and significant steps to continue exploring the digital side of publishing. As always, it feels excruciatingly slow, but at least it’s clearly acknowledging that it’s where a large part of their future lies.  Progress is still progress, and it only remains to be seen if there’s a market to support it fully.


Comments

  1. KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

    I signed up for the Marvel Unlimited this weekend.

    It’s very much like Netflix Instant for Marvel comics — the selection is limited, but if you’re a fan of Marvel characters and haven’t already bought everything ever, you should find more than enough to get your $60 per year’s worth. I mean that’s $5 a month for access to a ton of comics. It’s not hard to make that value equation work in your favor.

    That said, the Marvel Unlimited app is severely lacking in comparison to the Marvel app by Comixology. The Marvel Unlimited app DOES work, and I happily read Infinity Gauntlet and some Immortal Iron Fist this weekend. However the app is very slow and very buggy on my first generation iPad. I can deal with it for now, but if they don’t improve the app, I probably won’t re-subscribe.

    • i love the *idea* of a netflix of comics even its its back issues. I’m not the early adopter type so i will hang back and keep an eye on it. Especially in the consistency of offerings.

    • Bonidex Bonidex says:

      I’ve been a subscriber to this service for 2 years now. I actually stopped buying comics in my country because of the one year delay (here in Brazil). In MU I get 7-8 months late comics, but I save incredibly. I still buy on Comixology but I totally abandoned on monthly paper comics. For me, only TP if I like the story or the creating team.
      The only difference now (and it’s a BIG one) it’s this: now you can download until 6 comics and take to read later. Until now you had to be online to read. Now you don’t. That’s awesome. My work just got better. :)

  2. Any word on wether the Infinite line will be available on Comixology or just the Marvel App?

  3. MadCowDzz MadCowDzz (@DarylFritz) says:

    So Marvel Unlimited isn’t their full lineup? Are new weekly’s on there? Exactly how limited is this “Unlimited” service?

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      It’s not new. It’s thousands of back issues, but not “current”.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      It’s only limited in that not EVERY book Marvel has ever published is available. The newest releases I noticed were from about 6 months ago. The “unlimited” refers to the fact that you pay one price to read as much as you want. But I suspect you were just being snarky.

      Like I say above, Marvel Unlimited feels very similar to Netflix Instant. If you’re looking for the latest releases each week, this is NOT for you. But if you want to catch up on some stuff you’ve missed over the years, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

      You can download the app for free and browse the library without buying a subscription, so it’s worth a look.

    • koryrosh koryrosh says:

      I’ve been subscribing to MDCU for a few years and beta-tested the new app. At first, not all of the issues showed up, but it’s actually really great for going back to read old stuff (most recent stuff is about from Sept. 2012). They keep adding stuff, so I think it’s well worth the price.

    • MadCowDzz MadCowDzz (@DarylFritz) says:

      I was definitely being snarky, but also a little disappointed to learn that the newer monthlies weren’t available. I realize it makes sense from their point of view, but it just doesn’t represent the product I was kinda hoping for. I guess all-in-all, as Marvel raises their monthly (or bi-weekly) cover prices to $3.99, asking $60 a year for a delayed all-you-can-eat is still pretty good.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      Don’t get me wrong — all-you-can-read of every title all the time for a subscription fee sounds fantastic, but I think it’s way too early for that to be a reasonable expectation from a comic book publisher. Sticking with my Netflix analogy — do you expect to be able to stream a new theatrical release film on Netflix the same day it comes out in theatres?

      Again, it’d be nice, but that’s just not the model yet.

    • @kenochalek-well now its the difference between Netflix and Hulu. An all you can eat subscription service for current comics would be amazing, but i think we’re a few years away from someone having the guts to try it. I predict DC will in a few years as a hail mary play after all their editorial weirdness catches up to them in the form of poor sales.

    • MadCowDzz MadCowDzz (@DarylFritz) says:

      The comic book industry already releases digital versions same-day as their print releases (generally). I honestly don’t feel like it’s that much of a stretch. The music industry is experiencing a revival thanks to the exact same experience with services like Spotify, Rdio, Mog, etc.

      For the movie industry, I see your theatrical comparison, but perhaps a more accurate comparison is the DVD/BluRay release date as those are times that the consumers are capable of accessing the product in their own homes. For what it’s worth, I direct my complaint there too.

  4. koryrosh koryrosh says:

    Also – you can download up to 6 comics at a time to read off-line – kind of like checking it out from a library.

  5. IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

    Look, another Wolverine book!

  6. i’m not sure what to make of Gamma at this point. I do want to try it out at least once just to see, but part of me feels like they created a problem just so they could solve it.

  7. theWAC1 theWAC1 says:

    This is a definite push from Marvel. It has a pro-paper reader/ collector like myself thinking about trying out the Unlimited. Just to read all that old stuff I wouldn’t want to pay good money for or hang onto. Gamma seems kinda strange though. Digital only comics are only new to Marvel though right? DC already does that? Is if possible Marvel could be conditioning comic readers for a paper fallout through high prices vs cheap access? I’m really surprised I’m as interested as I am. Good job Marvel…I think (?).

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      I think Marvel’s done a couple digital-only comics, but nothing of major significance. And they’ve done a handful of these “Inifinite” comics — I think most if not all of them were AVX related. It’s an interesting format that I think does create some added value to a digital comic book and frees creators to be a little more experimental.

      The Project Gamma thing seems in line with that “adding value to digital comics” line of thinking. I agree with what Josh says in the article — no one is asking for audio with their digital comics — but I think it will be very execution-dependent. My eyes tend to ignore sound effects on the page, so it might be fun to hear some KRAKKA-THOOMS, SNIKTS, and THWIPS when I read a comic on my iPad.

    • ilovecomics says:

      Hey dude (the Wac1) i dont know if you heard but comixology crashed this weekend. Considering the conversation i was involved in less than a week ago. Im here almost laughing my ass off.

      http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=44223

    • ilovecomics says:

      and ken i agree. .. definitely some content that is not available in print might better entice me to go more digital. Sound effects sound like a good idea or even theme music.. ha. but the later would be expensive i guess.

    • theWAC1 theWAC1 says:

      Hey ilovecomics! That’s crazy news! You’re right, that is very ironic considering the conversation. I feel bad for all those folks. Reminds me that no matter how good digital gets my comic reading will be always be at the mercy of outside forces. I could only imagine coming home ready to read the new issue of whatever, and…NOPE! Bummer. Thanks for the link.

  8. rlrabb says:

    Why would anyone swipe their finger across the screen to change “pages” in an Infinite comic? It just gets in the way and disrupts your concentration on the story. A simple tap on the right edge of the screen is sufficient.

  9. I’m not a fan of digital but the Project Gamma concept sounds really intriguing. No lie, I always try and find an appropriate song (or songs) for a comic I am reading. So far though Hickman has pointed out how silly some of the choices are in the app. But if they keep up with it I hope it leads to some interesting choices down the line.

  10. JSAkid JSAkid says:

    Marvel Unlimited = Netflix for comix, that’s cool, I’ll check that out for plenty of those stories I always wanted to read but didn’t get around to. Marvel Infinite looks sweet too, only question is how much is it at that publishing rate? Weekly should be cheaply. Project Gamma brings sounds and motion did they say? Dave Gibbons co-created Madefire app already does that and I gotta say, it’s pretty interesting with the atmospheric tones at times, only checked out a few titles on Madefire so far but they have plenty of free samples and has much potential. And Earths Mightiest Show is a great idea and nice to see Blair Butler on it who clearly not only loves comix, she is knowledgable and writes em too. Fresh Ink on AOTS was a great segment and I miss the whole show, it was the epicenter of G4 and was always fun, put me in a good mood whenever it was on, and the hosts who filled in after long time favorites Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn filled in without skipping a beat. They’re producers are fools to cancel that and Xplay. Anyway glad to see Blair hosting another comix segment, it’s nice to hear it from someone who actually knows and loves comix.