Marvel Joins the Digital Age!… On Paper

I saw something that struck my fancy this afternoon while reading Amazing Spider-Man, something I don't think I've seen before in a comic:

The Looter??

Anybody else notice that?


Whether that's an actual first or just something I'm noticing for the first time, it both impressed and tickled me. "What a good idea! Just point people right to his Handbook entry online. They should start doing that a lot more. Now, if only this were available in some format that allowed me to click the link."

(And no, wiseass, I didn't tap the page with my finger several times and get confused when nothing happened. As far as anyone knows.)

When we've talked about digital comics up to this point, our conversations have been fairly nuts-and-bolts. How convenient they are, how much cheaper they could be, how much potential they have to reach new readers, and other stuff like that. Most of the message board discussions I see tend to do little more than validate the existence of the concept and/or rapidly devolve into crusty grump talk about aching eyes and the Smell of the Paper. This little footnote at the end of Amazing Spider-Man, in its own way, highlights the conversation I'd like to have next, namely all the cool stuff you can do with digital that you can't practically do with paper. And I'm not talking about adding in a soundtrack or "motion," either (although I'll bet an iPad screen would let you do some pretty cool depth-of-field stuff with your backgrounds).

In the future, that asterisk that used to point to a footnote explaining when Batman last fought Kool-Aid Man could instead be a link that took you to the actual issue, or even just opened up the cited panel from that issue. No idea who the villain is? Click on his face and his wiki entry pops up. Hell, you can have the sound effects make noise when you click 'em for all I care. Let's open this format up!

In the meantime, the URL on paper is a pretty good idea, too. More like that, please.


  1. thats cool

  2. One of the digital comic programs (I think it was Longbox) advertised functions like this early on – I seem to recall looking forward to features such as creator commentaries that could be turned on alongside the comic. Things such as cross-referencing (which sounds super nerdy but could be really fun) or immediate links to creators’ other work would be great as well. Really hope things like this take off!

  3. I think Dan Slott and John Siuntres discussed this on Word Balloon, and I agree, playing with the format on a more interactive level on Digital Comics would be really awesome

  4. They brought the Looter back? That’s f-ing awesome!

  5. This is a way to actually differentiate digital comics from their print counterparts.  Give the reader the things in digital that print doesn’t allow for.  Links to handbook pages.  Databases full of character appearances and the means to go and read those issues.  Editors note that says “see ish 115 to see what Taskmaster was up to last month”?  Have a link that will take you right to issue 115.  There are a million things that you can do with digital comics besides having scans of the pages.

  6. @Cooper does creator commentaries (we’ve recorded a few commentaries already) and character biography links.

  7. This is actually a solid first step toward digitizing their products. The publishing company I used to work for did the same thing – start putting links in the source content regardless of what particular format any given customer might be seeing it in. Obviously, the print customer won’t be able to click their page, but the printed version of the book was only the most basic product.

    This way you don’t have to create multiple versions of the same content. When this comic goes digital it will be good to go.

  8. i heart the Looter and i heart all of this. this is all good

  9. @conor fantastic! I haven’t seen any yet, but I’m very excited for this sort of thing to be more common.

  10. @jimski hope you’re excited that iron man #500 made it well past the staples and didn’t include any reprints as far as i could tell. just flipped through it myself, saving it for last on my stack

  11. @RoiVampire  I combed over that book like it was a crime scene before I walked out with it.

  12. Sounds good. Nothing I should clap about because they should have been doing this in 2000. Yup. I said it. 2000.

  13. I could see this backfire in some capacity.

    “Want to learn about Jean Grey? Go to


  14. When did Batman last fight Kool-Aid Man!  That’s the ill-advised promotional cross-over that I want to read!

  15. I can’t believe I haven’t heard anybody bring something up like this before, and I’m with Mangaman, It’s ridiculous that this hasn’t been done yet. I think the technology has been around since the early 90’s.

  16. There have been some recent Marvel books (I’m thinking of the Shadowland: Power Man tie-in) that did a really nice job with the ‘character history’ pages in the back, writing them out narrative style rather than just as a handbook. But of course all the issues referenced were not available in trade; if there had been a URL for Marvel digital content and easy instructions for how to download them, I would happily have gone there and spent the price of a trade or more to get some of the issues.  As it is, I ended up digging around in back issue bins and finding less than half of them, many not in good shape, and as of right now I don’t even know where I put them.  It does really seem like  there’s good tie-in potential here.

  17. Think people are looking to much into this, yes? Looter is not a very popular character and hasn’t been around since…when? It only makes sense to point people to where they can get the information online if they want. Myself? I have the Marvel Handbooks as well. They have come in very handy and I don’t mind digging into my collection to find the info I need.

    It’s also nice to see Marvel letting us know another source for this information as well.

  18. Online comics have been doing stuff like that  for years. Scott Mccould has been praising cartoonist making their comics online and/or digitally for years. For pretty much the last decade he has been urging people to do more online/digital comics because of the endless possibilities that that they offer our medium.

  19. @Jimski  Same here, i cannot tell you the joy i felt when i realised it was all new material except for like 4 pages of a cover gallery. sweet lord it was a relief

  20. Digital comics with links to character pages would be awesome.  Seems like it would also lower the barrier to entry when jumping into a series.  Confused about who this character is? Just tap them and read their backstory.

    The thing that I am really hoping for is the asterisk with the corresponding box that says, “Like we saw in issue 12.” where you can click the box and go right to issue 12.  To me the biggest deal of digital comics is that once you have a distribution model, there doesn’t seem to be much of a barrier to making all of your back catalog available. That doesn’t seem to be where everyone is going right now, but I can dream.  And when we get there, I can hop around between issues instead of saying, “I don’t remember that?” or “Darn, that was before I hopped on or in a series I don’t regularly read.”

  21. I remember when I was a kid and Marvel comics did comic books on CD-ROM with the voices of the characters from the 90’s cartoons and clips and quizes and profiles and cool stuff like that and DC Comics did something like that too. Does anybody remember this stuff but me?