Marvel goes online

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Perhaps heeding the previous item about declining comics sales, Marvel has pulled the trigger on creating a line of original web comics, the NY Times reports:

“Iron Man: Fast Friends” will focus on the relationship between Tony Stark, the man behind the iron armor, and Jim Rhodes, who comic fans know eventually becomes War Machine, a superhero in his own right. “Incredible Hulk: The Fury Files” will follow Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson in a cameo appearance in the “Iron Man” movie) as he investigates the angry green monster that Bruce Banner becomes.

A blurb on has more and makes it sound like this is an actual initiative:

Get these amazing new adventures that tie directly into your favorite feature films plus an exclusive batch of Marvel comics and an ever-growing selection of over 5,000 comics inside Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Digital-only exclusives will be published regularly on Wednesdays at the pace of three or more comics per month. Upcoming titles will showcase top Marvel characters and creative teams, fan-favorite holiday-themed specials, explorations into science fiction, martial arts, Westerns and so much more.

Although this is only a tiny item in the Times at present, our Heidi-sense tells us this could be an important step to…something.


  1. Interesting that Marvel jumps into webcomics with well-known characters and established (but not superstar) artists, whereas DC/Zuda does original properties and largely new creators (or at least ones who don’t have long Big-Two resumes). Wondering why there can’t be a combination of the two instead of this either/or situation.

  2. But does Bruce Banner look like Ed Norton, as Norton is saying Marvel is being wishy-washy on if they want him back as the Hulk

  3. Ah… remember when Marvel started producing titles only for the Direct Market? Moon Knight and Ka-Zar and … This original content is interesting. I wonder when we will see print titles migrate to Will a shift to digital distribution signal the marginalization of the Direct Market, in much the same way that a shift to the Direct Market signalled the marginalization of newsstand distribution?

  4. arch 14 says:

    this seems kind of cool.

  5. My understanding is that the newsstand market had been marginalizing itself for some time before the Direct Market became perceived as a viable solution.

  6. I’m more curious as to how well the whole subscription thing is working for them. Considering how badly this model generally works on the web these days.

  7. Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is a milestone of some sort, but we won’t know exactly what for a while.

    But I don’t think I want to know what it feels like when your Heidi-sense is tingling.

  8. Which mylar and boards will fit my digital comics collection? Where to I store my digital long boxes? How do I grade the quality of my digital comic books? These questions must be answered or the collector in me will not be able to enter the brave new world.

  9. “These questions must be answered or the collector in me will not be able to enter the brave new world.”

    Funny thing is, I’ve often wondered if this won’t be a problem with the digital media. If all comics went digital, how long before they are forgotten? The print comic provides a physical presence, and a reminder that the comics are available. With digital comics, unless the fans are absolutely ravenous for a certain title, how long before they begin missing issues? “Ah, no hurry. I can download them anytime.” With a physical presence missing, comics could eventually move even further down the Importance Ladder.

  10. It will be interesting to see how the dead tree version of these comics sell, particularly in the bookstore market and DM.

    Also, how will Marvel advertises them? The comic book locater service should be a given, but would they put up an Amazon link? Or sell them directly to consumers?

  11. Heidi-sense!? Hmmm…what would that be like if you had a graphic to go along with it? I wonder.

  12. Rich said: Funny thing is, I’ve often wondered if this won’t be a problem with the digital media. If all comics went digital, how long before they are forgotten?

    Well actually there are a lot of online comics right now with a lot of readers (some even around 200,000 readers from what I’ve heard) so there is definitely no need for a physical presence to have a lot of readers. Comics on cellphones are also doing very very well in Japan (and those are sold).

  13. If the traditional printed comic goes the way of the dodo bird, then we have a new creature in the digital comic. Or a mutated one.

    The Digital Comic is only visible electronically. Okay, yes, maybe you could print screen grabs to read, but essentially it it visible only on your screen.

    You collect them on hard drives like your collection of Dexter episodes, you buy the collected season on dvd or burn your own.

    But now, it can be “more” than a comic, more than a printed pile of paper with a staple driven through it. It can have sound, motion, become a flash-(ahem) based comic. A new media comic.

    Me, I enjoy reading the paper comic. I read it sitting, standing, eating, lying on the sofa, or anywhere there is sufficient light. But then, I still tape tv shows on my ten-year-old VCR, which works just fine. I don’t need the latest and greatest technology all the time. Maybe the new comics, the Digital Comics, are not meant for everyone, just for the people who enjoy reading on the home plasma tv, their laptop, cell or watch.

    No longboxes, no worries about damaging the spine while reading them, but no joy of collecting the tactile paper versions either.

  14. “But now, it can be “more” than a comic, more than a printed pile of paper with a staple driven through it. It can have sound, motion, become a flash-(ahem) based comic. A new media comic.”

    Right … basically, it’s more than a comic … it becomes a low-budget cartoon. Just wait … people will soon be criticizing them for that, too …

  15. Marvel isn’t in business to experiment with new technologies. If these prove popular, they’ll be collected into trades and sold in comic shops and bookstores.

    Why would Marvel intentionally turn down the chance to make more money with the same amount of investment?

    If this plan is subscription based, the readership will be underwhelming (part of the reason webcomics are enormously popular is that they’re for the most part free): It’ll be a subsection of the audience who visits the comic store every Wednesday and wants their fix of X-Ironhulkman and already pays for that pleasure.

    New readers (the ones less inclined to visit a comic shop, but see graphic novels at Borders or at their library and are marginally curious) will pretty much ignore the project.

    Twelve months in, Marvel’s suspicions that no one really wants to read comics online will be confirmed and they’ll shut it down without fanfare.

    If the plan is free, there’s the potential that those marginally curious readers (the ones who saw Iron Man and Batman in the theaters) will check it out, enjoy it enough to follow the things regularly (lining the pockets of the advertisers) and mutate into regular consumers of Marvel products.

    Or they’ll continue to ignore it. It’s difficult to say.

  16. I don’t know how exciting this is. It’s seems to me that this is a clear marketing effort in preparation for the next Iron Man and Hulk movies — similar to the online comics that TV shows have up on their websites.

  17. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.


  1. […] The New Medium 18 09 2008 I don’t know how I managed to miss this, but a couple of days ago PW Beat mentioned that Marvel was going to produce their own original webcomics (here too). These include two rather lightweight-sounding titles with obvious ties to this year’s blockbusters: “Iron Man: Fast Friends” and “Incredible Hulk: The Fury Files” (with the Sam Jackson Nick Fury). […]

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