Watch WATCHMEN on iTunes

Back blogging at Newsarama, Paul Levitz runs down DC’s digital strategy, “Motion Comics” — which takes comics art and animates it. First up: WATCHMEN.

Last summer, I traveled to London with Warner Premiere President Diane Nelson to show Dave Gibbons a first test of a new digital format. Diane’s team and WATCHMEN director Zack Snyder passionately wanted to take the original WATCHMEN graphic novel, put the artwork into motion, add a soundtrack, and create a new, multi-format digital version while keeping all of the original literary and art material. We spent hours with Dave, discussing the inherent challenges, the proven power of WATCHMEN to convert people to the “new” format of graphic novels, and how that might happen again if we did this new project well. Unsurprisingly, Dave had important insights into how the artwork could be digitally manipulated to best effect, and ended up becoming a vital part of the process, working directly with Zack and the producers over the last year. This first chapter of the first “Motion Comic” went live as a free download from iTunes on the ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY site last night, and production is moving steadily towards releasing the rest of the monumental work that is WATCHMEN in multiple formats for computers and cell phones between now and the movie’s premiere.

Comments

  1. NoFemaleVoice? says:

    Somebody ask Paul Levitz or why Silk SPectres voice is MALE and not female, please? That was really jarring and turned me off to the whole project. While some of the animation they’ve done is kinda neat looking, the voice acting and lack of, well, female voices, makes it seem amateur.

  2. Not Paul Levitz says:

    I think they’re following the books on tape model, where a new voice doesn’t pop in whenever dialogue from a character of the opposite sex is being read.

  3. “Somebody ask Paul Levitz or why Silk Spectres voice is MALE and not female, please?”

    Now re-read WATCHMEN, knowing what you do about Laurie Juspeczyk

    (God on a Bike, did I spell that right without looking it up?)

    //Oo/\

  4. Eric Reynolds says:

    I feel like I just went back in time to see the future of comics circa 1997. Wow, partially animated comics… with sound! My old Power Records from the early 1970s feature better acting.

  5. Couldn’t they have just got Paul Levitz to do all the voices?

  6. Norman Jay says:

    Is this US only and not available in Canada? Can’t find it on my iTunes store?

  7. I would’ve liked this more if they’d just hire that fred kid to reenact the whole thing in front of webcam.

  8. @NoFemaleVoice – just imagine it’s Dr. GirlFriend. :DDD

    @Matthew Craig – Man, I’m glad I’m not the only one having Power Records and 97 (2000) Crossgen (or other companies as well) Flashbacks with this. Really reminds me more of the old Marvel Animated cartoons from the 60′s.

    Meanwhile – can you you legitimately download a DC comic anywhere?

  9. Patrick Dean says:

    I told a friend he should read Watchmen, but to wait until it comes out in a better format like a cell phone screen.

  10. Didn’t they do this in the late 1960′s with Marvel Superheroes?

    “When Captain America throws his mighty shield…..”

  11. Didn’t they do this in the late 1960′s with Marvel Superheroes?

    “When Captain America throws his mighty shield…..”

    (well, at least they didn’t go the Clutch Cargo route. Dr. Manhattan with moving real lips would freak me out!!!!!)

  12. It was very well done, singular voice talent and all. That said, I don’t see this kind of Flash animation version replacing (or even supplementing) the average comic reader’s buy-pile. Since this was touted heavily on Warner’s EW.com, is this an enticement to buy the trade? Ah — a commercial, then.

  13. Silk Spectre with that manly voice was not right. crap, they couldn’t afford Jim Dale?

  14. Dave F. says:

    My first reaction after catchng a minute or two was, “Urg, bad idea.” But I went back and watched it all the way through and over the last few days I’ve been revisiting it and finding it very enjoyable. I think the voice acting is generally excellent, no harder to get used to than any audio book read by a single individual, and the motion, sound effects, and background music are all handled with impressive subtlety.

    Is it the future of the industry? Not in any way shape or form. Honestly, it’s more like comic books without the imagination the reader puts into them or movies without all their tricks. It’s an awkward middle – a novelty act – but one that I think works on the basis of the craft involved. It’s a pretty cool compliment to the source material; it just could never be a replacement.

    Anyway, the creators deserve their props. I’m planning to keep up with further installments.

  15. John Tebbel says:

    But why? Howabout a Muppet version? Or Marionation 2000? Indonesian shadow puppet? Ringling Bros. closing number? Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon? Ice Show? Chinese Opera? Broadway Musical? Between-the-Acts diversion in Hell?

  16. I hope Moore’s taking his share of the revenue.

  17. Blech. First Invisible has a half assed ‘animated’ series that just reuses the original comic images with voice and sound. Now Watchmen? This sounds a little better done, but what’s the point of this half born format? It’s like a radio drama imposed over a comic book that’s not quite animation. I’d much rather just wait for the movie. At least the movie is a new and fully formed medium. This is just recycling the comics. I’d just rather read the original. BAH! Stupid iPod video market. iPod is where Watchmen belongs? Bull. At least the movie puts it up on a big screen as separate media.

    Plus I hear Mad Love is next. What? Why not just upload the damned fully animated episode the original animated series did to iTunes instead. Can DC be any more backwards?

  18. You can’t even be bothered enough to post the direct itunes link? I mean it’s not hard to get, just click the link in itunes to “tell a friend”. If you’re going to be my first Google result, you could at least put forth a little effort in your writeup. Here’s the link, it took me 3 seconds to get.
    http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewTVSeason?id=284790710&s=143441

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Enquanto Robert Kirkman e a DC transformam, respectivamente, Invencível e Watchmen em versões século 21 dos desenhos desanimados da Marvel, a editora Shueisha, quando de sua entrada no mercado de quadrinhos para celular, selecionou dezessete de seus títulos mais famosos e os distribuiu em versões coloridas (para quem não sabe, os mangás, tradicionalmente, são concebidos em páginas preto e branco e com tons de retículas); dentre eles, o mundialmente conhecido Dragon Ball. [...]

  2. [...] DC at the moment seems to be more concerned about their periodical business, rather than putting forward a viable plan for the future. There have been rumblings of upper management considering moving into the digital sphere, but all attempts seem to be going backwards. I’d love to have a definite answer to this question; just why aren’t they moving forward? Recently, Marvel is starting to infest iTunes with content, funnily enough following on from DC’s Watchmen, but their digital program has been ubiquitous. Is the problem the rights of the characters once they go online? Do they slip out of DC editorial’s hands once they leave the printed page? It’s not as if DC has a say in things like The Dark Knight or Steel (for better or for worse), then these properties are on the silver screen. From this article on Newsarama, Dan Didio gives us a little insight into the machinations of DC: 7: Moving on to another hot topic with readers – Marvel has made some broad moves with their online content both in terms of original material and their library. DC has Zuda, of course, but no real push, aside from an occasional issue, to place comics online. Are there discussions and plans for this to happen? [...]

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