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Summary:

Somewhere between standard cartoon strips and full-blown animated work lies what’s known as the “motion comic.” This emerging style of entertainment is increasingly being put to use online, either to promote big-name offline works, or in some cases, just to make an extra buck.

Somewhere between standard cartoon strips and full-blown animated work lies what’s known as the “motion comic.” This emerging style of entertainment is increasingly being put to use online, either to promote big-name offline works, or in some cases, just to make an extra buck.

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Motion comics look like traditional comic books, but incorporate voice acting and a musical score. And only certain elements of the “page” are animated: a zoom-in, a pan, someone raising their arms.

The most recent example of this style can be found in the “graphic video” version of Stephen King’s short story N. The first three episodes are out, and there will be a total of 25 released each weekday until August 29th. It’s all to promote King’s upcoming book of short stories of which N is a part.


Warner Bros. has been a big believer in the motion comic. It used the style to create animated prequels for Will Smith’s I Am Legend. The studio is also giving the motion comic treatment to the acclaimed graphic novel Watchmen, releasing the animated version on iTunes in advance of the feature film due out next year, as well as the Batman story Mad Love, which is available through Xbox Live. Warner Bros. is also digging though its massive comic book archive to find other properties that it can deliver this way.

And they aren’t the only comic book publishers getting into the game. Marvel is co-producing N, and MTV is doing a motion comic series around the Image comic Invincible.

Is this just a trend or are motion comics here to stay? This first generation is admittedly crude, but there is enough “motion” in these motion comics to keep the viewer’s attention, and so far the music and voice acting have been great. Plus, the level of experimentation and sophistication will grow as more are produced.

I don’t think motion comics will be a huge moneymaker, or replace traditional animation, but they are so easy to produce (compared with full-blown animation and live action) and these studios have thousands of stories to choose from, so there’s no reason not to create them. Plus, they are perfect for the web, and when you allow embedding (like N), they can be a cost-effective, entertaining way to promote a bigger project.

  1. This is hardly the first generation; comic book companies have been putting comics awkwardly into Flash for years and years, with very little interest on the part of the readers. Heck, the old Spiderman cartoon was essentially what’s being called “Motion Comics” today.

    The problem from my position is that once you animate it, it ceases to be a comic book, and becomes an animation. And you wouldn’t call comic adaptations of animation “static animation,” or some such, would you?

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  2. At LA TV Fest on Wednesday, YouTube Director of Partnerships Jordan Hoffner was asked what type of online content has the best upside for monetization. He answered: “Animation.” It’s relatively inexpensive to produce, has an audience that loves comics, manga, etc., and is easily dubbed into different languages for international distribution. Smart.

    The Watchmen “Motion Comics” on iTunes are cool, too.

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  3. [...] Jill Weinberger provides a closer look at Stephen King’s N, the previously covered horror master’s foray into online video. Does the moving graphic novel format make the story [...]

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  4. [...] d’accord encore un mot d’informaticien ;-), le motion comic va pourtant certainement faire parler de lui assez rapidement. Alors Kezako …  Le motion [...]

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  5. Scooby Dooby Doo Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    I think the idea is really cool. Just like reading the watchmen with a little motion and some good voice acting. Works best in an IPOD format, I’d guess.

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  6. [...] pans and zooms or by giving characters simple movement; voice actors provide the dialog. Marvel created a 25-episode motion comic out of “N,” a short story by Stephen King, as a promotion for “Just After [...]

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  7. I’m a little bit disappointed with the article because for more than a year the Heroes Transmedia Department has been doing this with a great sucess. It’s a huge case of solving the gaps from paper to digital. You should do a better homework.

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  8. [...] comic books can now enjoy they favourite stories in fully explosive motion videos and according to NewTeeVee, motion comics are on the [...]

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  9. [...] books can now enjoy their favourite comic stories in fully explosive motion videos and according to NewTeeVee, the trend is on the [...]

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  10. I just released a new motion comic for my zuda series, “The Night Owls.” Check it out.

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