34 Comments

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.

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  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?

  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.

  3. Batman’s Vote, Stephen King’s Comics on NTV Station Today « NewTeeVee Friday, August 1, 2008

    [...] 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 [...]

  4. e-bullition.fr » Archive du blog » Après la BD, le motion comic ! Saturday, August 2, 2008

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

  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.

  6. From Ink to the Internet: Comic Books Evolve – GigaOM Friday, August 22, 2008

    [...] 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 [...]

  7. Maurício Mota Friday, August 22, 2008

    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.

  8. Comic Books Gains Motion « Social Media Elevation Monday, August 25, 2008

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

  9. Comic Books Gain Motion « Social Media Elevation Monday, August 25, 2008

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

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

  11. I’m working on a motion comic adaptation for a UK publisher’s series and from my point of view it certainly has its place. A place that is very exciting actually.

    It allows you to pull focus where you can’t in static print formats. You can guide the reader the way the original writer intended the panels to be seen, drive the emotions with the soundtrack and add drama with camera motion.

    It’s a mix of various genres. Audio books, music, graphic arts, animation. The key here is to cast your voice actors well. And have voice actors, not just announcers. Get a great soundtrack that makes it unique. And lastly the original property should be worth the effort, if it’s a turd it will stay a turd, no matter how much you polish it.

  12. Simon & Schuster Goes It Alone for Original Video « NewTeeVee Thursday, September 25, 2008

    [...] video production studio! Simon & Schuster, after seeing success with Stephen King’s motion comic series N (for which we gave a rave review on NewTeeVee Station), is jazzed about online video. The [...]

  13. Superman is from Russia « Social Media + the CIA Thursday, October 9, 2008

    [...] Motion comics look like traditional comic books online, 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 is Steven King’s short story N… More about motion comics [...]

  14. Sweet Rain « Never Neutral Thursday, November 20, 2008

    [...] Here and here, just two more reasons why my dissertation topic is proving so difficult (so wide), and so [...]

  15. Warner Premiere and Bryan Singer Do H+ « NewTeeVee Monday, November 24, 2008

    [...] to this point, Warner Premiere has focused on motion comics, such as Batman: Mad Love, Watchmen and Peanuts. Its slate is expected to be more balanced with [...]

  16. Excelsior! Marvel Doing More Motion Comics « NewTeeVee Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    [...] been tracking the rise of motion comics for some time. Warner Bros. has been doing them for The Watchmen and Batman, Image and MTV [...]

  17. “About digital comics” : Balak is back ! « Bd numérique Friday, February 27, 2009

    [...] qu’une parmi les nombreuses possibilités offertes par le numérique, et je ne parle pas de motion comics, mais bien de schémas narratifs nouveaux ouverts par l’entremise du numérique. Du blog BD [...]

  18. im DLing the watchmen “motion comic” now, i hope its worth it. but from what ive read, motion comic is more of like your old comics with music..and SOME animation. so, it is the first generation. as it is being produced by studios like warner, there must be real potential in motion comic or at least a new way to market or advertise entertainment/media.

  19. Watchmen Motion Comics DVD on SALE!!!! | Heroes N Hunks Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    [...] via SuperHeroHype and NewTeeVee [...]

  20. Marvel Moves Beyond Motion Comics With More Web Video « NewTeeVee Monday, March 9, 2009

    [...] has been made about Marvel’s foray into motion comics, with both Astonishing X-Men and Spider-Woman launching in the second quarter of this year. But [...]

  21. King Features brought Jantze Studios in to create motion comis of the daily comic strip “Zits” as content for newspaper web sites. You can find samples on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/comicskingdom
    So it’s spreading to daily comics as well.

  22. I think that the future of motion comics will be shiny as a new way to communicate. But we need to focus on the fact that comic makers have to create something more than standard comics rather than something less than animations. Furtheremore, goes without saying that in order to gain success it has to be money worthy. Take a look at website q-721.com in mid May…

  23. There is also a motion comic called Godkiller that they showed a preview at Fangoria’s convention last month. It’s based on the sci-fi comic and stars Lance Henrickson, Cally from Battlestar Galactica, and the girl from all the Halloween movies. Looked really cool.

  24. eBooks vs Paper: the debate rages on… Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    [...] also just got into a discussion today with our book agent, Bruce, about motion comics. You already know I like movies and TV (if you don’t know: I do),  so this is another fun [...]

  25. Spider-Woman och motion comics | Myskoteket Monday, September 7, 2009

    [...] Motion comics är ännu rätt nytt och ingen har egentligen någon aning om vart man vill gå med det hela. Så många företag testar sig fram lite försiktigt. Marvel tar en tugga in i det hela med Brian Michael Bendis Spider-Woman. Som finns nu som en exklusiv motion comic. Men är den bra? [...]

  26. Nicolas Casanova Friday, September 11, 2009

    Check out my 3d animated motion comic The Twisted Mind of Sofia.

    http://www.TwistedSofia.com

    You will enjoy it if you like movie parodies.

  27. Has anyone seen this contest?

    Marvel is looking for new ways to do motion comics and they are doing a contest
    with Hulk Vs. Wolverine the “Puny little man” comic ed Mcguinness did.

    Thought this one looked pretty cool.

    http://www.aniboom.com/competitions/Marvel/400641/The-Stronger/

  28. I think you’re right about the promotional aspect of these things, I think it’s also a great way to revisit the story (Just watched Superman : Red Son, it’s so cool)

  29. Chuck McCann called the limited animation of the 1960s and 1970s “illustrated radio.”

    Some people here have compared motion comics to such things. I think that’s a bit unfair, especially for ones that don’t incorporate sound (voice, music) at all.

    AMC is pimping The Prisoner with one:

    AMC’s The Prisoner: Digital Book Is Now Live!
    http://ebooktest.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/amc%e2%80%99s-the-prisoner-digital-book-is-now-live/

    All you people here doing motion comics, drop a Comment at my blog so I can take a look.

  30. eBook Notes For Thursday November 12, 2009 « The eBook Test Thursday, November 12, 2009

    [...] The Rise of Motion Comics Online 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. [...]

  31. Check out the new motion comic on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCQKLwz1Ouo

  32. I’m working on a new motion comic concept, too

    If you are interested, check out:

    amotarzi.com/superare

  33. I hope they keep rising! Cause I really like motion comics and hope that they keep producing them. Batman BW is awesome!

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