Comics being sold via iTunes is not, in itself, new. You can currently pick up versions of “The Watchmen” and the excellent Image title “Invincible,” but this marks comic book powerhouse Marvel’s entry into the fray, and it’s bringing something special to the table, in pre-releasing some issues on iTunes before their print alter-egos hit the stands. No word yet on pricing, but it will probably be comparable to what’s already currently available to buy.
One downside of comics publishing in iTunes is that they’re always motion comics. The “camera” sort of pans and zooms around the panels from the print page, and questionable voice over work reads the captions and speech bubble content. For me, at least in my experience to date, this has to be my least favorite means of experiencing comics, by far. It feels cramped, and sort of like storytime in preschool. I feel like having a nap on the floor when I’m done.
That said, I love Brian Michael Bendis (creator of Powers, and a writer who’s done stints on many, many top series), and he made a statement at the recent NYCC about the exciting potential the new medium offers for comics. In fact, he calls it a “new language,” and I suppose that whenever you learn a new language, a learning curve is to be expected.
The real key to becoming proficient in that new language, though, is to stop translating verbatim and start focusing more on conveying the meaning properly. In other words, Marvel, and others, have to stop roughly cutting up the page and feeding it back to us with lame video editing 101 effects, and start making original content or completely redrawing existing content specifically for digital distribution.