Tag Archives: #Comics News

Avengers vs. X-Men Launch Party

What’s up everyone, your nerdy fanboy Austin here with an update for Avengers vs. X-Men. Here’s a complete list of retailers participating in the massive and monumental event that is AvX. This right here is the link to a pdf file that Marvel.com released yesterday giving you guys the address and the name of the comic shop that will have the event: http://i.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel/i/pdf/AvXEventTable_complete.pdf

 

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Two summers back, comic fans of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s acclaimed Oni Press “Scott Pilgrim” graphic novels were invited to see the world of the books in blazing color when the “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” film hit the big screen. This August, that process comes full circle as the publisher prepares an all-new deluxe hardcover editions of the series with color by “Batman, Incorporated” and “Swamp Thing” colorist Nathan Fairbairn.

Oni and O’Malley jointly announced the new 6″ X 9″ volumes tonight at the Emerald City Comic Con, revealing that after the first book – “Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life” – hits in August, the second color hardcover will land in October. Subsequent books in the series will come out bi-annually until readers can have the full “Scott Pilgrim” saga in color on their shelves by 2014. These new editions will also feature brand-new, DVD-style bonus features prepared by O’Malley.

Bryan, let’s talk about the origin of these new “Scott Pilgrim” editions. Had you been thinking about a color version of the series for a while, or is this a result of you having some room in your schedule before your new “Seconds” graphic novel comes out next year?

Bryan Lee O’Malley: It’s something we’ve talked about, and there are so many possibilities for repackaging. People are always asking, “Are you going to do a big omnibus edition?” and things like that. Initially, I was resistant to color because the books were always intended for black and white. That was part of the manga aesthetic I was going for. But we found the colorist Nathan Fairbairn who’s really good. He works on “Batman Inc.,” and he’s amazing. We actually had a few people try out, and he just nailed it. He sent pages in and said, “I didn’t have much time, so I just did these in an afternoon,” and they were great. That’s kind of what you need when you’re looking for someone to color 1,200 pages of comics – someone who’s really fast and has the right style off the bat. I was really, really impressed with that, and it made me much more enthusiastic for the process now. Then someone at Oni decided to make the books hardcovers at a larger trim size, so I think they’re going to be really cool.

And this isn’t just a simple coloring job. I know you’ve been working to clean up some of the art and prepare it for this whole process. Did you end up redrawing any of the pages, or did you go through and just clean up the lines a bit?

I didn’t do too much redrawing in the first book. There’s literally one page at the very end that I completely crapped out when I was in a super hurry to finish the book. So I went back and redrew four panels and turned them into six panels instead. I don’t know if anybody will really even notice that that’s different, but I did it. I didn’t want to go the George Lucas route and change everything, but in terms of cleaning up the art, when you’re going to have a guy color a bunch of pages you drew eight years ago, you kind of want to make sure he can understand what he’s looking at. [Laughs] I mean, when you’re doing a black and white book on a deadline, there’s a lot of times where you just crap out some of the background elements and stuff like that. You just scribble stick figures in the background. So there are some spots where I’ve tightened up things like that.

You’ve been answering a lot of questions and posting a lot of art on Tumblr of late, and I noticed one post where a fan was asking what color Ramona’s outfit was supposed to be in one of the books, and you said, “None. It was in black and white.” Are there instances now where you’re having to rethink how some of this stuff looks for the first time because of the colorization?

Yeah. That’s been hard, actually. We’re still going back and forth on some stuff as we’re not quite locked in on the first book. And I’ll say that since the movie came out, it’s kind of locked in a lot of these colors in people’s minds. So when we started working on this stuff, I felt that especially in the first book, we’re kind of beholden to the pallet of the movie. Fortunately, it’s this really nice, harmonious pallet. So in the first book, we know how pink the hair on Ramona is, and the outfits are all colored similarly, and I think we’ll just go from there. I think that’ll help me decide on the whole thing, and it’s already what’s in the reader’s mind at this point. It’d be weird to go and color things all different at this point.

 A sample of Nathan Fairbairn’s colors. See more below.

The other big part of this is some bonus features in each book. Like I said, you’ve been going through a lot of your old concept work and other sketches online of late. Has that just been part of the preparation for this project, or are you going through and scanning your old art in general to clear out all that paper from your life?

No, that’s is all just stuff that’s just been sitting on my hard drive. I’ve been all digital pretty much since the beginning of “Scott Pilgrim,” so most of that is me going through old folders on my computer to clean stuff up. The part of the book that we’re doing is kind of like a “DVD extras” section at the back. It’s turning out pretty cool. But otherwise, I’m just going through and picking out stuff on my computer that I haven’t looked at in years and putting it on my blog. The extras in the books are largely unpublished. There are a few pictures and sketchbook things I’ve published over the years, but a lot of it is new stuff, and there’s commentary on all of it. I wrote an essay on how I started the book, and that kind of thing will continue on all the new volumes.

What’s it been like to get back into all this art? I think people are excited to see “Seconds” as it’ll be the first long form non-Scott thing you’ve done in eight years or so, but has the coloring and remastering been cathartic at all? Are you going to do this and be ready to not draw any Scott Pilgrim for a few years?

Well, I’m going to be working on these reprints for the next two years probably. We’re doing two a year, and I’ve cleaned up the art on the first two volumes so far. I’ll have to do more as we get closer to each new one and I do the extras for them. So I’m really constantly revisiting, which is fun. Obviously, I’m self-obsessed and like doing this stuff. [Laughter]

“Seconds” comes out next year. Are you wrapped on that book or working on these two concurrently? Has there been any ways in which one project feeds off the other?

I’m nowhere near wrapped on “Seconds.” It’s set for next summer, but I’m still working on I guess what you’d call “pencils.” I work that phase on a computer now, so there’s really no penciling involved. But I don’t think there’s a lot of cross-polination. It’s been going pretty well. I’m trying to do all the covers for the “Scott Pilgrim” reprints at the beginning so they all look the same before I get into my “Seconds” style…whatever that ends up being. I find that my work always mutates from year-to-year. So I want them to all look the same when they come out.

Overall, after working on this with Nathan, do you think working in color is going to become a regular part of your comics moving forward, or will you stick to black and white for most things?

I think it’ll vary from project to project. The process of coloring can be incredibly expensive, and it wouldn’t have even been an option at the start of “Scott Pilgrim.” But it feels good as a project with a collaborator. I don’t think I’d ever want to color my own comics. It’s a lot of work. But Nathan’s been great, and I’d love to work with him on future stuff.

        

New Superman Logo from “Man of Steel”

 

The official Facebook page for Man of Steel has gone live, providing a first look at the redesigned logo for director Zack Snyder’s reboot of the Warner Bros. franchise. It’s dark, textured and a little gritty, and likely to displease fans already grumbling about the updated costume.

Written by David S. Goyer from a story by Goyer and Christopher Nolan, Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Antje Traue as Faora, Harry Lennix as General Swanwick and Christopher Meloni as Col. Hardy. The film opens June 14, 2013.


WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR: “AVX” – THE TELEPATHIC ADVANTAGE?

Imagine facing an enemy you couldn’t lie to; an enemy who knows exactly what you’re thinking and can also manipulate your thoughts. That’s what you’re up against when you confront the mutants of Marvel Comics’ X-Men, whose ranks include some of the most powerful telepaths in the world. Confronting daunting challenges is the precise reason the Avengers, another premier Marvel super team, came together in the first place, and this April that’s just what they’ll do as they take on the X-Men in a battle to decide how best to save Earth from the threat of the destructive cosmic entity known as the Phoenix.

That battle will be chronicled in “Avengers Vs. X-Men” a 12-issue miniseries by an all-star team of Marvel creators. In today’s edition of WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR, CBR’s in-depth look at “AvX,” we take a look at the X-Men’s seemingly telepathic advantage over the Avengers. What are the X-Men’s telepaths capable of? What kind of strategic advantage do they give the X-Men leader, Cyclops? And how will the Avengers work around and fight back against the mental might of their adversaries? Helping us answer these questions and more are Senior Editor Nick Lowe who’s in charge of the X-Titles, and Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoortwhose office oversees the Avengers titles.

Because we can read your minds, we know that are some of you who are just joining us. In that case, welcome! Feel free to get caught up on our previous installments where we look at the role team loyalties will play in “AvX,” the conflict’s four “generals,” and the “heavy artillery” members of the X-Men and the Avengers.

Tom Brevoort: The Avengers have had a few over the years, characters such as Moondragon — but telepathy really hasn’t been a regular part of their arsenal. As for the X-side, I think that comes from two interconnected things: Jean Grey and her status as not only a founding X-Man but as the lynchpin of probably the book’s best-remembered storyline, and the fact that Chris Claremont was a heavy SF reader during a period where numerous authors were exploring the idea of telepathic and telekinetic powers and how they might plausibly work within a SF context. Chris adapted, adopted and improved on a number of those ideas as he wrote “Uncanny X-Men.”

With mind-controlling mutants like Emma Frost on their side, will the X-Men have an advantage in “AvX?”

Nick Lowe: Let’s read between the lines, here. It’s because the X-Men are the best.

Telepathy in its most basic form is the power to send and receive thoughts, which is a useful communication tool with a number of strategic uses in battle. What kind of advantage does it give Cyclops and other characters in terms of communication and coordinating troop movements?

Lowe: It certainly doesn’t hurt. Cap and the Avengers know going in that the X-Men have this advantage, so you’ve got to think they’ve got some defensive planning in place to keep Emma from just shutting their brains down. And the coordination helps, but you have to remember how training centered Cyclops is. You can’t go more than an issue of X-Men back in the day without Cyclops drilling his team in the Danger Room and that hasn’t changed. He’s always training his crews and they operate like well oiled machines. No one does as much teamwork as the X-Men (heck they have well-known moves like the fastball special).

Telepathy also allows a person to reads the thoughts of others, which makes it a useful to gather intelligence. Of course, many mutants have a personal code that keeps them from reading the thoughts of others. How would a conflict like “AvX” affect that code? Are there some heroes that won’t have qualms about reading the thoughts of Avengers once things heat up and get tough?

Brevoort: I think it depends entirely on the individual character. My expectation is that the Avengers and the X-Men both are going to comport themselves as heroes, no differently than they’ve ever done. That said; the stakes they’re fighting for are so important that they will push our heroes to the wall in terms of what they will and will not do. And certainly some of the X-telepaths have used situational ethics to guide their actions in the past. Of course, keep in mind that Tony Stark has a lot of experience in building tech to protect himself from telepathic intrusions or attacks.

Lowe: Tom is right (yeesh that felt weird coming out of my mouth) about how the X-Men are going to behave. They’re still heroes. And like I said before, Cap would have to be an idiot not to have something in place to defend his team from this on some level. And he’s no idiot.

Powerful telepaths have another morally gray ability, the ability to erase and control minds. This begs the question, when things get tough will there be some X-Men tempted to use this ability? Or is this seen as a last ditch “nuclear option?”

Lowe: This would not be something Cyclops would be down with unless there were no other option and even then — but, and sorry to repeat again, the Avengers need to have some sort of plan for this.

Brevoort: Again, I wouldn’t think this would be an easily-used option if it were ever seriously considered at all. The X-Men haven’t done this sort of thing even to their most ruthless foes, so I don’t think they’d be inclined to do it to guys they know are heroes but whom they happen to be in contention with.

We’ve talked a bit about how effective an ability telepathy is in general, so let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about how effective it is against the Avengers in particular. Are there any Avengers who have a natural immunity to telepathic and psionic powers?

Brevoort: Iron Man’s armor has been proofed against telepathic attacks in the past. The Vision’s android mind is such that it’s anybody’s guess whether a telepathic strike would do him any harm. A telepathic attack on the Red Hulk is likely to just make him angrier and more savage, so if it didn’t immediately take him down it would likely make things worse. There are a few other examples, but they’re mostly the exceptions — for the most part the Avengers are no more protected from a telepathic assault than anyone else would be.

How aware are the Avengers in general of the strategic applications of telepathy? Can we assume that leaders like Captain America are aware of what telepaths can do and are ready and able to work around them?

Brevoort: I’d say it’s a certainty — especially since there are present and former X-Men among the Avengers’ ranks, who would be likely to disclose that information even if Cap wasn’t already aware of it.

Lowe: They definitely know it.

The X-Men may have an advantage in the area of mental powers, but the Avengers have three of the greatest scientific minds on the planet in Tony Stark, T’Challa, and Hank Pym. How easy would it be for these guys to whip up something that makes them and their team mates resistant to telepathic powers?

Brevoort: Given that we’ve seen Tony at least do this before in the past, I’d say it’d be relatively easy. Doesn’t mean that it’ll work, though, or be 100% proof against a determined X-Man digging down deep and fighting for a legitimate cause.

Lowe: It’s not going to really matter in the end as the X-Men are far superior in every way.


“Avengers Assemble.” It’s long been the rallying cry for Marvel’s team of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” but exactly who is doing the “assembling” tends to change pretty frequently.

With a new series,Avengers Assemble, debuting this week from the famed Ultimate Spider-Mancreative team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley, and anAvengers feature film out on May 4, we’ve looked at the many (many, many) different Avengers lineups since their 1963 debut and devised a list of the 10 best.

 

10.) THE WEST COAST AVENGERS

Spinning out of the main Avengers team, this Los Angeles-based squad was the brainchild of then-chairman and Avengersconstant the Vision, who hand-picked heroes for the squad.

The original lineup, led by long-time original team member Hawkeye, consisted of Tigra, Wonder Man, Iron Man (piloted at the time by James Rhodes), and Hawkeye’s sometimes love interest Mockingbird. Though they were hardly the most potent of Avengers squads, the team made up for what they lacked in terms of raw power with a level of teamwork and drive that can hardly be rivaled.

As the team grew, they welcomed members that, while in many cases seemed to be analogues for more iconic Avengers, were usually strong characters in their own right. Though they imploded in the early ’90s, the 10 years that the West Coast Avengers were in operation showcased some of the most dynamic stories and characters that Marvel featured at that time.

Members: Hawkeye, Tigra, Mockingbird, Wonder Man, Iron Man, Wasp, Hank Pym, USAgent, War Machine, Spider Woman, Moon Knight, Living Lightning, the Thing, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Human Torch, Firebird

 

9.) CAP’S KOOKY QUARTET

So nicknamed due to the odd nature of the three characters who joined Captain America’s team after the other founders all departed, “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” was another team known not for the strength of its members, but for the relationships and characterization they enjoyed, and the entertainingly strange nature of many of their stories.

Despite consisting primarily of former criminals with bad tempers, Cap’s Quartet managed to take on threats including the Masters of Evil, Kang, the Mandarin and even Dr. Doom; without a powerhouse among them. Their run was fairly short-lived, as Giant Man and the Wasp re-joined the team just before also welcoming characters like Hercules and the Black Panther into their ranks, but the members of this era all became permanent additions to the team, and their stories are some of the most fun and off-beat of the Avengers canon.

Members: Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch

 

8.) KREE/SKRULL WAR TEAM

The Avengers that took part in the legendary Kree/Skrull War were few, but almost no other lineup is as iconic and recognizable as the bunch that appeared in issues #89-#97 of the original series.

Featuring several longtime members and founders, the Kree-Skrull war also featured Clint Barton — better known as Hawkeye — in his first outing as the shape-changing giant Goliath, and honorary Avenger Captain Mar-Vell, in what was easily one of the most enduring stories of all time.

This roster is a prime example of an Avengers team that was great not necessarily because of the characters it featured, but because of the stories in which they took part. In addition to adding Captain Marvel to Avengers canon, the Kree-Skrull War also showcased how a seemingly typical roster can be elevated to great heights based on the energy of the creative team at the helm.

Members: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, Ant-Man, Goliath, Vision, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel

 

7.) MID/LATE ’80S

Even though they featured a few duds among the line-up (Dr. Druid, I’m looking your way), there were some great additions to the Avengers roster in this time period, including the energy wielding Monica Rambeau, the tempestuous She-Hulk and Namor the Sub-Mariner, plus the return of characters like Black Knight and Hercules to the team.

Not necessarily the most iconic of Avengers teams, they were nonetheless a part of some of the greatest Avengers stories ever told, including the destruction of Avengers Mansion by a veritable army of Masters of Evil.

Members: Captain America, Black Knight, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Hercules, Wasp, Namor, She-Hulk, Thor, Dr. Druid

 

6.) YOUNG AVENGERS

They may not technically be an official branch of the Avengers, and their status as an active team is uncertain in the wake of recently wrapped miniseries Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, but the group of teens known as the Young Avengers have starred in some of the best loved, best received, and most exciting Marvel comics of the last decade.

Consisting primarily of young heroes with, at first, tangential connections to long time Avengers, over time, as their membership grew, and their secrets were revealed, the connections to Avengers history became much stronger. Featuring the long-thought-dead twin children of the Vision and Scarlet Witch, the daughter of Ant-Man, and a young, pre-villainous Kang the Conqueror, the team filled a void left in the wake of the dissolution of the classic Avengers. In their short run, they faced off against the Skrulls and the Kree, Kang himself, and even their mentors in the original team. Though they have seemingly disbanded, there’s little doubt that the demand for more stories featuring these fan-favorite characters will only grow in their absence.

Members: Patriot, Hulkling, Hawkeye, Stature, Iron Lad, Vision, Wiccan, Speed

 

5.) THE FOUNDERS

The very first Avengers line-up might be higher on this list if not for two factors. For one thing, this line-up only lasted two issues, with Hank Pym switching from Ant-Man to Giant-Man by issue #2, and the Hulk departing entirely at the end of that same issue.

The other factor is the teams almost utter lack of teamwork. Even in their first outing, when they were accidentally brought together by teenager Rick Jones to combat Thor’s evil brother Loki, the Avengers weren’t exactly a get-along gang. Feelings of inadequacy and mistrust among the team members were only exacerbated by the creepy illusionist the Space Phantom, who sowed dissent against the Hulk in the team’s second outing.

Still, they were the first in a long line of Avengers rosters, not all of which were the best of friends, and they elevated the Mighty Marvel formula of all-too human super-heroes in a way that no single hero could have done.

Members: Thor, Iron Man, Wasp, Ant-Man, Hulk

 

4.) THE NEW AVENGERS

With a line-up based on the principle of showcasing all of Marvel’s “moneymakers” alongside some more… let’s just call them dark horse candidates, the New Avengers, launched in the wake of the seminal “Avengers: Disassembled” storyline introduced some Marvel mainstays to the Avengers who had long avoided membership among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

In addition to Captain America and Iron Man, the team included now long-term members such as Luke Cage, Spider-Woman, and perhaps most surprisingly, Spider-Man and Wolverine. The roster now includes even more surprising members (The Thing, Iron Fist and Daredevil among them), but the original line-up that launched the new era of the Avengers was notable for its strong characterization, surprising cast and high quality, high energy stories.

If only because the lineup began the modern era of the Avengers and set the stage for almost everything that’s happened in the following years, the New Avengers are one of the greatest superhero teams of all time.

Members: Captain America, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Echo, Ronin, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Daredevil, Thing, Mockingbird, Ms. Marvel, Sentry

 

3.) THE KORVAC SAGA TEAM

Throughout the ’70s, the lineup of the Avengers fluxuated around a core group of members, coalescing in the crew featured in the now legendary story “The Korvac Saga.”

Though most of the decade featured a small group of Avengers often joined by one or two guest stars, all those erstwhile members came together in the wake of the being known as Korvac’s ascension. In addition to showcasing some of Jack Kirby’s last Avengers art, and the introduction of the long-running Beast/Wonder Man best buds club, the Avengers stories of this era also introduced such long-running subplots as the Hank Pym/Ultron/Vision/Wonder Man family tree, and of course, the all important “Korvac Saga,” which was truly the highlight of the run.

In the aftermath of “The Korvac Saga,” the team was pared back, and saw some characters depart, and new ones take their place, but the team at the height of this era was one of the strongest and most well-written in Avengers history.

Members: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, Yellowjacket, Beast, Wonder Man, Hawkeye, Whizzer, Scarlet Witch, Hellcat, Moondragon, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Mantis, Falcon

 

2.) CAPTAIN AMERICA JOINS THE TEAM

In their fourth issue, the Avengers would see one of the most important and iconic events not only in their own history, but in the history of Marvel Comics — the discovery of the frozen body of WWII legend Captain America, floating in the ocean.

Upon his unfreezing, and his adjustment to the strange era in which he was revived, the Avengers drafted Captain America into their ranks, filling the Hulk’s empty spot among the team’s founding members. Though he lacked the raw strength of the Hulk, Captain America possessed a single skill that completely transformed the team from a barely-together group of heroes into Earth’s Mightiest protective force: leadership.

Through the strength of Captain America’s charisma and personality, the Avengers were able to flourish, and, after a brief period where they left Cap alone with a bunch of ex-cons, grow into the mainstay of Marveldom that they are today. Almost nothing that has happened in Avengers history would have been possible without the addition of Captain America to the team’s ranks, so while they weren’t technically the first Avengers lineup, this is truly the team that started it all.

Members: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man, Wasp

 

1.) HEROES RETURN

In the wake of the critical failure known as “Heroes Reborn,” in which some of the day’s highest profile creators attempted to re-envision Marvel’s most iconic characters, something incredible had to happen to reinvigorate the Avengers franchise, which suffered from one of the most-maligned titles of the “Reborn” line.

To facilitate the Avengers return to greatness, Marvel chose Kurt Busiek, a veteran writer who had never written the team, and George Perez, the legendary penciller who had drafted some of the greatest issues of the Avengers ’70s run. What happened was a pitch-perfect combination of classic Avengers sensibility and characterization set against stories that were always moving forward at a breakneck tilt.

While the team did include some misguided latter-day members, such as Silverclaw and Triathlon, the bulk of the run featured a core group of some of the most classic Avengers members, and a couple requisite new recruits. While the book’s opening arc showcased nearly every character who had been an Avenger up until that point, it was with issue #4 that the new lineup was solidified, and the title really began re-establishing itself as a powerhouse among the comics of the day.

Because of the strength of the creators, the energy and excitement of the stories, and the perfect blend of old and new-school members, the “Heroes Return” Avengers were, without a doubt, the greatest team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes ever assembled.

Members: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hawkeye, Justice, Firestar, Warbird (Carol Danvers), Giant-Man, Wasp, Triathlon, Silverclaw


WonderCon 2012 Exclusives: Archaia Posters

Today, Archaia Entertainment reveals a series of 16 new posters to be presented as free giveaways at WonderCon2012 featuring the covers of its lineup for the coming year. While many feature previously-announced projects such as Nate Cosby’s “Cow Boy” and David Petersen’s “Mouse Guard: The Black Axe,” there are four unsolicited and previously unannounced projects in the poster series. “Space 1999” by a creative team including “The Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes” writer Andrew E.C. Gaska, “Gang of Fools” by James Smith, “Iron or The War After” by S.M. Vidaurri and “Pantalones, TX” by Yehudi Mercado.

While the posters are undoubtably a cool giveaway, the publisher’s biggest freebie is yet to come with Archaia’s unprecedented Free Comic Book Day 48-page hardcover coming May 5 containing stories from “Mouse Guard,” “Dapper Men,” “Cursed Pirate Girl,” “Rust,” “Cow Boy,” “Labyrinth” and more.

Check out the complete poster gallery below and stop by Archaia’s booth to nab one at WonderCon 2012.

               

Infinite Comics Line From Marvel

For a long time, cutting edge comic creators and readers have been talking about how the digital age makes for an “infinite canvass” where comic stories can roll out endlessly panel after panel rather than in a classic magazine or book print format. But even in an era where every major mainstream publisher has an app to sell digital comics for tablet devices and phones, no commercial comics company has made an attempt at producing new content that capitalizes on the infinite canvass concept. Today, Marvel Comics made official their plans on that front with a new program called Marvel Infinite Comics.

Announced as part of their appearance at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Infinite Comics is one plank in Marvel’s new digital product branding “Marvel ReEvolution” Starting April 4th, 2012, the publisher will release new comic stories built for iPads and tablet devices and on sale in the comiXology powered Marvel app for $.99 cents or free with a purchase of “Avengers vs. X-Men” #1. The debut story is a Nova comic by Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen, the first of three Infinite Comics tie-ins to the upcoming “Avengers Vs. X-Men” event (read more on the story and the Infinite Comics format with Mark Waid here).

To help parse out the whys and wherefores of this particular SXSW announcement, CBR News spoke to Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada about where Infinite Comics came from and why now was the time to launch. Below, the artist describes his own history in the digital realm and how it impacted the final product, how he and Waid bonded over a love for cutting edge comic creator Yves “Balak” Bigeral and what’s next on the horizon for the format.

Joe Quesada: Yeah I have, but sometimes you have to wait for just the right time for the right idea. As you know, these days I only have enough time and bandwidth to get involved in the larger stories and ideas in our publishing division, but Infinite Comics is something really near and dear to my heart, so when the opportunity arose to pull the trigger on them I jumped at it.

The first Marvel Infinite Comic will be a Nova story by Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen.

The Marvel Comics App expanded pretty quickly once tablet devices like the iPad came along, but how soon after that did you guys begin planning to make content for this platform specifically? Did you have some kind of “Eureka!” moment with an iPad that drove you to work in this arena?

There were two “Eureka!” moments, the most recent happened in summer of 2009, about six months before the iPad was announced, but it actually began long before that.

In 1996, a young John Cerilli, then the Editorial Director of Marvel Interactive (yes we actually used “Interactive” back then), was producing a series of “Cyber Comics.” These Cyber Comics were only available on AOL at the Marvel Keyword and then later published online in something we called The Marvel Zone. The Cyber Comics employed this very cool Flash-based tech that allowed the reader to click through the story and control the pace.

In 1998, John asked Kevin Smith, Jimmy Palmiotti and I if we could produce a Daredevil “Guardian Devil” #0 Cyber Comic. I was really taken by the whole idea behind them and sensed that there was something there, but at that time in the history of publishing and the digital world, it was nothing more than a fun novelty. “Hey look what we can do with comics on your computer kids!” The general public just wasn’t clamoring for their comics in that fashion yet. That’s why very few people even remember these Cyber Comics if they were even aware of them at all. Still, it was an interesting experiment and certainly got me thinking.

Now flash forward to ’09; that’s when I came across the Deviant Art website of a French artist and animator named Yves Bigeral on which he clearly demonstrated his vision of what he thought the future of digital comics could be. I was absolutely floored, not only was it similar to those old Cyber Comics, but Yves took it to a whole other level as well as explained in very simple terms how it was the best methodology, and I couldn’t have agreed more. The next day I was running up and down the halls of Marvel showing his technique to anyone who would listen. For a while now we had all been struggling with trying to envision what the future of digital comics could be – what form they would take, what they’d look like, how they’d be constructed – and here Yves crystallized it all in one brilliantly elegant solution. Here was something that used the digital platform and all the tools that make it great yet still keeps the purity of what makes comics “Comics.” Still, the time wasn’t right, so I kept it in my back pocket and then in January of 2010 came the iPad.

Here’s the link if you want to check out what he did. Be forewarned, there is some adult language.

Talking particulars, what were the main challenges – both from a technical perspective and a creative one – that you guys had to crack before bringing out some original digital material like this? In other words, what are the things that a Marvel Infinite Comic needs to have to make it work best?

The two most immediate challenges were having an audience who was digitally savvy and a proper widespread platform to deliver it on. Truthfully, we could have produced a comic like this years ago, but it wouldn’t have stood a fighting chance.

The next hurdle – and this is one we are currently crossing – is how artist and writers apply themselves to this new style of building a comic. Is it any harder or easier to produce than a standard paper comic? How much content is enough, how much is too much? These are things that we’ll be learning the as we go, but that all depends on how the fans responds.

From an artist perspective, I can tell you that the possibilities this technique allows us thrills me to no end. There are whole new sets of tools that we get to play with to tell a story. From a nuts and bolts perspective, there are areas where we can save time; reuse of backgrounds in an artful way is one that comes immediately to mind. On the other hand, you have to think about how to tell your story in a much more thorough fashion. If you’re a comic artist without great storytelling skills, you’re going to have a hard time with this.

As for technical issues, we’re still exploring many of them. Because this is new, there are certain effects that we’d like to use, but initially comiXology’s app is made specifically for our needs, so they’re working hard to eventually get us there. They’ve been great to work with, but they’re reader is built on a very specific platform and we’re throwing them a curve ball here, so I think there are many more storytelling tricks that you’ll see our creators using in the future that may not be possible right at this very moment.

“AvX” #1 will also feature a free augmented reality app called Marvel AR.

One debate we heard a lot when motion comics were first showing up was that adding animation and other film-like transitions to comics took away some of the “comic-ness” of the stories. Obviously, releases on the Infinite Comics platform won’t be animated like a motion comic, but what kinds of discussions have you had about where the line is drawn on what storytelling choices you can make while still making a project a comic first?

We haven’t had too many conversations yet about where to draw the line, but I agree with you. Motion comics are pretty wonderful, but they’ve grown into something else – a hybrid between comics and animation and in some cases when done as beautifully as “Thor/Loki,” just animation.

What I found so compelling with Yves technique is the beautiful simplicity of it. It’s essentially an animatic, but what makes it a comic is that the reader controls the timing in the same way that they control the turn of the page. That’s a key component of comics as is the artists and writers ability to guide your eye across that page and through the story. In an Infinite Comic, all those attributes are there only there is no page. There is only the screen and on that screen the possibilities are endless.

Looking at the Nova comic you guys are launching with, readers will see a few tricks of the trade on display, particularly the way captions and word balloons can tumble in as a form of panel transitions. Were these kinds of aspects things you’ve discussed with and disseminated amongst creators working on these comics in advance, or do you think those storytelling changes will come naturally once people play with the format?

I think we’re only touching the surface. Stuart, like all of us working on the Infinite stuff, is discovering things as he goes. By the way, that’s why he was our first choice to do this. Not only is he a brilliant draftsman, he’s also one of the best storytellers in the industry.

And yes, the great thing about Infinite Comics is that even the writer gets to play with the medium in ways they never have before. Not only can the artist guide the reader through the story, but the writer now has control of not only the pacing of the visuals, but the pacing of their narrative. It used to be that the only tools a writer had to pace their narrative in a standard comic was the placement of their balloons and caption boxes, the number and sequence of panels and the turn of the page. Now in an Infinite Comic, they control the caption boxes and how they’re delivered to the reader. It’s pretty damn sweet.

One of the other cool things about the Infinite Comics technique is that it’s going to allow us to tell different genres of story in a much more effective fashion. For example, I’ve always found that horror never really quite translates to comics like it does in movies, and it’s incredibly difficult get that visceral moment of shock that all great horror movies do so well. The reason for this is the reader’s ability to control the timing and rhythm of a scene with the turn of the page as opposed to the control a director of a movie has over their audience. With an Infinite Comic, while you control the timing of the panels and captions, you don’t know what the next panel or caption is going to be. This allows storytellers scare as well as shock and surprise us in ways we’ve previously not been able to do in comics. So there are little things like that that I think creators will be experimenting with as we move forward.

Speaking of creators playing with this format, I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to most fans that Mark Waid is writing these comics right out the gate. When you reached out to him to work on this, what did he bring to the table from his own research into this new technology that helped Marvel overall?

There were several reasons why we asked Mark. First, he’s one of my favorite writers and people in this industry. Secondly, he has a great working relationship with Stuart. And third, he’s working on a very similar kind of storytelling technique on a few of his creator owned projects. But then we got an added bonus. When I pitched Mark on the project and explained the Infinite Comics technique as well as Yves tutorial, Mark laughed and said that Yves was a dear friend and he knew exactly what I was talking about. This was amazing news as I felt that since Yves was the initial inspiration for all of this, I was hoping we could get him to do at least one chapter, which he’s in the middle of right now. I’ve seen the layouts, and it’s breathtaking stuff. You can tell he’s the master at this.

Let me also add, like Yves, there are several creators in the comics industry who are experimenting with digital comics and some are employing techniques similar to what we’re doing. Reilly Brown is someone who comes immediately to mind. At the end of the day I think we’re all going to learn from each other and we’re end up in some pretty amazing creative places.

On the particulars of the story, we’ve heard Axel talking for a while about Nova being a lynchpin character for Marvel moving forward. What is it about this new take on the classic character that you, Jeph Loeb and the rest of the animation guys have become so enamored with, and why was he chosen as the launch character for Infinite Comics?

Marvel fans who love our Cosmic Universe and characters have been asking me for well over two years if we’re ever going to do something significant with that corner of the Marvel U, and for the last couple of years I’ve had to bite my lip and simply say, “Wait and see. We have big plans.” Well, that time is starting to slowly creep up on us, and Nova is a very important part of that. Some fans think that it has to do with our upcoming “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated show (premiering on the Marvel Universe block on April 1 on DisneyXD), but here’s news for you, it’s the exact opposite. The reason Nova is part of the “USM” cast is because we have such big plans for him in publishing and these plans started percolating several years ago.

As for Nova being the lead in this first Infinite endeavor, that had more to do with the particular story we wanted to tell. I’d love to lie to you and tell you that it was all part of the synergistic plan, but this one was just sheer luck. Still, we’ll take it.

One thing we’ve heard from folks like Dan Buckley is that Marvel comics these days are meant to live in as many formats as possible. Since Infinite Comics are made to synch so strongly with the tablet reading experience, does that make an eventual transition to print tougher or even impossible?

It could, but it all depends on the story and the creative team. But I think that’s where you can get into trouble. We gave Stuart very few parameters with this first story with one exception, we told him not to worry about print. Draw the story and only concern yourself with how it’ll work on a tablet. If we can translate it to print later, great, but let us worry about that. This is where I think many attempts at digital comics fail. Either they’re a print comic that is reconfigured to work in digital, or it’s a comic that is designed for digital, while also keeping how to build the inevitable print version firmly in mind. What happens is that, when it’s all said and done, you end up with something that is neither fish nor fowl.

Overall, what kind of content are you most excited to see in this format moving forward as both a reader and a creator? How often can we expect to see new Infinite Comics launching, and what’s the element of the program folks may miss in all the flash of swiping through these rad panels?

With respect to what kinds of future content I’d like to see, well the sky’s the limit if you ask me. I just want to see how fans react to this technique first. As for how often can you expect to see Infinite Comics? Right now it’s way too early to speculate. Like everything we do, it’s really up to the fans. Our current plans consists of three Infinite Comic installments for “AvX,” but you never know. If the reaction is great, we may do one or two more. As for what our next set of Infinite Comics will be after “AvX,” you’re going to have to wait and see what we do next. You know we always have something up our sleeve.

To Infinity and… oh wait.