10 Comic Book Properties That Could Blaze A DIGITAL Trail1 of 12By Newsarama Staff
Few people really know how many digital comic book readers there are out there, and those who think they know estimate the market is pretty small right now. But that isn't stopping the more future-than-now format from being the belle of the distribution ball for publishers.
Almost every day it's a new digital announcement of some kind, with publishers continually breaking down the lines between digital and print in small intervals. Last week, Marvel announced same-day digital release for all of their titles by the end of March 2012, and on Thursday announced that all print editions of their Ultimate titles will come with download codes for free digital copies.
We here at Newsarama speculate that it's only a matter of time before a major publisher or two takes a next logical step: a dedicated focus on digital-first and digital-exclusive ongoing titles, and perhaps even the creation of a digital-exclusive line or imprint.
Let's admit it, a good portion of the existing comics fanbase are still likely resisting the digital format, something both publishers and (especially) brick and mortar retailers hope is complementing their regular paper reading habits. So wouldn't a compelling title or small series of titles you can only get (or get first) digitally be an incentive that makes sense?
Heck, we're even going to give whatever publishers who want to enter this brave new world first a little help, with 10 utterly unsolicited suggestions for existing characters, concepts and titles that we think should make the digital leap. [Newsarama note: An earlier version of this story ran on Oct. 4, 2011.]
TEXT H FOR HERO2 of 12So Robby Reed finds this mysterious telephone dial-shaped device (readers under 30 may have to wiki that reference) with letters instead of numbers, and when he dials the sequence H-E-R-O he transforms into a new, different superhero each time.
Sorry Mark Waid and other known Dial H fans, talk about an anachronism.
Here's a simple update to take the concept from hopelessly analog to decidedly digital. Have Robby find a mysterious smart phone (maybe an iPhone 1k.4s?) that turns him into a new superhero whenever he voice-command texts the word HERO.
Heck, maybe if he's really in a jam and tweets out HERO all of his followers become a superhero team?
The apps are endless. This one writes itself, really...
THE ATOM3 of 12One of the coolest powers of Ray Palmer, DC's original microscopic-man, was his ability to travel through telephone wires (which is the speed of what, exactly?) and be anywhere in the world near instantly at least anywhere with a phone on the other end.
How about if the new Atom, Ryan Choi, took that power to another level and allowed him to enter and inhabit the digital world in Tron-like fashion? There's no crime or terrorism threat growing in severity more than cyber-threats, right?
So the Atom fights crime 21st century-style, against a new generation of digital super-villain in a landscape limited only by the imagination of the writer.
Stylus of the Atom"?
Or maybe not...
THE STAR WARS LINE4 of 12When you have one of the most massively popular licensed properties known to man, you have that same massive amount of potential for readership. The problem or potential, depending on how you look at it is there are a lot more Star Wars fans there are print comic book readers. Going digital-first or digital-only with the whole lineup of titles, including codes for digital Star Wars comics with toys, video games, and movies, or running commercials or announcements of free digital downloads during Clone Wars it all seems like ideas that would make sense to gain the most exposure possible.
Now, we understand that while LucasFilm licenses this property out for a lot of different types of creations, they still need to approve the cross-promotion and whatnot, so this is more of idea pointed towards themthan to Dark Horse, the publisher who has held the license for two decades.
One footnote: We'd be remiss not to mention they actually did this with two arcs of the Star Wars: The Old Republic comic book, which leads into and ties-into the story of the upcoming MMORPG. Hosting the comic on SWTOR.com before it saw print as monthly issues, then trades, let the dedicated fans who have built a community there get first access to the stories, while also allowing a lot of people who might not have read the comics at all to read them.
BATMAN BEYOND5 of 12Here's an already-existing pocket of the DC Universe that fans seem pretty well attached to and has a built-in and literal futuristic bent. Readers were somewhat surprised to see Batman Beyond go away as an ongoing series with the launch of the New 52, and with the Superman Beyond one-shot happening right before the reboot, it seems perhaps plans were afoot to expand the Beyond-verse.
If DC ever wants a thematic group of titles to center a digital-first or exclusive line around, wouldn't this be the a pretty ideal vehicle? DC says Batman Beyond will return in 2012, and perhaps it'll be in an appropriately futuristic format.
J.A.R.V.I.S.6 of 12Or, the "Joint Avengers Reconnaissance Virtual Information System."
Indulge us for a sec on this one.
Sure, we all love the Avengers long-time manservant; the bowler hat-wearing, afternoon tea-serving Jarvis. But the Paul Bettany-voiced computerized version from the Iron Man movies and undoubtedly the upcoming Avengers big screen feature is pretty cool too.
How about a digital series about an Oracle-like, but fully-virtual character, who serves as the intelligence gatherer/analyzer for all the Avengers off-shoot teams and the individual heroes who count themselves as members?
It could be a new team-up a month with a new hero and J.A.R.V.I.S. fighting ...
... OK, OK, you got us. We just wanted to see how hard it was to come up with a acronym that made sense.
Hey it's no worse than what S.H.I.E.L.D. was originally, is it?
VIDEO GAME COMICS7 of 12Like our previous Star Wars entry, this is one that has been tried before but we'd argue it should maybe happen more often. Dark Horse published the first two arcs of the Star Wars: The Old Republic comic on the game's website first, and DC Comics recently released a digital-only tie-in to the upcoming Batman: Arkham City bridging the gap between the first tame and its sequel.
Wouldn't a DC Universe Online digital comic; one that can be downloaded first on the game's website, or on the PlayStation Network for viewing on your big screen, be an idea worth considering?
The Call of Duty franchise is setting sales records, isn't there some way they could get that comic out to their fans via digital and a potentially higher readership? Perhaps integrating it into the upcoming Call of Duty: Elite online social engine would be the solution.
Either way, video gamers are online creatures. A digital-first or digital-only video game comic, served to potential readers at the same places they go to talk about or play their games makes some level of sense, doesn't it?
DAMAGE CONTROL8 of 12From Foursquare to Facebook's "Places" feature, location-based apps continue to be popular. And if you're comfortable with letting your cell phone provider and manufacturer follow every single move you make, there can be plenty of advantages, like centering search results around your current location. With the recent introduction of the iPhone 4S and Siri voice command, the integration between phone and GPS looks like it'll only continue to grow.
So why not get digital comics into that action? How about a digital-only Damage Control series, based on the Marvel property co-created by the late Dwayne McDuffie? Stories could be centered around common locations in a city say, Damage Control cleaning up after the Hulk and Juggernaut tear up a shopping center and you could unlock it by checking into your local mall or closest equivalent. At the very least, it'd get comic book readers out of the house, and that's never a bad thing.
The idea can even be taken one step further with books like the December-debuting Defenders, which has been promoted as a globe-trotting tale spanning the Marvel Universe. Pick out real-world approximations for locales like Wundagore Mountain or the Savage Land, and unlock cool extras when you do so. After all, if there is a real-world approximation of the Savage Land, you really should get some type of reward for finding it.
ORACLE 2.09 of 12OK, so Barbara Gordon was Batgirl, did get shot and paralyzed by the Joker, and did have a past with the Birds of Prey, right?
So that means Oracle existed and it also means DC's "New 52" Gotham City and the superhero community in general is minus an Oracle right now, yes? An invaluable source of intel for crimefighers, particularly the street-level kind. Does anyone think Babs is just going to leave the role unoccupied and leave the lesser-information pirates hang in the wind?
How about a series about Barbara's successor, Wendy Harris? Sure, the Stephanie Brown Batgirl era has seemingly been erased, but that doesn't mean the Calculator's daughter who, like the original Oracle, has an affinity for computers and uses a wheelchair can't still fill the position.
DC's never going to replace the affection fans felt for Barbara as Oracle, but they've also traditionally been about legacy, and who better to continue in the role and in what better format to tell her story?
SPIDER-GIRL10 of 12In the most recent volume of the Spider-Girl ongoing series, Paul Tobin used Twitter as a narrative device, presenting Anya Corazon's inner monologue through a series of tweets.
More than that, he also ran an official Twitter account for the character, responding to fans as Spider-Girl, and mirroring some of the tweets that appeared in the comic. Though the series ended after eight issues, the potential here is clear. Marvel could revive the series as a digital exclusive, and incorporate Twitter even further maybe "Choose Your Own Adventure" style plot twists based on tweeted votes?
Spider-Girl is exactly the kind of well-liked but low-selling series that could benefit from the decreased overhead of digital comics, and you can theoretically reach a lot more young, female readers on an iPad than at a comic book shop.
CYBORG11 of 12C'mon, you knew this one was coming, didn't you?
Cyborg was not only elevated to Superman-like status in DC's Flashpoint alternate timeline, he joins The New 52 as a founding member of the Justice League and has been singled-out repeatedly in interviews by DC brass as a hero for the 21st century, given his youth and his digital-technology based powers.
Considering his newly "upgraded status, we know it's only a matter of time before he gets his own solo ongoing series, so what more suitable hero could there be to lead the charge into a next phase of the digital age for DC than the guy who's the walking epitome of it?
DC could send the message about how serious they are about digital by having the superstar they're so clearly hoping to groom serve as a flagship of a trailblazing line.
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