On Monday, Marvel teased something dubbed "Share Your Universe." Tuesday, they're looking to reveal full details of what exactly that entails, in a press conference set to get started around 11:30 a.m. eastern time.
Scheduled to be on the call: Marvel publisher Dan Buckley, chief creative officer Joe Quesada, executive vice president of Marvel TV and animation Jeph Loeb, and vice president of animation development and production Cort Lane. As always, we'll be live on the line, so keep refreshing this page for the very latest.
Marvel sales and marketing's James Viscardi starts the call, calling "Share Your Universe" an initiative for fans to "take the universe that they know and love, and share it" — through comics, animated shows and digital media.
Quesada starts by saying, "For me, it gets down to the core of what it was that got me into the Marvel Universe at first. It brings back memories of my dad buying me my first comic. It was just that sharing experience where one person leads to another leads to another."
Continuing, Quesada says that it's Marvel taking a "good look" at how many people come to comics — through something being handed to them by someone else — and putting an initiative behind it.
Buckley says that Marvel has been very excited about what their partners on Disney XD have done for outreach, and they wanted to reach out to the core fan base. "We realize that sometimes it's hard for us to refer a younger kid to content in the Marvel Universe easily, because our comics have grown up. We wanted to make sure we started developing tools and content to help kids get involved with what we're doing." Buckley calls it an active way to engage younger readers and writers.
Loeb says there are now "so many avenues" for people to become Marvel fans. "One of the ways that we're seeing happening more and more is that kids are getting introduced to Marvel through what's happening in Disney XD with the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, and Avengers Assemble, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. in August. That's a lot of content for kids to get excited about. Then in the fall, for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be coming on ABC, it's yet another gateway into our universe. This is really an extraordinary opportunity to share that universe with your families. There are so many ways for you to get activated in the Marvel Universe, we want to make sure everybody knows it all starts with publishing."
Lane adds that he didn't have anyone to share the Marvel Universe with when he was 10, and started reading Avengers, and then took to looking through liquor stores for more. "It's very cool that today we can make that much more accessible."
Viscardi states what is actually available right now — There will be free episodes of Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man through Xbox 360 and the Windows 8, available until July 15. In comic shops starting this Wednesday, there will be a free "Share Your Universe" sampler, with content tied to the Disney XD "Marvel Universe" app. There will be free comics on Marvel's ComiXology app and Marvel Unlimited. Plus, a Facebook page with information relating to the program.
First press question, from iFanboy: Did any other programs serve as an example for "Share Your Universe"? Buckley answers that it was inspired by the "unique comics community," which was an opportunity that a lot of companies do not have. "We kind of packaged this array of stuff so it would be easy for people to look and go, 'Oh, I know how to get to this, and get my little brother, niece, nephew, friend's kid, involved in the Marvel Universe.' We didn't think we were doing a good enough job for our core fans to make new core fans."
Next press question, from us: It could be difficult to determine the success of this initiative initially — what are the specific ways Marvel is looking to measure if this program is working? "You're right, it'll be hard to get, out of the gate, incremental success," Buckley says. "I think a lot of this will be initially driven by just the general response we get on the Internet, Facebook likes, people engaging with us in general, how they actively respond to this activity at the various cons that we go to with this initiative."
Loeb adds, "Our fanbase has never been shy. They let us know if we're doing the right things and if we're doing the wrong things. But the one thing they're very vocal is their love of Marvel. I think this becomes a success if we have one kid — if one person looks at this thing and introduces one kid to our world, then it's a success. This is an opportunity for us to actively try to say to the incredible Marvel fanbase — share your universe. It isn't so much what Marvel gets out of it, it's what the fanbase gets out of it."
"There's no better time," Quesada says. "We're at a point right now where you can access Marvel in so many different places." Quesada mentions the recently viral Internet video of 4-year-old Mia answering questions about Marvel continuity, and says that she is the type of person they have in mind for the initiative.
Next press question, from CBR: What are the ways that "Share Your Universe" will get content in front of its intended targets? "The paradigm shift is, this isn't about being at 7-11, per se. It's about being where kids are at today. The new five-and-dime shop in a lot of ways is a kid grabbing a smart phone or tablet, just finding the stuff that they like. This is multiple access points, multiple versions of content."
Next press question, from The Beat: How will the initiative connect directly to comic books? Buckley says that one of the great things about comic books is that they have the capacity for multiple different interpretations of characters. "That actually, in some ways, is a bit of a hinderance when we're dealing with 6 to 10 year olds. They go, 'What is the real Spider-Man?' You hear that in focus groups." Forthcoming content, Buckley says, will include Infinite Comics based on the animated shows, which will later be published in print.
Next press question, from AP: What safeguards are in place to make sure that content goes to an appropriate audience? "This is part of the reason we're packaging it this way," Buckley says. "There will be educational layouts for what we're doing."
Last question, from Marvel.com: Will there be specific outreach for young female Marvel fans? "In our animated series, we pride ourselves on having a strong female lead in each of our shows, and of course that carries into the publishing execution of each of the shows," Lane says. "We feel very good about that." (Specifically, White Tiger in Ultimate Spider-Man, Black Widow in Avengers Assemble and She-Hulk in Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.)
Quesada adds saying that Marvel has made strides in presenting strong female characters in publishing, mentioning Carol Danvers' shift in title last year to Captain Marvel. Loeb says that in regards to live-action TV, any show developed by Joss Whedon will have strong female roles, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is no exception.
Viscardi wraps the call, saying that more details from the initiative will be revealed in the coming weeks.