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In recent months, Marvel has embraced the digital platform, with its “Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited” online comics program, motion comics and applications on mobile platforms like the iPad. Continuing in that tradition, Marvel announced Saturday at the C2E2 Cup o’ Joe panel that two series from its boutique creator-owned Icon imprint are going to be distributed shortly on iTunes and PSP. Criminal and Incognito, both by the creative team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips,

“[This has been] something that people were approaching me about at conventions and through emails for the past year or so, actually, and that I'd asked Marvel about,” explained Ed Brubaker, writer for both series. “And when I did, they told me to sit tight, that they were working on a plan.”

The plan, as revealed this weekend at C2E2, sees both series serialized on the iTunes and PSP platform with the first issue of Incognito and first two issues of Criminal debuted Saturday for $1.99 each. Future issues are tentatively scheduled to be released on a weekly schedule with these digital versions catching up to its print counterparts by the end of the summer.

“It's the future isn't it?” remarked artist Sean Phillips. “There's loads of comics I'd like to read, but not necessarily want to keep the paper copies of around. I don't live near a comic shop, so it would be nice to keep up with current stories rather than waiting for the trades.”

The announcement of the digital delivery of these two books and fellow Icon book Powers follows the recent release of another Icon series, Kick-Ass, into the digital domain earlier last week. As it turns out, Brubaker was the first Icon creator to actively lobby for the digital conversion.

“Technically, Ed was the first creator to sign on for Icon digital comics,” explained Ruwan Jayatilleke, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Development & Planning of Print, Animation and Digital Media. “Then we signed Mark and Brian up next. Obviously Kick-Ass digital comics are going out first because of the film's release and making sure the Kick-Ass digital comics were timed accordingly.”

According to Jayatilleke, all Icon digital comics will be available on an “Icon” channel on the PSP and will be available in iTunes in a devoted “Icon” section of popular comics apps such as Comixology, Iverse and Panelfly. Although under the Marvel umbrella in print, these Icon books will not appear in the Marvel app on iTunes or in the online Marvel Comics Digital Unlimited platform.

When asked about the logistics of translating a print comic like Incognito and Criminal to the digital domain, Jayatilleke couldn’t say too much.

“Unfortunately, that's proprietary information,” the Marvel executive explained. “However I will say that we have a very talented team of digital comic folks, operations people, and sales & marketing staffers skillfully putting together the books, managing a streamlined workflow, and making sure that Marvel is effectively selling and promoting each series of digital comics.”

Although the series’ creators Brubaker and Phillips completed their part of the work when the original print issues hit shelves, they had some particular concerns that they made sure were addressed.

“My biggest concern was that readers be able to see the full page, not just a panel at a time,” said Brubaker,” and with the iPad, that's now possible.”

“I've tried reading comics on my computer and never been able to get into it,” Brubaker continued. “but I went out and bought the iPad and I was impressed with that. As [Marvel Publisher] Dan Buckley said, it's the closest the digital comics have come to giving the same experience as reading the print comics. And the colors might actually even be a bit better on the digital versions.”

Artist Sean Phillips echoed Brubaker’s thoughts on the particular appeal of their comics on the iPad device.

“As I buy comics only for the art, the iPad is the best gadget so far to appreciate that on,” explained the artist. “I've tried a few comics on my iPhone reading panel by panel, but that's no substitute for seeing a full page of art like the artist intended.”

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