Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Behind The Mask

The Next Wave of Comic Book Viewing?

I recently had enjoyed the opportunity to revisit a story-arc from Astonishing X-Men that I had loved reading back in 2004. The arc by Joss Whedon and John Cassadey was entitled Gifted and covered Astonishing X-Men issues 1-6. But instead of picking up those issues like I did back in the old days, I wound up seeing the arc as a motion comic courtesy of Hulu.com. While most comic book fans prefer a newly printed comic that they can hold in their hands, digital comics are also growing in popularity. I dare to ask if the motion comic might be the next big thing beyond digital.

For those who are not familiar with the motion comic, it incorporates the dialogue and art of a comic or comic book story arc along with elements of animation, a musical score, voiceovers and camera angles. Right now, there are only a handful of motion comics out there. The first motion comic was based on an independent comic called Broken Saints. DC Comics put out both Dark Knight and Watchmen motion comics to coincide with the releases of their movies. Along with Astonishing X-Men, Marvel also produced a Spider Woman motion comic and just released Extremis Iron Man (just in time for the release of Iron Man 2).

The reviews for motion comics right now are mixed. Some claim that the motion comic in its current form is just a cheap version of a full feature animated movie. Others claim that the voices, music and overall production value are just not up-to-par.

Another question that many ask is if the money that comic book companies invest in these motion comics will be seen in other ways. For example, will someone who sees a motion comic like Astonishing X-Men Gifted, go out and buy the Gifted trade paperback? Will they start becoming a new, steady reader of the comic? Right now, it’s way too early to know.

I know that my interest was definitely piqued while seeing the Gifted motion comic. It was a new and different way to re-discover a story arc that I had thoroughly enjoyed many years ago. And while I thought Marvel did an admirable job with the voices of the characters and with the musical score, there was definitely something stilted and lacking with the overall product. The addition of animation which should have heightened the viewing experience was at times not very fluid causing character’s expressions to be creepy and their movements jerky and awkward.

Marvel, DC and other comic book companies need to decide whether they want to invest more into the overall animation and production value of these comics and at the same time determine if the motion comic is a viable way of getting their brand and product out to the masses. In the meanwhile, I’m more than happy to read about the continuing adventures of my favorite characters by going to my local comic shop or catching up with them digitally.

- Hamilton Maher

Image courtesy of Screenrant.com

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