C2E2: Marvel House of Ideas

Marvel Comics opened its presence at C2E2 2012 with its House of Ideas panel, where panelists were ready to discuss and reveal news about the Marvel Comics App, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, Marvel Infinite Comics and more. Moderated by Marvel Director of Communications Arune Singh, the panel included Marvel Digital Executive Editorial Director Ryan Penagos, Editor in Chief Axel Alonso and Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada.

After a brief introduction, the panel kicked off with Singh explaining the history of Marvel digital comics, beginning with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and has a backlist that is constantly growing. "One thing that's important to us is that you can get your comics any time, anywhere," said Singh, as he continued to explain the Marvel Digital Comics App allows readers to access comics on iOS, Android and the Nook.

Singh moved on to the digital code contained in many recent comics including the recent "Avengers Vs. X-Men" #1. In June, all $3.99 comics will contain a code for a free digital copy of that comic. The Director of Communications also mentioned the recent Comic Book Cash initiative where readers received a five dollar coupon for use at a local comic book store.

The Marvel ReEvolution was next on the docket and Alonso noted many of the ReEvolution initiatives, such as Marvel AR, were being rolled out alongside the "Avengers Vs. X-Men" mega-event. "We're just learning this stuff. We're having fun here," said Alonso, noting Marvel would continue to experiment to further learn how to use the feature to its optimum capacity.

Alonso also spoke to the recently released Marvel Infinite Comic by Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen. "This is our first attempt at doing a digital comics book," said Alonso. "It's like video games. I remember being a little kid when Pong was released ... I have no doubt a few years from now, we'll be looking at these digital comics and going [what?]"

"As you start doing motion comics, as you get better at doing motion comics, they're full-on animation, they're not even comics anymore," said Quesada, who recalled discovering a French artist who had helped inspire infinite comics and keeping "the spirit and sanctity of what a comic book was." "I think this is the way we'll be telling comic book stories very, very shortly."

The Infinite Comic is currently available bundled with both the digital and the physical version of "Avengers vs. X-Men" #1 and for $0.99 in the Marvel Digital Comics App.

"This accesses the simplicity of the digital tools, but it's still a comic book," said Quesada. "It almost allows me as an artist to be more of a film director." Quesada also said he believes Infinite Comics is "the future of where we're going," comparing where comics are now in relation to digital to the original newspaper strips transitioning to the current forms.

Singh teased a bit about the future of Marvel AR, specifically a feature in the "AVX: VS" companion series. "If you guys are checking out 'AVX: VS,' you're going to see in issue #3, Nick Lowe had an amazing idea how to use Marvel AR," said Singh.

The panel turned to the redesign of Marvel.com and the features of the website including podcasts like "The Mighty Marvel Podcast" and "This Week in Marvel." Singh also noted some of the publisher's social networking initiatives including Twitter, GetGlue and Facebook. "If you guys haven't liked Marvel on Facebook, you should. It's good," said Penagos. "I think all four of us up here are on Twitter. I think we have about 350 who either work for or work with Marvel on Twitter and it's important for us because we're constantly communicating with the fans. We're in this together."

Quesada, who has seen "The Avengers," spoke about his experience and impressions of the red carpet premiere. "It was unbelievable," said Quesada. "I've seen the film dozens of times but to see the film with the full crowd, it was ridiculous. ... It's the pure unadulterated Marvel experience."

Penagos moved on, outlining the video segment "AvX: Battlecenter," a Sportscenter-like rundown for "AvX" and screened the first episode of the "AvX" themed "What The--?!" involving Wolverine launching a full-on prank war between the Avengers and X-Men that escalates into an actual war between the two teams complete with decapitation, arrows through the shoulder, neck snapping and more.

Following applause for the animated short, the panel moved on to the "Avengers Alliance" Facebook game. "It's like crack, but it's not illegal!" Singh joked.

"It's really well done, I play it all the time," said Penagos. "Squirrel Girl is not in there...yet."

The panel then opened up for questions from the audience.

The first question involved Marvel subscription service and the possibility of advance-sending digital codes. "We're actually going to overhaul our subscription service in the next few months or so," said Singh.

Quesada expressed how satisfied he was with Marvel's digital initiatives. "It's a delicate balance," said Quesada. "Retailers rely on Marvel and I think we're finding a way to bring those worlds together." He compared moving comics and collections to the digital space to introducing trade paperbacks and collected editions into regular circulation.

"There are states that don't have a comic shop and we know there are comic fans there," Quesada continued. "It's opening us up to a whole new set of fans." Alonso noted digital was an opportunity to keep books alive that might otherwise not have found an audience in print.

"We can't predict the future but I could easily see the trade business growing," Alonso said, noting that even though many people download their music digitally, listening to music is different than reading and sometimes comics can benefit from opportunities only available in print.

Singh also spoke to how Marvel hopes to use digital to bring more customers to brick-and-mortar stores, noting every digital comic code redeemed increases the discount retailers get on an issue.

Wrapping up, the panel spoke about the pricing of both the digital and the print version of Marvel comics. "There's no doubt if we lower the price by a dollar, it's going to sell more," said Quesada, who stated quality is the publisher's major goal and it hopes to continue bringing the best writers and artists to its books.

With that, the panel wrapped. Stay tuned to CBR for more C2E2 coverage!

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