Digital Comic Resources - Ultimate Marvel, "Immortals" & More

Welcome to the debut of Digital Comic Resources, CBR's new weekly round-up of digital comic news. This week, we look at new downloadable comic programs from Marvel, the flood of content providers flocking to Barns & Nobles' just-announced Color Nook and Amazon's upcoming Kindle Fire, the reinvigoration of iVerse and Digital Manga's new, expansive iOS app, plus plenty more!

  • Digital Comics: Beginning in January with "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #6, all Marvel's Ultimate Comics will include a code that allows readers to download a digital copy of the comic for free from the Marvel iOS and Android apps. This week's "Avenging Spider-Man" #1 was the first print comic to include the free digital copy, and Marvel's David Gabriel told CBR earlier this week that demand for that comic was up 20% to 30% over the usual level. In a way, the whole download program speaks directly to the collector mentality, as readers will get a copy to keep and a copy to read -- and because the comics must be polybagged to protect the code, they will be in better condition, too. On the other hand, readers who like to share their comics can now give away the print version and still have a copy to read.
  • E-readers: With the release of the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet just around the corner, there was a flurry of comics announcements for e-book platforms this week. ComiXology announced that it has developed a version of its Comics app for the Kindle Fire, which will sync with the comiXology apps on every other platform. While most other e-reader announcements have been for stand-alone graphic novels that are basically marketed like books, comiXology offers a different model, a single app that embraces a variety of content from different publishers, most of it presented as single issues rather than full-length graphic novels. That's a common enough format on the iPad, but it remains to be seen how it will work in the Kindle environment.
  • E-readers: Meanwhile, Marvel announced that its graphic novels will be available on the Nook Tablet and Nook Color, starting next week. Titles will include "Civil War," "Invincible Iron Man," "Captain America" and "Thor."
  • E-Readers: Not to be outdone, the Graphicly folks pointed out that they are already on the Nook and posted a list of new releases to that platform, including "Charmed" (Zenescope), "Die Hard: Year One" (BOOM! Studios), "Impaler" and "Midnight Nation" (Top Cow), "Harker" (AAM Markosia) and "In Maps and Legends" (Unwrecked Press).
  • E-Readers: Archie Comics also announced its own Archie app for the Nook Tablet. While they didn't give a lot of details, this appears to be a multi-comic app that works just like its iPad, iPhone and Windows 7 phone apps.
  • Apps: Digital Manga unveiled its branded iOS app this week. While Digital was one of the first publishers to put manga on the iPhone/iPod Touch, their efforts on that platform have focused on their "Vampire Hunter D" property, while they marketed the yaoi manga that make up the bulk of their catalog in a variety of other channels, including the Kindle, the Nook and their own eManga streaming site. That all changed this week with the launch of their Digital Manga Store iPad app, which offers a wide selection of yaoi titles as well as "Vampire Hunter D," how-to books and American graphic novels from IDW. One odd omission: Digital carries Softbank's Harlequin manga on its eManga site, but it is not available in this app. The manga is priced at $8.99 and up, high for digital manga but in line with digital graphic novel prices, and the fact that most of these are one-shots, rather than multi-volume series, may make the prices more palatable.
  • E-Readers: And if you're wondering, "When is someone going to release graphic novels for Kobo readers?" here's your answer: IDW Publishing announced that it is making 20 graphic novels, including the Bloom County collections, Darwyn Cooke's Parker books, Joe Hill's "Locke & Key" series, the Star Trek movie adaptation and "The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures", available for the Kobo Vox.
  • Developers: iVerse execs announced this week that they have secured $4 million in venture capital funding, although the press release also notes that they "have been financially solvent for some time now," which certainly is an accomplishment in today's economy. iVerse was one of the early comics app developers, and their flagship product is the Comics + app, which tends to get less notice than competitors comiXology and Graphicly (it used to be painfully slow, but an upgrade earlier this year fixed that). That's all going to change now, as the iVerse folks plan to use the new funding to add content and advertise their brand more aggressively. The push has already begun as iVerse has started updating their site on a daily basis and offering 99-cent sales. Comics + will be the platform for Diamond Comics Distributors' digital initiative, so 2012 should be a busy year.
  • Apps: The buzzwords are flying in the announcement that graphic novel publisher Archaia (home of "Mouse Guard" and "Return of the Dapper Men") and app developer Panelfly (creator of the "Burn Notice" graphic novel app) have developed a "new cross-platform, multi-media fan experience" based on the film "Immortals," which opens today, and Archaia's graphic novel anthology "Immortals: Gods and Heroes," which is a prequel to the film. The free app includes access to the graphic novel (which presumably you have to buy), plus "Peel Back Functionality" that displays the different stages of the art in progress, social media and something called "Contextual Multimedia and video integration," which presumably means videos that relate to the graphic novel. We kid, but Panelfly's "Burn Notice" app does a nice job of integrating these different pieces in a slick interface, and we expect no less from this one.
  • Apps: Graphicly acquired the digital-comics app and indy-comics anthology Double Feature this week. Each issue of the Double Feature anthology consists of two eight-page comics priced at 99 cents; the app also allows the reader to access extra content such as preliminary sketches, a soundtrack or artist's comments. Double Feature developer Josh Emmons is moving to Graphicly as part of the deal.
  • Apps: The Islamic-superhero series The 99 got its own app and webstore, both developed by comiXology, this week. ComiXology has produced a lot of branded apps, but a branded webstore is still unusual. Both are available worldwide, which vastly increases the potential reach of this comic -- now, anyone with a computer and a credit card can read it.
  • Commentary: At Publishers Weekly, Todd Allen discusses the promise and pitfalls of publishing comics on Amazon's Kindle Fire and takes a longer look at the multiplicity of digital comics platforms and whether that is a good thing for the consumer.
  • Apps: The comiXology folks sent around a press release pointing out that for the eighth Wednesday in a row, their Comics by comiXology app was the top-grossing iPad app in the entire iTunes store. That's pretty impressive, as it means that comics are a significant part of the iTunes space, and when everyone buys them at once, they bring in more money than Angry Birds, Instapaper and all those other apps combined.

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