Robert Kirkman's Animated "Invincible"

By summer's end, comic fans may be calling out, "I want my ITV!" Although, the three-letter acronyms doesn't stand in for a new network or the latest Apple Computer gizmo...it's just a reminder that starting soon, Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker's smash superhero comic "Invincible" will be debuting on MTV as well as a broad range of computer and mobile devices.

Announced last week in the New York Times and starting to pop up across the MTV family of networks in preview form this week (as well as here on CBR), the Image Comics series about a teen superhero's trials living down his father's reputation is seeing its first 13 issues formatted into music driven animated videos with the 12 short installments that make up the first four issues of the series seeing wide release on August 22nd on MTV2 and on itunes, mobile phone platforms and Xbox.

"It's cool because it's stuff that's actually getting made, and that always excites me," explained Kirkman who also has an animated serial of his "Battle Pope" series currently running on Spike TV's website. However, the "Invincible" episodes are not cartoon adaptations but actual animated versions of the original comics. "It's the comic book. It's Cory Walker's pages and Bill Crabtree's colors and my dialogue. They're snipping things out here and there to help the flow along, but for the most part, it's just the comic book directly."

Commissioned by MTV Executive David Gale and animated using a new platform called Bomb-xx by internet animation studio Gain Enterprises, the videos use the original art of the series, from panel transitions to word balloons, but give them an MTV facelift in the form of wild jump cuts, a pop rock soundtrack and dialogue read by the actors. For his part, "Invincible's" writer had the opportunity to make sure the animators were giving his work its proper due. "I opened up the archives for them, so they got access to all the high res stuff. I think David Gale in an interview mentioned they were scanning the comics, and I was like, 'Oh, come on.' They've got HD versions of this stuff," Kirkman explained.

"I had a chance to listen to a bunch of the voice actors. The actors they got together had to read a bunch of the lines from the comic book, and they would send me three guys doing the same lines. I got to pick the one that I liked the best out of the three, and I'm pretty sure that 90% of my picks got through, but it's pretty cool that they allowed me to participate in that process."

As for the final result, seeing his series come alive in front of him was a surreal experience for the writer, although Kirkman admited that the format quickly grew on him. "To me, it took an episode or two to get into it. Seeing the comics moving the way they're moving is something of a new experience. It takes a second to get used to it, but watching the episodes in succession gets really cool. I can see it being a really appealing way to read comics for a younger generation who may not necessarily get the comics on their own. That part of it is exciting."

And the ability to draw new readers to the ongoing adventures of Mark Grayson proved key in getting Kirkman to sign up for the deal. "The credits will say it's based on a comic book, so hopefully the people watching it will care and notice that. They'll have the opportunity to go out and give it a look. I'm hoping this will actually point people back to the actual comic. In general, raising the awareness of the 'Invincible' brand is one of the reasons why I did this. That's a very exciting thing for me. People are going to be watching 'Invincible' on some form on MTV2. It's a pretty big network, I hear. It being online certainly can't hurt."

Fans who are already following the comic book but want to keep up with the animated version have their options of format and venue to check out the Invincible vids, starting at this weekend's Comic-Con International and continuing later this summer. "Different things are in different blocks," said Kirkman regarding the simultaneous release MTV plans for television, next gen gaming consoles and mobile phones. "The Xbox stuff is going to be a different kind of group of episodes for a different kind of price. It's a big rollout that's going out to many online venues. They've got some kind of plan.

"I believe they're going to be making it half hour blocks, and that's how they're going to be showing it on MTV2. There's a possibility that the whole thing will make it onto DVD when it's all done, but I don't know what the plans are for that."

For a sneak peek at "Invincible's" foray into videos and for word from Kirkman and Image publisher Eric Stephenson about the writer's new Partner status, not to mention an exclusive video interview with the creator himself, check back to CBR later today and all weekend throughout Comic-Con!

Now discuss this story in CBR's Image Comics forum.

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