Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: Motion Comics

Watchmen on iTunesSo, normally I would have another edition of Pierre Speaks today, but I'm going to break that long held tradition and present a special Emergency Edition of Paper Comic DeathWatch.

See, while the press was all focused on Batman: The Dark Knight last Friday, Time Warner/DC decided NOW was the time to strike with their most clever of all Digital Comic Solutions!

Motion Comics! as seen on newsarama...

Now, if for some reason you missed out on the all the hubbub, let me encapsulate it for you this way.

DC took the first issue of Watchman, hired voice actors, added some Flash animation, and uploaded the whole thing to iTunes.

What was the reaction from fans? Here are some sample comments:

...How about DRM-ed comics for sale? I mean, DRM-free would be better but it’s unrealistic. iComics or whatever. Some people would still steal them, just like everything else, but I’d pay bucks for a nice set of remasted early 1980s Batman. Motion comics or whatever… it sounds like you’re ruining the experience just to have a trademarkable name…

...Good gravy! What an exciting time to be a fan!

...Its an interesting concept, and I think offering books online via itunes is a step in the right direction. However, after watching the Watchmen chapter, my biggest concern is over the voice acting. I thought the acting was not very good and took away from enjoying the new format. If this is something you want to pursue, I would highly recommend hiring more accomplished voice actors to read the scripts.

...People don’t want a brand new format. People want to download their brand-new weekly comics at 99 cents a pop and be able to read them on their laptops. And when I say “download”, I mean download-to-own. Not “temporarily download in a web browser that goes away after you view it”.

My own experience was something like this:

Click to see the HorrorFirst I waited for the 287 meg file to download from Apple. 287 megs for the first installment of what is basically just a Flash animation seems extreme to me, but hey, what do I know? (btw, I think the entire cbr collection of the Watchmen series is just something over 120 megs.)

Now, I really don't know if they intend to do all of the Watchmen comics this way, but if they do, you'll end up with over 3 gigs of files on your iPod/PC for a 12 issue miniseries.

So, just in case you are hoping to get the entire Bob Haney/Jim Aparo Batman Brave and the Bold run in this format, well, you might want to buy another hard drive.

Anyway, while that's downloading, let's get back to what Paul Levitz said about how he expects traditional comic fans to react to this new *revolutionary* digital format.

...I don’t know whether our audiences will enjoy receiving these comics digitally through computers, game consoles or cell phones,...

WTF? What do you mean you don't know? No one did any freaking market research at DC or Time Warner before giving this project a greenlight? No one checked to see how previous animated Comics on the Web were received in the past?

NEW: Batman Movie Popular among downloaders!So, exactly what was the market impetus here? Did they just want something to compete with all the bandwidth that was going to be getting sucked up by people torrenting bad Batman: TDK Cams all weekend?

Or is this just some sort of placeholder until Time Warner has a better Digital strategy in place? I think we are all waiting for the day we can download Final Crisis or Metal Men legally, but at this point I wonder if Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited hasn't made DC nervous about going down that path. It's possible that they may not want to look like they are copying Marvel.

Btw, click the image to see the REAL Batman movie people are talking about. :D

So back to the Future of Comics! - I get the movie downloaded and this is what I see:

Green Apples

I don't know - maybe it's just because all I download is mp3s and DethKlok episodes, but I can't get the movie to play worth a damn.

Hey, can you believe there's NEW software available from Apple?Is my computer old? Not hardly.

Is it an Apple? No.

But, really, should that matter? I watch iTunes TV shows, so why should this be different?

And I can play DiVX, YouTube and WMV files file.

Heck I rip and burn (legal) copies of DVDs (that aren't copyright protected of course) all the time, so I'm a little surprised that the movie won't play.

So as a last ditch effort, I begin the long and laborious task of updating my iTunes software - it's been asking me to do it for the last week or so, but I keep putting it off. Somehow, I just feel software should work longer than a month before you have to freaking update it.

Anyway, I finally get the software updated, (turns out it's a known QuickTime Update issue) and after numerous restarts, I can see the movie.

This is what it finally looked like in case you're interested.

Except it had Rorshach instead of Thor.

PCDW Points: Zero.


Richard said...

That might be an insult to Grantray. I enjoyed those old cartoons way more than I did this.

It seems like this Watchmen thing reflects a lot of work and not very much thought. I don't doubt that some effort went into making the thing, but the creative choices along the way were poor to say the least. The end result is that the trailer makes Watchmen look cool and this makes the comic look goofy.

Unknown said...

Well one thing about those old cartoons is that it's Jack Kirby art. I think if the animated portions like Thor's arm hadn't been so horribly done and also if they were using more than the same 5 shots everytime it would have looked better. Combined of course with using stories from the actual issues it could have at least been an interesting visual experiment if not exactly animation.

I've never been that impressed by Watchmen and I can't imagine movement and voice-work making it any better. I think DC is just making a very cheap grab for some hits rather than bothering to really research the benefits of using the internet for comic publishing.

Jim Shelley said...

@rab - RAB! Good to hear from you! I agree, the Grantray cartoons rocked my world when I was saw them 30 years ago, and in some ways, their still the best, most faithful cartoon versions of the old Marvel stuff ever made. (The Sub-Mariner cartoons - Wow! Trippy stuff for my pre-teen brain!)

@matt - I agree with you, everything about this Watchman thing just screams GIMMICKY PROMOTION.

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