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Infinite Comics: Marvel's New Format Changes How Comics Are Created—And Read

The first issue of Marvel's new Infinite Comics format comes out on the iPad tomorrow. It's a technological step forward—it allows artists to pace the storytelling by shifting focus within a single drawing, or staggering the appearance of text bubbles in dialogue. Yet, as Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada told Gizmodo, the new format retains what makes a comic a comic.

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The biggest benefit of reading and making comics digitally, Quesada said, is the ability to surpass the printed page as a medium to show fine levels of detail. This is particularly dramatic on the new iPad. "Some artists draw lines that are so thin that they don't even print," Quesada said. But with the ability to zoom in on retina-enabled comics, along with the brightness and color of the display, readers will be able to see all the intricacy in the artists' work. And the storytelling tools of Infinite Comics add another layer that isn't possible in print.

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Digital hasn't changed the process for everyone, though. Quesada says a majority of inkers still work with plain old pen and paper because the penstrokes are so hard to replicate digitally. About the only thing that's changed is that now the images can be scanned and transferred, instead of shipped. "We save a lot of money on FedEx compared to the old days."

Quesada's drawing hardware of choice is a 21-inch Wacom Cintiq. To produce the art, Quesada uses a stylus along with the Wacom's version of AutoDesk's Sketchbook. It's a popular, good program, but it isn't something Quesada can produce on the iPad itself.

That's the irony. The iPad may display the finished product beautifully, but Quesada can't work on an iPad to create the art. "It's not designed for art," Quesada said. "I wish they would consider the artist with the iPad." He has a point. But the capacitive technology just isn't ready yet.

What is ready—tomorrow—is the first comic of its kind: Avengers vs. X-Men #1 Infinite. Quesada took the time to bang out some notes on the process, along with the rough pencils and inked images. Check out the gallery for high-res images of the art and Joe's process.

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And here's the whole cover, illustrated by Quesada for AvX #1 Infinite.

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Video by Michael Hession

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DISCUSSION

Ty Underwood

panel by panel viewing takes away the nested compositions that are inherent to comics. panel within page, page within spread. Furthermore, these innovations are really rooted in antiquated comics tropes that are way too ingrained in mainstream publishing, like the idea that captions and balloons sit on top of the art versus being integrated into the composition. Anyone who's read scott mccloud's book on comic basics will understand that the way your brain interprets balloons and images together is very important. Having balloons appearing after the image will not make it easier to read, but it will make your brain work harder as the text doesn't lead your eye around the image or create natural pacing.

The "revolution" of digital comics will come through publishing and through freedoms given to artists and writers, artistically and otherwise. The publishing houses like DC and Marvel are flawed at their core, I can only hope that as they slowly die they will not take down the whole medium of comics along with them (in the eyes of the mainstream).