Whether you call them "motion comics," "cinematic comics" or even "cutting edge content for the new digital format," there's no getting away from the fact that comic companies are all trying to entice new fans by bringing their stories online. With Marvel Comics' new Stephen King's N joining DC's Watchmen and Image's Invincible series for MTV, everyone seems to be jumping on the animated adaptation bandwagon. We have only one question to ask: Has no-one told any of these people that these cut-price cartoons kind of suck?The worst offender of them all is definitely Watchmen, the first in a planned line of "motion comics" for Warner Bros. While bringing in artist Dave Gibbons to supervise the animation process is to be applauded, the result is... well, less than impressive: I can almost overlook the limited, early-days-of-Flash-animation, style movement if it wasn't for the fact that all the voices are provided by one man... even Sally Jupiter's, rendering any potential drama in her dislike of Rorschach completely comedic with the ridiculous line-readings. Would it have killed anyone at Warners to approach this as less of a books-on-tape with added pictures and more as a regular cartoon? Of course, even if they had, the result may have been similar to MTV's adaptation of Robert Kirkman's Invincible: Sure, they have the full cast (Although lines like "Jesus, Debbie! Seven of my colleagues were just murdered" sound unintentionally hilarious when read out loud), but they've also gone for a visual style that seems to be modeled after the opening titles of Saved By The Bell; it's just too frenetic to follow, and completely takes you out of the story. The best of the efforts to date is Marvel's Stephen King's N, which gets it right in a number of ways: Full cast, understated visuals and - and this may be most important of all - a completely original story. With nothing to compare it to (and find it wanting, especially if you're comparing it to the animated version you'd created in your head), Marvel's animated-ish webisode at least lets you experience it on its own terms. Even if those terms are still frustrating. The problem, really, is this: Who really wanted to see this halfway point between comics and cartoons? Was there really anyone who thought "The problem with cartoons is that too many things move. I'd rather see a static picture where maybe one guy's arm moves occasionally"? I'm all for series like Invincible (or even Watchmen) finding a wider audience, but I'd rather see them do so with something that has more time, care and attention spent on it than the creation of a new bastard format that awkwardly removes the benefits of both of its parent mediums and seems more like a quick cash-in from people who wanted to see how easy it was to jump on this comic book zeitgeist without spending too much money. [Invincible The Series, Stephen King's N, Watchmen Motion Comics @iTunes]
Crossgen did something like this five or six years ago.
Actually, I'm kind of surprised how much of what Crossgen did and pioneered is now being done by other companies and then being hailed as something new or interesting.
But anyway, these things were terrible back then and I can't imagine why somebody would want to try it again.