Silver Age meets the Digital Age in new Marvel Comics CD-Rom

Thu, September 18th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

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One issue every comic fan deals with is a total lack of space to store their collection in. As is true with any collector, over time the collection grows and grows and space becomes a real problem. Some prefer to just stack the long boxes as high as is safe, while others will go out and buy shelves of some sort to take advantage of wall space. Closets meant for clothes end up becoming comic closets. A two bedroom apartment will find one room acting as a room to sleep in and the other to store the collection. The garage may have no room for the car because the collections taken over. Still others are forced to rent a storage unit just to manage the sheer size of their collection. It really does get quite out of hand.

So, what's the solution? There's one that will be available soon that might be right up your alley, "The Marvel Comic Book Library" CD-Rom from Topics Entertainment. "The Marvel Comic Book Library" is a unique new product that provides access to some of Marvel's most classic comic books at an affordable price. Each CD-Rom contains 100 different complete classic Marvel comics with loads of extras. What comics you ask?

  • Spider-Man - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15

  • Avengers - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

  • Captain America - 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68

  • Daredevil - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

  • Fantastic Four - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

  • Hulk - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 60 ,61, 62, 63

  • Tales of Suspense - 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

  • Silver Surfer - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

  • Sub-Mariner - 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79

  • X-Men - 1, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102

Each comic can be viewed in full digital color or in black and white, so as to give you a look at the raw look of the work as done by the artist, plus you can zoom in and out, page scroll and you can even print the pages of each comic. The CD-Rom includes numerous bios that include information and illustrations which enable you to track the character from conception to the modern day. There's even a selection of screensavers featuring Daredevil, Spider-Man, the Hulk and X-Men for you to install on your PC. There's one more bonus: when you purchase the CD-Rom you'll fill out a special offer where Marvel will send you three free comics, copies of "Ultimate X-Men," "Ultimate Spider-Man" and "Hulk." All this for only $29.95.

CBR News caught up with Greg James, the President of Topics Entertainment, and Bryan Messersmith, an Account Executive with Topics. Both are relatively new to comics, but are really excited about the product and believe it will sell in both the direct market and in mainstream stores.

"We've gotten a whole lot of interest in this product from all the big retailers like Best Buy and CompUSA and on down to the specialized comics retailers," James told CBR News. "It's really generated quite a bit of excitement, actually. Not being an expert on the subject, I was actually kind of surprised by the response. Best Buy said they'd take it pretty much sight unseen. For a big retailer like Best Buy to jump that fast, that's a great thing, because usually you spend a lot of time trying to convince them something's going to work."

The "Marvel Comic Book Library" CD-Rom will be available in two different sizes to satisfy the needs of the large variety of retailers that will be selling it.

"We will probably have it in two box sizes," James explained. "One is the larger box, the kind software comes in which a lot of people are familiar with. About an 8" x 10" box. We're also going to do it in the smaller DVD sized box, which is a size that Walmart, Best Buy and several retailers prefer. It's a really cool box with a montage on the front of the Hulk, Spider-Man and all the characters. It's going to have a flap on the inside describing what's in it. It's going to be embossed. We're really happy with the artwork."

The developer of this project is a company called Graphic Imaging Technology who contacted Topics Entertainment to handle the package design, manufacturing and distribution based on their success with a number of other CD-Rom products. James told us how this project came to Topics.

"We have a pretty sharp acquisitions team. Sandy Choi, who's done a lot of acquisitions for us over the years, sometimes finds products, sometimes people come to her. I think we were initially called by the developer that put this project together. They contacted Sandy and Sandy worked with them and we put a deal together. I think one of the reasons why they came to us is because we have been, for a number of years, the number one publisher of all the reference, educational, all non-gaming categories at the big retailers. We already do some pretty big brand products like the Kaplan test prep products. We do Rand McNally, 'National Geographic,' 'World Book.' I think the developer just thought that we'd be a natural for this. When Sandy saw this she figured it could potentially be a big hit so we jumped right on it and made a deal quickly."

The "Marvel Comic Book Library" CD-Rom will be available in many of the biggest retailers in America, bringing these classic books into the homes of the mainstream market. And James expects them to sell quite well, better than most comic books even.

"I think it's probably a good chance that this thing's going to sell over a Million copies," said James. "For us a decent title sells 50,000. A good strong title will do 100,000. We've done product that have done a million. A really good title in the non-gaming category comes in over say 200,000 pieces and I've got a feeling this thing's going to do over 200,000 easy. That's based on the response that Bryan has received from the actual comic book industry and distributors there, and also from people like Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Sam's Club and Costco."

Bryan Messersmith got a chance to play with the CD-Rom this past weekend and described in his own words his experience with the "Marvel Comic Book Library."

"When you put it on your computer you'll get a menu that shows all ten comics. From there you can select say Hulk or Daredevil. You open up Daredevil and then there will be the ten copies from Daredevil, numbers 1 through 10. At that point you click on the comics and a browser, not unlike Internet Explorer, comes up. This is what really makes it neat. It has features that allow you to zoom in on each individual drawing, so if you just want to see one panel and zoom it to the full screen and print it out, you can do that. You can rotate. You can do black and white only or you can do color only. And of course, you can print everything on a black and white or color printer."

With the "Marvel Comic Book Library," Topics opted to concentrate solely on the content of the comics giving you a large library of full issues.

"One of the most popular products we've ever done is 'National Geographic 112,' continued James. "It's the same type of thing. We took 112 years of 'National Geographic,' every issue and scanned it cover to cover. What people really like about that is that really they're buying the magazine. It's not trying to be anything other than really what it is. It's a way to look at all the early issues of National Geographic. It was a wildly successful product. I think that's the attraction. You get it as it was when it was first published. For this product I think they really wanted to do the same thing. Rather than try to make it interactive, the goal of this CD is to give the person the first ten issues of all of those comics as they were."

At the moment the company has no concrete plans to produce additional volumes of the "Marvel Comic Book Library" on CD-Rom, but they're certainly interested in pursuing the idea. For now they're looking to see what kind of response this first volume gets and go from there.

"My gut feeling is this is going to do really well and we're probably going to want to turn it into a series. Getting back to 'National Geographic,' you can take a whole basement of 'National Geographic's' and put it on 30 CDs. That's 196,000 pages over 112 years. There's no reason why we can't do the same thing with comic books. All the rare, hard to find comics, all the really old ones, issues that people can't really get can very easily be scanned and put on CD. You might not have the actual comic book, but you can certainly have the comic book content."

Messersmith concluded by summing up what you'll find in the "Marvel Comic Book Library" CD-Rom.

"It's pretty much a reference tool for anyone who wants to learn about comic art history. Just like it says, it's a library of Marvel Comics."

The "Marvel Comic Book Library" will be available to comics retailers through Diamond Comics Distributors.

 
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