DC Comics announced today their new DC Digital initiative, called DC2 and DC2 Multiverse, brand new methods of comic storytelling for the company.
DC2 layers images together to tell a more complex story in comic panels, but DC2 Multiverse is where the innovation really comes together for this new announcement. DC2 Multiverse adds in the element of participatory storytelling to comics, allowing readers to choose the path of the story and affect the outcome for the characters.
Jeff Parker's Batman '66 is the flagship launch title for DC2, and Arkham Origins is the subject of the first Multiverse book.
Here is a look at some of the different panel configurations from DC2 and DC2 Multiverse, then the interview with Jim Lee, below.
I had the chance to discuss these two books and the new digital push with Jim Lee, Co-Publisher of DC Comics.
Jim Lee: We started our digital publishing program, we explored a lot of different ways of telling stories with different technologies and formats, but at the end of the day, the technology overwhelmed the content itself. It wasn't until we had the right pairing of content and technology that we decided to launch some of these initiatives, so if you look at the first one which is DC2, Batman '66, it's all about fulfilling that need, so if you look at Batman '66 and that type of show with the metaphysical elements and the sound effects that burst off the screen, it really lent itself well to the DC2 technology, and it's all about creating more interaction, more dynamic content, and having it all be user directed.
So when someone checks out Batman '66, everything they're seeing in front of them is controlled by their input to the interface and the technology really enhances and underscores the content that Batman '66 is. So that was really one of our underlying desires and motivations in perusing that content.
Bryan Young: And what about DC2 Multiverse?
Jim Lee: DC2 Multiverse focuses on Batman: Arkham Origin, and that's a very successful video games franchise and having the multiverse technology really allows us to payoff on that kind of interaction. If you look at gamers and the fact they explore this world in a sandbox environment, the DC2 Multiverse technology allows readers to make choices that dictate different outcomes and those outcomes give everyone different story paths. To us, that is something attractive to gamers and again, is all about pairing the right content with the right technology.
BY: Are we going to see any of these stories in print if the interactivity is so tied into how they're built?
JL: We do build everything in mind to go forth in both channels, so even the digital first stuff that we do is designed to be viewed sideways on a media device, but also built to be stacked on top of each other for the traditional portrait dimensions that you see in a comic book. So everything you see will eventually make it into print. Something like Multiverse it becomes more complicated because you have all these different iterations of the story, but we are exploring ways of producing, essentially, different stories that start with the same beginnings in print format.
BY: Has it been challenging for you to get the writers and artists to think about stories in a totally different way or is this something they have jumped on board with?
JL: I think it's a mix of both. I think there's a lot of excitement to have new tools to redesign or bend the rules of traditional storytelling; it's what gets us up in the morning. At the same time, you can't underemphasize the kinds of challenges you face when you have these kinds of tools; it's amazing the kinds of things that come up that you don't really foresee when you sit down and create something like DC2 or DC2 Multiverse. For example, on Multiverse, imagine a story that bifurcates just once or twice, you're getting possibly 2-4 or 8 different endings, so you have to be really measured with how much content you create for the platforms that you're launching on and really maximizing the assets you create in anticipation of all these different versions of the story being generated. So it's as much of a logistical challenge as a creative one.
BY: So it was a conscious thought to use the 60s Batman because it's been out of play for such a long time?
JL: It's a classic interpretation of Batman; it's also a very fun and whimsical one, which we felt would be great for all ages and audiences. When you look towards doing these kinds of digital innovations and putting on devices that everyone carries, I think you're looking to cast as wide a net as possible, so pairing the technology with well known franchises like Batman '66 and Batman Arkham Origins was part of that plan. The big win for us is to bring the casual fans into our core business, and the interesting thing is, when you talk to our core audience, their complaints don't focus on 'where is the music, where's the limited animation, where's the interactivity' they already love comic books. We already have a very devout and very loyal core fan base. The big win for us is to find and bring in the casual fans. There are tens of millions of casual fans that know of our characters through the games, cartoons and movies, and we now have access to them through these devices, so how do we tailor make experiences to them that show the fun and magic of comic books and bring them into our core business.
Here's the official press release:
New York, NY – June 4, 2013 – DC Entertainment, the most prolific digital comic book publisher, unveiled two new digital innovations today that will take its comics to the next level of interactivity. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson and Co-Publisher Jim Lee unveiled DC2 and DC2 Multiverse at the opening of Time Warner’s “The Future of Storytelling” exhibition at the Time Warner Medialab in New York.
DC2 is a new initiative that layers dynamic artwork onto digital comic panels, adding a new level of dimension to digital storytelling. DC2 Multiverse technology allows readers to determine a specific story outcome by selecting individual characters, storylines and plot developments while reading the comic, meaning one chapter of a digital comic has dozens of possible story outcomes.
“Since we made the game changing decision to go Same-Day-Digital with the launch of DC COMICS – THE NEW 52, we very strategically built our digital business to have the broadest distribution and most extensive Digital-First content line-up, and now we’re at the forefront of innovation,” stated Nelson. “DC2 and DC2 Multiverse leverages technology to make iconic characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Green Lantern even more relevant through highly interactive storytelling.”
DC2 will first appear in the highly-anticipated new Digital-First title BATMAN ’66, based on the popular 1960s television show, and the dynamic artwork features will bring the show’s action and retro attitude to life for comic readers. Readers will experience an expanded storytelling canvas as each comic panel tells a multi-dimensional story through layered artwork and sequences.
Digital-First title BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS, based on the upcoming video game from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, will be the first to showcase DC2 Multiverse. DC2 Multiverse features dynamic artwork, along with action sounds and the ability to integrate a soundtrack – all while allowing readers to determine the fate of each storyline and character, including Super Heroes and Super Villains, with multiple options and end results available in each comic chapter. Only with DC Comics’ compelling rogues gallery will fans be just as excited to see what happens to Black Mask as they are to follow Batman’s adventures.
“Digital comics have proven to be a driving force in attracting new readers, in fact, since the onset of Same-Day Digital our print and digital sales have both risen by double and triple digits, respectively,” stated Lee. “With Digital-First titles we’ve created a successful formula of pairing comics with other media forms like TV shows and video games. Today’s announcements demonstrate how we can tie innovations that organically fit and enhance comics – for example with BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS you can choose the destiny of your character by playing the game and reading the comic.”
In addition to offering its Same-Day-Digital print line-up, DC Entertainment’s unparalleled line-up of Digital-First titles includes INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, ARROW, LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT, SMALLVILLE: SEASON 11, the BEYOND series, BATMAN: LIL’ GOTHAM and upcoming titles BATMAN ’66 and BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS. Additionally, last year DC Entertainment secured the most expansive digital distribution of all comic publishers by forging new deals with Kindle Store, iBookstore and Nook Store, in addition to its previous distribution on all comiXology platforms.