The next era of comic book fiction came the day Marvel was formally sold to the much larger Walt Disney Corporation — but that’s really just a detail and not the reason for a new age.
Ask yourself this one question, then reexamine how everything would play out: Did Marvel know about Apple‘s iPad as early as 2008?
If the answer is yes, then it would absolutely change the entire scope of Marvel’s business decisions going forward.
If you look at the digital presence Marvel had from about mid-2008 until present day, you can see a decline in relevant digital content strategies. Marvel is one of two powerhouse comic book companies which have creative properties that are ridiculously valuable (Mickey Mouse valuable). So for them to be lacking in innovative ways to utilize these assets digitally just doesn’t make much sense — unless Marvel knew that the iPad could be a game changer in the midst of a dying print publication industry, an economy in depression, and more and more small comic book retailers going out of business.
If that’s the case, then it makes perfect sense that they never bothered producing an iPhone application when it was the trendy thing to do for companies. It also makes perfect sense as to why they decided to continue to develop their digital comics reader in-house rather than making a large investment to outsource to a specialty firm.
The mere existence of a Digital comics subscription service is a good thing because it provides legitimacy towards the practice of reading comic books online. The music industry’s failure to offer any kind of option to sell their goods online was the reason piracy became so common. So even if the service to sell comics online wasn’t the greatest, any option is better than no option.
Plus, if the Marvel/Disney deal fell through for whatever reason, they could always revise their business strategy and make the investment to outsource their digital offerings to a specialized developer.
So fast forward until the present day. The iPad is scheduled to hit the homes of early adopters starting this week. Marvel has released their own branded application for the iPad that will scale to both the iPhone and iPod Touch. They now have a virtual marketplace to allow customers to purchase comics digitally and on Marvel’s terms.
Right about now the average fanboy reader is probably wondering why we hadn’t heard anything about the iPad (or a push to put comics on a media tablet computer) from Marvel until recently. And honestly, you don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Steve Jobs is notoriously militant about unreleased products and so a comprehensive Non Disclosure Agreement was most certainly signed by all parties involved.
Furthermore, this would indicate that Apple was interested in acquiring Marvel as part of it’s master plan, which works perfectly since it is conglomerated with the Walt Disney Corporation — a company that takes great care of their creative properties to ensure they stay timeless.
So when I say that this is Marvel’s master plan to ensure the comic book industry that currently exists survives the digital age, I really mean the plan that was presented to them by Apple a year and a half ago… and deciding it was a good fit… and that this was actually going to play out the way Apple intended it to.
Either way, the iPad and Marvel Comics are a perfect match.
*This article was created without a single urge to use an Excelsior! reference. Unless the previous sentence counts, in which case: sonuvabitch