San Diego Comic-Con 2009

SDCC 2009: Spider-Man Goes Digital

Writer Bob Gale brings AMAZING SPIDER-MAN to a new platform via Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited



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By Tim Stevens

When you're dealing with as much interpersonal drama and as many costumed free-for-alls as Spider-Man does, sometimes some stories fall through the cracks. Starting on November 9, those days come to end, courtesy of  writer Bob Gale who will be bringing further AMAZING SPIDER-MAN stories every other Monday through Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

The move to digital comes from dual desires. The first, from the print side, revolves around wanting to reveal still more of the current Spidey universe to the fans. The second, from the digital side, concerns the ongoing goal to bring unique original online content to its ever-growing cache of readers. The team-up satisfies both desires perfectly.

"We're always trying to vary and expand the offerings of our exclusive, digital-first comics," Vice President of Content and Programming for Marvel Digital Media Group John Cerilli explains. "Having [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN] stories that are in continuity and debuting inside Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited [is] an incredibly exciting offering for our Digital Comics subscribers. We're already publishing at least one exclusive every Wednesday. To have Spider-Man join that group on a regular basis, that's just awesome plain awesome."

Writer Gale certainly shares that sentiment.

"Story wise, anything we can do in a print comic, we can do in the digital format, there are no limits," Gale promises. "The big difference is in its presentation. The online format gives us a bunch of new tools to play with, and there are things we're doing that I hope will put a new spin on the storytelling. The idea is to make the online digital presentation the best presentation of the story, the optimum way to experience it. We don't want you to wait to see it in some sort of collected edition somewhere, because when it's printed, it will lose some of the cool aspects we can only do in the digital presentation. So that really makes it exciting-I get to think about form as well as content.  Comics are expensive, so the idea of

Spider-Man by Patrick Oliffe
figuring out a way to tell Spider-Man stories that are still comics, but can be delivered to the reader on his or her computer and have the reader feel it's great and a great value, that to me is something worthwhile."

Both Gale and Cerilli stress that the online AMAZING SPIDER-MAN will fit into the continuity of the print edition but both can stand on its own as well.

"These digital-first stories are devised to take place in and around the continuity that's occurring in the printed comics, so they will certainly be fun for anyone currently reading the printed comics, but they'll also be a fun for someone who is just reading the digital-first comics alone," pledges Cerilli. "They'll stand up by themselves."

"The continuity is in keeping with current continuity, in that Pete is rooming with Michelle, and [J. Jonah Jameson] is Mayor, and everything else that's going on,  but you don't have to read the print book to enjoy the digital stories, and vice versa," elaborates Gale. "Obviously, we want you to read both print and digital, but we'll supply the appropriate footnotes when required! I'd describe the continuity as sort of like what Busiek did with UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN-it falls in between one or several of the current issues."

As far as what fans should expect in terms of tone, Gale once again turns to Busiek for inspiration.

"I always loved what Kurt Busiek did with MARVELS, showing how a world with super heroes affects ordinary folks, so that's a key element here," he admits.

To achieve those ends, Gale calls upon Spidey's supporting cast, including a few readers have not yet encountered.

"JJJ plays a big part in this along with his Anti-Spider Squad, and Norah is fairly important," he continues. "I've got a new villain as well [and] I'm also introducing some other new characters, and their problems and issues will end up affecting Spidey and Pete, even as Spidey has the catalyst affect on several of them."


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