Scott Pilgrim vs. the future of comics publishing by R. Murray

“In order to be with Ramona, Scott Pilgrim has to defeat her seven evil exes in elaborately staged battles that draw liberally on a vocabulary familiar to gamers – an economy where skills, resources and tenacity are embodied in material objects such as swords, gold coins and levels, and without this awareness, understanding of the comic is notionally incomplete. However, it is crucial to emphasize that this understanding is not at the level of narrative, but rather at that of narrative form.” [Murray, 2012: 3]

“With the advent of the Internet, many comics creators have chosen to reveal their artistic process online, often blogging about their method in detail, and communicating with their readers regarding creative decisions made, thus creating an epitextual archive. However, these communications do not, at least directly, implicate any financial consequences. Accordingly, if the material that O’Malley put up before and during the lifespan of Scott Pilgrim in the form of blogposts, sketches and photographs could be considered epitextual, what are the commercial implications of such material?” [Murray, 2012:7]

“Publishers base marketing decisions on assumptions that are informed by segmenting the market in order to recognize the appropriate demographic for the book they are trying to sell. Fourth Estate recognized that Scott Pilgrim’s readers, given the books’ allegiance to video game culture, would be digitally savvy, and thus creating an app seemed like a perfect opportunity to cater to its potential readership. The decision to develop an app for the book was a revolutionary one for an independent comic, and was covered widely in the book trade, technology and comics press. The first volume was to be released for the iPhone and iPad in May 2010, with each volume being released thereafter, building up to the release of the sixth volume and the film in August. Robot Media worked in conjunction to create the app, which contained original new artwork, social networking tools for fans, and enhanced features such as vibrations and sound effects that were triggered during fight scenes in the book.” [Murray, 2012: 11-12]

“Readers have complained about how reading digital versions can often diminish the quality of colour and detail that can be found on printed high – quality paper, and that comics intended for one medium often fails in another.” [Murray, 2012: 12]

“Robot Media chose to tackle this by reinterpreting the physical boundaries of the printed page onto what comics pioneer and scholar Scott McCloud has called a theoretically infinite (digital) canvas (2009) – using the device as a window to view the panels, which transition kinetically.” [Murray, 2012:12]

“Marvel, home to the X-Men and Spiderman, bounced back from its bankruptcy in 1997 on the strength of its reinvention as an intellectual property holding company, but still has to develop a sound digital strategy that will not alienate older readers yet will still attract new readers. Their much – vaunted ‘motion comics’ confused consumers by treading a fine line between animation and static sequential art, and were considered over-priced compared to print comics.” [Murray, 2012:16]

  • Murray, R. (2012) Scott Pilgrim vs. the future of comics publishing. Studies in Comics 3.1 (2012): 129 – 142.
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