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Disney’s Marvel Comics turns iPad into virtual newstand

April 7, 2010

Marvel driving sales via the iPad

Marvel driving sales via the iPad

Marvel Entertainment has launched a commerce-enabled Marvel Comics application for Apple’s iPad in the App Store.

This application features more than 500 of Marvel’s most popular comic books, including Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Hulk and Thor, for which user pay on an a là carte basis via iTunes. The Marvel Comics application has a user-friendly search engine and various viewing options for iPad owners, with each comic presented at the highest resolution possible on the iPad’s full-color screen.

“We see the iPad app like a newsstand where consumers sample our books and then go to a comic book shop to purchase more books,” said Ira Rubenstein, executive vice president of the global digital media group at Marvel, New York. “We have a comic book store locator feature in the app and we want to encourage the sales of our books through our comic book shop partners.

“Our goal with the Marvel Comics app on the iPad is to bring the world’s greatest heroes—Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, Wolverine and more—to a whole new audience,” he said. “We’ve even launched the app with free comics that feature those characters, so fans can discover a whole new digital comics experience.”

Marvel Entertainment LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co., is a character-based entertainment company built on a library of more than 5,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years.

Marvel uses its character franchises in licensing, entertainment via Marvel Studios and Marvel Animation and publishing via Marvel Comics.

The company’s strategy is to leverage its franchises in a growing array of opportunities worldwide, including feature films, consumer products, toys, video games, animated television, direct-to-DVD, online and mobile.

Mobile comics
The iPad is the first device that offers a chance to present digital comics that are even close to replicating the experience of reading a print comic, according to Marvel Publishing.

This new world of digital comics distribution provides Marvel with opportunities to reach new readers and lets consumers sample the company’s various stories and characters.

The company is banking on the belief that these new fans will find and download its application in the App Store and buy comics regularly via iTunes.

Fans will be granted unrivaled access to Marvel’s library of comics, with launch titles ranging from the first appearances of characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men to modern classics such as the debut of Red Hulk, Jonathan Hickman’s acclaimed Fantastic Four run and Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men.

Every comic available through the Marvel Comics application is optimized for the iPad through recoloring and redigitizing of select content.

Marvel worked with ComiXology to create an application for new readers, offering the option to preview three pages from each available comic before buying and a recommendation engine for every fan to find a comic that is right for them.

“We had a very short development window for launch with the iPad,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “Comixology was able to help us meet this deadline.”  

The application also arms fans with a comic shop locator, helping them to find their local retailer’s address and phone number and buy physical Marvel Universe comics.

To further enhance the mobile reading experience on the iPad, the Marvel Comics application features multiple viewing modes, taking readers panel-by-panel through the comic book in a smooth, action-packed progression using just the swipe of a finger.

The Marvel Comics application is available for free from the App Store on the iPad or at

Individual comics are priced at $1.99 each, with new content arriving every week.

To commemorate this launch, Marvel is offering select titles free for a limited time, such as New Avengers No. 1, Captain America No. 1, Invincible Iron Man No. 1 and Thor No. 1, as well as Super Hero Squad No. 1, which is targeted at a younger demographic.

The Marvel Comics application is also available for the iPhone and iPod touch.

“The iPad—along with the iPhone and iPod Touch—allow us another way to reach our fans through the digital realm, joining our subscription based Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, featuring over 7500 books, and our Playstation PSP digital comic offerings,” Mr. Rubenstein said.

“We want our fans to discover Marvel Digital Comic anytime and anywhere,” he said. “I think we got a lot of great publicity for the app with the launch of the iPad.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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