There’s a surge in interest among the American comic book companies in taking their graphic-minded entertainments into mobile devices. Marvel has just announced a Stephen King project, for instance, that was first reported by the Wall Street Journal:
…A previously unpublished story by Mr. King has been transformed by Marvel Comics into an animated video. The 25 episodes will be distributed in a variety of online and mobile channels ahead of the book’s publication Nov. 11. Starting Monday, new episodes will be released daily, five times a week, through Aug. 29.
The willingness of Mr. King and publisher Scribner, an imprint of CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster book-publishing arm, to remix the story, "N.," into bite-size video vignettes underscores how eager publishers are to come up with new marketing techniques at a time when book sales are flat or slumping. Five years ago, Mr. King’s publisher might have taken the creepy short story and offered it to a literary publication like "The New Yorker" in expectation that a first serial sale would create interest in "Just After Sunset." The story focuses on an unlucky psychiatrist whose latest patient is "infectious."
The WSJ piece by Jeffrey Trachtenberg has a clip from the video, which is called "N." Marvel is hardly alone in trying to ring up the future by squeezing its adventures into mobile devices. Paul Levitz, president of DC Comics, said his company is looking hard at the success in Japan of comics as phone-tainment but said the marketplace there has several advantages over the U.S., such as the general simplicity of images in manga and an audience that has more cutting-edge electronics. "There’s things that need to happen here that haven’t happened yet," Levitz said, suggesting that it may take a while before the idea of Superman on a cellphone will fly with a significant audience.
After the jump you can find the full announcement about King’s "N" and details on accessing it.
– Geoff Boucher
image from "N," courtesy Marvel Comics
STEPHEN KING’S "N."
IS COMING TO A SMALL SCREEN NEAR YOU
Publisher Scribner and Simon & Schuster Digital Team Up with
Marvel Entertainment and CBS Mobile to Deliver
A Previously Unpublished Stephen King Short Story
In Unprecedented Graphic, Digital Entertainment Format
Series May Also Be Purchased at Major Online Digital Content Retailers
NEW YORK, JULY 25, 2008—Beginning Monday, July 28, mobile phone users and web surfers can enjoy Stephen King’s latest work in a groundbreaking series of 25 original video episodes. The series of video episodes was created through a unique partnership between Scribner and Simon & Schuster Digital, Marvel Entertainment, and CBS Mobile and is believed to be the first comic-style book adaptation specifically developed and produced for viewing on today’s most popular small screen platforms. Starting today, viewers can go to www.NisHere.com or www.simonsays.com to see a preview of the episodes, which will also be unveiled at Comic-Con International in San Diego today at a panel event featuring the creators of this pioneering venture.
The series will also be available for purchase at major online digital content retailers.
The episodes are based on King’s original and previously unpublished story "N.," the tale of a psychiatrist who becomes the victim of the same mysterious and deadly obsession as his patient, and which will be included in his forthcoming collection of short stories Just After Sunset (Scribner, November 11, 2008) and published as a comic book miniseries by Marvel, launching in 2009. Featuring sophisticated production values, the episodes were drawn by award-winning comic-book artist Alex Maleev, whose work has appeared on NBC’s "Heroes," and colored by famed comic-book colorist José Villarrubia, best known for his collaborations with Alan Moore. They were adapted by Marc Guggenheim, co-creator of the ABC-TV series "Eli Stone" with creative oversight from Stephen King. The episodes are presented in a highly designed "pan and scan" format, complete with comic book–style graphics, an original score, sound effects, and a full cast of voiceovers that includes Emmy and Golden Globe award nominee actor Ben Shenkman.
Stephen King commented: "I’m always interested in new delivery systems for stories and always curious about how those systems work with the old storytelling verities. This one, it seems to me, works extraordinarily well."
"‘N.’ combines-cutting edge graphic content with the hot new digital medium for entertainment to showcase Stephen King’s unique talent, and we think consumers will be excited to try this never before attempted way of previewing his upcoming story collection," said Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon & Schuster, Inc. "We are grateful to CBS Mobile and Marvel Entertainment for partnering with us to bring this wonderful Stephen King story to mobile customers and online consumers."
"Stephen King has always been ahead of the curve," said Susan Moldow, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Scribner. "With ‘N.’ he has once again proven himself to be an innovator of the first order, offering up a classic, chilling, and compelling King story in an entirely new format that can reach on-the-go consumers, and keep them coming back to find out how things unfold. ‘N.’ re-imagines the notion of the first serial, delivering prepublication content to where the new readers are."
Beginning Monday, July 28, and running through Friday, August 29, the video episodes (each running approximately two minutes), will be released in serial fashion on consecutive weekdays for five weeks, at no additional charge to mobile users, through the largest mobile carriers. As an added bonus for consumers, the episodes will also be available on the web through the CBS Audience Network, capable of reaching 92% of the U.S.-based online audience and consisting of online partners such as TV.com, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Fancast, Joost, Bebo, Netvibes, Sling Media, and Veoh as well as Web sites from CBS’s owned television, radio, and affiliated stations, and at www.NisHere.com. Visitors to www.NisHere.com will also be able to embed the player and episodes on blogs and social networking sites, and to preorder the book.
At the same time, paid download customers will be able to purchase blocks of 5 episodes for $0.99 or buy a Season Pass for the entire series for $3.99.
A limited-printing collector’s edition, featuring the book and a DVD of all the video episodes, will be made available when Just After Sunset goes on sale in November.
"The series of ‘N.’ mobile episodes is a groundbreaking moment in visual storytelling, multimedia entertainment, and content development," said Ruwan Jayatilleke, Senior Vice President of Strategic Development–Acquisitions, Marvel Entertainment, Inc. "The synergy between Marvel, Scribner, Simon & Schuster Digital and CBS in bringing this venture in entertainment to fruition has been phenomenal. It is only fitting that such collaboration occurs under the auspices and creative inspiration of Stephen King and his infectious storytelling."
"We are excited to be collaborating with partners who share our belief that the mobile device is worthy of content made specifically for it," said Jeff Sellinger, Executive Vice President, CBS Mobile. "A project of this scope and scale speaks to the strength and value of mobile as an entertainment distribution platform. We look forward to bringing these 25 unique episodes to our video partners and users, and applaud our partners for creating quality made-for-mobile content. We hope that many will follow their lead."
Editors/Webmasters: Downloadable video and still images are available upon request.
About Scribner/Simon & Schuster
Scribner is a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., a part of CBS Corporation. Simon & Schuster, Inc. is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic and multi-media formats. Its divisions include the Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital, and international companies in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
About Marvel Entertainment, Inc.
With a library of over 5,000 characters built over more than sixty years of comic book publishing, Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in licensing, entertainment (via Marvel Studios) and publishing (via Marvel Comics), with emphasis on feature films, television, DVD, consumer products, video games, action figures, role-playing toys and promotions. Marvel’s strategy is to leverage its franchises in a growing array of opportunities around the world.
About CBS Mobile
CBS Mobile, a division of CBS Interactive Inc., is charged with building CBS Corporation’s wireless business across entertainment, sports and news for CBS, The CW, and CBS Paramount Television. As part of this mission, CBS Mobile offers consumers some of the most innovative and best-of wireless content available today, ranging from the nation’s first mobile video alerts for CBS Mobile News, CBS Sports Mobile and entertainment properties, to some of the nation’s largest mobile Web sites, made-for-mobile video on all major carriers, a 24/7 mobile television network, and partnerships with the world’s more leading edge mobile technology and ad targeting companies. CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS) is the parent company of CBS Interactive, Inc.