"Augmented Reality" and YOU!
Marvel has finally unleashed Avengers vs. X-Men upon us nerds, and while I’ve already given my impressions of it here, I was really surprised by Marvel’s design choice with this issue. While this has no bearing on my favorable impressions of the issue, Marvels choice in how they are promoting their “Augmented Reality” iPad app is a very…unique one.
If you’ve read the issue by now, you may have noticed some small (depending on the panel) “AR” logos that popped up at key points of the book. These logos are cues for one to load up the Marvel Augmented Reality app and “scan” the page of the book. Bleeding Cool has posted the results of a scan of the first page, and the only way I can describe it is it’s like watching a DVD with the director’s commentary turned on. From what I’ve learned from a co-worker of mine who owns an iPad, this is something that happens throughout the issue when you scan it. Some pages are animated, some have editorial notes, and others show you the panel as it goes from rough pencils to a finished, colored work.
While I guess this is an okay gimmick for the book, did Marvel really have to slap an “AR” logo onto every panel? Wouldn’t it have been more effective to put a little note at the beginning of the book, then saying “now what else can you find?” That way you could have fans read the story AGAIN and scan every page. It would be more of a surprise to see which panels would feature this “Augmented Reality” and which ones were left out. Or maybe they just wanted to remind you of the bonus materials you would get to see if you were reading it digitally. I’m thinking the latter.
But back to these logos. How does John Romita, Jr. feel about this? While some of them are small, they’re essentially slapped right on top of his artwork. Sure he has a stellar relationship with Marvel, but if I was him I’d be a little miffed, especially since his art in this is a lot better after the debacle that was his Avengers run. I wonder if this was a higher-up decision and if he was even made aware of what was going to happen in it. JRJR is a pretty huge name at Marvel, and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t at least run this idea by him before doing it.
I’m calling it now: Marvel’s Augmented Reality app will be gone by next year. Sure, it’s an interesting concept (if you own an iPad or other tablet device), and while it is cool to get some behind the scenes on certain issues, I still feel like this is a whole lot of work for something that is basically a digital pop up book. While this is an interesting middle ground between print and digital comics, it’s still…off. I can’t explain it, and I don’t want to be like the typical comic geek that is against any and all change, but at the same time, this whole Augmented Reality thing just seems like a way to rub it in the faces of people who either don’t have an iPad/smartphone or those of us who still don’t want digital comics.