SXSW: Six Things We Learned From Marvel

The House of Ideas launches new initiatives, plus a big hire

SXSW: Six Things We Learned From Marvel

So Marvel Comics had been teasing big things all week from their SXSW Gaming Expo panel House of Ideas. Did they deliver? Well, how about 700 free digital comics, plus hiring a top comics reporter?

1) 700 free Marvel issue No. 1s, from original Kirby/Lee/Ditko/Buscema-era classics through to Uncanny X-Men, available for download via the Marvel app until March 12. Any recommendations? "I don't know, maybe a little book called Hawkeye. That's worth picking up," said Marvel CEO Axel Alonzo. Any real recommendations? "Buy a portable hard drive, now."

Why so much free content? As Marvel Communications director Arune Singh restated, amid all the cross-media hype, "It's all about comics."

2) Weekly digital Infinite Comics, starting July 9 with Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted. This will be the first of four 13-episode stories, each headlined by a major character and tying into the core title. To ensure that continuity, the first arc will be handled by Wolverine and the X-Men writer Jason Aaron, fellow scribe Jason Latour (Winter Soldier) and cover artist Paco Diaz Luque. Alonzo said of Infinite Comics, "Every time we do one of these, we get better and better at doing it." It's still a challenge, said Singh. "There's a special language for motion comics that no-one quite understand yet, and we think at Marvel we're getting closer to translating it."

3) A big upgrade to Marvel Unlimited, the largest legal digital comics subscription library, with 13,000 titles. Design studio Chaotic Moon is replacing the old Flash system with HTML 5, with an iOS app and a Windows version within weeks. They will be adding additional content, plus discounts and exclusives for members, and a big upgrade to follow later this year.

4) Last year Marvel used SXSW to launch its new AR publishing initiative with Aurasma and give a sneak peek of the Ultimate Spiderman animated series. This year it will be getting a lot more content and "making of"-style bonus material. Alonzo called it "a peek behind the curtain" with more dedicated content.

5) A brief demo of Project Gamma, which will add adaptive audio to the digital experience. The music will be designed in nonrepetitive loops, progressing between panels at the reader's pace and designed to give audio cues to the story. This isn't a traditional soundtrack: "You're not pressing play on your comics," said Singh. Alonzo backed that up by saying they're providing "music that never, ever rips you out of the narrative." He noted that Uncanny X-Men writer Kieron Gillen actually adds score recommendations to his comic scripts, so this is just following the writers' lead. The music will be provided by Momentum Worldwide and Cord.

6) The big one for many: New online video content, Earth's Mightiest Show, hosted by arguably the highest profile comics journalist and critic today, Blair Butler. The show launches this summer, and Singh promises documentaries and even reality programming to come.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at

Plans for New SXSW HQ Unveiled at Groundbreaking
Plans for New SXSW HQ Unveiled at Groundbreaking
The 145,000-square-foot building is set to open in 2019

Reanna Zuniga, Nov. 16, 2017

Hey, SXSW, How You Doin'?
Hey, SXSW, How You Doin'?
Tech pioneers, music innovators, and a daytime fave added

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 9, 2017

More SXSW 2013
Magnolia Becomes 'Drinking Buddies,' Magnet Gets 'Milo'
Magnolia Becomes 'Drinking Buddies,' Magnet Gets 'Milo'
SXSW acquisitions continue with ensemble drama and horror comedy

Richard Whittaker, March 19, 2013

SXSW: A Cold One With Joe Swanberg and His 'Drinking Buddies'
SXSW: A Cold One With Joe Swanberg and His 'Drinking Buddies'
The festival's oddest and most comfortable press gathering

Richard Whittaker, March 14, 2013

More by Richard Whittaker
Drawn to <i>Batman</i> at Wizard World
Drawn to Batman at Wizard World
Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester on voicing the dynamic duo

Nov. 17, 2017

Comics Writer Donny Cates Casts Spells on Doctor Strange
Comics Writer Donny Cates Casts Spells on Doctor Strange
Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme and big bad Thanos get a local scribe

Nov. 17, 2017


SXSW, SXSW 2013, Comics, Marvel Comics, Digital Publishing, Aurasma, SXSW Gaming Expo, Blair Butler, Axel Alonzo, Project Gamma, Comixology, Marvel App, Infinite Comics, AR, Chaotic Moon

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)