By Todd Allen
There’s a new wrinkle is the burgeoning battle of digital exclusives. Marvel has signed a digital exclusive with iVerse. I know, you’re thinking “Marvel has all their new comics with Comixology.” Yes… but that’s in English. Marvel just signed with iVerse for every other language. And that Marvel just handed a multi-year deal to someone else is awfully interesting.
This isn’t the first deal iVerse has done with foreign languages. They’ve been translating Archie into Spanish for awhile now. Marvel has the potential to be a much bigger deal. I spoke with iVerse’s head honcho, Michael Murphey, and he said to think of it in terms of Marvel’s foreign box office.
I popped over to Box Office Mojo and here’s what I found for the global split on Marvel’s movies:
- Amazing Spider-Man: 65.1%
- Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence: 60.9%
- Thor: 59.7%
- Avengers: 58.8%
- Captain America: 52.1%
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine: 51.8%
- Iron Man 2: 49.9%
Now, to be fair, foreign box office includes a few English-speaking countries like the Australia and the UK. Still, the movie audience for foreign language Marvel would seem to be a bit over 50% of the of total audience. The theory being that comics should behave proportionally to the movies and if you have native language editions around half the total digital sales ought to be foreign and thus double your existing English-only circulation.
The general idea, as Murphey puts it, is to make the translated comics “look like they were always intended for that language.” Some countries will already have some translated print editions of Marvel and some won’t. They will have seen the movies. Murphey’s looking at this in a fashion similar to anime spawning the manga industry in the US, hoping the translated editions will take off “much the same way manga has come over here.”
The plan is to launch in Fall 2012. The early releases will be in Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. iVerse will add languages each month as they roll out and they’re looking at an initial “double digit” list of languages.
Coinciding this foreign push with the Marvel Now initiative probably makes for good timing. I wouldn’t want an entirely new audience jumping into the middle of a multi-title crossover as their introduction to Marvel’s comic product (as opposed to film).
The foreign initiative will formally be called/branded “iVerse International” and they’ll be looking to get on every platform that they can. It will be particularly interesting to watch their progress in Japan, since digital comics have been a staple in Japan, particularly on cell phones, for the better part of a decade.
Murphey also says “no partner is off-limits” for iVerse International and was hinting that more announcements would be forthcoming.
So there you have it. Marvel and Archie are going international. Marvel gave iVerse the foreign language exclusive for single issues and graphic novels (iVerse will continue having the graphic novels in English). And I guess we’ll start seeing what the foreign digital demand is when you open it up to native languages.
Marvel’s official press release follows.
Marvel Entertainment Signs Exclusive Foreign Language Digital Comics Agreement With iVerse
New York, NY—September 19, 2012—Today Marvel Entertainment, one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, announced it will exclusively distribute single issue and collected edition foreign language digital comics worldwide with iVerse, an innovator and unique voice in the mobile publishing field.
This multi-year agreement reinforces both Marvel’s position as one of the leading global entertainment brands and the number one comic book publisher in the world, while also bringing its unparalleled library of popular characters and acclaimed stories to the widest possible global audience. This foreign language content will launch in late 2012 with staggered releases worldwide.
“Marvel and iVerse both recognize the opportunity global publishing content expansion brings to Marvel fans worldwide,” explained Peter Phillips, SVP & General Manager, Marvel Digital Media Group. “This partnership with iVerse allows us to introduce Marvel’s rich history of exciting, action packed stories to new audiences who want to know more about the Avengers, Spider-Man, Wolverine and more in their native languages.”
Marvel and iVerse first partnered to distribute single–issue, English language digital comics in 2009. The ComicsPlus app, available through the App Store and Google Play, currently offers a robust selection of Marvel Digital Graphic Novels.
“At iVerse we believe that there is an unprecedented opportunity to expand readership by providing content in readers’ native languages,” said Michael Murphey, CEO, iVerse. “We are lifelong fans of Marvel – their characters and their content. It’s truly an honor to be able to partner with them to bring this spectacular content to the world on as many platforms as possible.”
Soon you can experience the greatest comic books, featuring the Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine and more worldwide in foreign languages for the first time ever in the digital realm!
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.