Interview: Marvel’s Michael Pasciullo Helps Kids Create Comics Online

The big question facing the comic book industry right now is, “How do we get comic books into new readers hands?” One way of doing it? Have them write the comics. Marvel, along with parent company Disney, have just launched an online comic creator tying into the hit Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes cartoon. The comic creator lets user put together their own comic, with their own dialogue, and possibly have the chance to see their story published in an actual Marvel Comic. So, that’s pretty nice.

To find out more, we chatted with Michael Pasciullo, Marvel Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of Brand Management & Communications about what went into making the comic creator, what they hope to get out of it, and where it’s going next:

MTV Geek: So, how’d you guys strike on the idea of doing this comic creator?

Michael Pasciullo: It’s definitely one of those situations in which you see how beneficial it is, not only for us but also for our fans, that Marvel and Disney are part of the same family. We always thought that a “comic book creator” program would be a great way for kids to engage with our characters and we were looking into ways to make it a reality. At the same time, we were talking to some people at Disney about a few of the initiatives that we were looking to pursue and they showed us this amazing Comic Creator app they had already developed for Disney.com’s Create (Disney.com/Create). At that point, it was very simple to put one and one together, combining Marvel’s characters with Disney.com’s Create program and the result was the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Comic Creator.

Geek: It reminds me a bit of the “How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way” book I had as a kid… Is this the next evolution?

MP: I think it absolutely is. When “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” came out, it was simply genius. It gave myself and every other kid out there that loved Marvel and all of Marvel’s characters, an opportunity to go from reading about their favorite heroes to being able to draw and pose their favorite heroes. It gave you this great sense of ownership. The Comic Creator app takes that to a whole other level. Now kids have the opportunity to not only create stories featuring Earth’s Mightiest Heroes but they have the creative freedom to tell those stories graphically as well. Just as you hear some of our top artists today talking fondly about the fact that “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” got them into art, I think ten years from now, you will hear a few comic book writers saying that, “the first comic book story that I ever wrote was on the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Comic Creator.

Geek: Other than, obviously, getting kids interested in Avengers, what’s the long term goal? Meaning, once a kid makes this comic, what do they do next?

MP: One of the amazing things about the Comic Creator app is that not only does every kid out there get to write and develop his own Avengers story but after they are done, they can share it with the entire world. There are functions in the Comic Creator that allow you to “publish” your story so that it is posted on the site and other people can read it. You can also print it out and show it off to your family and friends. On top of that, Marvel and Disney have put together an amazing contest in which kids can enter their stories into a competition to win some great prizes, including a grand prize of having your story appear in an actual Marvel Adventures comic book!

But even beyond how great all of that is, I think the true value of the Comic Creator app is that it allows kids to not only indulge their imaginations, but discover how wonderful the creative process can be. I think that every child who uses this app is going to realize how much fun writing can be and the sense of achievement it gives you.

Geek: Are there plans to expand the site? If so, how?

MP: We are always looking to take something that we believe is successful and make it better. Right now, we are monitoring the site to get feedback from the people who are using it as well as playing with it ourselves to see what we can do to make it an even greater experience.

Geek: There’s been a lot of talk about getting comics into kids’ hands… Is this one way to do that, or am I reading too much into it?

MP: I don’t think you are reading too much into it at all. This is a very important time for Marvel as well as the entire comic book industry. Between the movies, television shows, comic books, video games, and licensed products, there are so many ways for people to be introduced to and engage with Marvel characters. And many times once they get introduced to them, they want more. I think when kids start using the Comic Creator app and learning about sequential storytelling, it’s going to compel them to start reading comic books, whether it be in printed or digital format. It’s a great way to not only introduce them to “how” to read a comic book but also get them interested in the characters as well.

Geek: Lastly, how can parents get involved with the site, and the comics creation process?

MP: I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to use the Comic Creator app yet, but trust me, it is just as compelling for adults. I went on there to familiarize myself with it so that I could show it to my niece and nephew and about 2 hours later, I had written about ten different stories. I think parents are going to enjoy sitting down with their children and using the app together. Who knows, this could be the catalyst for the next best-selling parent/child writing team!

You can create your own Avengers comics right here!

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