SDCC 2012: Marvel's House Of Ideas Panel Goes All Digital, All The Time

Not to be confused with MTV's House of Style, Marvel's House of Ideas panel at SDCC 2012 focused squarely on the Publisher's digital initiatives. With Marvel AR stepping up in the wake of their recent Marvel NOW! announcement, and the ReEvolution on for real, San Diego welcomed CCO Joe Quesada to the stage, as well as Agent M himself, Ryan Penagos, Communications Manager Arune Singh, Senior VP of Sales David Gabriel, SVP and GM of Digital Media Peter Phillips, Editor Nick Lowe, and EIC Axel Alonso.

Things kicked off talking about how all their print books are moving towards having free digital codes. Commenting on the movie, Gabriel said, "We wanted to make sure the print books had extra added value, plus it made sure people who buy digital would have an incentive to buy print."

Arune then mentioned that if you subscribe to Marvel Digital Comics at San Diego Comic-Con, it's a 30% discount, and you get a free Doctor Doom with Infinity Gauntlet figure. We should note that you can also buy newer comics individually - the Marvel Digital Comics subscription is more like a virtual back-bin. However, Phillips added that, "It doesn't matter if you're print or digital, we just want you to be a comic reader."

After that, the panel turned to talking about Infinite Comics, with Quesada telling his story about being blown away by early experiments, before eventually - two years down the road - getting set up with original digital comics that play with the form. Looking to the future, Quesada said, "I firmly believe the Infinite format will be how we read our comic books." "It is comics made with the medium in mind," added Lowe.

Next up? The Marvel AR App, which allows readers to interact with the comics issues. Arune plugged that when Wolverine falls out of a plane at the end of Avengers vs. X-Men #3, you can check out a legitimate doctor talking about what would happen to his body. They showed the video from the app, and yup, that was a doctor all right. Side-note: there was posted in the background for Mutinex featuring Doop, and another one that said, "This is your brain on Heat," which makes us think we need to be able to use the AR App on the AR App to go even FURTHER into the Marvel experience. Our two cents.

Wrapping up on the AR App, Renagos mentioned there are pins for Ultimate Spider-Man at the SDCC booth that allow you to access and try out the App.

Quesada moved on, talking about Marvel Social Media, and likened it to Stan Lee's interaction with fans in his classic Soapbox column. Now, though, it's all on Twitter and Facebook, and the creators welcome the input - and questions. "You help direct the course of our stories, whether you know it or not," said Quesada.

Next on the agenda was GetGlue, which allows you to get both virtual and physical stickers for checking in to Marvel books, movies, and TV shows. Also on tap, Penagos plugged their YouTube shows, The Watcher, and Marvel SuperHeroes What The?! That led nicely into a totally new episode of What The featuring Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy, and MODOK - among others. Much fun was had by all.

Then Arune plugged the Facebook game Avengers Alliance, and then mentioned there'd be some big news at the Marvel Games panel, as well as the Avengers vs. X-Men panel. Penagos added that Marvel's stable of writers contributed not just to Avengers Alliance, but also the mysterious Marvel XP. More will be announced soon!

Last bit was the Marvel Advisors program, which will allow fans to sign up for Digital content before it launches - essentially being Beta testers for Marvel's new products. Sign up for that is available at the Marvel booth at Comic-Con.

Responding to an audience question, Phillips said that Marvel isn't planning on adding QR codes to scan in the print comics for the free digital content - instead of a long numeric code - but that they are looking into easier ways of accessing the free digital copies.

Asked whether Marvel would repurpose old stories for Infinite Comics, Lowe said, "We're more interested in telling new stories, and have new things for the fans to enjoy." Quesada added that it's not cost effective at the moment, but they might consider it for classic story lines down the road.

Breaking some news, Lowe said the next Marvel Infinite Comic will tie into Avengers vs. X-Men #10, and be written by Mark Waid, with Reilly Brown is the pencil and ink artist. Iron Man, The Scarlet Witch, and Beast will be the focus of the story.

When there was a lull in the questions, Singh quipped, "Are we going to end early? This isn't a DC panel," to much laughter from the audience. A few other questions did come up after that, but nothing too exciting. And that was it! Like Marvel, we'll see you online. Or maybe, since it's San Diego Comic-Con, we'll see you on line.