The Illustrated film vs the motion comic – Is there a difference?

30 07 2010


I was intrigued by the comments of the creatives behind the distopian nightmare of ‘Godkiller’ and the upcoming ‘Black Sky’ illustrated film on the MTV website.

Matt Pizzolo quote:

Though similar in some ways to motion comics, ill-films are a
new format of cinema whereas motion comics are a new format of cartoons.

On first glance, ill-films and motion comics look very similar…
and people might say ‘it’s moving comics on a screen,
that’s motion comics’ to which I say ‘just because Seinfeld is moving
people captured on 35mm film doesn’t make it the same thing as Full Metal Jacket.”

I have some doubts about the relevance of Pizzolo’s statement. Motion comics and illustrated film share a commonality that cannot be ignored, despite an effort to elevate the term ‘illustrated film’ above the motion comic. That shared commonality is of course the static comic book or illustrated image, which has been imbued with movement (either by camera movement, ‘puppet’ style animation techniques, motion graphics and lighting and spatial effects) Certainly some motion comics can be compared in various ways to the classic saturday morning kids cartoons, however that ignores or conveniently dismisses some of the more avant garde forms of motion comic adaptations such as ‘Batman Black and White: Perpetual Mourning’, or Crush Inc’s ‘Death of the Channel Three News Team‘. It’s also important to note that the pacing of the illustrated film or motion comic is heavily influenced by sound elements, such as dialogue and soundtrack. My interviews with several animation directors (such as Gary Thomas) have revealed the influence of dialogue on the pacing of a scene.

In summary, the illustrated film, like the motion comic, is capable of conveying almost any kind of narrative or genre; from romance, action, horror or thriller. It is up to the individual animation director to ensure that each motion comic, or illustrated film has an appropriate visual animation style to accompany the static artwork, story and narrative.

I wish Pizzolo all the success that Godkiller and Black Sky certainly merit. Godkiller features the voice talents of Lance Henrikson and certainly looks like an accomplished piece of creative film-making/animation. I also commend the fact that Godkiller is available to view online, buy as a DVD or download to own. Each format and delivery option has a specific cost (e.g. cheaper to watch streaming than download or buy on DVD).


Buffy motion comic update

29 07 2010

Buffy motion comicWell I managed to get a peek at episode one of the new Buffy motion comic and I have to say it was very impressive. Apparently, anyone outside the U.S. will have to wait until the series is finished before buying it on DVD. Do motion comics cost more to download over broadband, implode on impact with ‘foreign’ computers, or do motion comic distributors believe that the rest of the world doesn’t want to watch them? Unfortunately, whatever the reason, Marvel DC, Fox etc… are playing into the hands of digital pirates. If overseas fans can’t get their fix of Buffy, they will resort to other means, whether it’s signing up for a U.S. account on itunes (and there are many forums out there that mention it), or even worse getting their hands on a ripped off torrent file. Enough of my worries about the medium’s growth, on to a review of the first episode.

US itunes

Buffy on US iTunes only

I haven’t read the original graphic novel, but from viewing some preview images on the Dark horse website, the motion comic takes each panel as a key moment in the development of the narrative. Originally written by Joss Whedon with artwork by Georges Jeanty, and directed and produced by Jeff Shuter, the action is fast-paced with an emphasis on motion blur and fast-cuts. The voice talent is good, although fans of the original television series may be dissapointed that Sarah Michelle Gellar wasn’t involved here.

Another aspect of the motion comic that I think works particularly well is the interplay between the cinematic screen and what I would term the ‘cinematic comic’. Animated panels remind us that this is indeed a motion comic that has taken its source material from a graphic novel. I particularly enjoyed the scene between Buffy and her giganticised sister, where the shifting panels reveal various aspects of the unfolding dialogue between Buffy and Dawn. In summary, this motion comic isn’t afraid of it’s comic book heritage, in fact it embraces the comic book panel, sound effects and other comic book aesthetics to great effect. Marvel and DC take note, this style of adaptation is worth considering.

Marvel Announces ‘Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers’

25 07 2010

Another mention of the upcoming Thor & Loki motion comic, set for release in 2011. The following excerpt from mentions the release and a brief description of the comic book miniseries it’s based on. The article also mentions “a new method of animation in “Thor & Loki,” and they say that it allows for much more movement and dynamic action than most motion comics have had so far.” One to look out for. (Following extract from

“At the Marvel: What’s Next: Welcome to the Digital House of Ideas panel, the publisher debuted a brand new trailer for their latest motion comic, Produced in concert with animation studio Magnetic Dreams, “Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers.” Timed to coincide with the “Thor” movie, the new motion comic will be released on April 2011.

Panelists John Dokes, John Cerilli, and Ryan”Agent_M” Penagos, emphasized that each new motion comic has been a testing ground to examine how fans read comics and what the best ways to turn comics page into something exciting to see in a motion comic are. Marvel’s also debuting a new method of animation in “Thor & Loki,” and they say that it allows for much more movement and dynamic action than most motion comics have had so far.

“Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers” is based on Robert Rodi and Esad Ribic’s 2004 miniseries “Loki;” This fully-painted series took a different route than most stories about Thor. Rather than being cast as the villain of the series, “Loki” explored Marvel’s Asgardian mythology from the trickster’s point of view. He was a sad and melancholy character, and demonstrated a depth of character rarely seen in his usual appearances.

Releasing “Thor & Loki” in 2011 is an obvious move, given the proximity of the “Thor” film. Considering the take on Loki in the book, this may prove to be an inspired tie-in to the movie, especially if Loki is the big bad guy at the end. The teaser trailer is a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive, but there’s a chance that it may end up online at some point, so stay tuned.”

via Marvel Announces ‘Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers’.

Comic Con – Joe Quesada talks about motion comics

25 07 2010

An interesting quote from Marvel’s Editor in chief Joe Quesada from comic book resources coverage of Comic Con 2010. Quesada points to the ‘technology’ getting better all the time, instead of the animation team’s approach to creating motion comics. As far as I know, the technology they’re using has been available for years, with 3D software and digital animation software such as Adobe’s after effects. Until I get a chance to talk to more motion comic animators, or Quesada himself, this notion of improved technology requires further research: (Quote from Quesada below)

“The question of motion comics came up and whether they’ve proved successful enough to make more. “Stylistically, they’re all radically different, but with everyone we do the technology is getting better and better,” Quesada said, noting that a “Loki” motion comic was just announced and that it’s treatment of Esad Ribic’s art is a new step forward for the form and that with luck, in the next five years the motion comics out there would overtake the current crop in every way possible.”

via CCI: Marvel Heroic Age Avengers – Comic Book Resources.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight motion comic, technical difficulties

20 07 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight motion comic, trailer debut | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment.


Kzap has kindly pointed out some flaws in my initial posting. Apparently the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer motion comic is: entirely the work of Fox and the animation studio. Kzap has also provided a url where you can view it … if you’re a resident of the U.S.

This current strategy of releasing titles in certain regions before making them available elsewhere seems outdated in an age of internet technology. Such practices only serve to confuse and frustrate potential viewers of such material. It may have worked in the golden years of the cinema, but staggering release dates of digital content only serves to propogate illegal copies of digital material. If anyone from Marvel, DC comics or Dark Horse is listening (reading), please make your content accessible from any country. It’s a simple request, but one that I feel is necessary if the motion comic is to have a lasting impact on the comic book market.