The following story appeared in The Financial Times on Friday July 25, 2008.
By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles
Published: July 24 2008 22:54 | Last updated: July 24 2008 22:54
Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man, has struck a landmark deal with Walt Disney that will see his latest comic creation published online and on digital devices such as iPods in a move that signals the medium's shift to digital distribution.
Mr Lee, the most revered figure in comics, created some of the industry's best-known characters, including Iron Man, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, which have all become successful Hollywood film franchises.
Pow Entertainment, Mr Lee's production company, has developed Time Jumper, which Disney will distribute on the internet and on mobile phones, as well as in the traditional comic book format.
"Comics have always been a springboard for movies," Mr Lee told the FT. "This deal means they can be a springboard for a new form of entertainment."
Time Jumper, he added, "is right up Disney's alley...it's for young people but is something that older people will also enjoy. It lends itself to new types of media".
The digital comic will combine traditional print elements, such as thought and speech bubbles, with music, voices and special effects.
The deal will be unveiled on Friday in San Diego at Comic-Con, the bi-annual comic convention. With comics providing so much of the source material for blockbuster movies, such The Dark Knight, the convention has become a key date in the Hollywood calendar.
Time Jumper tells the story of a teenager who travels through time using a mobile phone to fight a shadowy global terrorist organisation. "Our focus is to not only help deliver the story, but become an interactive part of telling the story of Time Jumper," said Paul Yanover, executive vice president and general manager of Disney Online.
Pow has extended a production deal with Disney and has three other Stan Lee projects in development: Nick Ratchet, about a private detective; Blaze, an action adventure; and Tigress, about a woman who develops tiger-like instincts.
The Pow-Disney deal comes as other comic publishers begin to exploit the internet. DC Comics, the label behind Batman and Superman, announced this week that it was developing an online virtual world that would feature its star characters.
Users of DC Universe Online, which is being developed with Sony Online Entertainment, will be able to create their own superheroes or villains.