There’s been so much to report over the last few weeks that I haven’t been able to cover everything. I’ve mentioned Spirou.Z a few times (most recently in yesterday’s update on the multi-part, Pixar-illustrated “The Domino Theory” that will run there), but I haven’t really explained in detail what it is.
Spirou.Z is a digital comic magazine. It’s designed for tablets: the iPad version is currently available from the iTunes store, and an Android version is under development (no word on versions for other platforms such as Windows 8). The company released a free “issue #0” to coincide with the Spirou anniversary celebrations, but regular publication will start in October. New issues of Spirou.Z will come out monthly (as compared to the weekly Journal de Spirou), and as I understand it, the content will be separate from the Journal. Future issues will be priced at €5.99, but will be free to subscribers of the Journal. And it appears that each issue will be available in English as well as French (although it’s not clear whether this includes all the content).
The digital comics in Spirou.Z use something publisher Dupuis calls “turbo media” frame-by-frame navigation, and are enhanced by animation elements. Games and other content and activities are also included. I haven’t had a chance to check it out for myself yet (due to a tragic iPad deficiency), but you can read about a hands-on experience here.
We’ll have to wait and see what this new digital magazine will be like on a continuing basis; some of the details hint that it might be aimed at slightly younger readers than the print magazine. Nevertheless, this is potentially a very exciting development for Spirou fans. The digital format opens up a worldwide market, and Dupuis has taken the implications of this into account by offering Spirou.Z in an English version. If successful, it’s not hard to imagine that other Spirou material would also be made available in this format as well. (For example, the screenshots on iTunes appear to show La véritable histoire de Spirou, the recent book about the history of the series and magazine, under a section called “Documentaire.”) Of course, it might be a flop, but given the long-term outlook for comic magazines on paper, online is almost certainly a bet that’s worth making for Dupuis.