Fire up the Bat Signal; we now have VR’s first official 3D, 360 degree comic book.
Oniride today launches the first issue of Magnetique, a new comic series for Gear VR (Oculus Store). This isn’t your traditional book simply digitized like some sort of VR e-reader. It’s a completely native experience in which each panel takes up a full 360 degrees. You flick through images just like you would a normal book, only with the action completely surrounding you just like it would in a 360 movie or image.
Magnetique chronicles the adventures of Nero, a young puppeteer on a trip to the fictional coast of Cyan. Little about the story is being revealed right now – and we don’t want to spoil the first issue – but Oniride is promising a story of war and revenge in the series’ first trailer, seen above. Aesthetically, at least, it reminds us a little of the Studio Ghibli art style.
Speech bubbles expand when the reader gazes at them, and audio effects add to the immersion. The result is something like a cross between a traditional comic and the digital graphic novels that the likes of Marvel and DC have experimented with.
Surprisingly, the book was illustrated by artist Emilio Pilliu within Photoshop. The team assembled some in-house tools to make sure proportions of characters, environments and objects matched up correctly, and even tweaked the book within the Unity game engine to add stereoscopic layers to the various elements on a page. As you can see in the trailer, images are added into a 360-degree background.
The first issue is completely free, so it’s well worth checking out for any comic book nerd with access to a Gear. Going forward, Oniride is hoping to collaborate with new artists on different series, and perhaps even build a hub platform for distributing them. The team also hopes to add parrallax support to its panels, giving the illusion of positional tracking and letting you glance around objects.
It might be a bit early to say we could be looking at the Comixology of VR, but the studio certainly has some interesting ideas for the medium. Oniride is planning to keep the series exclusive to VR right now, so don’t expect to see any versions for phones or browsers.
It wasn’t that long ago that we speculated how the comic book and VR industries might collide, and this is an exciting possibility. Oculus CTO John Carmack, a self-proclaimed comic geek, has also been working on a VR comic book store, which we’re eager to learn more about.