The story will be opened up for user input a page at a time—as each new page is unlocked, users can upload comments and story ideas in the form of written text, digital photos or scanned artwork, adding a whole new dimension to the user-generated genre. "This is more of a community-based project than a DIY widget full of canned clips for someone to create a video or mash-up," says Wilson. "It's a real, full blown 2.0 application that allows communities to form and create tangible consumer-generated content. And the output of what we're doing is an actual, tangible comic book, crowd-authored along with Marvel's writers and artists."
The website offers a fluid page-display interface that gives viewers the option to see the entire comic laid out page by page or zoom in on specific pages. Within each completed page, viewers can peek in on the community brainstorming by browsing through the submissions of fellow fans, or even check out the artwork in any of the three standard stages of comic book production: pencils, inks and color. "Web 2.0 is all about instant feedback—uploading, posting, commenting and seeing it right away," says Wilson. "Since this project happens in near real-time, our engineers had to build a custom back-end engine that would allow us to approve or disapprove submissions as quickly as possible, to keep the experience genuine. And since our friends at Marvel are cranking away on pencils, then inks, then colors of the winning submissions, we had to create a way for them to publish to this site quickly. It's a little like baking a cake from scratch, but needing to build the oven from scratch first. It's a very special oven."