Sep 12 2011
Politico - by David Saleh Rauf
Holy broadband, Batman!
The Centers for Disease Control is going to help fight HIV with comic books and the Internet.
The agency last week awarded a roughly $145,000 contract to Atlanta-based comic book publisher Terminus Media, which specializes in multimedia, according to documents filed on a government procurement site.
The objective: create a digital motion comic that can be delivered on devices like iPads and Xbox 360s for a new HIV awareness campaign aimed at folks ages 15 to 24.
“There are few health education communication interventions designed specifically for this group,” the CDC wrote in its request for bids. “Technological advances in computerized graphics have provided new ways of presenting comics and their applications for HIV/STI prevention.”
According to solicitation documents filed by the CDC, the agency says it is embarking on a potentially groundbreaking digital campaign — the first to ever tap motion comics as a means of developing an educational HIV program.
The early success of the still-evolving motion comic animation field, which mixes the tenants of traditional comic books with voice-overs, sound effects and musical scores, has been largely fueled by the Internet and mobile devices. In recent years, major movie studios have adapted box-office smashes like "Watchmen," Batman and "Tron" into motion comics sold on iTunes to reach a broader audience.
And the CDC has taken notice.
The agency specifically requested the motion comics for the HIV campaign be designed for viewing on just about any device that plugs into a broadband network, from smartphones and laptops to video game consoles and tablets.
The CDC described the digital comics as “a low-cost, revisable, scalable, innovative, technology-based health communication intervention.”
“If the proposed intervention is found to be successful, motion comics may be used by CDC to address other public health problems,” the agency wrote.
The CDC contract requires delivery of a 66-page hard copy comic that will be translated into three, seven-minute motion comics with original characters.
And if the prior work of the company selected is any indication, the final product could be interesting.
Terminus Media touts itself online as an independent comic book publisher with a penchant for creating wild weapon-wielding heroes and villains.
For example, one of its recent original works is a graphic novel set in the near future that follows a small pirate radio operation rallying resistance against a coalition of Arab nations that have overthrown the U.S. Its creator described the comic in a company press release as “'Red Dawn' meets 'The Wire.'”
The company did not respond to calls from POLITICO for comment Monday.