Marvel Comics is reaching out to an unusual demographic for a visual medium: The blind.
They're using the world's most famous blind superhero to do it, Daredevil. Marvel's released an audio edition of Daredevil #1 for free on their website.
The audio edition features writer Mark Waid reading his script, including full comic panel descriptions. Marvel editors play the various characters. It's a great place to start, given the blind character; it's also a comic that's received high marks from both critics and fans. (I'll add my personal endorsement; as a comic book fan, it's one of my favorite comics of the year.)
According to Marvel.com, Senior Editor Steve Wacker came up with the idea. It also plays even for those with sight, providing an audio play version of the new comic.
It's being termed an experiment, but it'll be interesting to see if more major comic books get the audio treatment in the future, both as a service to the blind and another medium to present their superheroes in. It's also an interesting insight into Waid's writing, as you get a chance to hear what he includes in the scripts he provides to artists to finish creating comics he works on.
Waid acknowledged the blind in another unique way at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. "My girlfriend had a brilliant idea," Waid told comic book website iFanboy. "She got me one of those embossing stamps that CPAs use. It's my name in braille." For fans that brought their Daredevil #1s to Waid at the convention, he signed his name both regularly and in braille.
Waid's also made use of some audience sourcing for the book. "We have at least one fan who has lost their sight a few years ago, and has been really great, and sending us a lot of information about Matt, and sending us a lot of information about what technology for the blind is right now in the year 2011, and I cannot wait to send him a signed copy."
One fan also added music and sound effects to the reading; you can check out the fully produced version here.