Operation Odin (1996), multimedia comic

Operation Odin, by Zack! Design Multimedia, based on a comic written and drawn by Mike Marus and Wolfgang Schneider, published by Koch

Welcome to the future of comics, which at least in 1996 meant fully voice-acted motion comic multimedia extravaganza instead of getting your regular static comics from an online store like Comixology. And yeah, I know, there are motion comics even today, I've just not personally watched any of them.

But this is about Operation Odin, a Koch multimedia release from 1996, meant to run on Windows and Apple computers, allowing you to experience a comic book story with music, voice acting and some animation.

Really, the only thing separating the future of comics from a cheaply made animation is, that the cheaply made animation doesn't have speech bubbles.

The story of Operation Odin begins a short while before the death of Hitler in Nazi Germany. Göering, the literal nazi swine he is in this tale of anamorphic animals, decides to cut his losses and schemes in hiding a valuable loot of Nazi gold. But as luck has it, the shit hits the fan and he's arrested before he manages to get away, while his cohorts escape the country.

In Germany, a couple of days before the famed wall is coming down, a hooker named Sugar is lending a sympathetic ear to an old drunkard Matucheck, who in his drunken stupor ends up telling her a tale of Nazi gold he helped hiding before the end of the war. Sugar's pimp Fred gets all excited, as he has heard tales of the lost gold, so he decides to believe Matucheck, which leads them to head out behind the wall to see if the gold still is there.

So that's the story, more or less. Add in a good deal of wartime flashbacks, old Nazi's coming out from their hiding and a hunt for a lost gold treasure in Germany close to unification, and you got yourself a pretty decent tale filled with action, some political satire and a splash of adventure.

Operation Odin itself was originally released in 1991, written and drawn by Mike Marus and Wolfgang Schneider.  As far the comics itself goes, I don't have much to add to it. It's worth a read in itself, so if you manage to find it from somewhere, go for it.

The multimedia presentation itself is passable, but as it is, the time has driven past it hard. Not only is the resolution of the comic low in contrast to how high resolutions are now, the colour palette used is not great either, turning the originally nicely coloured comic into a palette set of 256 colours, which doesn't really do any favours for the image quality itself.

The music and the voice acting are highly compressed as well. So while this kind of a multimedia presentation of a comic was pretty awesome back in the day it was released, I would hardly call it a good way to actually experience a comic book story. If it were in higher resolution and in better colour depth, then yes, it would be a pretty nice little half animation, but as it is now, the whole production just stands as a testament on how much the technology has gone forward.

Back in the day, this kind of a multimedia presentation of a comic book might have seemed like a sure thing, with all the extra bells and whistles you could bring with it. But in the end, I do prefer my comics as they are now. I don't really care if they are in a digital or printed format, but the main thing is, that it's me doing the reading, perusing the pages on my own leisure and imagining whatever voices I damn well like for the characters.

This was one bet towards the future of comics and like many bets towards the future, it ended up missing the mark. Multimedia comics didn't really become a big thing, most likely because hiring animators and voice actors don't necessarily make a comic book any cheaper to produce.

And besides, if you want to make something that is voice acted and animated, wouldn't a movie really be what you are after?