In a world where comic book-inspired films like The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Spider-Man routinely break box office records, it should be no surprise that comic books and graphic novels have surged in popularity.

The marketing team at VMware must be similarly enthralled by comic book fare, as every bit of marketing material in evidence -- from the program guide to hall signage -- resembles comic book artwork. (See my blurry camera and digital camera photos for evidence of said artwork, below.)

VMware isn't the only major technology firm to embrace a comic book motif. Remember the excellent Google Chrome online comic book, created with the help of comic guru and Understanding Comics artist/author Scott McCloud? Quite a few people have spoken highly of the Google Chrome comic, and a few people I've bumped into here at VMworld mentioned the same. VMware's marketing collateral looks eerily like McCloud's work, so I hope McCloud is either A) getting a cut of the VMworld attendee registration fees, or B) helped VMware develop the concept in the first place.

But wait--there's more to this that makes the mind spin. Why the similarity between what VMware and Google are up to on the marketing front? If these two industry giants are sharing marketing ideas, what's next? Like Google, VMware is talking about computing in the cloud often these days. And yes, the fact that VMware's "Virtually everything is possible" slogan is enclosed in a cloudy thought bubble isn't lost on most people. (Clever, but perhaps a bit too obvious?)

Regardless of whether VMware is aping Google or attemping to appeal to Generation X (or Y? or maybe Z?) with their colorful VMworld marketing efforts, I never imagined that I'd be talking about virtualization and Scott McCloud in the same sentence. Strange new world, eh?