There’s a new comic book format in town, an Apple format, which suggests the company has a vision to enable next-generation book and comic publishing through its range of multimedia devices.

Tyrese Gibson’s Mayhem is the first digital book for sale on iTunes 9, and its being sold in the extended multimedia format, iTunes LP/iTunes Extras.

Mayhem’s comic iTunes LP ($1.99) is the first comic book to explore the format as a form of highly visual creative expression.

Its introduction makes it easy to see the potential of book or magazine sales through iTunes. And, let’s face it, it’s built for handheld devices and, we think, the fabled Apple tablet (October? January?)

The release of this beautiful digital comic – and look at the way the action flows and the expression isn’t confined to words and pictures – means Apple boss Steve Jobs may already be back to his opaque public statements self, when he told the New York Times Apple doesn’t see eBooks as a big business – for the company.

Being a big business for Apple doesn’t necessarily mean eBooks aren’t a potentially big business for its platforms. In fact, with eBooks being the second-biggest content category on iTunes after games, there’s a proper eBook gold rush surging up. It’s just that Apple doesn’t publish the books…but it does create the platform – particularly its mobile platforms.

If NYT interviewer David Pogue had thought things through, he’d maybe have been more explicit in reading between the Jobsian lines.

What Jobs, the Twitter-killer, did say was, “I think the general-purpose devices will win the day. Because I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device.”

(You always need to read between Steve’s lines, even when he’s recovering from another life-saving surgery).

Can Kindle deliver this excellence in multimedia?

Take a look at the comic, it’s fab. (I’m finding the link troublesome, sorry).

As John Fortt at Fortune notes, "Maybe the tools Apple created to digitize Gibson’s Mayhem comic will be part of an author’s kit with that oft-rumored Apple tablet?"

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