Packing a transmedia punch…

Transmedia NZ’s Fiona Milburn takes a look at three ongoing transmedia projects using comic books for great effect.

This post originally appeared on Transmedia NZ’s Transit blog on The Big Idea.

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I’ve always had an interest in comic books as a storytelling medium so, with Chromacon 2015 in Auckland this month, it seemed an opportune time to look at comics and graphic novels as a platform for transmedia storytelling.

 “[…] comics is a unique and exciting storytelling medium, one that can challenge you in ways that you haven’t been challenged before and give you the opportunity to immerse your audience in deeper exploration of the world of your story.”  Tyler Weaver, More Than Storyboards for Script Magazine

Here are three ongoing transmedia projects that use comic books to great effect:

1.  Priya’s Shakti from Rattapallax

Priya's Shakti

Priya’s Shakti was developed as a response to the highly-publicized gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012.  The comic tells the story of Priya, a mortal woman and rape survivor.  With the help of the Hindu Goddess Parvati, Priya overcomes the social stigma and isolation resulting from her rape.  She invites everyone to “speak without shame” and to join with her in standing against gender-based violence in India and around the world.  #standwithpriya

Priya’s Shakti is an innovative social impact project designed to change the conversation around rape and rape culture.  It currently consists of:  an augmented reality comic book, exhibitions, street art and social media pages.  The comic book was chosen as the primary platform for the project as it “is perfectly designed for children and teenagers to learn about gender-based sexual violence”.  The aim is to start the cultural shift happening at an early age.

Priya’s Shakti Trailer

2.  Collider from beActive

Collider

Scientist, Peter Ansay is unable to convince anyone of the cataclysmic threat posed by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.  Taking matters into his own hands, he attempts to sabotage the collider.  This inadvertently opens a wormhole which transports him, and five strangers, to 2018 and the post-apocalyptic future he fears.  Together, they must figure out what’s going on, and how to return to the present day in order to prevent Armageddon.

Collider is an interactive sci-fi world spanning:  comic books; webisodes; video games; online and live experiences; a crowd sourced TV series; and feature film.  The comic books cover the back story of the six characters who are each pulled into 2018 from a different time and place.  The comics were rolled out early in the Collider experience as part of beActive’s fan engagement strategy for the project.

Emmy nominated Post-apocalyptic Multi-platform Sci-Fi Experience at CERN – Collider

3.  Clockwork Watch by Yomi Ayeni

Clockwork Watch

Clockwork Watch “is set in a retro-futurist vision of Victorian England at a time when clockwork mechanics and science are the two most important developments in the world.”  Yomi Ayeni describes it as “an incredible Steampunk love story, where the audience can literally take control and become part of a revolutionary experience.”

The narrative experience is designed to play out over five years and will eventually span nine graphic novels, interactive promenade theatre, free-form role-play, online adventures, and a feature film.  The graphic novels introduce the world of Clockwork Watch.

Clockwork Watch Event

Clockwork watch at Make Believe Festival

The deep dive…

For more information on the three transmedia projects above, just follow the embedded hyperlinks.

Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art is a must read for anyone interested in the inner workings of comic books.

To learn more about the “world deepening” value of comics, I recommend Tyler Weaver’s Comics for Film, Games, and Animation: Using Comics to Construct Your Transmedia Storyworld

Nuno Bernardo also has two excellent books which incorporate comics in a transmedial approach to content creation:  The Producer’s Guide to Transmedia: How to Develop, Fund, Produce and Distribute Compelling Stories Across Multiple Platforms and Transmedia 2.0: How to Create an Entertainment Brand Using a Transmedial Approach to Storytelling.

And finally, if you want to explore the difference between comic books and graphic novels, try this concise overview from Encyclopaedia Britannica.

 

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