So one day I was in Game Traders, casually minding my own business, trying to decide whether I wanted to buy either a Storm or Clone trooper bobble head. When suddenly I overheard a girl say to her friend “Omg they made The walking Dead into a comic now, that’s so cool”. Off course my instant reaction to this can best be described by the actions of this zombie…
But later it got me thinking. The Walking Dead (ORIGINALLY A COMIC) has branched out dramatically since its transformation into a hit HBO television series. Before the show existed the audience base for the franchise was limited only to the likes of comic book nerds and zombie enthusiasts alike. But now it has a vast array of audiences from all walks of life (excuse the pun) who have never necessarily even read a comic before or held an interest in zombies for that matter. How many people are out there who love the show but don’t even know about the comic, or who have never played the games? This just surprises me that something so niche can become so main stream overnight, simply due to a little something called trans-media storytelling.
Trans-media story telling is the process where integral elements of fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience (Jenkins H 2007).
I feel that in order to explain this I am going to have to use my favourite example of all time Star Wars. Whenever I can’t understand something I always try and relate it to Star Wars. Sometimes I think it’s the only way I can really learn.
Picture Star Wars for a second and think about how much is known about the Star Wars universe that does not revolve around the movies. The characters, the histories, the back stories, the weapons, the planets, the cultures… it just goes on and on. The amount of detail known about the Star Wars universe is unbelievable, there are literally encyclopaedias filled with as much information about the Star Wars universe as there are encyclopaedias filled with information about our own universe.
So the question is, If this information didn’t come from the movies, where did it come from? The answer Trans-Media Storytelling.
These details have come from the thousands of adaptations that have been created in order to further expand and continue the saga. Star wars is not just limited to the films, it has mutated across many media forms: novels, comics, games, spin off films, television series, toys… ect and with each one of these adaptations a new element has been added to the Star Wars Universe, creating this unified, coordinated, collective intelligence. For example the Aurebesh alphabet was originally a random piece of set dressing in Return of the Jedi. Stephen Crane copied those symbols and turned them into a complete and coherent alphabet, which can still be used today (if you are so inclined).
- “After Star Wars was released, it became apparent that my story—however many films it took to tell—was only one of thousands that could be told about the characters who inhabit its galaxy. But these were not stories that I was destined to tell. Instead, they would spring from the imagination of other writers, inspired by the glimpse of a galaxy that Star Wars provided. Today, it is an amazing, if unexpected, legacy of Star Wars that so many gifted writers are contributing new stories to the Saga.“
- ―George Lucas,