Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Coming attractions.

Feeling better about the THESIS – it's remarkable what a good night's sleep will do for one's state of mind. I woke up early this morning and went back at it, and now some clarity is beginning to emerge. I'm chopping out a lot more of my existing work than I'd hoped, but again, leaner and meaner isn't at all bad in this context. I still doubt I'll have any trouble hitting the 60-page mark. At all.

A taste of the thesis in general:

I was born in December of 1977, which means that I was four when Jim Henson's THE DARK CRYSTAL came out in 1982 and eight when LABYRINTH was released in 1986. As a result the Henson 'dark fantasy' films struck me right between the eyes – if anything, I discovered them just a little too early, as evidenced by my memories of sitting in a friend's living room to watch THE DARK CRYSTAL on TV and being scared out of my mind. What were these huge, lumbering monsters that looked like rotting vultures in dresses, these "Skekses" things? What was this alien world, this alternate universe? My discovery of LABYRINTH at age eight was more forgiving, although I still feel the same odd fearful twinge I got from the Skekses when I watch David Bowie perform, well, anything. Where is this Labyrinth located? Who built the Labyrinth? Why doesn't Jareth, the Goblin King, appear to be a Goblin himself?

Henson's worlds are so rich and enticing that audiences often find themselves longing to know more about them, and Henson is happy to oblige. Each of these films was accompanied by a companion book, THE WORLD OF THE DARK CRYSTAL in 1982 and THE GOBLINS OF LABYRINTH in 1986, that fleshed out the world introduced to audiences on the screen. These early examples of transmedia storytelling serve as exceptionally useful examples of the aesthetics of transmediation, especially when examined in the context of the futher transmedia extensions the Jim Henson Company created for these franchises in the mid-2000s, the manga series RETURN TO LABYRINTH and LEGENDS OF THE DARK CRYSTAL, as well as the film sequel THE POWER OF THE DARK CRYSTAL.

First, however, the question must be addressed: what exactly is transmedia storytelling? The first section of this thesis will begin with Henry Jenkins' 2003 MIT Technology Review article "Transmedia Storytelling" and the relevant chapter in his 2006 book CONVERGENCE CULTURE, then expand on his thoughts to provide more examples of transmedia storytelling, some suggestions for possible useful distinctions between types of transmedia storytelling, and list some recent transmedia franchises, hopefully demonstrating that transmedia storytelling is a rapidly-growing (and maturing) form of entertainment.

The second section turns to the Jim Henson films. By closely examining how THE WORLD OF THE DARK CRYSTAL and THE GOBLINS OF LABYRINTH extend the original films, and how the later extensions relate to these books, a sort of 'aesthetics of transmediation' begins to emerge. In this section I'll argue for the importance of what the poet John Keats called 'negative capability' in the crafting of a story that might be considered for transmedia extension – which, in our current franchise-hungry entertainment industry, is essentially all of them.

The third section of this thesis digs deeper into the challenges facing transmedia storytelling. If transmedia storytelling is to further flourish as a viable technique, or potentially evolve into a narrative form in and of itself, what are the obstacles it needs to overcome? Further, what are some possible solutions to those challenges? This section will suggest some possible directions that transmedia storytelling might develop in the next few years and describe some tools, for both storytellers and audience members, that might assist in its growth.

I grew up enjoying stories that slip and slide across media forms like water. This thesis begins to explore both the financial and aesthetic factors of crafting these types of stories – the business, aesthetics and production of transmedia storytelling. Examining the basic underlying principles of transmediation leads to a better understanding of the unique opportunities afforded by films, television, books, comics, video games, and emerging media forms like mobile devices and alternate reality games. This thesis aims to provide each of the four camps of people associated with transmedia entertainment – the storytellers, the suits, the audiences, and the academics – with increased insight into the crafting of compelling narratives that lure audiences across multiple media forms and through cohesive worlds of true transmedia entertainment.

You know you're doing something right when you want to read it! Maybe a new credo should be "Never believe your own hype, but always write what you want to read..."

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