Transmedia storytelling, or transmedia narrative, refers to the process of conveying a story across multiple platforms and formats using digital technologies with an aim to generate a recreational experience. Each medium makes a distinct contribution to unfolding the story.
Take DC Comics as an example. I believe almost everybody once was a big fan of superhero comics. We used to dream of possessing mighty power like Superman or ability to run like Flash. Thanks to comics creator Stan Lee, we spent our childhood reading tons of DC comic books’ heroic characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Back in the twentieth century, people created movies based on the original stories. The first one is Superman and the Mole Men. Not until 1993 did DC bring out the first animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm in public. With the advance of technology back in the 90s, the golden age of DC company arose with a series of superhero movies in the form of animation. They attracted a great number of young audiences around the world as the stories could be told in a much more vivid and realistic way, with digital audiovisual material supported.
Cover of Superman and the Mole Men (23 Nov 1951)
Cover of The Brave and the Bold #1 (Aug–Sept 1955)
In today’s digital age, with the flourishing growth of the Internet, audiences themselves engage in the process of transmedia. Hundreds of fan pages and groups on social media platforms and websites discussing themes around superheroes, along with the rise of fan fiction (fanmade) movies. And it is not all yet: Many toy companies produce different figures of heroes made of toys, TV series show up and the invention of many superhero video games that are going viral nowadays.
As Henry Jenkins wrote on his blog, ‘transmedia storytelling is the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence’. Indeed, people keep upgrading the stories and conveying them in different forms. The more developed technology becomes, the more entry points to the story are created.
DC Comics has embraced transmedia storytelling, diversifying from comic books to films, TV series, toy lines and video games. All these blockbusters have been adding diversity to DC Universe. And we have no idea in what forms the stories will be told in the future, yet I believe we audience will be surprised as we always are.
Henry Jenkins, ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101′, weblog, 22 March 2007, <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html>, viewed 3 May 2017
Transmedia storytelling, Wikipedia, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmedia_storytelling>, viewed 3 May 2017
Mathew Robinson, ‘DC Comics and Transmedia’, Prezi, 13 April 2016, <https://prezi.com/ucmly3r9ddmd/dc-comics-and-transmedia/>, viewed 3 May 2017
Transmedia: Storytelling for the Digital Age, Scoop.It, <http://www.scoop.it/t/transmedia-storytelling-for-the-digital-age/?tag=Comic-Franchises> viewed 4 May 2017
Shannon, ‘GREAT EXAMPLES OF MULTIPLATFORM STORYTELLING’, weblog, 19 October 2015, <http://www.echostories.com/great-examples-multiplatform-storytelling/>, viewed 4 May 2017