Way back in the dawn of civilisation, the only way to experience a story was to sit and listen to someone tell it to you. And this was almost invariably a guy because dudes in ancient civilisations had bizarre notions about women. So bizarre in fact, it’s sometimes a wonder civilisation continued at all. Happily for all concerned it did. Since literacy became the norm in our society we’ve turned away from traditional story telling as a culture. There are some hold-outs in the ‘folk’ scene, which most people are afraid to investigate because of a crippling fear that they might be lumped into the same category as Morris Dancers (apparently easy targets for ridicule because uninformed meanness is so in right now), and in the LARP systems. That’s Live Action Role Play in case you never heard of it. I’ve never done combat LARP, but I imagine it must be great fun to run around the woods battering your mates with a padded stick before the obligatory getting very drunk, eating a lot of snack food and not getting enough sleep.
This being now and not the Bronze Age (despite how some people feel), storytelling has moved on from speech into books, videos, games and of course, the internet. Almost all stories and story creators or tellers pick one medium to tell their tale. Spin-offs don’t actually count, because these are usually separate entities in similar settings or with the same characters, not one single narrative over different mediums. However, there are a few mavericks in the herd who see no reason to settle for just one medium when they can use the benefits of several mediums to tell their story.
One intriguing example of this transmedia method of storytelling is Clockwork Watch.
I encountered these fancy folk at Thought Bubble, having been attracted by the fashion of two dapper gentlemen in waistcoats and a woman with the most extraordinary feathers in her hair. They looked like they had just stepped off the steam powered zeppelin (or dirigible) and were entertaining themselves talking to the slovenly tee-shirt riddled masses.
These three were Yomi Ayeni, Corey Brotherson and Jennie Gyllblad, who were quite happy to take a few moments to talk to me about their project despite my arriving during a well-needed snack break. The project comes under the umbrella title of Clockwork Watch and was started and is spearheaded by Yomi from Articipate Media.
“It’s a three-year immersive participatory story told through graphic novels, interactive promenade theatre, freeform role-play, online adventures, an interactive book, and a feature film,” says their development website.
When I asked where the funding for the live events came from, Jennie explained that they used Indiegogo, a peer funding website.
“The whole story is about self-perpetuating energy, so it’s kind of appropriate,” said Jennie, referring to how they secure funds to run the live events and material for the project.
The project’s first of three comics is now available to buy, both from the Clockwork Watch store and Amazon, it’s called The Arrival and will be followed up by Breakaway and Countenance, written by Yomi Ayeni and Corey Brotherson, with the beautiful art of Jennie Gyllblad. Being a self-confessed bibliophile, I always get a bit of a flutter when I encounter something so beautiful, witty and thoughtfully put together. I know any comic artist worth her (or his) salt puts a lot of thought into their layout and colour choices, but that never lessens the pleasure at seeing a job done so well.
Given the care and love that has gone into every part of this project, I only wished I lived closer to London and could attend the live events to see them for myself. However, even if you can’t get to the live events, the main story website will keep you updated.
But this isn’t just the work of the creative team of three. Oh no.
Yomi’s aim from the outset was to create a sandbox of a story, where everyone and anyone could join in. It is quintessential world building and a place where everyone has an invitation to come play. There are competitions and events where winners’ entries have a chance to be made canon, which is hugely appealing.
The feeling I have coming away from this, because I really don’t want to start geeking out hardcore style and spoil anything for you, is that this project is definitely one to watch and, more importantly, get involved in.
This is now, and for all our innovations and technology, we can still be captivated by the story teller standing before us speaking, being surrounded by the story and of being a part of it.
Old ideas can be new again when they’re in good hands.