The Origins of Trans-Media Storytelling

The Origins of Trans-Media Storytelling

The storytellers behind properties like Lost, Heroes, and The Matrix weave incredibly rich stories across multiple mediums. But they were not the first to do so… far from it. For that, give the credit to Cavemen — no, not the ABC sitcom…

The Origins of Trans-Media Storytelling
By PGA NMC member Jeff Gomez

Prehistoric men and women would supplement their fireside accounts of great hunts and rich harvests with images painted on cave walls, as well as with expressive dances.

Early multi-platforming!

With the advent of mass media in the late 19th century came a rise in demand for books and periodicals with broad appeal. Fictional characters came to prominence, and readers wanted to enjoy their further exploits in sequels or other iterations. So Sherlock Holmes would venture through issue after issue of Strand magazine, and then those short stories and novellas would be collected as books. Later, there would be stage plays and radio shows adapting his exploits or inventing new ones. He arrived on the silver screen in 1912 in France, and has never been gone for long.

The same can be said for Dracula, Tarzan, Little Orphan Annie and the Lone Ranger. The Superman radio show would even add to the canon established by the original comic series by introducing Jimmy Olsen and kryptonite into the mythology.

Jeff’s examples of Sherlock Holmes and Superman support Principle #4 of his 8 Defining Principles of Trans-Media Production – “Content is unique, adheres to platform-specific strengths, and is not repurposed from one platform to the next.”

In his next post, Jeff introduces us to more colorful trans-media icons like Astro-Boy and Speed Racer.

Jeff Gomez (, is the CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, Inc., a developer and producer of highly successful trans-media projects whose clients include The Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, the Coca-Cola Company, Mattel and Hasbro. Over the next few weeks he’ll be sharing his expertise on the white hot trans-media industry – exploring its fascinating history and expanding upon the 8 Defining Principles of Trans-Media Production

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