Platform Anxiety

Platform Anxiety

Coraline is a novel that became a graphic novel and a movie, both. The Wild Things is a novel based on a screenplay based on a children’s book.

It’s not unusual for books to morph into movies, and vice versa. But Coraline and The Wild Things offer a number of parallels that indicate where the art of storytelling might be headed.

Both are the brainchild of a popular author (Neil Gaiman, Dave Eggers) whose appeal transcends the printed page and constitutes a cottage industry of stories and story-like products. Both are meant to appeal to adults, even though the story is essentially a fable for children. And both, in their movie forms, take advantage of unprecedented digital technologies to bring new worlds to life.

Gaiman is credited with authoring both the novel and the graphic novel for Coraline. Eggers wrote both the screenplay and the novel for Where the Wild Things Are. (We’re using Where the Wild Things Are and The Wild Things interchangeably.) Overseeing multiple incarnations of their own stories, both authors are faithful to the material. The movie, book, graphic novel, and children’s book don’t differ from each other in any major way. These stories aren’t being re-told by new authors. They aren’t being re-imagined by their old authors. They’re simply being translated, by the same people, from one medium to another. 

Gaiman and Eggers are sending a message that a story shouldn’t be tethered to a single medium. It should be adapted and made available in multiple formats, catering to many different audiences—just like adapting a children’s fable for adults covers a wide range of demographics. It’s as if they worked backwards, first deciding who would consume their stories, then creating a product that could be easily adapted, then branding it as a single, multi-platform thing.

Are Gaiman and Eggers using every available platform because they’re afraid a single movie or book won’t sell enough?

What is your preferred platform for consuming stories?

Do stories transcend their medium?

What ever happened to creating stories that were inherently connected to their medium?

Is this the most callous, commercial shit you ever heard?

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2 Comments

Filed under a motion picture is worth a couple of words, McSweeney's Nasal Congestion

2 Responses to Platform Anxiety

  1. What exactly do you mean by “stories that were inherently connected to their medium”?
    At first I was totally opposed to a film version of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE but then I saw trailers with the super persuasive Arcade Fire song and I came around a bit. Then I saw a longer trailer that include interviews with Maurice Sendak and my enthusiasm plummeted.
    On a tangent, you wouldn’t believe the number of tattoos realted to WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. I see them all the time.

  2. dannybayridge

    “Are Gaiman and Eggers using every available platform because they’re afraid a single movie or book won’t sell enough?” I’d be curious to read a Fiction Advocate follow-up to this question exploring the ramifications of multi-platform storytelling

    “Do stories transcend their medium?” I would argue that they do not, and will intellectually duel to the death to prove it.

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