Thursday, June 4, 2009

Emily the Strange: follow up

As Emily the Strange continues her legal battle, I ran across this article in the Wall Street Journal, and well, it sheds some insight (not terribly surprising), that Emily the Strange is trying to go transmedia. The article itself is about a novel being written that will represent the first foray into Emily as a character, being published by HarperCollins.

Written in a diary format with Jessica Gruner, “Emily the Strange: The Lost Days,” opens with Emily attempting to recover her memory and regain her sense of style. Mr. Reger says the book maps new territory inside the mind of his popular character. “In the past, it’s been us describing her,” he says. “This is the first time anybody gets to hear how she talks to herself and her cats.”

Emily has struck a cord with many young girls. “She’s a very strong, distinct character and she’s about not trying to fit,” says Anne Hoppe, executive editor of HarperCollins children’s imprint. “There’s not a lot out there commercially for kids that really says to be yourself.”

Um... ok Anne. Soundbite accomplished, and certainly, "be yourself" is an important part of the property, while perhaps "be yourself as far away from me as possible" would be more true to Emily's vernacular. I do wonder that regaining Emily's sense of style is considered as important as recovering her memories, and hope that it is treated as the truly healing endeavor that developing the external self can be as one attempts to develop the internal self, a very poignant message for teenagers of all stripes.

It's a brand though, and the goal of this novel is in many ways to sell Emily merchandise as it is to help an audience, to make it a worthwhile proposition that will help launch the wider transmedia endeavors (a movie through Dark Horse Comics is mentioned in the WSJ article) it will have to interest its audience in Emily as a character in her own right, rather than a witty design they can express themselves by donning. They must transcend being as aesthetic symbol that anyone can project meaning onto or into, and find what is going to unite all of those who feel ownership of the character and make sure that she can embody it. It's not as easy as it sounds.
Here's an excerpt from the novel: it's written in diary format, SPOILER: they've captured the teenage girl's use and love and obsession with numbered lists.

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