SDCC: Frey, Dashner & More Go Beyond the Page

At Comic-Con International 2014, the "Beyond the Page" session featured a panel deep with talent. The artists and writers, which included James Frey, Christ Weitz, James Dashner, Andrew Kaplan, Fred Van Lente, James Silvani, and Melissa De La Cruz, delivered an engaging discussion on the existing and emerging technologies that are transforming the way we both create and consume stories.

Storytelling today can include a myriad of avenues for delivering content from social media, eBooks, webcomics, online video and video games to more traditional forms of media like print, TV and film. However, modern fans are hungry for stories that do more to immerse them in the fictional worlds of the characters.

James Frey of "Endgame" shared his approach to immersing fans into his world saying, "We should be thinking of TV and Movies as parts our toolbox... [but] as we move into the digital future, as writers or story tellers, that we need to start thinking of things beyond the page."

Frey is a huge advocate of coordinating story content across multiple platforms to deliver strategic pieces of content. "You should be doing things across all [platforms]," Frey said.

Ultimately "Endgame" will feature a cascade of content delivering vehicles: three books, thirty-five novellas, a video game launched by Google, social media featuring character profiles and a YouTube channel. There are three movies in the works at Fox, and a children's television series. The core of these immersive experiences are the three books that feature puzzles to solve and the hunt for hidden keys that open cases full of money.

In discussing his approach to "Endgame," Frey explained, "We looked at things like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and thought, "How can we use those to tell additional parts of the story that aren't on the pages of the book? The thirteen characters in the book have had Twitter feeds, Instagram feeds, and Google Plus feeds for [over] a year. And our You Tube channel has five hours of content on it."

Frey wasn't alone in his enthusiasm. James Dashner, the writer behind the "Maze Runner" series shared that he has enjoyed working to create video content for the franchise e-books. "I think one fun thing with technology these days is the enhanced e-book versions ... We have all of these amazing tools at our disposal. We can read any book within ten seconds. It's just fantastic and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

Dashner went on to describe the excitement he felt watching his books become films. "We screened the movie last night for some very lucky fans. To have such an immediate reaction from the fans, screaming, playing, clapping ... is one of the most rewarding, crazy, fantastic experiences of my life. I love writing books, don't get me wrong, I will always write books, but I have enjoyed this process so much I hope to be more involved in films," Dashner said.

All the panelists agreed that it's important to look at all forms of media as an opportunity to deliver story content. Fred Van Lente ("Make Comics Like Pros") summed it up best, "You really have to be everywhere ... You've got to be where your audience is. Because the audience has so many ways to consume media, you've got to make sure you're in all those spaces."

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