Channel 4 Education has announced details of its launch of The Thrill Electric – a 10-part enhanced comic series written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, designed by Emma Vieceli, illustrated by the all-female comic book studio Windflower and produced by Hat Trick Productions.
It’s a story in the Victorian era that demonstrates the extraordinary parallels between the telegraph age and the internet age.
“Teenagers may be surprised to hear that online gaming, personal messaging, cyber-bullying and online profiles are all an invention of the Victorian telegraph, not the internet,” says executive producer Jonathan Davenport. “By setting our story in the sprawling metropolis of Victorian Manchester, we are taking the concerns and issues of young people today and playing them out in an atmospheric setting that will seem both exciting and strangely familiar to our readers.”
Working with the very best names in the British comic’s industry and award-winning digital agency Littleloud, The Thrill Electric tells the story of Emily Bagley, a sassy and intelligent young woman who breaks with tradition and becomes a telegraph worker. In addition, there’s a whole host of characters to follow through the series as they tackle issues of sexual identity at a time when it was illegal to be gay; trying your best to better yourself in the face of peer pressure from gangs; the dangers of creating a false impression of who you are online; and female issues of body image and sexual inequality. And for eagle eyed readers, there’s a secret storyline hidden in the code.
The Thrill Electric is written by comic writing duo Leah Moore and John Reppion, designed by Manga aficionado Emma Vieceli, drawn by the Windflower team and produced by Tracy Beaker and Young Dracula’s Mia Jupp.
“When we discovered that the Telegraph system in the Nineteenth Century was to all intents and purposes a Victorian Internet, it really caught our imaginations,” says Leah Moore. “A young woman could, with the right skills, join a predominantly male workforce and become part of the rapidly growing online international community.
“There is a strong resonance between the story in The Thrill Electric and the team helping to create it – lots of talented women working in a male dominated industry but rising to the surface despite that.”
The Thrill Electric tells its story in the form of an enhanced comic with layered panels and atmospheric animations and comes packed full of contextual issue-led information threaded throughout the story.
“Littleloud created the technical framework and animations, with a view to explore and push what comics can be in the digital age,” explains Darren Garrett, the agency’s Creative Director, “and how they can connect with new audiences. The technical framework we’ve built is all about exploring those possibilities and giving writers and artists tools to do this.”
Commissioning editor, Jo Twist, says, “After reading comics on the iPad, I really wanted us to transform the way you could read them online, and what the team have done is a joy to experience. This is the first use of Unity player in comics and the innovative way the narrative is combined with real historical fact, the illustration and the animations with contemporary music makes this something quite unique.”
• The Thrill Electric will be released weekly from 27th October 2011 and experienced via a bespoke comic reader available online at this address www.thethrillelectric.com and on iPod and iPhone devices.