The Thrill Electric is an online motion comic produced by Channel 4 Education, Hat Trick Digital and Littleloud Entertainment. Set in Victorian Manchester, The Thrill Electric focuses on Emily Bagley, a young woman who takes a job in the emerging world of the telegraph system. The series explores the comparisons between it and the modern Internet.
The panel was held on a smaller stage then the previous introductory panel back in May. This was an apt choice as the smaller space better fit the atmosphere and I’m glad to say there was a much larger turn out this time. Things kicked off with a trailer which covered the basic themes of the series, ranging from wonder and romance to violence and family ties.
The driving force behind the project was to try and push comic books beyond the standard of static print, combining that with the greater freedoms web comics allow: an effective ‘magic comic.’ In terms of actual story, the creators had been intrigued by the difference the telegraph system had made to Victorian England and how much historical and social similarity could be found between it and the arrival of the Internet. The largest factor they punctuated was how both technologies served to remove certain social divides, allowing those from different classes to finally share dialogue either in the offices maintaining these new systems or through the systems themselves. Telling such a story through a new media was also felt to be fitting, as it would further reinforce the themes of society needing to adapt to new technologies and their possibilities.
With the basic concept established, work began on the actual character designs before a single script had been penned. Although the series would be set in the largely conservative Victorian era, both the writers and designers aimed to make sure every character was unique in both characterisation and aesthetic. The four members of Windflower split the pencil and inking work; two of them would do the characters whilst the other two did backgrounds, switching over for the inking. This was done so the full team would become adept at drawing all parts of the comic.
In order to provide the greatest exposure, the comic itself was coded in the 3D engine Unity since Apple iOS does not support Flash. It was explained that Unity also allowed for the involved nature of the comic, allowing the creation of complex moving panels. There will also be one ‘enhanced page’ per issue, featuring more elaborate animation. In terms of navigation, readers will be given the ability to navigate through each issue themselves or have the comic play through itself. Additionally, each issue will contain a series of detailed footnotes so readers can look into the vast amount of historical research which went into each chapter.
To conclude, the floor was opened to audience questions. The creators felt that one major benefit of producing a digital comic over a printed one was that digital made it particularly easy to correct errors. Not just spelling mistakes and similar but also out of character moments. This in particular was felt to be key, as the creators are keen for the complete story to be a consistent whole. Another question involved the issue of commercial return. This will be a non-issue as Channel 4 Education have funded the project with the intent to inform audiences of the historical and social issues explored.
As a keepsake, all attendees received a promotional flyer outlining the plot and staff and a badge with the series URL.
Set to run for 10 issues, The Thrill Electric began online on 27th October at http://www.thethrillelectric.com . Episodes are currently viewable through the website but will be available for download later.