When working towards completing my PhD in Media Arts and Practice at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, I knew I wanted to develop an original storyworld that demonstrated the best practices I was describing in my research. By creating my own storyworld from scratch, I could use it as a demonstration for how my theories could be put into practice.
The storyworld of Spookshow is Harry Potter meets Carnivale. In 1917, near the end of WWI, the Central Powers discovered that the witches and wizards from fairy tales were real and hiding in Germany's Black Forest, and press them into service. They cast a spell equivalent to a magical atomic bomb, which transforms the Western half of the United States into a vast forest filled with monsters and other strange, magical creatures. The religions of the world rise up to confront the threat of real magic, banding together into one Church and throwing their support to the Allies. In 1917 the Allies narrowly defeat the Central Powers, and the Church launches a New Inquisition to capture and eradicate magic users, sending them into hiding. By 1928 the Church has consolidated its power, becoming a highly fascist leader of the world, and magic has become the new rock and roll, with traveling "certified fake" spookshows exhibiting strange beasts, clockwork automatons, and "displays of true magic" to scandalized, rebellious and thrilled audiences everywhere.
Spookshow consists of three key components - the animated series Spookshow 1928: The Great Casey Smith, the graphic novel series Spookshow 1921: The Great Wilderness, and the illustrated novella series Spookshow 1917: The Great Disaster - that are narratively intertwined and distributed via a shared digital platform. This platform monitors what the user has experienced in the storyworld, and unlocks additional content based on what the user has experienced and what she hasn't, including an Encyclopedia and a Gallery that unlocks additional content as the story unfolds.
Spookshow made its debut as part of the "Pata | Meta | Beta Cartographies" gallery exhibition at USC in December of 2016, with a more developed version exhibited at the "iMappening 2017" gallery exhibition at USC in May of 2017.
For generations, witches and wizards have lived in secret in the tiny hidden village of Versteck, nestled deep in the Black Forest of Germany. Their one rule: no one with magical talents may leave and reveal their existence to the rest of the world. When one young headstrong wizard runs off to fight in the Great War, he inadvertently leads the Central Powers back to the village. Their only hop is to use an incredibly powerful spell to ward off the soldiers, but first the Codex Disastrous must be fetched from the magic- and monster-protected vaults deep in the Vollmond Castle, and only the young witch Caterina Vollmond, her husband Wilhelm Vollmond, and their friend Rudolf Leben have any hope of doing so in time.