Better Call Saul is a recent series by AMC that is an offshoot of the award winning series Breaking Bad. In and of itself this series is a transmedia story originating from Breaking Bad; however, this blog post will detail how AMC has further bridged these two worlds using comics.
Though this particular series is brand new and only in its 3rd week of broadcasting, Better Call Saul is able to pull many aspects and draw from the already populated world of Breaking Bad. This allows for the creators of the show to easily flesh out stories from Breaking Bad and add details and events only relevant in Better Call Saul. The creators of this comic are engaging in world building, where they are able to craft events and scenes that add to the existing fantasy world of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. In doing this the creators are able to incite creativity and pleasure amongst the show’s fanbase. According to Henry Jenkins, “We are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp.” (Jenkins) This shows how despite the fact that fans hold no stake in this world, they are still able to garner pleasure from it through fantizations.
The first comic in the Better Call Saul “Client Development” series pulls heavily from the reader’s Breaking Bad knowledge; specifically the comic details a scene in which Badger, a Breaking Bad client, hands money to a man claiming to be Heisenberg. Though it is known in Breaking Bad, the comic shows how Saul orchestrates the events and provides backstory to the scene from a different perspective. This exemplifies Janet Murray’s definition of a multiform story, “a written or dramatic narrative that presents a single situation or plotline in multiple versions.” (Murray 30) This is evidenced by the fact that these events occur at the same time as Breaking Bad, and that the comic is through the eyes of Saul Goodman as opposed to Breaking Bad protagonist Walter White. Another key aspect of transmedia storytelling that the creators of these texts make use of is negative capability. Negative capability refers to, “the art of building strategic gaps into a narrative to evoke a delicious sense of “uncertainty, mystery, or doubt.” (Murray 45) There are many points in show where the scene leaves viewers wanting more and in doing so leaves many unanswered questions. The scene in which the comic takes place is one of those instances which provides the perfect opportunity for a backstory or more information to appease the viewer.
This online comic features many of the transmedia storytelling elements that Murray and Jenkins detail in their works. As a result the comic is able to both add and build upon the world of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, and help create a more enriching experience for the viewer.