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Blog: A Result

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As I may have occasionally mentioned, I'm now FOUR YEARS into my PhD about Doctor Doom as a Transmedia character, and it has been a LOT of fun. It's involved a lot of researching, learning, and even the occasional bit of comics reading (although nowhere near as much as I thought there would be) as well as a whole HEAP of blogging about comics that Doom appears in.

However, in all that time there has been very little in the way of RESULTS. To put it another way, I've learnt a lot about what other people think, had some ideas about how transmedia characters work, and done a TONNE of flipping analysis, but none of it has produced any actual concrete NEW ANSWERS... until this week. For LO! on Wednesday I finally got to the point where I could do some analysis of my OWN data, and find something out that nobody else had found out before!

What I found out was this: Doctor Doom almost always wears a metal mask!!!!

Yes, I know that this is not exactly earth-shattering news, even to people who are only vaguely aware of Doctor Doom, but the point here is that I can actually PROVE that this is true through DATA. My thesis is all about Doctor Doom as an early transmedia character i.e. one who appears in different media but the same storyworld, like you have now with (for instance) Doctor Who appearing in stories in books, comics and games that are meant to be part of the same universe as the telly episodes. Part of this is looking at his "character coherence" - how much he stays the same as he moves around. There are loads of theories about this, but I've never seen anyone categorically say "This is how you measure character coherence", so I set out to do that with an ELEVEN DIMENSIONAL INVENTORY OF TRAITS! This means looking at things like what the character says, what locations they appear in, who they interact with, and first of all what they LOOK like.

To do this I'm very gradually going through a SAMPLE of TEXTS from 1961-1987, looking at which aspects of these eleven traits are shown in each one. So, for example, for each comic, radio show, cartoon, newspaper strip or game I find, I go through and tick off a list off which names he's called by, like "Doom", "Doctor Doom", "You Excellency", "Master Of Menace" and so on. It's a long old job, but this week I finally finished off the "Appearance" part of this, and was thus able to DEFINITELY say that he wears a mask all the time!

It was VERY exciting, partly because it was AN ACTUAL RESULT, but also because it shows that what I'm trying to do can actually, probably, be done! IT WORKS!!

I was SO excited about it that I mentioned it on The Social Medias, saying I'd finally got A RESULT. Unfortunately it turns out that this could very easily be misconstrued as me saying I'd got THE result from my PhD, and that I had therefore PASSED. Sadly, this is very much not the case, as I've got a whole other year of this to go yet, but the good news is that means twelve more months of FASCINATING INSIGHTS like this. Everyone's a winner!

posted 11/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett

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