“Too Busy Building a World to Tell a Story”: Between World-Building and Storytelling in the Cleverman Storyworld

Senses of Cinema, Issue 89 (2018). Special Dossier: “Cleverman and Australian Superheroes,” edited by Angela Ndalianis and Liam Burke.

This special dossier on Australian superheroes and the Cleverman television series coincided with the Superheroes Beyond Conference and the affiliated Cleverman exhibition at ACMI, and also includes articles by Liam Burke, Kevin Patrick, and Paul Atkinson.

I was honoured to be invited to contribute an article to this special dossier, in which I consider both the television series and the comic book to examine the dynamic between storytelling and world-building in the Cleverman storyworld.

The premise of this article as provoked by an online review, which suggests that the Cleverman television series is “too busy building a world to tell a story.” I argue that this “fundamentally misunderstands the function of world-building as a storytelling strategy at the same time that is devalues the importance of place and setting in Aboriginal mythology” and that “attempts to critically understand or appraise any current or future iteration of the Cleverman storyworld should not understate the role of world-building in its story development”.

Cleverman (season 2: episode 3)

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