NBCUniversal and Sam Esmail, creator and showrunner for the award-winning, critically acclaimed series Mr. Robot on USA Network, called on us with a unique idea: They wanted to make a book that would expand on the universe of the show and reinvent the tie-in novel.
We designed Mr. Robot: Red Wheelbarrow as an intricate, handwritten replica of the notebook that the show’s main character, Elliot, keeps during the show. Our team worked closely with Esmail and Courtney Looney, story editor for the series, to create an interactive narrative that functions as a bonus episode.
THE CREATIVE CONCEIT
In the show’s second season, Elliot keeps a composition notebook to record his most private thoughts—only to toss it in a fire during the last episode. Thankfully, another character, Carla, saves it from the flames at the last second. Mr. Robot: Red Wheelbarrow is a nearly identical replica of that notebook.
MIRRORING THE ONSCREEN PROP
As the second season began filming, we worked with the show’s production department to make sure our book would match the onscreen prop as closely as possible—right down to its fire-damaged cover and pages—while expanding its contents into a full, standalone story set in the world of the show, filling in the blanks before and during season two.
An immersive object in and of itself, Mr. Robot: Red Wheelbarrow was entirely handwritten and illustrated by us in-house—the handwriting changes style depending on whether Elliot is writing as himself or as his Mr. Robot alter-ego, and a third character, Carla—who saved the book from the fire—adds an additional layer of handwriting and commentary in the margins.
EXCLUSIVE ARTIFACTS AND INTERACTIVE ELEMENTS
The book also includes seven meticulously designed, removable artifacts, including a ripped-out page, a newspaper clipping, a mysterious envelope, and even one of Elliot’s cigarette packets.
Each of these pieces hides an additional layer of puzzles, codes, and cyphers—promising countless hours of decoding for the dedicated readers. URLs and a QR code revealed in the text also lead to real functional websites.