“Jadzia Strange (remake)” – Pages 28 & 29

Well, here are pages twenty eight and twenty nine of “The Adventures Of Jadzia Strange“. I quite like how these two pages turned out, even if some of the dialogue is slightly small on page twenty eight.

Oh, if anyone is curious, the “Baghdad Batteries” mentioned on page twenty nine are actually real things. Check it out on Wikipedia (seriously, this is one of the coolest archeological discoveries ever made. Basically, it’s likely that someone actually invented a very basic electrical cell in 3rd century Iraq/Mesopotamia).

Plus, following on from one of my earlier articles, I’ve found a way to include a hectograph in one of my comics too.

As usual, these two pages are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Jadzia Strange (remake) - Page 28" By C. A. Brown

“Jadzia Strange (remake) – Page 28” By C. A. Brown

"Jadzia Strange (remake) - Page 29" By C. A. Brown

“Jadzia Strange (remake) – Page 29” By C. A. Brown

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Review: “Bugs (Series One)” (TV Show)

Well, since I watched series two of “Bugs” before I watched series one, I thought that I knew what to expect. However, for the first half of this series at least, it’s almost a completely different show. This isn’t a bad thing.

In case anyone hasn’t heard of this amazing show before, “Bugs” is a 1990s thriller/sci-fi/detective shows which follows the adventures of a London-based group of technology experts and semi-official private detectives called Ros, Beckett and Ed. They have a lot of vaguely futuristic spy gadgets and they are usually up against villains who know a thing or two about technology too.

One of the first things I will say about series one is that it has a fairly different tone to series two. Even though the last few episodes (“A Sporting Chance” and “Manna From Heaven” spring to mind for starters…) have fairly outlandish storylines and a slightly more fantastical atmosphere, the first half of this series at least is more like a serious and vaguely realistic high-tech thriller series than a 1990s near-future sci-fi show.

This caught me completely by surprise, especially since the very first episode begins with a ludicrously over-the-top helicopter chase (where someone fires about seven or eight shots from a revolver [without reloading] and other ludicrously unrealistic things). But, this aside, the first episode is absolutely outstanding and it actually contains more characterisation for the three main characters than the entire second series does. Not only that, but the plot of the first episode is surprisingly compelling and it actually feels like something close to a realistic spy thriller show.

Although the episodes have a vaguely similar structure, there is a fairly innovative variety of storylines in the ten episodes which make up this series. Like with the second series, series one of “Bugs” also contains a fair amount of humour too – most of this consists of groan-inducing puns, but there are a few genuinely funny moments in this series (especially in the first episode).

Another interesting thing about series one of “Bugs” is that there is a lot less unintentional humour than there is in the second series. In other words, the show takes itself very slightly more seriously and includes some real drama. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is up to you. But there are a couple of fairly scenes in this series, such as when Ros is trapped on a commercial airliner which is being remotely operated by the villain of the episode which are just a lot more dramatic and suspenseful than anything in the second series.

The settings in this series are fairly good too. The show was filmed around the London dockyards and, although the outdoor settings still look very 1990s, they still also look plausibly modern too. Not only that, in this series, the main characters’ base of operations is in Ros’s flat rather than the slightly futuristic office they move to in the second series. This, again, gives this series of “Bugs” a slightly more realistic atmosphere too.

In addition to this, series one of “Bugs” has some fairly good special effects too. Yes, most of the effects involve explosions, basic 1990s computer graphics and lasers. But, for a BBC show from the 1990s, the effects are superb.

All in all, series one of “Bugs” is fun and thrilling, with a few genuinely dramatic episodes. In many ways, this series is actually slightly better than the second series of “Bugs” was, although it has less of the unintentional comedy and outlandish storylines which made the second series “so bad that it’s good”. But, if you are looking for something entertaining and you miss the geekier side of the 1990s, then series one of “Bugs” is essential viewing.

If I had to give series one of “Bugs” a rating out of five, then it would get four and a half overall (five for nostalgia and fun, four for drama and storytelling).

Introducing “PekoeBlaze Uncut”

Detail from an exclusive drawing which will be released on "PekoeBlaze Uncut" sometime in early October.

Detail from an exclusive drawing which will be released on “PekoeBlaze Uncut” sometime in early October.

Since I try to write this blog for a fairly general audience, there are occasionally articles, drawings, comics etc… which I decide not to publish on here, since they would probably be “inappropriate” for this site.

Well, rather than letting them languish in my sketchbooks and on my computer, I’ve decided to set up a blog called “PekoeBlaze Uncut” to publish all the things I create which are too risqué for this site.

Unlike this site, “PekoeBlaze Uncut” probably won’t be updated daily or on any kind of regular schedule. So, at most, it’ll probably be updated every couple of days.

So, yes, “PekoeBlaze Uncut” is a site for more mature readers (to use an American analogy – this site is fairly “PG-13” and the uncut site is fairly “R-rated”) and it is almost certainly Not Safe For Work. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

“Jadzia Strange (remake)” – Pages 26 & 27

Well, here are pages twenty six and twenty seven of “The Adventures Of Jadzia Strange“. I wasn’t feeling too creative when I drew these pages, but they still turned out fairly ok, I guess.

As usual, these two pages are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Jadzia Strange (remake) - Page 26" By C. A. Brown

“Jadzia Strange (remake) – Page 26” By C. A. Brown

"Jadzia Strange (remake) - Page 27" By C. A. Brown

“Jadzia Strange (remake) – Page 27” By C. A. Brown

Five Ways To Avoid Cheesy Fake Product Names In Your Story Or Comic

2013 Artwork Fake product name article Sketch

For various reasons, many writers come up with fake product names for items and services in their stories. This is probably more common in comics and on TV than it is in prose fiction, but I’ve seen examples of it in all three of these formats.

Sometimes writers will use real product names and sometimes writers will make a point of using obviously fake or generic product names (as a protest against product placement/consumerism or to avoid lawsuits).

I’m not entirely sure of all the legal aspects of this whole subjects, since it covers trademarks, libel/defamation laws and copyrights. Whether these are an issue or not probably varies from story to story (eg: portraying a real product in an inaccurate or unfavourable way is probably more likely to end with a lawsuit than in a story with a more favourable portrayal of the product in question.)

I’m not an expert on this subject and you’re probably best doing your own research about it. But, if in doubt, use fake names rather than real ones.

However, if you use fake product names in your story, then you have to be very careful about choosing them. This is mainly because good storytelling relies on the “willing suspension of disbelief” and obviously fake or unrealistic product names are likely to make your readers less immersed in your story. So, here are five basic tips for coming up with fake product names which will sound vaguely realistic.

1) Translation: This one is really simple and it can work fairly well for most of your readers. Basically, just go online and find a foreign-language word for the product you are trying to name and then use this as your fake product name. It’s usually a good idea to use dead languages like Latin or to use languages which readers in your own country are unlikely to know.

For example, if your story involved your main character buying some cheese, then giving it a name like “Fromage-brand” cheese is probably going to sound obviously unrealistic. Since, if you live in the UK, then there’s a good chance that your readers will know that this is the French word for cheese. Likewise with using Spanish words in stories set in the US or aimed primarily at American audiences. So, instead, go for something like “Kaas-brand” cheese, which is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for cheese.

One major drawback with this approach is that at least a few of your readers will know the language which you have used for your product name. After all, in any country, you’re going to find people who speak a myriad of different languages (either as first or second languages).

2) Generic names: If possible, it can be a good idea to leave brand names out of your story entirely unless they are relevant to the plot in some way or another (eg: if a character only drinks a particular brand of cola for some reason). In this case, just use the generic name of the product if it’s fairly well-known and widely-used anyway.

Likewise, for food and drinks, you can use geographically-protected names like “Champagne”, “Cheddar”, “Stilton”, “Parma ham”, “Scotch whisky” etc… (since the labelling laws surrounding these only cover people who actually make and advertise these products).

For example, in your story, it’s usually better to say “I walked into the shop and looked at the cheese rack before picking up a large block of Jarlesberg ” than “I walked into the shop and looked at the cheese rack before picking up a large block of Deilig Jarlesberg”.

3) Sound-alikes: You have to be slightly careful with this one, but another idea for fake product names is to come up with product names that look obviously different from real product names but which either sound slightly similar or use similar imagery. This is probably the most difficult type of fake product name to do well, but it can add a sense of realism to your story if it is done properly. Of course, if you’re actually selling a product with a sound-alike name, then you are likely to end up in legal trouble.

For example, I watched an episode of “NCIS” quite a while ago where part of the plot revolved around analysing several cigarette ends found at a crime scene. Anyway, by using various scientific processes, the detectives were able to work out which brand of cigarettes the suspect had been smoking.

The brand in question was called something like “Talboro”, if I remember rightly. This name is, of course, very reminiscent of a real brand of American cigarettes, but it is different enough to count as a fake product name and to avoid potential lawsuits or accusations of product placement.

4) Don’t use names ending with “o”: This seems to be fairly common in old comic books, where people would come up with a fake product name by just adding “o” to another word which describes what the product does. Personally, I think that this looks obviously fake, old-fashioned and cringe-worthy.

However, this seems to reflect reality to some extent – especially with cleaning projects. I came up with what I thought was an obviously fake product name to use as an example of this and, out of curiousity, entered it into Google. Guess what? It was an actual cleaning product.

5) People, place names and animals: Many products are named after people , places or animals and this can be a good source of realistic-sounding fake product names. However, be sure to enter your fake name into a few search engines to make sure that you haven’t inadvertantly come up with a real product name.

If you are using a person’s name in your product name, then using the name on it’s own will sound more modern (eg: “Henderly Wax”) whereas using “- ‘s” and/or adding extra descriptions will give your product a more old-fashioned feel (eg: “Henderly’s Astonishingly Good Moustache Wax”).

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Anyway, I hope that this article was useful 🙂