Today’s “Damania” Comics (29th October 2013)

Well, I felt like making another couple of “Damania” comics for today. I’m really proud of both of these comics, although they ended up being slightly more …cynical than usual. You have been warned.

As usual, these two comics are released under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

"Damania - (Will Probably Be) Banned In The UK" By C. A. Brown

“Damania – (Will Probably Be) Banned In The UK” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – (Will Probably Be) Banned In The UK” was inspired by the fact that there almost always seems to be something about censorship in the news these days (and, yes the BBFC actually want to “classify” Youtube). Not to mention that, compared to America, we have chillingly vague free speech rights in the UK.

Oh, if anyone is puzzled by the musical references in the second panel, “So What?” was a song from 1981 by The Anti-Nowhere League (it was later covered by Metallica in the 1990s). Apparently, most of the copies of the original single were confiscated by the police for being “obscene”.

Plus, the conspiracy theory about how “God Save The Queenmysteriously didn’t make it to the top of the charts in the week of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee is probably fairly well known…

"Damania - Rox Dreams..." By C. A. Brown

“Damania – Rox Dreams…” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – Rox Dreams…” started out when I couldn’t really think of an idea for a comic and randomly ended up sketching Rox in a melodramatic action movie-esque pose (originally, she was going to be dressed as Duke Nukem – hence the shades and the cigar). After that, the rest of the comic was surprisingly easy to write.

Feeling Uncreative? Try This Exercise

2013 Artwork Remember creativity sketch

The Strange Story Of How This Exercise Came To Be…

Well, one night about a week ago, I wasn’t feeling that creative. Actually, that’s an understatement. I had a few hours to draw and write things but I wasn’t really feeling particularly motivated. With what I can only describe as dreary weariness, I listened to the same song on Youtube repeatedly and scrolled through article after article about videogame censorship and other fascinating topics.

I only seemed to be barely interested in what I was reading but I didn’t feel like doing anything else. In fact, I felt like I was a machine collecting data or someone gorging themselves on a free buffet long after they feel full. I was reading out of both a sense of jaded fascination and what I can only describe as mechanical duty.

At the back of my mind, my inner critic was saying something like “You should make something, you’ll fall behind on your blog!” and my inner cynic was saying… well, I won’t repeat it here…

One of the other thoughts which crossed my mind went something along the lines of “Maybe I’m just burnt out and taking a break?”. But, somehow, this didn’t just feel right. After all, it just felt like I was wasting time and pissing away moments I could be spending making things. But, at the same time, I didn’t really feel like creating anything.

This feeling was quickly followed by a a feeling of subtle, empty, meaningless horror. It is feelings like this which prevent me from becoming a nihilist or an existentialist, despite how cool both of these philosophies sound.

But, I shrugged and carried on reading, occasionally pausing to restart the Youtube video I was listening to. By now, the song which had filled me with awe and wonder an hour earlier had turned into a drearily boring dirge.

Eventually, with the slow reluctance of someone waking up, I picked up my sketchpad and started doodling until I had the bare skeleton of a drawing. Then, suddenly, I had a better idea for it. Then another one. In fifteen minutes, I’d produced a drawing which I was really proud of (it’s one called “Sojourn In Perdition” and it’ll be posted on here tomorrow, along with an even better drawing called “Poesis Automatica”).

This experience, this magical sense of making something amazingly cool and feeling proud of it, made me think about creativity in general. In particular, it made me think about why I create things. So, I decided to write a list. It surprised me.

Well, I knew it all already. But being reminded of it surprised me and it had the added benefit of making me feel extremely inspired.

So, I just write a list of why I create things? That’s it?

Basically, yes. However, there’s slightly more to it than that….

You have to be absolutely honest with yourself and you should focus on the emotional reasons which drive you to create things. As such, it’s probably best not to show the list to anyone else in case you think “I can’t write that” and start watering down your own thoughts for public consumption – in case anyone thinks that you’re “weird” or “strange” or “pretentious” or whatever.

Because, if you’re doing this excercise properly, at least some of the things on your list will probably sound fairly strange to anyone else. And some things will probably sound more than a bit pretentious to an outside observer too ( eg: one of the things on my list was “To build the world of my imagination”). So, don’t show your list to anyone and don’t censor yourself.

The interesting thing is that you don’t even have to finish your list for this exercise to work (I abandoned mine after writing nine reasons). All you have to do is to keep writing reasons until you feel like creating things is a deeply meaningful and significant thing which (to use a very pretentious and new-agey phrase) you have a duty to your own soul to do.

I don’t mean this in the sense that you have an “obligation” to be creative (that way lies countless guilt trips and creative burnout…), but I mean it in the sense that you should feel that creativity is part (or all) of your purpose on this earth and that creating things is an essential and fun part of who you are.

Because, let’s face it, if you’re worried about feeling uncreative, then creativity is almost certainly part of your purpose in life.

Yes, this exercise might not give you any new creative ideas, but at least it will give you a whole bunch of reasons to create something and remind you why you create things.

And, if you’re still not feeling creative or if you need some more practical advice, then check out my article on writer’s block/artist’s block.

You should probably also check out this awesome article by Carolyn Elliott too (it’s where I learnt the word “poesis”.)

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I hope that this article was useful 🙂 (and I hope that it didn’t sound too weird either…)

Today’s “Damania” Comics (28th October 2013)

Well, I produced another two “Damania” comics for today and I quite like how they turned out too.

Since I’m not sure about whether Creative Commons licences can be used for parodies of other things, only “Damania – The Disembrainer” is released under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence. Sorry about this.

"Damania - The Disembrainer" By C. A. Brown

“Damania – The Disembrainer” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – The Disembrainer” started out as an excuse to use the word “disembrained” in something (ever since I thought of it a day earlier) but it quickly ended up turning into a cynical comment about the lack of imaginative weapons in many FPS games.

"Damania - November 2019" By C. A. Brown

“Damania – November 2019” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – November 2019” began after I realised that I’ve drawn over 200 “Damania” comics and haven’t even made a single “Blade Runner” parody comic. Yes, I should have waited six years and three days before releasing this comic, but I couldn’t wait.

Oh, if anyone is puzzled about why it is so shocking that Harvey used a computer, then check out this comic.

Five Basic Tips For Writing Flash Fiction

2013 Artwork Flash fiction sketch

When I was about seventeen, I loved writing flash fiction. However, back then, I hadn’t even heard the term “flash fiction” before and I used to refer to my flash fiction stories as “fragments”. Even though everything I wrote when I was seventeen was embarrassingly badly-written, I still really like flash fiction even though I don’t really write it that often these days.

In case you’ve never heard of it before, “flash fiction” refers to very short stories which are typically less than a thousand words long. This can be quite a fun genre to write in, especially since flash fiction stories can be written relatively quickly and, when they’re well-written, they can have an almost poetic quality to them.

However, writing flash fiction is very slightly different to writing “ordinary” short fiction. There aren’t a huge number of differences, but there are a few:

1) One setting: Generally speaking, flash fiction stories should only really take place in one location. This is mainly because you probably won’t have the space to introduce and describe two different settings properly in such a small amount of words.

In many ways, it’s probably best to think of flash fiction as being a written version of a single scene from a film. In most films, each scene takes place in a single location because it makes sense in both practical and dramatic terms.

There are obviously exceptions to this and there’s no cast-iron rule against having more than one setting in a flash fiction story, but it’s generally a good idea to have all of the events of the story take place in one location.

2) Structure: Since flash fiction stories are meant to be very short stories which only present a short moment in time or a single event, these stories don’t always need a traditional “beginning, middle and end” structure.

Yes, if a traditional structure works well with your flash fiction story, then use it. But, you don’t have to use these for flash fiction stories. When you are working with these kinds of story lengths, the content of your story matters a lot more than the structure.

3) Characters: For obvious reasons, flash fiction stories should have fewer characters than “ordinary” short stories. In other words, you’ll probably only have room for three characters at the most (including the narrator, if your story is written from a first-person perspective).

Unless you’re writing a character study, you won’t really have the space to develop your characters fully in a flash fiction story – so, you will have to give your readers a general impression of your characters in a fairly economical way. If you’re writing from a first-person perspective, this can include presenting the narrator’s personality through their narrative voice and their brief descriptions of other characters. If you’re writing from a third-person perspective, you can’t really do this, so you might want to just include two characters.

It’s also a good idea to keep your descriptions of your characters fairly brief and let your readers’ imaginations fill in the rest of the details. Because of the length, your readers probably aren’t expecting detailed descriptions of everyone in the story.

Dialogue is another thing you can use to include characterisation in your flash fiction story without wasting too many words or slowing your story down. In fact, some flash fiction stories can consist of pretty much nothing but dialogue.

4) One Event: Generally speaking, flash fiction stories don’t usually have room for sub-plots. There isn’t really room for them. You could possibly hint at a sub-plot (eg: if your characters seem like they might be in love with each other or if they used to be in love with each other) but your story should only really revolve around one main event, conversation or short sequence of events.

Another reason for avoiding sub-plots in flash fiction stories is because they can distract your readers from the main plot of your story and it also means that you’ll have less space to present and develop your main plot too.

5) It isn’t a technical challenge: Despite everything I’ve said in this article, writing flash fiction shouldn’t feel like it’s some kind of intellectual exercise or technical challenge. If your story idea is too big for a flash fiction story, then just turn it into an “ordinary” short story rather than cutting it down to a shorter length. The best flash fiction stories, like the best poems, usually kind of evolve spontaneously almost of their own accord.

Likewise, the “thousand words or less” thing is more of a general guideline than a cast-iron rule (unless you’re submitting anything to a writing contest – if you’re doing this then you should always stick to the word limits). In other words, if your story is 1010 words, then it still might be a flash fiction story. But if it’s 1500 words, then it’s probably a short story.

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Anyway, I hope that this article was useful 🙂

Lou Reed (1942- 2013)

2013 Artwork Lou Reed Tribute

Well, I read the sad news about half an hour ago and I’m still shocked that he’s gone. Although I haven’t heard much of the stuff he made with the Velvet Underground (apart from ” I’m Waiting For The Man”), his “Transformer” album was one of the most amazing things I discovered when I was 17/18 and it will always remind me of a very particular period in my life.

Not to mention that “Walk On The Wild Side” was one of the first LGBT/Transgender-themed songs I ever heard too. I can’t understate how amazing I thought this song was when I was about seventeen.

So, rest in peace Lou Reed, you will be missed.