Unfinished “Vultures” Comic – Part 2 of 2

Well, here’s the other half of my unfinished cheesy sci-fi/horror comic. As I said yesterday, it could have been a good project, but a combination of being kind of stressed out (never start a project shortly before Christmas) and just a general lack of enthusiasm for it kind of led me to leave it unfinished.

I guess I still don’t feel quite “ready” for making a proper comics project again.

But, in case anyone is interested, here are the remaining pages.

Page five has been edited slightly and the full version of it will be posted on Pekoeblaze Uncut [NSFW] in a few days’ time.

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

"Vultures - Station 32 - Page 3" By C. A. Brown

“Vultures – Station 32 – Page 3” By C. A. Brown

"Vultures - Station 32 - Page 4" By C. A. Brown

“Vultures – Station 32 – Page 4” By C. A. Brown

"Vultures - Station 32 - Page 5 (Edited Version)" By C. A. Brown

“Vultures – Station 32 – Page 5 (Edited Version)” By C. A. Brown

Best Of The Blog (25th November – 31st December 2013)

2013 Artwork Best Of The Blog 31st December Sketch

Well, it’s been about a month since the last “Best Of The Blog” post, so I thought that I’d make compliation of links to all of the articles (excluding reviews, fiction etc…) I’ve posted since the 24th….

– “Stand-Up Horror – A New Genre? (And How To Perform It).
– “Jokes, The Public Domain and Storytelling.
– “Creating Without Thinking.
– “Feeling Uninspired? Make The Projects You’d Never Dare To Make.
– “Why Reading Helps You To Be More Creative.
– “Creativity, Time And Place.
– “My Views On Fan Fiction And Fan Art (And My Fan Art Policy).
– “Fiction And Art – An Anarchic Space?
– “Be A Creative ‘Outlaw’.
– “What To Do On Mediocre Days.
– “Can’t Think Of What To Draw? Start With A Story.
– “Three Reasons To Read About Other Forms Of Creativity.
– “Comics – The Story And Characters Are More Important Than The Art.
– “Want To Write A Novel Or Make A Comic? Start Small.
– “How To Avoid Making Your Sci-Fi Stories Sound Dated In The Future.
– “How Memorable Is Your Story?
– “Don’t Be Afraid Of Your Creative Shadow.
– “Reverse-Engineering Your Favourite Art, Comics, Novels etc…
– ” Being ‘In The Zone’ – Blessing Or Reflection?
– “Losing Enthusiasm For Your Art? Add Some Action To It.
– “Is Predictability A Good Thing In Stories?

Unfinished “Vultures” comic – part 1 of 2

Well, about a week ago, I tried to start a new comics project. But about five pages into it, I just lost all enthusiasm and energy for it. It was going to be a cheesy B-movie style sci-fi horror comic called “Vultures-Station 32”.

I think it was just Christmas – related stress or something like that, but I just didn’t have quite the same level of enthusiasm for it that I usually do when I start a comic.

But, since I’m quite proud of the artworkand the writing, I’ll post what I’ve made of it here today and tomorrow. Page one is edited slightly, but the unedited version can be found on Pekoeblaze Uncut [NSFW].

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

"Vultures - Station 32 - Cover " By C. A. Brown

“Vultures – Station 32 – Cover ” By C. A. Brown

"Vultures - Station 32- Page 1 (Edited Version)"  By C. A. Brown

“Vultures – Station 32- Page 1 (Edited Version)” By C. A. Brown

"Vultures - Station 32 - Page 2" By C. A. Brown

“Vultures – Station 32 – Page 2” By C. A. Brown

Stand-Up Horror – A New Genre? (And How To Perform It)

2013 Artwork Stand Up Horror Article Sketch

About a week or two before Halloween in 2010, I came up with an idea for a new genre of entertainment. Or at least I thought I did. It’s probably been invented before – I probably just came up with a new name for it.

I am, of course, talking about Stand-Up Horror. Basically, it’s like stand-up comedy, but instead of trying to make the audience laugh, the …I can’t really say “comedian”… performer tries to scare and disturb the audience with a variety of creepy stories and facts.

But, apart from using it as the inspiration for a drawing I made last August (which can be found hereWow! My art looked really terrible back then!), I didn’t really do anything with this idea for various reasons.

For starters, the basic idea behind stand-up horror is nothing new. After all, it would basically be a glorified version of someone telling scary stories around a campfire and I guess that there have probably already been shows and performances which were “stand-up horror” in all but name. However, it has never really been seen as a “genre” as such in the way that “stand-up comedy” has (eg: when was the last time you saw a “horror club”?).

Secondly, I’d probably get a serious case of stage fright if I ever tried to give a stand-up horror performance. Ironic, isn’t it?

Anyway, I thought that I’d provide something of a guide to anyone who wants to put on a stand-up horror performance and has an interest in actually turning this idea into a real genre. The first person to actually do this may well end up becoming famous, since there seems to be very little like this out there at the moment.

Having had next to no experience in stand-up comedy (apart from one talent show ages ago when I was about fourteen), I’m nowhere near an expert on the actual mechanics of performing on stage and it might take some practice before you can come up with an act and a distinctive performance style that actually works.

But, what I can do is to give you a few ideas about three other things which might help your stand-up horror performance.

1) Stories: You’re going to need to come up with scary stories – stories which actually creep you out when you think of them.

Not only that, you’re going to have to write them in a way that you can remember (since reading from notes on stage is probably highly unprofessional) and in a way which works when you tell your story out loud. These stories should also be fairly short too.

Personally, I think that the best kinds of stories for a stand-up horror performance are the kind of vaguely realistic stories that have an “urban legend”-esque feel to them. The kind of almost realistic stories which your audience will listen to and think “that’s probably not true, or at least I hope it isn’t!”

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t include supernatural things in your stories, but it’s probably best to only hint at them or describe the after-effects of them and let your audiences’ imaginations fill in the gaps.

There’s a wonderfully disturbing blog I found a few years ago called “Saya In Underworld[WARNING – This site will give you insomnia and/or nightmares] which is filled with Japanese urban legends and creepy stories. Whilst you shouldn’t copy any of these and you should come up with your own stories, the short stories on this site might give you an idea of the style of short stories which would probably work well in a stand-up horror performance.

2) Humour: First of all, any humour in your performance should be of the dark and cynical variety. And, despite the fact that it’s meant to be a horror performance, there should be at least some comedy in it. Trust me, there’s a good reason for this.

Back in the 19th century, before horror movies were invented, the closest thing that people could watch were Grand Guignol plays. I was lucky enough to see a recreation of three of these short plays at the Abertoir festival [NSFW] in 2009 and, even these days, Grand Guignol plays can still be as disturbing as any horror movie. Anyway, one of the really interesting things was that – out of the three plays – the one in the middle was actually a comedy.

This might seem odd, but it worked extremely well in dramatic terms because it made the last play seem even more horrific by comparison. Something horrific is a lot more disturbing if you were laughing five minutes earlier than it is if you were just in a fairly “ordinary” mood five minutes earlier.

So, by adding a bit of humour to your stand-up horror performance, you can actually make the disturbing parts of it even more disturbing.

3) Facts: To get a quick reaction, stand-up comedians have one-liners. Stand-up horror performers have disturbing facts. Yes, facts. Short and creepy facts which most people didn’t know and which will probably linger in your audience’s imaginations for quite a while.

So, where to find these facts? Well, there are plenty of books dedicated to strange facts out there, you might find the occasional disturbing fact in documentaries and then there’s also the internet. There’s no shortage of places to find disturbing facts. Hell, when I was a kid, I used to read a series of books by Terry Deary called “Horrible Histories” and these were absolutely crammed with all kinds of macabre facts.

However, I should point out that you should only use disturbing facts and not depressing facts. In other words, go for facts which will make your audience feel disgusted rather than facts which will just make them feel miserable about the world in general. Plus, it’s probably a good idea to avoid facts which make it look like you’re trying to make a political point too.

Good subject areas for disturbing facts include: death, insects, ancient history (eg: how the ancient Egyptians actually mummified people), rare and unusual diseases (eg: what the Ebola virus does to anyone who is infected by it), ancient weapons, historical methods of execution (eg: what actually happened when someone was “hung, drawn and quartered” in Tudor England) etc…

I should probably point out that if you are going to use any historical facts, then anything after about the 18th or 19th century may be in bad taste.

Yes, a lot of horrific things have happened in both the 20th century and in this century, but you shouldn’t use them to get a cheap scare out of your audience. This is because some of these things (eg: anything related to WW2) happened in living memory or very close to living memory.

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Sorry that this guide is so short, but I hope that it was useful 🙂 if you actually want to put on a stand-up horror performance, then I wish you all the best of luck 🙂

Today’s Art (29th December 2013)

Well, I made another two pieces of “concept art” for an unfinished comic project called “Vultures”, which I tried to start about a week ago (I’ll post everything I’ve made of it tomorrow and the day after) .

Like with yesterday’s concept art, there won’t be any commentary for these two drawings.

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

"Comic Concept Art - Dissolving" By C. A. Brown

“Comic Concept Art – Dissolving” By C. A. Brown

"Comic Concept Art - Forcefield Room" By C. A. Brown

“Comic Concept Art – Forcefield Room” By C. A. Brown

Jokes, The Public Domain And Storytelling

Have you heard about the constipated mathematician?

Have you heard about the constipated mathematician?

[Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, but I know a few lawyer jokes].

Although this is another one of those subjects which other people have almost certainly already written whole dissertations about, I thought that I’d share my views on it. I am, of course, talking about what jokes can tell us about storytelling.

I started thinking about this after I read an absolutely hilarious joke on the internet about an old man waiting outside the gates of heaven (it’s at least slightly irreverent, and possibly even vaguely blasphemous, so I won’t repeat it here).

Anyway, I later ended up telling the joke to someone else and, whilst I was telling it, I noticed that I was embellishing parts of it and describing things differently. This is, of course, nothing special – it’s how people tell jokes. After all, delivery is everything.

But it made me think about jokes in general. After all, I had essentially created a new version of this joke. A new retelling which was slightly different from the one that I’d read. Again, this is nothing special. It’s part of what jokes are. Every time they’re told, someone adds something different to them or changes something slightly.

Apart from a few jokes which have been told by stand-up comedians, no-one really knows who wrote most of the jokes which exist today. In other words, most jokes don’t really “belong” to anyone. And, most interestingly, there isn’t really a “definitive” or “authentic” version of any particular joke – there are just lots of slightly different versions.

Anyway, since most longer jokes are basically very short stories, this can teach us something about storytelling.

Like with old folk stories (where, again, there are lots of slightly different versions and retellings), most jokes are essentially part of the public domain. As I said earlier, they don’t usually “belong” to anyone (unless, sometimes, if people write them down).

As such, they get passed around verbally and everyone creates their own slightly different version of the joke when they’re telling it. Instead of reciting them from a book, people usually tell their favourite jokes in their own words and in a way that they feel will be the most amusing and dramatic.

Back in the old days, the same used to be true for stories as well – then the printing press was invented and copyright laws were passed. Now, even with old stories that have gone out of copyright, there’s usually only one “definitive” version of a story. And, with newer stories, no-one else is allowed to re-tell them. In essence, stories went from being part of the collective imagination to being private property.

Although this isn’t really an article about the many faults of modern copyright law (does anyone really need to keep their copyrights until seventy years after they have died?), centuries of ever-expanding copyright laws have changed how we see and understand stories.

After all, these days, a story is something which is told in one way by one person. We say that a story “belongs” to a particular writer rather than just seeing the story as a “thing” in and of itself. Again, there have probably been whole books written about this subject and I’m probably not exactly saying anything groundbreaking here.

Jokes, on the other hand, give us a brief glimpse into how storytelling used to be. The only things that really matter when people tell jokes are that the main events of the joke have to be the same as other versions of the joke (or have to be replaced by something even funnier) and, most importantly, whether the joke is told well or not. Even the most cheesy one-liner can still be funny if it’s told in the right way by someone who knows how to tell jokes properly.

The same is probably true with stories. Because, these days, only one person is allowed to tell a particular story – there isn’t any room for embellishments and dramatic re-tellings by ordinary people.

Yes, a story might get turned into a movie and a lot might be changed but, even then, people will usually compare it to the original. Not only that, only film studios with a huge amount of money and resources can really adapt a lot of stories and, even then, they usually have to pay quite a bit for the rights to do so.

If you’d gone back four hundred years and told Shakespeare that he couldn’t put on any of his plays unless he paid large amounts of money to whoever came up with the original stories which he based his plays on, you would probably be laughed out of the ale-house.

Now, most of Shakespeare’s plays weren’t his original ideas, but he’s still famous over four thousand years later purely for the way that he re-told those stories and made them his own. For his version of someone else’s story.

What I’m trying to say is that, when it comes to stories – how you tell them matters as much as what the actual story is. So, if you’ve come up with a good idea for a story, then make sure that you tell it in a way which does it justice.

Because, even the most hilarious joke in the world [insert Monty Python reference here] can still be dreary and boring if it’s told with terrible timing and very little emotion.

And, whilst I’m kind of sad that there won’t be numerous re-tellings and different versions of all my favourite stories (and I can’t make any of my own), it’s a fact of life these days that only one person can tell a particular story. So, if that story happens to be your story, make sure that you tell it as well as you can. Because no-one else will.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

“Damania Lite – Cancelled” (comic)

"Damania Lite - Cancelled" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Lite – Cancelled” By C. A. Brown

Well, all good things have to come to an end and I’m sorry to say that this is the last comic in my “Damania Lite” series (don’t worry, “Damania” will probably return in some form or other at some time or other in the future – it always does).

I’m kind of annoyed that I had to finish this series before it even got started, but working on four daily things turned out to be more time-consuming and stressful than I thought it would be. And, most of all, I found myself focusing more on the other daily posts than on this one, so I reluctantly decided to finish the series here.

I’m really sorry about this but, as I said earlier, “Damania” will probably return sometime or other (it’s one of those comics that I only seem to work on for a while and then pick up again a few weeks or months later)

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If you’re interested, more “Damania Lite” comics can be found here. But, if you want to read the original comics (which have more panels and slightly better art), then they can also be found here.