Today’s Art (31st December 2015)

Well, this is the next painting in my 1980s/90s style cyberpunk art series and I’m quite proud of how this painting turned out, even if it required slightly more digital editing than usual.

Interestingly, this painting was originally going to be a re-make of an old drawing of mine from December 2014 (and, wow, that picture looks really badly-drawn by my current standards LOL!) but, then I decided to make something new instead.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Market Row" By C. A. Brown

“Market Row” By C. A. Brown

Top Ten Articles – December 2015

2015 Artwork Top Ten Articles December

Well, it’s the end of the month… and it’s the end of the year. So, as usual, I thought that I’d provide you with a list of links to my ten favourite articles about writing, comics and art that I’ve posted on here over the past month. I’ll also include a couple of honourable mentions below my “top ten” list too.

All in all, even though I was artistically uninspired in quite a few of this month’s daily art posts, I’m quite proud of many of the articles I posted here in December. Although, saying that, there was something of a dip in quality near the end of the month.

Anyway, here’s the list 🙂

Top Ten Articles For December 2015:

– “My Thoughts About Colouring Books For Adults (And 14 Lineart Pictures To Colour)
– “The Joy Of… “Mary Sue” Characters
– “The Nature Of Inspiration
– “Three Basic Tips For Writing Christmas-Themed Horror Stories
– “Three Basic Tips For Writing Short Stories Based On Longer Stories
– “Fiction And Art As A Record
– “Three Thoughts About Telling Stories in Genres You Don’t Know
– “The Joy Of… Cynicism (As A Source Of Inspiration)
– “Four Ways To Avoid Making Constant “Improvements” To Your Art Or Your Story
– “Three Thoughts About Making Spiritual Successors

Honourable Mentions:

– “Why Artistic Regrets Are Stupid
– “How To Make Up For The Lack Of Interactive Exploration In Comics And Prose Fiction

Today’s Art (30th December 2015)

Well, I’m still in the mood for making 1980s/1990s style cyberpunk/sci-fi paintings and I was also in the mood for making a badass action movie/ martial arts movie-style painting (and to experiment with a slightly different type of composition) and this is the result 🙂

I’m really proud of how this painting turned out, although the motion effects on the dagger that the woman in the foreground is holding are kind of badly-drawn though. And, yes, this part of the painting is a reference to bizarre 1980s/1990s British film censorship (like the example that is shown on this [slightly NSFW] site about film censorship)

I also used an online translation site for the Japanese text in the background, so I can’t vouch for it’s accuracy.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"And The Duellists Fought" By C. A. Brown

“And The Duellists Fought” By C. A. Brown

The Joy Of… Pseudonyms

2015 Artwork The joy of pseudonyms article sketch

Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about pseudonyms and why they’re awesome. In case you’ve somehow never heard of a pseudonym before, it just refers to a pen name that a writer, journalist or comic creator uses on their published works instead of their real name.

There are many reasons why writers use pseudonyms. Sometimes, it is purely to protect their privacy. Sometimes it is because they’re writing in a different genre and don’t want to confuse their audience. Sometimes, it’s for an unusual reason (like how J.K. Rowling wrote under the name of Robert Galbraith in order to see if people bought her books based purely on merit or on the basis of fame). Sometimes, a single pseudonym allows multiple writers to work on the same project.

There are lots of other reasons why writers use pseudonyms, but I thought that I’d give you a few reasons why they’re such amazing things.

The first reason is that an obvious pseudonym can make a story seem a lot more edgy and interesting. After all, if something is put out anonymously, it contains a frisson of mystery. A pseudonymous work seems like something that is so subversive/ interesting/ edgy that even the writer wants to remain hidden. Of course, this isn’t actually the case – but an obvious pseudonym can certainly give this impression.

Or, to use an artistic example, do you think that anyone would be quite as interested in Banksy‘s satirical graffiti if he actually revealed his name? Ok, there are probably some fairly good legal reasons why he has to remain anonymous but, those aside, his work would probably be less interesting and less impactful if we all knew who he was.

The third reason why pseudonyms are awesome is because they help to protect free expression. Whilst it’s pretty obvious how pseudonyms protect free expression in countries with no free speech laws, I’d also argue that they help to protect free expression even in countries that have some form of free speech laws on the books (eg: everything from the gold standard of the American 1st Amendment to some of the more vaguely-worded EU laws and hazy “traditions” that theoretically give us free speech in the UK).

Likewise, pseudonyms have allowed LGBT writers to speak candidly about their thoughts and experiences without fear of prejudice. Pseudonyms can also allow journalists or online writers to expose abuses of power or dodgy official activity in relative safety. In an ideal world, no-one would need to use pseudonyms, but we hardly live in an ideal world.

Finally, using a pseudonym could possibly be a way to make writing feel new and exciting again, in the same way that many actors use glamourous-sounding stage names.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (29th December 2015)

Well, it still seems like I’m in the mood for making 1980s/90s style cyberpunk paintings at the moment – so, I’m not sure if this will turn into an art series or not. And, yes, that’s the robot from yesterday’s painting in the background of this painting.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"The Abandoned Centre" By C. A. Brown

“The Abandoned Centre” By C. A. Brown

Three Thoughts About Making Spiritual Successors

2015 Artwork Spiritual successors article sketch

One of the annoying things about great stories, comics etc… is that there often isn’t quite enough of them. With great things, quality often comes at the expense of quality. So, what can fans of these great stories and comics do?

Well, if you’re a writer and/or an artist, one of the things that you can always do is to create a spiritual successor to these great stories and/or comics.

If you’ve never heard of a “spiritual successor” before, it refers to an original work that evokes something else without being a direct copy of it or a direct sequel to it. Technically speaking, it’s a type of fan fiction – but it’s vastly different from what usually passes for “fan fiction” on the internet.

A good computer game-based example of a spiritual successor that I heard of quite a while back is a thoroughly creepy-looking horror game called “Allison Road” which was shown off on Youtube this summer – you can see the preview footage of it here [WARNING- Contains gory/disturbing scenes]. This game has been widely considered to be a spiritual successor to the famous cancelled Silent Hill “P.T” horror game.

From the footage I’ve seen, both games use a first-person perspective and are set within very realistic haunted houses. However, “P.T” is set in America and “Allison Road” is set in Britain. Both games have different backstories and different unnamed protagonists. Both games are set in different houses that are haunted by different ghosts. And, yet, the footage of “Allison Road” is still fairly reminiscent of “P.T”. It’s a spiritual successor.

So, how do you make a spiritual successor to something? Here are a few basic thoughts about the subject.

1) Copyright: It’s important to have a good understanding of all relevant copyright laws before you make a spiritual successor to something. Although I have a basic understanding of copyright law, I’m not a legal expert – so, do your research here.

Although the details of copyright laws vary from country to country, one general principle in many copyright laws is that ideas themselves are not usually covered by copyright. However, the way that those ideas are expressed is covered by copyright.

What this means is that whilst a spiritual successor to something can contain the same ideas, themes, concepts, emotional tone etc… as something else, it can’t contain any of the same characters or other specific details like that.

For example, if the inspiration for your spiritual sequel uses an entirely fictional setting, then you can’t use that setting in your sequel. You can use the basic idea behind that setting (eg: a medieval fantasy world, a desert planet, an overcrowded futuristic city, an old haunted house etc..) but your setting needs look at least slightly different, it needs to be called something different and all of the small details need to be different.

The details of your spiritual successor can be slightly similar to the thing that inspired it, but they must also be distinctive enough to meet the legal standards for originality wherever you are publishing your spiritual successor.

2) Your Own Spin: After you’ve worked out what the underlying themes, ideas etc.. are of the thing that you want to make a spiritual successor to, you need to think of a way of giving these things your own personal “spin”.

In other words, you need to filter these things through your own imagination and create something new based on these themes and ideas that actually means something to you.

For example, you need to come up with new characters that make more sense to you, you need to come up with a setting that fits into your ideas of what a cool sci-fi/fantasy/thriller/horror etc… setting looks like, you need to use real settings that you’re actually familiar with (eg: if you like a series of American film noir movies, but you live in London – then set your spiritual sequel to these movies in London). etc… I’m sure you get the idea.

Even though your story or comic is heavily inspired by something else, it still needs to have it’s own distinctive “personality”. It still needs to be something more than just a slightly altered copy of the thing that inspired you.

3) Make it cooler:
This goes without saying, but the goal of every sequel (even a spiritual sequel) is to be better than the original. In other words, you need to think of a way to improve something that is so great that it inspired you to make a spiritual sequel to it. So, yes, making a good spiritual successor probably isn’t an easy thing to do.

Still, even if these improvements are fairly subtle things (eg: if someone wrote a spiritual sequel to “Fifty Shades Of Grey”, but with realistic characterisation) or if they’re merely a different perspective on the same themes, issues, concepts etc… that were present in the thing that inspired you, these improvements still need to be there.

So, try to make your spiritual sequel even cooler than the thing that inspired you.

——————

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

R.I. P Lemmy Kilmister (1945-2015)

"Lemmy Tribute" By C. A. Brown

“Lemmy Tribute” By C. A. Brown

Although it’s been a few years since I last really listened to Motorhead, they were one of the first three bands – alongside Iron Maiden and Judas Priest – that really got me into the heavy metal genre when I was a teenager.

They were loud, fast and just badass in every possible way. There are at least a couple of parts of my teenage life that I can’t remember without an accompanying soundtrack by Motorhead.

When I read the news about Lemmy’s death earlier today, it didn’t quite feel real. It still doesn’t. There was something about him that just seemed immortal. He was a fearless larger-than-life character who, like all great people, realised that life was meant to be enjoyed. He’s the kind of person who, even though I never actually met him or even saw him perform live, can never really be forgotten. There was only one Lemmy Kilmister and there can be only one Lemmy Kilmister.

Although he clearly wasn’t immortal, it still seems like he is for so many reasons. Many of his best songs contain lines about staring death defiantly in the eyes, and he lived to the grand old age of seventy (which is probably something like 700 in classic rockstar years).

He seemed like kind of guy who lived every day like it was his last and did many enjoyable things (that modern killjoys whinge about endlessly) for many decades, and yet he was mostly perfectly fine until his last moments.

Although he unfortunately couldn’t cheat death, it’s strangely hard to feel sad about his death for the simple reason that – if life is a game – then he won it. The sheer awesomeness of his life and his music kind of meant that he did cheat death.

It’s easier to feel happy about the awesome music he made, the badass life that he led and the sheer uniqueness of who he was than it is to feel sad about his death. His death is shocking, but it doesn’t feel tragic for the simple reason that he left his imprint on the world in a way that few people do. He became an idea, a symbol, a legend. And legends never die.

Anyway, I hope he found meaning in his life – he certainly found joy and awesomeness in his life. And I hope that he’s having one hell of a party in heaven, or in valhalla – or that he reincarnates as someone even more awesome. \m/