Taking Inspiration From Other Mediums – A Ramble (With Another Comic Preview)

2016 Artwork Inspiration From Other Mediums article sketch

Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about one of the easiest ways to get extra inspiration and to come up with interesting ideas. If you’re a writer, artist and/or comic maker, then this is probably something that you’ve already done several times before in some way or another, but I thought that I’d talk about it nonetheless.

I am, of course, talking about taking inspiration from other mediums.

Whether it’s using music to get in the mood for writing or making art, or using cinematic techniques in your comic, it always interesting how different mediums can be a powerful source of inspiration. But, you already know this. I mean, it’s the kind of thing that we do without even really thinking about it too much – like in this panel from a webcomic update of mine that will be posted here in mid-August.

 The comic series is set in a slightly surreal version of modern Britain but, well, I just couldn't resist including a "western"-style update featuring two of the characters.

The comic series is set in a slightly surreal version of modern Britain but, well, I just couldn’t resist including a “western”-style update featuring two of the characters.

But, more importantly than this, other mediums can also inspire you to create in slightly different ways and to think about the things that you make in different ways.

To use an example that I’m sure I’ve given before, when I finally got back into making webcomics again, I knew that I didn’t really have the ideas, creative attention span or energy to make a traditional “endless” long-running daily series. Yet, I still really wanted to make webcomics.

In the end, I settled on the idea of making multiple “mini series” of about 6-20 daily updates, and taking a break from comic-making between each mini series (eg: I’d return to just making “ordinary” watercolour paintings/ drawings instead). Whilst, in previous years, I might have despairingly thought of this as a lazy half-measure, taking inspiration from television has actually helped to keep me motivated.

Why? Because instead of thinking of my webcomic as being a fragmented thing that isn’t a “proper” webcomic, I think of each mini series as being closer to a “season” of a TV show. This instantly makes creating a webcomic feel about ten times cooler than it already is.

Once I’ve finished each mini series, I post an article that collects the entire mini series together in one place, like a DVD box set of a TV show. So far, I’ve made four “seasons” of my webcomic (which can be viewed here, here, here and here), with a fifth one that will appear here in early August. Thinking about my webcomic this way has really been a great way to motivate myself.

I’m guessing that you can probably do the same thing with other mediums too. I mean, I tended to think about themed art series in a similar way (although I saw them as being closer to a CD album, than a TV series), and it’s probably not too much of a stretch to imagine the chapters of your novel or your individual short stories as being like episodes of a TV show.

In addition to this, when I started making webcomics again, I also took a small amount of inspiration from computer games, literature and films too. Instead of just titling each mini series “series one”, “series two” etc… I looked at the titles of movies, games and books to come up with something more dramatic.

My current titling system for my mini series is to call them something like “Damania Re-“. This originally started off as a subtle way of pointing out that I was re-starting an old webcomic series of mine, but it also allowed me to parody sequels and “director’s cut” versions of films too.

For example, the title of the first mini series (“Damania Redux”) is a parody of “Apocalypse Now Redux“. The second mini series’ title (“Damania Resurgence”) is an unintentional parody of the title of the second “Independence Day” film. The title of the third mini series (“Damania Returns”) is a reference to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Return Of Sherlock Holmes” etc…. This title format also took a bit of inspiration from the titles of Dave Gilbert’s excellent “Blackwell” games too.

The thing that I’m trying to say here is that there are lots of different ways to take inspiration from different mediums and, sometimes, the most effective types of inspiration can be subtle structural things rather than more obvious things.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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