Today’s Art (30th September 2016)

Well, since I was kind of uninspired, I just drew a random character and then started doodling. This digitally-edited cyberpunk drawing/ B&W painting quickly emerged after about half an hour or so.

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

"Cyberpunk Doodle" By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunk Doodle” By C. A. Brown

Top Ten Articles – September 2016

2016 Artwork Top Ten Articles September

Well, it’s the end of the month and this means that it’s time for me to compile a list of links to what I consider to be the ten best articles about making art, making comics and/or writing fiction that I’ve posted here this month (plus a couple of honourable mentions too).

All in all, I quite like how many of this month’s articles turned out, although there were slightly more rushed articles and/or rambling articles than usual though.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂

Top Ten Articles – September 2016

– “Five Retro-Futuristic Ways To Turn Your Photos, Memories And/Or Observations Into Cyberpunk Art
– “Which Decade Does Your Art Style Come From? – A Ramble
– “Four Ways To Handle Uninspiration-Based Webcomic Hiatuses (If You Make Webcomics)
– “Four Ways To Avoid Webcomic Jealousy
– “Four Reasons Why Some Webcomics Are “Non-Canonical
– “How To Invent New Genres
– “Three Important Things To Remember When Adding Diaries To Your Comics Or Fiction
– “The Joy Of… New Things In Old Styles
– “Sensory Overload In Cyberpunk Art- A Ramble (With An Art Preview)
– “Musical Subcultures, Belonging And Art – A Ramble

Honourable Mentions:

– “Fandom As Continuing A Tradition – A Ramble
– “The Joy Of… Old Newspaper Cartoons

Today’s Art (29th September 2016)

Well, it’s been quite a while since I made any “Doom II” fan art, so I thought that I’d make some for today. Originally, this was going to be a more “serious” and “dramatic” painting, but as soon as I drew the first Cacodemon in the background, it quickly went in a sillier and more whimsical direction. However, I seem to be terrible at drawing Pain Elementals.

And, yes, the little picture on the sign is a “Brutal Doom” reference (although I have fairly neutral opinions about this mod, the death animation that plays when you get eaten by a Cacodemon is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a computer game).

Since this is fan art, this painting will NOT be released under a Creative Commons licence of any kind.

"Fan Art- Doom II - Flying Monsters" By C. A. Brown

“Fan Art- Doom II – Flying Monsters” By C. A. Brown

The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My “Cyberpunk Places” Art Series :)

2016 Artwork Cyberpunk Places lineart article sketch

As regular readers of this site will probably know, I recently finished posting a series of 1980s-style cyberpunk paintings of real locations. Anyway, when I was making these paintings, I made sure to make a scan of the line art for each picture before I started painting.

So, I thought that I’d show you what all of these paintings looked like before any paint was added to them. But, if you missed the series, here are links to all seven paintings (all seven of which are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence):

Cyberpunkwharf” by C. A. Brown
Aberystwyth – Cyberpunk Coast” By C. A. Brown
Cyberpunk 2001 (Milton Keynes)” By C. A. Brown
Cyberpunk Berlin” By C. A. Brown
The Sandown Wastelands” By C. A. Brown
Portsdown Hill Cyberpunk” By C. A. Brown
Cyberpunk Chichester” By C. A. Brown

Anyway, here’s the line art for these seven paintings. Enjoy 🙂

"Cyberpunkwharf (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunkwharf (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Aberystwyth - Cyberpunk Coast ( Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Aberystwyth – Cyberpunk Coast ( Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Cyberpunk 2001 (Milton Keynes) (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunk 2001 (Milton Keynes) (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Cyberpunk Berlin (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunk Berlin (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"The Sandown Wastelands (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“The Sandown Wastelands (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Portsdown Hill Cyberpunk (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Portsdown Hill Cyberpunk (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Cyberpunk Chichester (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunk Chichester (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Locations In Comics – A Ramble

2016 Artwork Comics and worldbuilding

Although I seem to be taking a break from actually making comics at the moment, I got back into reading them again recently. In particular, I ended up digging up all of my old “Simpsons” trade paperbacks and have been re-reading them. And, yes, “The Simpsons” exists in comic form and – sometimes – these comics can actually be better than the TV show.

1990s/ early-mid 2000s nostalgia and amusing jokes aside, one of the reasons why these comics are so fascinating is that they give you a more in-depth look at the “world” of the TV show. Because comics can be read at a slower pace than a TV show can be watched, you can take a closer look at the background details. And, because of this, there are often a lot more amusing background details than you would find in the TV show.

So, for today, I thought that I’d talk very briefly about worldbuilding in comics. I’ll also be showing some re-runs of my old comics because, well, it’s the least I could do since my webcomic series has been on hiatus this month (but will return for another mini series on the fifth of October).

Surprisingly worldbuilding is something that I actually seem to have neglected when making many of my comics. Most of my comics from this year (some of which can be read here, here, here, here and here) are “newspaper comic”-style webcomics. I tended to make these comics fairly quickly and, as such, didn’t really have time to create much of a detailed “world” in the backgrounds.

Yes, there are a few recurring locations, such as Roz & Derek’s living room:

"Damania Returns - Mythological" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Returns – Mythological” By C. A. Brown

Or the town’s cinema:

"Damania Resurrected - Detectives" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Resurrected – Detectives” By C. A. Brown

Or Rox’s apartment:

"Damania Redux - Was Better In 1998" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Redux – Was Better In 1998” By C. A. Brown

Or Harvey’s office:

"Damania Restricted - Not Quite Hipsters" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Restricted – Not Quite Hipsters” By C. A. Brown

Or the corridor of the flat that the four characters live in:

"Damania Resurgence - New Game" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Resurgence – New Game” By C. A. Brown

But, for the most part, the background and “world” of my more recent comics is shown in the same level of detail that you might expect to see in a low-budget animated TV show. Since thinking of my comic as a sitcom was one of the things that I use to get motivated, this is one explanation. But this was also mostly done for time reasons, and it is also a byproduct of the fact that these comics were at least partially inspired by daily newspaper comics.

If you look at most syndicated newspaper comics, the focus is usually on the dialogue rather than the backgrounds. Because of their daily format, the writer and/or artist can’t take much time to make detailed backgrounds. In fact, many syndicated newspaper comics will actually use plain backgrounds at every available opportunity.

And, yet, good worldbuilding can make a comic about three times more interesting. Having a consistent and detailed “world” in the background of a comic can make the difference between someone reading a comic for amusement and someone returning to a comic again and again because they want to revisit somewhere reassuringly familiar.

So, I guess that what I’m trying to say here is that if you want to immerse your readers in your comic, then creating a consistent and detailed “world” that your comic takes place in is a good thing to do. “The Simpsons” has a bit of an advantage here, since it is (mostly) set within a single town and because it has existed for over two decades, but it is a perfect example of good worldbuilding in comics (and TV shows).

But, if you don’t have the time to do this, then a good substitute can be to include a few recurring locations. Yes, it doesn’t come close to the level of immersive detail that can be found in more developed comics, but it is probably better than the blank backgrounds that appear in a lot of syndicated comics.


Sorry for the fairly short and basic article, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (27th September 2016)

Well, this is the last painting in my “cyberpunk landscapes” series. This digitally-edited 1980s-style cyberpunk painting was based on this drawing from last year (which, in turn was based on a photo of part of Chichester high street as seen through one of the arches of Chichester Cross that my parents took around Christmas 2014).

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

"Cyberpunk Chichester" By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunk Chichester” By C. A. Brown

How To Invent New Genres

2016 Artwork Inventing a new genre

The day before I wrote this article, I may have invented a new genre. This isn’t the first time that I’ve had an experience like this, but it’s always fascinating when it happens. Of course, it’s possible that someone else has discovered this particular idea earlier, but I thought that I’d share it and, more importantly, how I found it (in case it’s useful to you).

Although I’ll include some general pointers about how to invent new genres at the end of this article, I’ll start with the story of how I (possibly) invented a new genre.

It all started when I found a fascinating series of videos about game design on Youtube. As long-term readers of this site probably know, I’ve always wanted to make computer games. But this ambition has never really come to fruition due to my almost complete aversion to programming, my short creative attention span and the fact that the very small number of user-friendly game creation programs I’ve ever found are either not quite what I’m looking for or they are free trial versions of programs that are far outside my price range.

After a while, I found myself having a familiar thought “If only computer games were as fast, intuitive and solitary to make as making art is“.

Then I started wondering what a low-tech version of a computer game would look like. After all, comics can (and have) been used as low-tech substitutes for TV shows and movies. After all, when popular TV shows have been cancelled, their creators have sometimes continued the story via comic books. Comics are the closest medium to film and TV for a solitary creator (or small group of creators) without a large budget.

So, knowing that low-tech versions of modern mediums existed. I held the idea in my mind and began daydreaming about creating computer games using nothing more than a pen and paper. I didn’t quite know how such a thing was possible, but I tried to hold on to the idea that it was possible.

Naturally, my thoughts first settled on the gamebook/ interactive fiction genre. I’ve known about this genre for quite a while and, last October, I even wrote something in it which- by virtue of being on the interent – is technically an extremely primitive computer game. However, with a few changes, it would work well as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style gamebook (and this is how I originally designed and structured it). But that wasn’t what I was looking for.

I didn’t want to write, I wanted to make art.

Still, I realised that gamebooks were probably the closest things to non-electronic computer games in structural terms. Then I thought about comics again and about the short-lived “wordless novel” genre from the early 20th century. All of these ideas suddenly clicked together and I drew a few small sketches of a “wordless” sci-fi gamebook:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] The idea is that, to go to another page, you follow the numbers in the middle of the pictures.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] The idea is that, to go to another page, you follow the numbers in the middle of the pictures.

At the time of writing, I don’t know whether I’ll actually turn this into anything (or whether it’ll inspire anyone else to work in the genre). But, just having the idea was quite a cool experience.

The important thing here is that, like with all “new” genres, there isn’t really that much new stuff involved. Structurally, my idea is similar to gamebooks, comics and/or modern Hidden Object Games (with a few changes, it could even include hidden object scenes). It isn’t so much a new genre as a mixture of several existing genres.

This can be seen with every other “new” genre that people have been created. Often, they don’t actually contain anything particularly new. They’re just a slightly altered version and/or mixture of existing things.

Even when a new creative medium (eg: video games) has been created, the “new genres” that are created for it are often based on pre-existing things (or pre-existing ideas). However, they are altered or remixed in an interesting way that turns them into a totally new genre.

So, yes, it’s impossible to invent a totally “new” genre. But, you don’t need to. All you need to do is to work out how to do something interesting with everything that currently exists.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (26th September 2016)

Well, here’s the next digitally-edited painting in my series of 1980s-style cyberpunk paintings that are based on real places. This one is based on my memories of Portsdown Hill at night (it always looks wonderfully futuristic and cinematic at night), although I’m not sure if I got the name of the burger van right. This painting also required a last-minute edit to the background, mainly since I worried that it looked too similar to part of “Blade Runner“.

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

"Portsdown Hill Cyberpunk" By C. A. Brown

“Portsdown Hill Cyberpunk” By C. A. Brown

The Joy Of… Informal Storytelling

2016 Artwork The Joy Of Informal Storytelling

A while before I wrote this article, I was watching a somewhat left-leaning American news discussion channel on Youtube called “The Young Turks“. One of the things that I suddenly realised was “I wish that the news was more like the format of this show”. It’s true, the dry and formal style of the usual BBC or ITV News broadcast couldn’t be further away from the much more informal style of “The Young Turks”.

Even comedy news discussion shows on British TV only sometimes come close to the style used on this Youtube show. The presenters express emotions, they use realistic expressions, there’s hilariously crude humour, there are impassioned comments and all sorts of other things that you just wouldn’t see in a formal news broadcast or debate.

This made me think about the power of informality and how it can be applied to storytelling. The fact is that, from an early age, we’re usually told that formal is best when expressing information. Despite trying to be more informal, my writing style on this blog is still heavily influenced by the essays that I used to write during my formal education and the more formal online articles that I’ve read over the years.

There’s a lot to be said for a more formal style when it comes to non-fiction but, I thought that I’d look at fiction. The fact is that I’ve read relatively few novels and comics that use a proudly informal style and do it well. Most of these things can probably be found in the punk genre – in fact, the work of one writer in particular springs to mind. I am, of course, talking about Warren Ellis.

Whether it’s in his brilliantly hilarious film noir novel “Crooked Little Vein” or in his “Transmetropolitan” comics, he’s able to tell brilliantly complex stories that never really feel like they’re formal in any way. They’re anti-formal. Everything is taken as seriously as everything else and this is used for comedic effect, dramatic effect and all other kinds of effect.

They’re stories that take place in a world where a news article about bad political news can consist of nothing more than a single four-letter word repeated 8000 times, mirroring the thoughts of the characters (and the thoughts of the audience whenever they read bad political news). They’re set in a brilliantly informal world where this kind of thing is just another part of life.

Some examples of more informal styles can also be found in the cyberpunk genre (when first-person narration is used) or in the punk genre itself. However, when it is taken to extremes, it can often be more confusing than anything else. Both Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting” and Russell Hoban’s “Riddley Walker” both fall victim to this problem, since they’re both written in a phonetic style that tries to mirror the narrator speaking to the reader. But, since they use a lot of phonetic spellings and/or dialects, both books confused me so much that I didn’t finish either.

The same is true with Anthony Burgess’ “A Clockwork Orange”. Although the notorious film adaptation is more well-known than the book, the book itself is written entirely in the “futuristic” slang that the characters use. It’s informal but, because of all of the linguistic experiments, it can get slightly confusing.

A good informal style feels like free speech. It feels like a compelling story that has emerged organically from someone’s thoughts. It feels like you’re being told a story by a friend or by an interesting person that you met in a pub. It’s almost like a window into someone’s thoughts. It’s a highly subjective style of writing that lets the serious parts of the story show themselves to be serious, rather than telling the audience that they’re serious by the way that they’re described.

In addition to this, a good informal style leaves it up to the reader how seriously they want to take the story. An informal story can treat trivial things with deference and serious things with indifference. It reflects how many people actually see the world, rather than how people “should” see the world.

In a way, informal storytelling goes back to the very beginnings of storytelling. It hearkens back to the days when a storyteller was someone literally telling a story to an audience, rather than someone writing a story for people to read later. This, I think, is the main reason why informal storytelling styles can be so much more powerful than formal ones.


Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂