Short Stories – February 2018 :)

Although I plan to write more stories next month (stay tuned for the next one tomorrow night 🙂 ), I thought that I’d take a break tonight in order to compile a list of links to all of the stories I’ve written this month, in case you missed any of them. You can also find links to some of my older story collections on this page too.

Since my return to writing short stories was something of an unplanned thing, I foolishly didn’t prepare a “buffer” of stories in advance. As such, at least a couple of the stories were plagued by writer’s block and didn’t turn out that well.

Even so, I quite like how a few of them turned out and my favourites are probably: “Specimen“, “Temple” and “Wake“.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the links to the stories – enjoy 🙂

Amusements“: This is a random comedy horror short story that I wrote somewhat unexpectedly.

Temple“: This is a short story about abandoned shopping centres, nostalgia, ubiqity, folklore, US pop culture, early 2000s Britain etc..

Off Hours“: This is a mildly comedic “film noir” style story that I wrote whilst experiencing writer’s block.

ESP: This is a short story about someone who develops a psychic connection… to the internet.

Wake: This is a vignette about three university students at a house party. It was more of a random practice piece/literary experiment than anything else, but it’s also something of a mildly comedic nostalgia piece about the 2000s (of all things) too.

Alarm: This is a sci-fi comedy story about space stations and software updates.

Wave: This is a slightly random short story about 1990s nostalgia, car boot sales and a university student trying to write a dissertation proposal. It’s a little bit on the rambling side of things (and it borders on being pretentious “literary fiction”) but it was fun to write.

A Playlist For Suburbia: Well, I had writer’s block. So, I ended up writing this random character study about a guy listening to punk music. And, yes, this ended up being another 1990s nostalgia story.

Specimen: This is a fearful tale of the macabre, with some moments of levity, set during a 19th century anatomy lecture. It’s probably riddled with anachronisms, but it was a lot of fun to write 🙂

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Today’s Art (28th February 2018)

Well, after finishing this webcomic mini series, I was feeling slightly uninspired. So, in the end, I ended up making a fairly minimalist (and vaguely 1980s cyberpunk-style) digitally-edited painting.

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

“Disused Sector” By C. A. Brown

Top Ten Articles – February 2018

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

All in all, this has been a surprisingly good month in terms of articles. Although I felt a little bit uninspired near the end of the month, I really like how many of this month’s articles turned out 🙂

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂

Top Ten Articles – February 2018:

– “Three Things To Do When You Can’t Think Of An Idea For A Painting (That Feels “Meaningful” Or “Relevant” Enough To Bother With)
– “Three Tips For Finding Artistic Knowledge (That Can’t Be Found Online)
– “Why Your Terrible First Attempt At Writing A “Novel” Is Important (Plus, An Extract From Mine)
– “Why It Is Difficult To Emulate The Past – A Ramble
– “Three Random Tips For Creating Things Set In (mid-late) 1990s Britain
– “Three Tips For Making More Interesting Fan Art
– “One Basic Way To Make Up For The Lack Of Background Music In Art, Comics And Fiction
– “Unlike Fiction And Comics, Art Is Non-Linear (And What This Means If You’re Making It) – A Ramble
– “Two Basic Tips For Making Art That Is Distinctly ‘You’.”
– “Three Basic Tips For Storytelling In Wordless Comics

Honourable Mentions:

– “How To Deal WIth Writer’s Block And Artist’s Block Like A Pro – A Ramble
– “Letting Your Imagination Assert Itself – A Ramble

Short Story: “Specimen” By C. A. Brown

Order! Order!‘ Dr. Farlingsworth tapped his fist loudly upon on the stout dissection table. Squinting against the dim lantern-light, he perceived that the rabble of medical students in the surrounding seats were still jostling, joshing and scuffling merrily.

What, oh what, would noble Asclepius think of this horde of roisterers I see before me?‘ He bellowed. This only served to draw a few hearty laughs from the depths of the rabble.

In an instant, the good doctor felt like an actor on a Shakespearean stage, surrounded by an audience of churls, drunkards and orange-sellers. An impression hammered further home by his memory of catching young Wilkinson sneaking in before the dissection to proclaim “Friends! Romans! Countrymen!” to his amused cohorts. At least, Farlingsworth noted with some relief, the impetuous fellow had refrained from using the cloth covering the specimen as an improvised toga.

Of course, the specimen! With a showman’s grace, Dr. Farlingsworth doddered over to the other side of the table and unveiled the specimen with a flourish. The noise continued. Alas, he surmised, these students were fresh enough to make merry in the halls of learning but seasoned enough not to fall silent at the sight of a body.

Above the clamourous rabble, a voice called out: ‘One of Mr. Burke’s, sir?‘ Another voice called out ‘I didn’t see that poor fellow at Tyburn today.‘ More laughter followed.

Taking a deep breath, the good doctor bellowed: ‘Gentlemen! What you see before you on this table is no ordinary man!

Another voice laughed: ‘Of course not, he’s croaked it!

Flashing a steely glare at the source of the voice, Dr. Farlingsworth continued: ‘Stevenson! Pipe down, will you! Where was I? Oh, yes! What you see before you today is no ordinary man. In fact, I would even hazard to guess that he is some hitherto unknown advancement of the human species.

For once, the only reply was blissful silence. Against the dim flickering of the lanterns, Farlingsworth noted with some satisfaction that thirty pairs of eyes stared forwards at him in rapt fascination.

Farlingsworth continued his lecture: ‘This unfortunate fellow was discovered in the nets of a fishing trawler three days ago and yet he appears to be perfectly preserved. Although the more superstitious amongst you may be keen to attribute this to a miracle, I posit that there is a rational scientific explanation for this phenomenon. An explanation, gentlemen, that I plan to uncover today.

The theatre remained as silent as a tomb. Allowing himself to stand an inch taller, Farlingsworth gently opened the specimen’s mouth and said: ‘Preliminary examinations carried out by my colleague Throckmorton noted that the body displayed notably enlarged incisors, perhaps comparable to those of the hyena skull we recently added to our collection.

Around him, the students jostled and leaned forwards, eager to catch a glimpse of this unusual feature. The stout oak bannisters surrounding the theatre creaked quietly. As the warm glow of the lantern played across the faces of his audience, Farlingsworth could not help but think of Joseph Wright’s scientific paintings or perhaps that clumsy copy of a Caravaggio that Throckmorton hung in his dining room.

In an instant, Farlingsworth’s reverie was interrupted by the sight of his students recoiling in horror. For a second, he stood there bewildered until he felt something grasp his neck. Then, two sharp pains like the bodkin needles used in Jenner’s famed vaccinations. He glanced down to find that the specimen had not only returned to life, but was at his throat like a hungry wolf. Yet, he felt no terror. Instead, a comfortably warm sensation, not unlike quaffing a bottle of good cognac, seemed to wash through his body.

When one of the panicked students finally saw fit to inform the local constable, an examination of the theatre turned up neither the doctor nor his specimen. After further investigations proved fruitless, the authorities procured the services of a well-respected amateur. Yet, even this famed consultant could deduce no cause or trace of what was said to have occurred on that frightful night.

Within no less than two weeks, the ghastly event had passed into university folklore. Despite the efforts of the faculty to suppress such macabre rumours, it was not uncommon to find copies of Varney The Vampire and other such penny dreadfuls surreptitiously placed amongst the hallowed tomes of the university library.

Yet, within several more weeks, the incident had been mostly forgotten. Ghoulish whispers had quickly been overtaken by the excitement of such things as the inter-varsity cricket championships and that well-renowned boat race. Yet, dear reader, even to this day the medical students never so much as grin or chortle when taking anatomy classes. If poor Farlingsworth was still amongst the land of the living, he would no doubt have permitted himself a smile at his newfound legacy.

The Complete “Damania Refracted” – All Six Episodes Of The New Webcomic Mini Series By C. A. Brown

Well, in case you missed any of it, here are all six comics from my “Damania Refracted” webcomic mini series. You can also find links to lots of other comics (and news about upcoming comics) on this page.

All in all, although I was extremely uninspired during parts of this mini series (to the point I even remade this old comic from 2013), it actually turned out better than I expected. Still, it was kind of a “I should make some comics for February” kind of mini series.

Yes, it probably isn’t the best mini series I’ve made (unlike this one, this one, this one or this one) – but it’s hardly the worst either (that title probably goes to this one or this one).

Although the first five comics in this mini series are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence, the final comic [“Old Horror Games Rule!”] is NOT released under any kind of Creative Commons licence.

As usual, you can click on each comic update to see a larger version of it.

“Damania Refracted – Luddite” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Refracted – Greatest Hits” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Refracted – Daytime TV (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Refracted – Movile Cave” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Refracted – Unrealistic” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Refracted – Old Horror Games Rule!” By C. A. Brown
[NOTE: This comic update is NOT released under any kind of Creative Commons licence!]

Today’s Art (27th February 2018)

Woo hoo! Here’s the sixth, and final, comic in my “Damania Refracted” webcomic mini series. Don’t worry if you missed any of it, I’ll post a full retrospective here later tonight. Plus, you can find links to lots of my other webcomic mini series on this page.

And, yes, it has been way too long since I last made a comic about horror games. In case you’re wondering why the art in “Resident Evil” panel looks so bizarrely angular, it was an attempt at drawing something similar to the low-polygon visual style that the game’s 3D models use. Likewise, I really can’t draw Adam from “Realms Of The Haunting” very well.

But, yes, although old horror games are rarely scary, they’re one of the best expressions of everything great about the horror genre (in a similar way to horror/comedy movies).

Since this comic includes drawings of characters from various computer games, it is NOT released under any kind of Creative Commons licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Refracted – Old Horror Games Rule!” By C. A. Brown

Three Things To Do When You Can’t Think Of An Idea For A Painting (That Feels “Meaningful” Or “Relevant” Enough To Bother With)

I’m sure that I’ve probably written about this type of artistic uninspiration before, but I experienced one of the worst types of artist’s block the day before I wrote this article. This is the type of uninspiration where you can still make art, but it just doesn’t feel “meaningful” or “relevant” enough to bother with.

To give you an example, whilst trying to make a painting, I actually started a fairly good painting only to abandon it halfway through because “it’s just completely random. I don’t feel like I’m making art. I feel like I’m just doing a random practice exercise rather than expressing myself.

And, yes, I later ended up using this line art as the basis for a last-minute piece of digital art in January (after I’d prepared the first draft of this article).

So what do you do when you end up in this state of mind? How can you actually finish a piece of art? Here are a few tips:

1) Distract yourself with an inspiration: The thing that finally allowed me to finish a painting during that uninspired day was a combination of luck and distraction.

Sometimes, it can help to turn off the perfectionist parts of your brain slightly by watching a DVD or something like that whilst you’re making art. Having a non-interactive distraction in the background can be a good way to quell that nagging voice in your mind that says “I want to make MEANINGFUL ART! Whatever I make MUST be a MASTERPIECE!!

Another advantage to this approach is that whatever you distract yourself with may well end up inspiring you too. Since you’re being inspired by something that you’re looking at, this can also be a good way to circumvent the annoying part of your mind that insists that the art you make must be “relevant” to you in some way. Just be sure that you know the difference between taking inspiration and plagiarism!

To give you an example, after the failed attempt at making a painting that I showed you earlier (and another previous failed attempt), I ended up reaching for a DVD boxset of an old American detective show from the 1980s called “Murder, She Wrote” that I’d bought second-hand a few weeks earlier out of curiosity. To my delight, during a series of preview clips at the beginning of one episode, I was confronted with an uncharacteristically cool-looking scene:

This is a screenshot from “Murder, She Wrote” (Season 1, Episode 4). The episode is supposedly a condemnation of “immoral” horror films during the 1980s, but the segments from said film are – of course- the coolest parts of the episode LOL!

Not only did this remind me of how cool neon looks (eg: something “meaningful” to me), it also reminded me of this cool music video by Creeper [Mildly NSFW] which I’d seen shortly after I’d discovered that Metal Hammer magazine had been restarted (after shutting down for a while in late 2016/ early 2017). Needless to say, I wanted to make a cool-looking gothic painting that included neon lighting. It felt meaningful and relevant.

Yes, the final painting was somewhat crappy. But, I’d actually beaten artist’s block and finished a painting! Here’s a preview of the painting I made:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 28th March.

2) Memories And/Or Still Life: Another way to get over that annoying perfectionist mood where you can’t make art unless it feels “relevant” or “meaningful” to you, is simply to try to make some kind of autobiographical art that is based on your own memories or to make a still life painting of some kind.

Since these things are based on the real world, it can satisfy the part of your mind that will only allow you to make “relevant” art. However, this technique doesn’t always work for the simple reason that trying to find interesting memories to use as source material can be difficult when you’re thinking “Oh god, I can’t think of what to paint!!” or trying to look for interesting things around you to paint when you’ve already done this quite a few times before.

Still, it’s something to try. During a milder moment of uninspiration a couple of days earlier, I was able to use this technique successfully in order to finish a painting. Yes, like with the previous example, the painting wasn’t one of my best works – but it was a finished painting, that was based on my memory a car journey I’d taken a couple of days beforehand. Here’s a preview:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 25th March.

3) Politics and fan art: This one is pretty self-explanatory really. Either make some fan art based on some of your favourite TV shows, movies, games etc… or make some art that expresses one of your political opinions.

This is an “easy” way to satisfy the part of your mind that demands that the art that you make must feel “relevant” to you in some way. After all, if you’re the kind of person who makes art even semi-regularly, then you’re probably also going to be a fan of various things (after all, you need inspiration to be an artist) and you’re going to have opinions of some kind or another (eg: people don’t re-create the world in art if they think that the world is perfect).

So, put some punk music on in the background and just let rip! To give you an example, a few weeks before writing this article, I was able to make a digitally-edited drawing surprisingly quickly when I suddenly realised that one of the things that I really don’t like about modern Britain is that fact that it’s so bloody angry. Whether it’s people on the political right or people on the political left or even just mainstream popular entertainment, it’s just miserably furious these days. Here’s a preview of the drawing:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 7th March.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂