The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My “Damania Revisited” Webcomic Mini Series

Well, since my “Damania Revisited” webcomic mini series finished recently, I thought that I’d do my usual thing and show off some scans of the ‘work in progress’ line art from when I was making the comic.

If I remember rightly, there weren’t that many art/dialogue changes between the line art and the finished comics. This was mostly because most of the changes took place during the planning stage (since these comics are remakes of old comics from 2012/13). Although there are a couple of parts where I made small mistakes with the line art and corrected them in the finished comics.

You can click on each piece of line art to see a larger version of it. Enjoy 🙂

“Damania Revisited – Youtube & Copypasta (II) (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Newsagent (II) (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Dark Electric & Evil Cyborg (II) (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Trolls (II) (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – 11:11 (II) (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Haunted (II) (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

The Complete “Damania Revisited” – All Six Episodes Of The (Sort Of) New Webcomic Mini Series By C. A. Brown

Well, in case you missed any of it, here are all six comic updates from my recent “Damania Revisited” webcomic mini series. You can also find lots of other comics featuring these characters on this page too.

As the title suggests, this mini series was a series of new remakes of old “Damania” comics from 2012/13. Although I’ve been meaning to make a mini series like this for ages, I only got round to it due to writer’s block and/or time issues shortly before making this mini series.

Still, I quite like how these remakes turned out and it was an interesting little trip down memory lane. Interestingly, some of the remakes here are actually composites of two old comics (eg: because the comics were either too short or too similar to justify individual remakes). Likewise, I also did a little bit of rewriting etc… when remaking these comics.

But, if you want to compare them to the original source comics, then the original comics from 2012/13 can be found here: “Damania – Youtube“, “Damania – Copypasta“, “Damania – Newsagent“, “Damania – Dark Electric“, “Damania – Evil Cyborg“, “Damania – Trolls“, “Damania – 11:11” and “Damania – Haunted“.

As usual, these six comic updates are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence. You can also click on each one to see a larger version. Enjoy 🙂

“Damania Revisited – Youtube/Copypasta (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Newsagent (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Dark Electric/ Evil Cyborg (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Trolls (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – 11:11 (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Haunted (II)” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (26th November 2018)

Here’s the sixth (and final) comic in my “Damania Revisited” webcomic mini series. Don’t worry if you missed any of this mini series, I’ll be posting a full retrospective here later tonight. In the meantime, you can find lots of other comics here.

Anyway, today’s comic is a remake of “Damania – Haunted” from 2012. This is one of my favourite older comics, although it was made before Rox first appeared (eg: she didn’t appear for the first time until late 2012), so Roz is more of a retro computer enthusiast in this comic.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Revisited – Haunted (II)” By C. A. Brown

Review: “Zero Hour” By Clive Cussler & Graham Brown (Novel)

Well, although I had mixed views about the first Clive Cussler novel I read, I was gripped enough by it to give another Cussler book a try.

This time, I followed the exact opposite of the decision-making process I’d used when choosing to read “Iceberg” first. In other words, I chose one of the most modern Cussler books in the pile of charity shop books I had that also included a co-writer too. It was a wise decision. Anyway, the book in question is “Zero Hour” from 2013.

But, even if I hadn’t followed the decision making process I mentioned earlier, the cover art is certainly attention-grabbing enough. Not only does it include the classic “action movie poster” blue & orange colour scheme, but it also includes ultra-dramatic cover art of the type that books really don’t use often enough these days.

So, let’s take a look at “Zero Hour”. Needless to say, this review will contain some mild SPOILERS.

This is the 2014 Penguin (UK) paperback edition of “Zero Hour” that I read.

After a mysterious opening chapter involving a scientific accident in a cave in California sometime during 1906, the novel jumps forward to 2009 where two ships are caught in a storm. A large tug is towing a dilapidated cruise ship for salvage. However, due to the stormy conditions, the tug is forced to jettison the cruise ship, condemning it’s skeleton crew to a watery grave.

Four years later, a prisoner is trying to escape from some kind of terrifying underwater base. Someone on the outside is providing help from a distance, but the prisoner barely makes it out of the airlock alive. However, the swift ascent to the surface gives him a severe case of the bends. Luckily though, help is nearby and he is bundled onto a vehicle before his pursuers find him.

Meanwhile, Kurt Austin – special projects director for the US National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) is in Australia attending a dull conference at the Sydney Opera House. Coming up with an excuse, he manages to sneak out.

Although Kurt plans to spend the day on the beach, he meets a mysterious woman outside the Opera House. As they talk, Kurt notices a speedboat on the river nearby heading towards them. Not only that, it is being chased by a helicopter. Someone in the helicopter is shooting at the boat. Needless to say, Kurt springs into action and the story begins to get going…Oh, did I mention that this description only covers the first thirty pages?

One of the first things that I will say about “Zero Hour” is… wow! This is a thriller novel!

It’s a brilliant modern equivalent of 1990s action movies like “Broken Arrow” (with maybe a few hints of “Die Hard” too). It has all of the sweeping drama and high-octane thrills of a Matthew Reilly novel, but with much better writing. It is as gripping as a good Lee Child novel, but with a much larger special effects budget and faster pacing. It is the kind of book that begs you to binge-read it. And this is never a bad thing.

Modernity and the addition of a co-writer have worked wonders for this book. Normally, I’m sceptical about co-writing, but it has worked here! Not only is the writing much snappier than the old 1970s Cussler novel (“Iceberg”) I read a few days earlier, but the characters are a lot more well-written too. In addition to this, Cussler has matured well as a writer and his co-writer has obviously spent quite a while honing his craft too.

Although you shouldn’t expect ultra-deep characterisation here, the cast of characters all have decent personalities, backstories and motivations. They seem more like very well-written movie characters than two-dimensional cartoon characters (unlike in “Iceberg”).

Likewise, although Kurt is the hero of the book, he’s nothing without a team of allies (including a couple of familiar characters like Pitt and Sandecker).

Earlier, I mentioned that this novel reminded me of 1990s action movies and this is one of the reasons why. One of the things that made 1990s action movies so great is that they often relied on teams of characters, rather than individualistic superheroes. This lends the story a greater degree of realism and allows for more complex and interesting drama too.

Another thing I love about 1990s action movies is that they are imaginative. Since they couldn’t use the Cold War or the War on Terror for topical inspiration, the writers had to come up with creative storylines. And, although this novel is from 2013, it fits into this tradition perfectly. Although I don’t want to spoil anything major, I’ll just say that the underlying story of this book would be right at home in a Pierce Brosnan “James Bond” film or in a Hollywood action movie from 1996. And this is awesome.

The novel’s settings are absolutely spectacular too. Not only do we get to spend time in rural and urban Australia, but there are also islands, sci-fi horror novel-style secret bases and treacherous seas too. All of these places are used for spectacularly thrilling set-pieces – with the best probably being an utterly gripping “Die Hard”-style scene set on board a train.

And, yes, “Die Hard” is a good comparison to make. Because one of the great things about this novel is that the characters often have to rely on their brains rather than on their guns or fists. Seriously, many of the best and most thrilling scenes in this novel aren’t when Kurt is punching or shooting someone, but when doing such a thing isn’t an option.

Not only are these scenes an intriguing puzzle for the reader (eg: “How will Kurt get out of this alive?”) but they also allow for some of the novel’s funniest moments too (such as one involving a NUMA vessel intercepting a cargo ship). Seriously, anyone can write about gunfights or fistfights, but it takes a lot more skill to thrill the audience by putting the characters in situations where these aren’t practical.

And, yes, the novel occasionally has a few contrived moments. But this doesn’t matter since you’ll be so swept up in the story, that you’ll probably just shrug them off because you’ll want to know what happens next. And, yes, even though this novel does seem like an elaborately constructed theme park ride or a symphony performed with mechanical perfection, this doesn’t matter because it is fun.

All in all, this is basically all of the great action movies of the 1990s in book form. It’s an incredibly fun modern novel that is better than many multi-million dollar films. It is a textbook example of a thriller novel performed to perfection. It’s the sort of thing that demands to be read in blissfully exhausting two-hour chunks, with some old-school heavy metal music playing in the background.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a five.

Today’s Art (25th November 2018)

Woo hoo! Here’s the fifth (and penultimate) comic in “Damania Revisited”, a mini series of modern remakes of some of my really ancient “Damania” comics from 2012/13.

Although writer’s block was the main reason for making remakes rather than new comics, I’ve been meaning to make a mini series like this since 2016 (in fact, my revival of the series in that year was originally planned to start with a series of remakes). Still, if you want to catch up on more recent comics featuring these characters, all of the comics made since 2015 can be found here. You can also catch up with comics from this mini series here: Comic One, Comic Two, Comic Three, Comic Four

Today’s comic is a remake of “Damania – 11:11” from 2013. If you’ve never heard of this phenomenon before, it’s when people keep noticing clocks when the time is 11:11 am/pm (although I’ve experienced it with times like 7:47 and 5:55 more often than 11:11).

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Revisited – 11:11 (II)” By C. A. Brown

Three Random Tips For Modern 1970s-Style Storytelling

Although I’m much more interested in the 1990s than the 1970s – I happened to read a novel from the 1970s recently. Although I read a few second-hand 1970s novels when I was a teenager (during the 2000s), this was the first one I’ve read in quite a few years.

So, this made me think about what sets stories from the 1970s apart from more modern stories and, more importantly, how modern writers can tell 1970s-style stories.

1) Narration: When telling 1970s-style stories, the narration shouldn’t be as hyper-formal as something from the early 20th century – but it shouldn’t be too “modern” either. In other words, you should probably focus on including slightly more complex narration and descriptions (but in a slightly understated way).

To give you a comparison, here’s a descriptive sentence* from “Iceberg” (1975) by Clive Cussler: “He slowed his movement, spellbound by the strangeness of the dark colour beneath the vast shroud of blue-green water.” Notice how this is a single, longer sentence that is filled with slightly more complex language – yet, it is still very readable.

Now, here are two modern descriptive sentence from “Zero Hour” (2013) by Clive Cussler & Graham Brown: ‘Kurt noticed the hue of the water. Pink at the top but darker red as the light was absorbed.‘ Notice how this description is split into two shorter sentences and uses slightly more matter-of-fact language, yet it still manages to achieve the same level of description as the sentence from 1975 does.

So, when telling 1970s-style stories, your narration and pacing should be very slightly slower and more formal. Your sentence length should be a little bit longer too.

The thing to remember here is that books were a popular form of entertainment during the 1970s (since things like VCRs, the internet, videogames etc… weren’t widely available back then) in a way that they aren’t these days. As such, writers and readers had slightly different expectations in terms of formality, pacing etc… during the 1970s than they do today.

(* And, yes, the quote is from a UK edition of “Iceberg”, hence the spelling of “colour”. The original US edition probably uses US spellings. Interestingly, spelling localisation in UK editions seems to be less common these days than it was in the past.)

2) Content, censorship and moral standards:
Ok, this is a little bit of a complicated one.

Basically, the 1970s was a decade where book censorship was no longer a major issue (in Britain at least). However, when writing modern 1970s-style fiction, you need to make a distinction between traditional censorship issues (eg: profanity, horror, violence etc..) and modern moral standards (eg: about discrimination etc..) because the two things have to be handled in very different ways.

When it comes to traditional censorship issues like horror, violence, drug use, scenes of an adult nature, profanity etc… you can be as intense or as subtle as you would normally choose to be. Official censorship of these sorts of things in literature ended in Britain with the “Lady Chatterley” trial in 1960 and, of course, the US has the first amendment too.

If you don’t believe me, then read “Crash” by J. G. Ballard (1973) or “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson (1971). The toned-down 1990s film adaptations of these 1970s novels still have an “18 certificate” to this day (and the adaptation of “Crash” was even banned from some cinemas in London) – so, the 1970s certainly wasn’t a prudish or censorious decade with regard to literature.

However, “historically inaccurate” as it may be, it is a very good idea to apply modern standards to topics like discrimination, prejudice etc.. when writing new 1970s-style stories. This is because your modern 70s-style stories are still modern stories and will be judged by modern standards by a modern audience.

So, if you’re just writing a 1970s style story, it is best to leave 1970s-style attitudes out of it altogether. If you’re writing a historical story set in the 1970s, then the generally accepted rule seems to be that, whilst 1970s-style attitudes can be described/shown, they must be presented in a critical way (and, usually, shouldn’t be held by the main character). Likewise, whilst you can critically show dated attitudes, avoid using dated language (eg: insults etc…) wherever possible.

3) Technology: Yes, technology was less advanced during the 1970s. However, if you actually read stories from the 1970s, this is barely mentioned at all. After all, why would it be? I mean, most modern stories don’t include characters bemoaning the lack of futuristic holograms, cyborgs, flying cars etc….

So, when telling a 1970s-style story, just be a little bit subtle or understated about the technology. Just treat 1970s technology in the same “ordinary”, understated way that we often tend to think about modern technology.

After all, a lot of the underlying elements haven’t changed that much – I mean, a newspaper and a news site do basically the same thing. A landline phone and a smartphone both allow for phone calls. Cars fulfil the same role today as they did during the 1970s. The military, some police officers, hunters/farmers, violent criminals etc… still use guns (which haven’t really changed mechanically in decades). A vinyl record and a MP3 file both contain recorded music. A document can be typed on a typewriter or a computer. People still drink in pubs/bars etc..

Yes, you might have to make the occasional substitution, but it isn’t as difficult as you might think. For example, if a character hears an important piece of breaking news then just show them hearing it on the radio or the television (or have another character tell them the news), rather than showing them seeing it on the internet. I’m sure you get the idea.

Not only that, the technological limitations of the past can actually result in better stories. For example, detective stories where detectives have to rely on clever questioning and Sherlock Holmes-like deductive reasoning rather than just using modern forensic technology. Or thriller stories that are more suspenseful because the main character can’t just call for backup on their mobile phone etc….

———–

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (24th November 2018)

Woo hoo! Here’s the fourth comic in “Damania Revisited”, a mini series of modern remakes of some of my really ancient “Damania” comics from 2012/13.

Although writer’s block was the main reason for making remakes rather than new comics, I’ve been meaning to make a mini series like this since 2016 (in fact, my revival of the series in that year was originally planned to start with a series of remakes). Still, if you want to catch up on more recent comics featuring these characters, all of the comics made since 2015 can be found here. You can also catch up with comics from this mini series here: Comic One, Comic Two, Comic Three,

Today’s comic is a remake of “Damania – Trolls” from 2012. And, yes, Roz used to be a fan of MMORPGs in the earlier years of the comic and Derek also used to be a much more generic character too (but I’ve tried to include hints of his current character in the remake). This comic update also gave me another chance to draw a couple of “classic” background locations that I seem to have pretty much forgotten after I revived this comic series in 2015/16.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Revisited – Trolls (II)” By C. A. Brown