Three Reasons Why It’s Important To Be “Well Read” (In Written Or Visual Media) If You Are An Artist, Writer etc…

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Back when I used to see myself as mostly being a writer, I read a lot more fiction than I do now.

I’d buy more books than I could ever read from charity shops/second-hand bookshops and I’d usually have a horror novel, a detective novel, a thriller novel or a sci-fi novel on the go at any given time.

But, when I started to focus a lot more on making art and (occasionally) comics, I found that I did pretty much the same thing… but with visual media instead.

Instead of reading novels regularly, I often have a second-hand DVD of a TV series on the go at any given time. I also watch Youtube more, play even more computer games and binge-read any interesting webcomics I find.

For quite a while, I worried that all of this meant that I was becoming less “sophisticated”. But, then, I realised that I was merely trying to be “well-read” in visual media. It was pretty much exactly the same thing as I used to do when I wrote fiction a lot more often. Just with pictures instead of words.

But, why is being “well-read” (whether in visual media or written media), so important?

1) It gives you more understanding: One of the cool things about being “well read” in your chosen medium is that it enables you to see things like inspirations and allusions a lot more clearly. If you have a good background knowledge, then you can work out what inspired your favourite writers, artists, comic-makers, game developers etc…

For example, although it might be a while until I review it, I started playing an indie computer game called “Technobabylon” a couple of days before I wrote this article. When I first heard of this game, the cyberpunk screenshots on the shop website intrigued me and I thought “This looks a bit like “Blade Runner“. When it goes on special offer, I’m getting a copy!

Of course, in the time between first hearing about the game and eventually buying it, I had seen and played a few other things in the cyberpunk genre.

So, when I started playing it, I thought more complex things like: “Although the visual style of the game has some influence from “Blade Runner”, it’s a lot more like the “Ghost In The Shell” anime films/TV series (which were, in turn, inspired by “Blade Runner”).”

Here’s a comparison to show you what I mean:

This is a screenshot from "Technobabylon" (2015). Although the background is reminiscent of "Blade Runner", it has a much stronger influence from the "Ghost In The Shell" anime franchise.

This is a screenshot from “Technobabylon” (2015). Although the background is reminiscent of “Blade Runner”, it has a much stronger influence from the “Ghost In The Shell” anime franchise.

This is a screenshot from "Ghost In The Shell: S.A.C 2nd Gig" (2004/5). As you can see, the cityscape looks a lot more like the one in the screenshot above than...

This is a screenshot from “Ghost In The Shell: S.A.C 2nd Gig” (2004/5). As you can see, the cityscape looks a lot more like the one in the screenshot above than…

-... This screenshot from "Blade Runner" (1982, remastered in 2007), which also contains a dense cityscape, albeit a lot less 'clean', 'bright' and ''neat' than in the other two things that it inspired.

-… This screenshot from “Blade Runner” (1982, remastered in 2007), which also contains a dense cityscape, albeit a lot less ‘clean’, ‘bright’ and ”neat’ than in the other two things that it inspired.

Even if you don’t ever plan to write reviews, then being “well-read” can help you to see how inspiration works. It can give the things that inspire you a lot more depth.

It can also show you what is popular within a particular genre and, more importantly, why it is popular (which is something you’ll probably only truly learn when you see popular tropes etc.. being used in different ways by different people).

2) It teaches you a lot : Although you can learn a lot about the theory of writing or the theory of making art from things like reading tutorials, taking lessons etc… One of the best learning tools for art or writing (apart from regular practice, of course!) is actually seeing examples of it done well.

If you read a well-written novel in your favourite genre or see a few cool-looking images, then you’re probably going to wonder how they manage to be so great. This might prompt you to work out what elements (eg: narrative style, description style, colour combinations, artistic techniques etc..) make these things so interesting. And, once you’ve worked this out, you can then use those elements in new ways in your own creative works.

Likewise, getting a good sense of what does and doesn’t “work” in stories, paintings, comics etc… is something that you’ll only really pick up after you’ve seen numerous examples of the things in question. The same is true for a lot of more subtle skills, like working out how many panels to include in a webcomic update, how to arrange them etc…

3) It keeps your work original: First of all, there’s no such thing as a “100% original” story, comic, painting etc… Whether it is conscious or not, every creative work is inspired by something else. If you’re unsure about the difference between reasonable inspiration and actual copying, then check out this article.

But, although there’s no such thing as “true” originality, originality still exists. However, the only way to produce work that people consider to be “original” is to have as many influences as you can. The more things you are inspired by, the less your creative works will look like or read like any one thing.

This also applies to things like finding your own narrative style or art style. It’s ok to copy other styles when you’re learning but, the more styles that you copy at the same, the more different your style will look like. It will look or sound more original for the simple reason that it’s a mixture of different things, rather than just one thing.

For example, here’s one of my cyberpunk paintings:

"Antique Shop" By C. A. Brown

“Antique Shop” By C. A. Brown

First of all, if you read the early part of this article, you can probably guess two of the largest influences on the content of this picture. But, the focus on 1990s technology was also inspired by an episode of “Cowboy Bebop” (where the characters have to find a Betamax VCR) as well as my general fascination with the 1990s.

The actual drawing style that I used has had many inspirations over the years, including “Pepper Ann“, “Pokemon“, “South Park“, various old comics from the 1950s-90s, Frank Kozik’s booklet art for The Offspring’s “Americana” album etc… This is a style that has been evolving for most of my life (although I put much more effort into it within the past five years), so it has a lot of influences.

The composition of the painting (eg: placing large inanimate objects in the close foreground, like the shop window in my painting) was inspired by the compositions used in old 1990s “Point and click” computer games. The colour scheme I used in this painting was mostly inspired by a really cool set of fan-made “Doom II” levels called “Ancient Aliens“.

The high-contrast lighting and high-contrast colours in this painting were inspired by things like heavy metal T-shirts, Derek Riggs’ album art for Iron Maiden, numerous 1990s computer games, “Blade Runner” (again!), “Ghost In The Shell” (again!), the cover art for old splatterpunk horror novels, old VHS cover art I’ve seen on the internet etc…

So, yes, if you want to keep your work original, then try to read, watch, play etc… as many things as you can. The more things that inspire you, the more original your work will be.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Basic Ways To Downgrade Your Webcomic (To Stay Inspired)

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Although the webcomic mini series I’m posting here at the moment has fairly detailed art and a slightly elaborate storyline, the next mini series will experience something of a downgrade when it appears here in early September. Here’s a preview:

The full comic update will appear here on the 4th September. As you can see, it looks and reads more like one of my "old" comics from 2016.

The full comic update will appear here on the 4th September. As you can see, it looks and reads more like one of my “old” comics from 2016.

Why? Well, it was mostly because, when I was preparing August’s daily art posts, I was extremely reluctant to make comics. After all of the effort I’d put into the mini series that’s being posted here at the moment, making comics started to seem like an arduous, time-consuming thing. It was only when I noticed that I hadn’t included a single comic in any of August’s art posts that I realised that I was in danger of succumbing to comics burnout (like I did for pretty much all of 2014). So, drastic action had to be taken.

In other words, I began to make a fairly heavily downgraded short mini series for September, as a way to ease myself back into making comics. But, how can you downgrade your webcomic if you need to stay inspired, if you have less time, if you have less enthusiasm etc…

1) Comic type: There are two types of webcomics – webcomics that tell continuous stories and webcomics where each comic update is self-contained. Both of these comic types have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to ease of writing.

Different people find different types of comics easier to make. So, if you want to downgrade your comic, then just choose the type that you find easiest. Interestingly, this can work both ways- I switched to “continuous story” comics for the comics I posted earlier this year because I felt that it was easier than having to think of new ideas for each comic.

However, after a while, coming up with suitably interesting plot ideas became more difficult. So, during my recent downgrade, I switched back to self-contained comics. So, yes, it can be something of a cyclical process.

2) Art downgrade: The easiest way to save time and energy if you need to downgrade your webcomic is to simplify the art slightly. There are literally loads of ways to do this.

For example, you can switch from colour artwork to black & white artwork. Yes, knowing how to make good black & white artwork is a skill that has to be learnt but, if you know how to do this, then you can save a surprising amount of time.

Or, you can do what I’ve done in my upcoming mini series and simply reduce the level of background detail in each comic. Whilst most of the comics I’ve posted here this year tend to feature detailed outdoor background locations, the next mini series will go back to mostly featuring simple interior locations. This means that, for most of the backgrounds, I often just have to draw a single wall or two – rather than, say, an elaborate cityscape.

This allows me to keep the overall “look” of the comic, and the writing within it, at a reasonably good level whilst also saving me a large amount of time. In addition to this, I had a lot of practice with using simplified backgrounds during 2016, so it was a way to recapture some of the “spontaneity” that I used to feel when making those old comics.

3) Know what to downgrade: Have you noticed how I’ve only really talked about downgrading the art in your comics or changing the format you use? Well, this is because there’s one thing that you should never downgrade. I am, of course, talking about the writing in your comic. Don’t downgrade the writing!

I’ve probably mentioned this a few times before, but the writing is the most important part of a webcomic. Even if the art looks simplistic, a webcomic can still be interesting, compelling or funny if the writing is good enough.

So, don’t downgrade the writing!

4) Time and length: One ‘downgrade’ that I applied to my webcomics before I even made them was to release them in short 6-17 comic mini series. Whilst this is fairly unusual for a webcomic, it was a decision that I made because I’ve learnt from experience that there are limits to how long I can focus on a single comic for.

Likewise, one subtle form of downgrading that I’ve used in order to stay inspired whilst making webcomics over the past year or two is to vary the lengths of the mini series. If I’m not feeling hugely inspired, then I might only make a six-comic mini series. If the art was particularly detailed, or the story required a lot of planning, then I might limit myself to just eight comics.

In fact, this was probably why I had so many problems after I finished the mini series that is being posted here at the moment. Due to it’s artistic complexity, it should have been a 6-8 comic mini series. But, since I was having so much fun making it – even if it was a bit of a challenge – I overstretched and made twelve comics.

So, yes, don’t be afraid to do things like releasing comics slightly less often or reducing the length of your comics, if it keeps you inspired.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Leaving Room To Imagine – A Ramble

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Although this is an article about creativity in general, I’m probably going to have to start by talking about computer games for a while. This is mainly because, as regular readers of this site know, I mostly play old games and/or low-budget indie games these days.

Anyway, one of the interesting things about old and low-budget games is the fact that they often don’t include “realistic” graphics. Likewise, really old-school/low-budget games sometimes don’t even include voice acting – choosing instead to use text for the dialogue. Here are some examples of the types of games I’m talking about:

This is a screenshot from "The Last Door: Season 2" (2016).

This is a screenshot from “The Last Door: Season 2” (2016). Note the use of text-based dialogue and the impressionistic graphics.

This is a screenshot from "Zombie Shooter" (2007)

This is a screenshot from “Zombie Shooter” (2007). Note the “unrealistic” graphics.

This is a screenshot from "Eradicator" (1996). Surprisingly, it is the only game of these three that actually includes voice-acting.

This is a screenshot from “Eradicator” (1996). Surprisingly, it is the only game of these three that actually includes voice-acting.

Yet, surprisingly, these games are often a lot more engrossing than more “realistic” games would be. For the most part, this is because these games don’t try to look ultra-realistic. In fact, they often leave a lot of visual details purposely or accidentally vague.

This, of course, means that not only does the player focus more on the events of the game than on the graphics, but it means that the player also has to actually use their imagination to work out what the locations are supposed to look like. These games give the player enough visual details to give them an idea of what the setting is meant to be, but it is left up to them to fill in the fine details with their own imaginations.

Likewise, the lack of voice-acting in some of these games means that it is left to the player to work out what the characters’ voices sound like. Like with reading a novel or a comic, the audience’s imaginations are probably going to come up with better voice acting than most voice-actors could probably do. After all, your own imagination is better at coming up with things that are well-suited to you than anyone else is.

In fact, comics are probably another good example of this sort of thing.

The artwork in many comics is deliberately unrealistic (for both time reasons and creative reasons). They don’t include voice-acting either. Likewise, they only show still “frames” from a movie-like series of events. And, yet, a good comic can often be more immersive and interesting than a film for the simple reason that the audience is left to imagine things like the fine details of the world, the sound of the characters’ voices etc… And, well, imagination is usually better than expensive special effects or A-list actors.

The best way to see how important leaving room for the audience to imagine things is to start by watching a film adaptation of a novel you haven’t read. Then read the original novel. I can almost guarantee that you’ll probably imagine the characters, voices, locations and events of the novel in a pretty similar way to how they looked in the film.

Now try the same thing in reverse. Read a popular novel that you enjoy, then watch the film adaptation of it (that you’ve never seen before). Chances are, the film will look at least slightly different to what you imagined when you were reading the novel. In fact, there are actually a few film adaptations that I absolutely refuse to watch, lest they ruin my imagined ideas about what the characters and/or settings of several novels look like.

So, what was the point of all of this? Well, the point is that – if you are creating something – then you need to leave room for your audience to use their imaginations. You need to give them the space to come up with their own custom interpretation of the story you are telling.

In other words, you don’t have to make the art in your comics hyper-detailed, you shouldn’t worry if your fiction never gets adapted into a film etc… The more room that your audience has to imagine things, the better.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Things To Do When You Predict The Future Incorrectly In A Webcomic

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One of the oldest pieces of advice about making webcomics is to have a large buffer of comic updates prepared in advance. This is extremely good advice, but it can cause problems if your webcomic features occasional political commentary or occasional political satire.

After all, if you’re making your comic updates weeks or months in advance, then you’ll have to predict the future. And, if 2016 was anything to go by, the future can be an astonishingly unpredictable thing.

So, what can you do if you get the future wrong in your webcomic (before it’s actually posted online)?

1) Scrap or replace the comic: If your incorrect past prediction about the future is the kind of thing that is likely to cause controversy (or worse), then it’s usually best to either not post the comic or, even better, to post something else instead. This doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, and it can even be a quick filler comic, but it’s better than posting nothing.

For example, early last year, there was a controversy in Britain about the press. During the middle of the controversy, I had prepared a comic about it. However, the events in question went in a very different direction to the one I had expected. By the time that the comic was ready to be released, I realised that it would not only be out-of-date but could also be a bit too contentious too.

So, using digital editing, I took parts of the artwork from the original comic and – with some careful rewriting and manipulation- was able to turn it into a totally non-topical and uncontroversial comic about newspaper horoscopes instead:

"Damania Revived - Horoscope" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revived – Horoscope” By C. A. Brown



2) Filters and notes:
One of the easiest, and more interesting, ways to deal with an incorrect prediction is simply to post the comic but to point out that it is out of date.

One easy way to do this is to use an image editing program to turn the comic greyscale (eg: just lower the colour saturation levels to zero), or add a sepia filter to the comic.

This instantly makes the comic look “old”, so it is less likely to confuse your audience. If your incorrect prediction was an optimistic one, then it also adds a sombre tone to the comic too.

For example, I did this with a comic that expressed optimism about Hillary Clinton’s chances in the 2016 US election. The original version of this comic was posted on DeviantART before the US election, but (due to scheduling reasons) the comic wasn’t scheduled to appear here until after the election. It was out of date, and depressingly poignant, so I ended up adding a sepia filter and a small note to the version that was posted here:

"Damania Regrown - Back In Time (alternate history version)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regrown – Back In Time (alternate history version)” By C. A. Brown

As you can see from this example, it can sometimes also be worth adding a small note to the comic itself in order to explain to your readers why your comic seems to be slightly out of step with the present day.

3) Alternate history: If your incorrect prediction forms a large part of the webcomic updates that you’ve already prepared for the future (eg: if it has knock-on effects on the rest of the story etc..), then it may be worth taking the bold step of declaring that your webcomic takes place in an alternate timeline.

Yes, this is normally the preserve of science fiction, but it can even work with “serious” politics too. For example, most of the US TV show “The West Wing” aired when George W. Bush was in office. Yet, the fictional president in this series is from the opposite party to Bush. It still took itself seriously as a political drama, and there were no sci-fi elements (which is a shame, because a “West Wing”/”X-Files” cross over would be awesome!). But, the events of the story basically take place in a parallel universe where the 2000 US election went differently.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Ways To Do Surrealism Well (That I Learnt From A 1990s TV Show)

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As regular readers of this site probably know, I’ve been watching an old American TV show from the 1990s called “Twin Peaks” on DVD recently (I haven’t seen any of the new episodes though). This series has something of a reputation for being slightly on the stranger side of things, although it isn’t really as ludicrously surreal as I’d expected it to be.

Still, it does provide some interesting lessons in how to do surrealism well. But, before I begin the list, I should point out that this article may contain some mild plot SPOILERS. That said, let’s begin…

1) You still need a story: For all of the strange stuff that happens in “Twin Peaks”, there’s still an actual storyline that you can follow. Yes, there are lots of twists and turns, but the series actually has a proper plot that – mostly – makes sense. Even the stranger parts of the series often end up having some kind of explanation later in the series.

In other words, for all of the strangeness, there is still a coherent narrative. There is still something that the audience can understand and, as such, they are more willing to overlook the parts of the story that they can’t understand.

In other words, you need to find a good balance between traditional storytelling and strange surrealism.

2) Different logic: For all of the strange things in the show, there is often some kind of logic behind them. As an example, one of the show’s most famous characters is the Log Lady. She’s a slightly strange woman who carries a small log with her wherever she goes. She’ll also talk to the log sometimes and claim that she receives messages from it.

The Log Lady from "Twin Peaks"

The Log Lady from “Twin Peaks” (1990)

Although she could easily just be a “strange for the sake of strange” character, the series contains some mysterious paranormal elements. So, the Log Lady’s initial explanation that the log contains the spirit of her deceased husband makes slightly more sense when you’ve seen more of the series. Of course, given that the one of the main themes in the TV show is mourning and/or grief, it’s also possible that her obsession with the log is merely a psychological reaction of some kind to her husband’s death.

Even though this is left slightly ambiguous, the fact that there is at least one “logical” (in the context of the story) explanation for this “strange” part of the show helps to avoid breaking the audience’s immersion in the story.

3) The ordinary: For all of “Twin Peaks’ ” strangeness, most of the unusual parts of the series are at least vaguely related to ordinary life.

Sometimes, this can take the form of a character owning an unusual (but available) object – for example, one character is seen eating a piece of smoked cheese that has been sculpted to look like a pig. It’s strange, but it’s also the kind of thing that can probably be bought from gift shops in areas where smoked cheese is made.

Sometimes, this can just be ordinary things that are subtly out of place. For example, the pilot episode of “Twin Peaks” includes a scene set in a rural American bank. This is the kind of place where you might possibly expect to see a hunting trophy in the lobby. A stag’s head wouldn’t look totally out of place here. Yet, merely by placing it somewhere slightly unusual, the show is able to add a touch of surrealism to what would otherwise be an “ordinary” dialogue-based scene:

As you can see in this scene from "Twin Peaks", the placement of a "normal" item in a slightly unusual location can instantly add a surreal atmosphere to a story, comic,. TV show, painting etc...

As you can see in this scene from “Twin Peaks”, the placement of a “normal” item in a slightly unusual location can instantly add a surreal atmosphere to a story, comic,. TV show, painting etc…

4) Comedy and horror: The surreal parts of “Twin Peaks” that aren’t fully explained are often still surprisingly interesting for the simple reason that they’re designed to either frighten the audience or make them laugh. Or both.

Since these parts of the show are designed to evoke strong emotions, they are more likely to bypass the more “logical” parts of the audience’s minds. Since these scenes are clearly designed purely for comedic and/or horrific effect, then they are less likely to break the audience’s suspension of disbelief too. After all, “it’s meant to be funny” or “it’s meant to be scary” can often be a logical explanation for otherwise illogical things.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Ways To Make Something That Is ‘So Bad That It’s Good’

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I’ve probably talked about things that are ‘so bad that they’re good’ before, but I was reminded of this subject the night before I wrote this article. This was mainly because I started watching an anime series called ‘Tokko‘ about a police officer who has to face hordes of demonic creatures.

It might be because I accidentally left the default dubbed audio track on or because I had slightly different expectations about the series, but it fell into the ‘so bad that it’s good’ category. Far from being a serious horror series, it is (both unintentionally and intentionally) one of the funniest comedies that I’ve seen recently.

The police officer and his best friend look like what people in the very late 1990s/early 2000s considered to be “cool”. Personality wise, they are basically two American frat boys/slackers. The cheesy dubbed dialogue tries to be ‘edgy’ at every opportunity, and often comes across as being eye-rollingly immature. The “scary” monsters either look adorable and/or hilarious. The animation can be a bit clunky and the fight scenes are ludicrously gruesome (in a silly over-the-top way, rather than in a genuinely disturbing way). Yet, surprisingly, I really enjoyed the episodes I’ve seen so far. As I said, it’s literally so bad that it’s good.

So, how can you make things that are so bad that they’re good? Here are three of the many ways:

1) Awesome idea, terrible implementation: One of the best ways to make something ‘so bad that it’s good’ is to try to stretch yourself far beyond your abilities. To have the ambition of creating something awesome, but without the resources or knowledge to really do it properly.

There something endearing about someone trying to create something great, even when they can’t. There’s something warmly amusing about, say, a low-budget DVD whose cover art promises an epic story that both you and the people making the DVD know won’t be delivered.

Most people’s first attempts at making a webcomic automatically fall into this category too ( in fact, making it through this ‘crappy’ early phase is something of a test for webcomic creators), because they’re both highly inexperienced and yet highly inspired by other webcomics that they’ve seen.

These things are “so bad that they’re good” because they’re more ‘real’. They’re literally the polar opposite of flashy Hollywood movies, slick mainstream comics etc.. They show people trying to create things because they want to and because they believe in what they’re doing, rather than because they want to make millions.

2) Hyper modernity: If you make something that is very much of the time that it’s made then, years later, it will look amusingly dated. This is especially true if you are trying to use an old idea for inspiration, which can often result in something appearing slightly dated when it is originally released.

This is also especially true if you try to make ‘modern’ science fiction. A great example of this would probably be a ‘so bad that it’s good’ spy/thriller/sci-fi/comedy TV series from the mid-late 1990s called “Bugs“. At the time, it was probably a lot more “cool” and “futuristic”. But, these days, it’s joyously hilarious to see all of the characters using ‘gadgets’ and surfing the internet with 56k modems and computers that still have CRT monitors.

So, if you make something very ‘modern’, then there’s a good chance that it will become ‘so bad that it’s good’ in a few years’ time.

3) Earnestness: Creative works that try to be hyper-earnest about politics, or go to ridiculous lengths to show off how “liberal” or “conservative” they are, can often fall into the ‘so bad that it’s good category’.

This is basically because the extremely prominent and earnest politics end up distracting the audience from the actual story and completely wrecking their suspension of disbelief. This will reduce even the most serious story to unintentional comedy within minutes.

I would describe modern examples of this sort of thing. But, ironically, in our highly-politicised age, I’d probably end up infuriating a lot of people if I gave cynical descriptions of these things. Still, the modern trend for hyper-earnest politics (on both sides of the political spectrum) will at least ensure that we’ll never run out of ‘so bad that it’s good’ things in the near future.

But, if you earnestly try to shoehorn politics into the things you make, then they’ll probably turn into unintentional comedy fairly quickly.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Random Thoughts About “Unfiltered” Creativity – A Ramble

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A while before I wrote this article, I was watching the special features on the UK DVD edition of season one of “Twin Peaks”. During an interview with someone who worked on the series, a description of the series’ writer/director (David Lynch) really stuck in my mind. The description was about how Lynch didn’t really have a “filter” when expressing himself.

Initially, this reminded me of one of the problems that I’ve noticed since I started posting art, comics etc.. online. Namely that I slowly seem to have developed one of these filters. As regular readers of this blog know, despite being anti-censorship, I often tend to self-censor quite a bit for all sorts of reasons.

But, despite the fact that virtually everything I produce is (to use an American phrase) a lot more “PG-13” than it used to be in the late 2000s/early 2010s, I don’t feel as uninspired as I perhaps should.

Some of this is probably due to my changing attitudes towards telling “serious” stories (in short, “depressing for the sake of depressing” doesn’t really appeal to me as much as it used to). Likewise, the limitations of things like website content policies can sometimes make me think more creatively too. Plus, of course, it has taught me the power of subtle suggestion, implication and more ambiguous visual storytelling.

So, having one of those “filters” doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative -even if it does somewhat reduce the range of creativity available to you.

But, I also miss the days when artists, writers and film-makers were almost expected to be “unfiltered”.

I mean, take the movie “Blade Runner” for example. It is a visual masterpiece. It’s a philosophical treatise on humanity, the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. It’s a morally-ambiguous film that will probably make you sympathise more with the ‘villain’ than the ‘hero’. It’s a film where the characters are both superficial and extremely deep at the same time. It’s a film which will reward you with something new every time you watch it. It’s a film that has inspired many other people and will probably inspire you if you’re an artist or a writer. It is, quite simply one of the best films – if not the best – ever made.

And, yet, by modern standards, it would probably fall foul of the “filter” mentioned at the beginning of this article for a huge variety of subtle reasons.

In a way, I think that the modern expectation for things to be more ‘filtered’ ignores why people watch films, read fiction, play games etc.. It’s for escapism from ‘ordinary life’. It’s to live other lives vicariously. It’s a safe outlet for our more ‘primitive’ instincts. It’s to make ourselves feel a particular emotion (eg: laughter, fear etc..).

It’s to explore all manner of fascinating places without even leaving home. It’s either to make ourselves think or to give ourselves a break from thinking. It’s to learn more about the parts of ourselves (and humanity in general) that the mainstream doesn’t teach us about. It’s to experience life ‘turned up to eleven’. It’s to add new places to the vast worlds of our imaginations.

Usually, these kinds of things are emotionally-intense in pleasant or unpleasant ways. This, of course, goes against the whole idea of a ‘filter’. The idea that everything should be completely bland and inoffensive. The idea that everything should be suitable for everyone, because modern people supposedly don’t have the intelligence to discern whether something is really their sort of thing or not (and to ignore it if it isn’t).

In short, the best creative works often need to be “unfiltered” to some level or another. They need to be free to evoke strong emotions. They need to be free to let us explore ideas, situations etc.. that we may never encounter in everyday life. Creative works need to be able to shock, to amuse, to horrify, to provoke thought etc…

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂