More Random Pages From My Sketchbooks

Yay! More stuff from the vault!

Yay! More stuff from the vault!

Well, since I couldn’t think of a good idea for an article for today – I thought that I’d show you all some cool stuff from my sketchbooks 🙂

If you want to see more stuff from my sketchbooks, then it can be found here.

Anyway, most of this is old stuff from 2013 and it includes a “never seen before” political “Damania” comic which I thought was too controversial to publish at the time (it’s both anti-conservative and anti-liberal) as well as unseen plans for some of the comics that I made last year too.

I’ll also include a couple of more recent pages from my sketchbooks too. Enjoy 🙂

These are some plans for a chapter of my old "Stories" comic from last year.

These are some plans for a chapter of my old “Stories” comic from last year.

Yes, this is a "Damania" comic that I thought was too political (or at least too cynical about politics - at least in the UK)

Yes, this is a “Damania” comic that I thought was too political (or at least too cynical about politics – at least in the UK)

This is both the second page and the plans for the second page of my old "Anachrony II" comic from last year.

This is both the second page and the plans for the second page of my old “Anachrony II” comic from last year.

More old comic planning from 2013. Sorry about the censorship, I'm never quite sure whether I can say "F***" on this site (or show any cleavage) without getting a "Mature Content" rating.

More old comic planning from 2013. Sorry about the censorship, I’m never quite sure whether I can say “F***” on this site (or show any cleavage) without getting a “Mature Content” rating.

This is another page from 2013. Wow! I can't believe that it's been over two years since I made my original "Observation" drawing.

This is another page from 2013. Wow! I can’t believe that it’s been over two years since I made my original “Observation” drawing.

These are some of the preliminary sketches for my "Ed And The Owls" painting from July.

These are some of the preliminary sketches for my “Ed And The Owls” painting from July.

These are some random doodles I made in May this year.

These are some random doodles I made in May this year.

This was a preliminary sketch for the illustrated extract from Poe's "The Raven" that I posted earlier this year.

This was a preliminary sketch for the illustrated extract from Poe’s “The Raven” that I posted earlier this year.

———-

Hopefully, I’ll write a real article for tomorrow, but I hope that this glimpse into my sketchbooks was interesting 🙂

From “Stories” – Pilgrim (comic) [and back cover]

“Pilgrim” is the fourth chapter of the second volume of my “Stories” comic and, like the last chapter, it started out with a brilliant idea but was surprisingly slow to write and didn’t quite turn out as well as I hoped.

——

[Edit: I’ve decided to finish the second volume of “Stories” here, since it seems to be slowly declining in quality and I seem to be running out of enthusiasm for it. So, it seemed best to finish this volume when it was still vaguely ok and move on to other projects rather than adding a couple of filler stories.]

[These will probably be either more “Damania” comics, or random drawings, prose fiction, CRIT” comics or a totally new project of some kind.]

[ Anyway, I’ve made a back cover for this volume of “Stories” and I thought I’d add it to this post]

——
I don’t know, I kind of felt like writing a story about truth and self-expression being the real meaning of life (since all the stories in Volume 2 of “Stories” are about the meaning of life in some way or another) and I soon realised that it couldn’t be anything other than a LGBT-themed story. Well, it could be – but I probably wouldn’t be able to write it with quite the same level of emotional detail.

Although this story started reasonably well, I got writer’s block surprisingly often and it ended up being kind of a predictable and voice-over/emotion/philosophy-based story.

It also ended up being a lot more stylised and optimistic than I originally expected too – but, sod it, I felt like writing a (mostly) happy story for once.

Plus, I couldn’t work out whether it would be a fantasy story or whether it’d be set somewhere more realistic. In the end, I kind of settled for something between these two things – so although the settings look kind of old-fashioned, everyone has modern technology – except for cars, for some strange reason.

Since this chapter and the last one haven’t gone that well, I’m not sure if I’ll do any more or whether I’ll move on to other artistic projects.

(Anyway, as usual, the eight pages of this comic [and the back cover] are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence )

——

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 25

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 26

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 27

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 28

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 29

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 30

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 31

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 32

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Back Cover

From “Stories” – Archive (Comic)

I’m proud to present chapter three of the second volume of my “Stories” comic – ‘Archive’.

This was kind of intended to be a “relaxing” chapter after I produced chapter two in about the space of a single night and was feeling kind of burnt-out creatively the day afterwards. As such, it’s more of an art and philosophy-based chapter than a story-based chapter.

All in all, the first half of this chapter is probably better than the second [well, except for page 21, which I quite like] – both in terms of the writing and the art. I don’t know, for some strange reason, I just started losing enthusiasm for this chapter about halfway through writing/drawing it.

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

(As usual, all eight pages of this chapter are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.)

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 17

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 18

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 19

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 20

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 21

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 22

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 23

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 24

From “Stories” – Spark (Comic)

I am very proud to present the second story from volume two of my “Stories” comic – ‘Spark’.

Since it’s been about a month since I made any “CRIT” comics, I thought it’d be a good idea to write a CRIT-themed story. The storyline I settled on was one based on a vaguely ‘Frankenstein’-like “concept art” drawing I drew in November 2012 called “Never Alive”

I’m seriously astonished at how quickly I was able to write and draw this comic, not to mention the fact that the story quickly went in a slightly different (and much darker) direction than I originally expected it to. Plus, condensing a “CRIT” story into just eight pages wasn’t as difficult as I expected it to be either.

Anyway, as usual, this comic is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence.

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 9

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 10

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 11

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 12

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 13

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 14

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 15

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 16

From “Stories” – Terrain (Comic)

I’m proud to present the first story from volume two of my “Stories” comic – “Terrain”.

This story started when I was watching an episode of “Blade: The Series” and the start of the rhyme on the first page just suddenly appeared in my mind.

At the time, using rhyming narration seemed like a good idea – although it turned out to be more difficult than I expected (and there are at least a couple of rather contrived rhymes). Although, luckily, it still turned out better than my last attempt at using rhyming narration in a comic.

This story turned out quite differently to how I expected – originally, I thought that it’d be a surreal Salvador Dali-esque western comic, but it ended up being kind of different to what I originally expected, since I kind of got writer’s block about halfway through page three.

But, despite all of this, I quite like how this comic turned out.

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

(All eight pages of this comic are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence)

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 1

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 2

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 3

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 4

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 5

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 6

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 7

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Page 8

Introducing “Stories” Volume 2 – ‘Stories And Meanings’ (comic)

Well, I am very proud to introduce the second volume of my “Stories” comic – “Stories and Meanings”. Like the first volume, it’s a collection of short stories in comic/graphic novel form. I’m not really sure what they’ll be like , so it could include a wide range of genres.

As usual, I’ll post the pages on my DeviantART gallery shortly after they’re made and I’ll post completed chapters on here too. If you want to check out the seven six stories [and the cover/introduction] from Volume One – they can be found in the “Stories” category on this blog.

Here’s the cover and introduction (both are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence)

Enjoy 🙂

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Cover

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 2 - Introduction

From “Stories” – Lyrics (Comic)

Well, I am very proud to present the seventh (and last) story in volume one of my “Stories” Comic – “Lyrics”

(Plus the [badly drawn & written] back cover to volume one too)

Originally, the last story in this volume was going to be a story called “Memoriam” which would have focused on the thoughts of someone in the five seconds before an asteroid hit the Earth. But, I didn’t kind of feel in the mood for writing a morbid story about death – so, eventually, I decided to write/draw a 1990s punk themed story instead.

Of course, when I started drawing this, it went in a much more gothic direction. I also realised, a while after finishing the first page, that this probably wouldn’t be a very long story and I could either write something short and dramatic or something a lot longer but kind of boring/padded-out etc… I decided to go for the former of these two options and I am seriously proud of this story.

Along with “Oneiroi” and “Korobeiniki this is probably one of my favourite stories from this volume.

As for the next volume, I’m not sure whether I’ll take a break and do another comics project first or whether I’ll start Vol 2. fairly soon. I don’t know, this volume has been very fun to write, but kind of creatively exhausting in a couple of parts (mainly coming up with new story ideas every 2-4 days).

(As usual, this comic (and the back cover) is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence.)

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 45

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 46

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 47

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Back Cover

From “Stories” – Korobeiniki (Comic)

Well, I am very proud to present the sixth short story in my “Stories” comic – “Korobeiniki”.

To quote from my DeviantArt gallery: “This story is based on an idea I had for a short story in late 2009. Although I tried to write this story back then, I just couldn’t work out what exactly would happen in it (apart from the fact that the main character hears “Korobeiniki” a few times every day).”

In 2011, back when I still thought that “Damania” would be a traditional comic series, I planned to make a comic about this storyline (the unfinished cover art can be found here: [link] ). But, again, I just couldn’t think of where to go with this storyline.

Then, earlier, when I was trying to work out what to write for the next chapter of “Stories” – I noticed a DVD on my desk (“Blade: The Series” – I’ve still got to watch it) and just suddenly thought “Hold on! This would work perfectly as a vampire story! I could write flashback scenes too!”

All in all, I’m fairly proud of how this story turned out, although it ended up being slightly more abrupt than I expected (although this is probably down to the limitations of the 3-10 page limit I set myself for chapters of this comic).

I should probably point out that, since this blog is intended for a more general audience, I’ve made some edits to pages 38 and 44 of this comic to reduce the amount of blood in them.

The uncut version of this comic can be found on my DeviantART page for this comic, although you need an account to view both of these pages.

And, yes, as someone who doesn’t like censorship (and prefers the original version of both edited pages) – I’m aware that this is probably mildly hypocritical. But I tend to have a thing about self-censorship.

Most of this comic is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence, except for page 42 (which is released under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence. Although the Russian folk song lyrics, profanity and name on this page are obviously public domain, I copied them from Wikipedia, which uses this version of the Creative Commons licence.)

Anyway, without any further ado, here’s “Korobeiniki”

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 37

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 38 (Blog Version)

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 39

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 40

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 41

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 42

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 43

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 44 (blog version)

From “Stories”: All Hallows (Comic)

I’m proud to present the fifth short story from my “Stories” comic – “All Hallows”.

Although I quite like how this story turned out, I kind of had writer’s block surprisingly often with it. As such, it kind of has less of a plot/storyline than the previous stories in this comic and the emphasis is more on the dialogue and the art.

Plus, I wasn’t sure exactly what genre this comic would end up being when I started writing it and it ended up including less horror, less romance and more comedy than I initially expected.

Also, using a three-panel format for a couple of the pages allowed me to save time and include more dialogue. But, at the same time, it meant that the story had less “space” to progress than on the six-panel pages.

I still have kind of mixed feelings about the ending to this story. Initially, I didn’t really like it and thought that it was kind of a cop-out ending [since it was the product of tiredness and writer’s block] and it is kind of an ambiguous and abrupt ending.

However, when I thought about it, I suddenly realised that any of the three possible interpretations of the ending could be true.

Yes, even the one in the second panel of the last page [I only realised that I’d unknowingly included a possible clue about this in the other pages of the comic shortly after I wrote that particular line of dialogue. And, then……. )

Anyway, without any further ado, I am proud to present “All Hallows”

[This comic is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence]

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 29

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 30

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 31

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 32

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 33

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 34

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 35

2013 Artwork Stories Volume 1 - Page 36

Genres Are Like Elements – Mix Them!

A concept sketch  for the upcoming chapter of my "Stories" comic. It'll be a horror/comedy/gothic/romance story called "All Hallows".   Anyway, it seemed like a perfect example of combining different genres.

A concept sketch for the upcoming chapter of my “Stories” comic. It’ll be a horror/comedy/gothic/romance story called “All Hallows”.
Anyway, it seemed like a perfect example of combining different genres.

The fact is that every story tends to fit into at least one genre. Yes, even “literary” stories often fall into one genre or another (eg: Margaret Atwood has written dystopic sci-fi stories, A.S. Byatt and Salman Rushdie have written fantasy magical realist stories etc…] and quite a few “genre fiction” stories often have a rather “literary” quality to them [seriously, if you ever want to read some intelligent and poetic 1980s splatterpunk horror fiction, then check out Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood”].

Intentional or unintentional, genre is a fact of creativity – even if you try to create something which doesn’t fit into any particular genre, your readers will probably still insist on assigning it a genre.

I’m not really that good at chemistry – I got a reasonably decent GCSE grade in it, but it was always the most confusing of the three sciences. Like maths, it was one of those annoying compulsory subjects at school which I dropped as quickly as I could when I finished year 11.

Still, chemistry serves as a brilliant metaphor for how you (as a writer and/or artist) should think of the subject of genre.

Everything is made out of elements. These are substances which cannot be broken down into any other substances and consist of only one type of atom. Looking on Wikipedia, 118 of them have been discovered so far – although about 38 of them are unstable and/or radioactive [and all the newly-discovered elements seem to fit into this category]. Everything on the planet consists of various mixtures of these 118 elements (although, obviously, some elements are much more common than other elements).

Just look at yourself and everything around you – it’s all made up of only 118 possible ingredients. All in various intricate combinations.

Anyway, genres are at their best and most useful when you mix them together in interesting ways. You can’t really go wrong with this, although some genres tend to go better with some genres than others. For example: comedy and horror seem to be the perfect genres for mixing with other genres. “Sci-fi” and “Western” often just describe the setting of a story.

In fact, these days, most stories will usually consist of at least two genres (eg: military sci-fi, sci-fi horror, romantic comedy, spy thriller, historical zombie fiction etc…) and there are usually very good reasons for it.

But, whilst it’s surprisingly difficult to invent a new genre (the last new genre seems to have been either cyberpunk, biopunk, steampunk or splatterpunk in the 1980s), it’s surprisingly easy to mix other genres. The trick is (and I really need to follow my own advice about this) to mix them in new and interesting ways [eg: a cyberpunk splatterpunk story]. But, even if you stick to the more well-known genre combinations, then there are still quite a few advantages to mixing genres:

1) It’s less predictable: Every genre has it’s own conventions and cliches which you can end up following without realising it. If you combine genres (the more the merrier…) then this becomes less of an issue and your stories become less predictable. People might still know what kinds of things to expect, but they won’t know exactly how they will be combined.

If your story is less predictable, then both you and your readers will feel curious about it and curiosity is an essential quality of good writing. Plus, if something is unpredictable and surprising, then your readers are more likely to both remember it and talk about it more. They’ll either introduce your story to other readers and/or it’ll inspire them to write a story of their own.

2) It appeals to a wider group of people: If you combine two genres, then you’ll make something that will appeal to fans of both genres. For example, both sci-fi and horror fans often like the “Alien” films. Yes, these days, they’re probably not that scary or that innvoative – but that’s only because they’ve inspired countless other sci-fi and/or horror films in various ways (and I wish I’d been around in 1979 to see it in the cinema for the first time….)

For example: the famous scene with the chestburster in the first “Alien” film is the perfect combination of the best of both the sci-fi and horror genres. It’s something shocking and gruesome which had never been seen before, but it also happened on a spaceship and involved mysterious aliens. The aliens, of course, also doubled up as the main monsters in the film and the isolated spaceship may as well have been a cabin or a mansion in the middle of nowhere. In short, the best parts of the sci-fi and horror genres were combined in “Alien” in a way which makes it impossible to really put it into either genre. As such, it appeals to fans of both genres.

Also, writing things in multiple genres is a way of ensuring that you can appeal to more people without reducing your work to the most mainstream lowest-common-denominator thing than you can. Honestly, don’t go down the “mainstream” route if you can help it.

3) Most people like more than one genre: There are probably very few people on this planet who only like one particular genre of stories. Now, if you find a story which contains all of your favourite genres – then it’s really something! If it’s at least slightly good, then you’ll probably be a massive fan of it.

Well, guess what? If you combine your favourite genres in your stories, then you’ll probably be a massive fan of your own work. And, being a massive fan of your own work is absolutely essential for creativity.

4) You might invent a new genre : It’s unlikely, but if you combine genres in an unusual way, then it might just happen. In short, inventing a genre can be a path to lasting fame and recognition – most of the time anyway.

I mean, technically speaking, Bruce Bethke actually invented the cyberpunk genre – but William Gibson is often incorrectly seen as the founding father of cyberpunk fiction, mainly due to the popularity of “Neuromancer” (it’s a very very very good book, although the ending is slightly confusing).

Still, even if you don’t become famous for inventing a new genre, then your work will still be fairly unique and distinctive. Well… At least until your new genre becomes popular and everyone else starts writing stuff in it….

Even then, you’ll have the smug satisfaction of knowing that all of these other stories couldn’t have existed if you hadn’t invented a new genre. Either way, you still win.

5) It’ll stretch your imagination: Combining genres requires you to be a lot more imaginative than if you just stick to one genre, since you need to read a lot more widely in order to understand the genres which you’re combining. Plus, you have to think of a way to combine two different types of stories into a single story which works on it’s own. In short, it gives your imagination a good workout and it’s a very good way to experiment creatively.

Even if your experiments with combining genres don’t really work that well, then it’s still good practice and it could come in handy later….

—–

Ok, so all of this was probably just stating the obvious and – of course – most writers tend to mix genres in their stories and/or comics anyway. But, even so, I hope that this article was useful.