Today’s Art (6th June 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the sixth comic in “Damania Revelry”, a new webcomic mini series which is also a partial remake of an old story arc from 2013 (if you don’t mind my crappy old artwork, the original story arc can be read here, here and here ).

Links to many more recent comics can also be found on this page.

I’ve used a bit of artistic licence, but anyone who has ever been to a music festival will probably know how grim the bogs can be.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Revlery – Bogs” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (1st June 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the first comic in “Damania Revelry”, a new webcomic mini series which is also a partial remake of an old story arc from 2013 (if you don’t mind my crappy old artwork, the original story arc can be read here, here and here ).

Links to many more recent comics can also be found on this page.

And, yes, here’s an informative cartoon about why old phones are better than new ones. Likewise, part of the last panel is a reference to this hilarious “game over” scene from the interactive story I wrote for Halloween 2015.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Revelry- Festival Queue” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (29th May 2017)

Well, I wasn’t feeling as inspired as I hoped when I made this digitally-edited sci-fi painting, but I was probably more inspired than I was a couple of days ago.

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

"9:34 PM" By C. A. Brown

“9:34 PM” By C. A. Brown

Editorial: Manchester

A little earlier this morning, I looked at a news site and found myself face to face with a shocking account of the kind of events that seem like they belong in a much worse part of the past, rather than the present day. The worst terror attack on British soil since 2005. An attack on a concert hall in Manchester. For a while, I was completely lost for words. But then I felt that I had to say something.

Although I’ve only ever been to Manchester maybe once or twice and have never seen a concert there, I’ve been to concerts in other parts of the UK during my mid-late teens and early twenties. Concerts are wonderful things. They’re a space of pure excitement, fun and joy.

They’re somewhere where you can lose yourself in music and daydreams for an hour or two. They’re the kind of intense experience where you sing along until your throat is hoarse and listen until your ears ring. They’re somewhere where the songs that you listen to in the background during everyday life literally come to life in a way that is difficult to describe unless you’ve experienced it.

Concerts are concerts. Most people who have been to concerts by their favourite bands will probably have a similar joyous story to tell. Concerts are the kind of places where, even if you’re normally shy around crowds, it doesn’t matter because everyone around you is enjoying the music too and has something in common with you.

There is nothing else quite like a concert. They’re truly brilliant things. So, the idea that anyone would want to destroy or attack them is almost unimaginably horrific. The idea that anyone’s soul or personality could be so evil and twisted to see a place that exists purely for the purposes of bringing some joy and happiness into this drearily miserable world and then decide that they want to destroy it almost seems impossible to comprehend.

As well as being a disgustingly barbaric attack on innocent people (including children!), this latest atrocity (like the Bataclan attack in France) is also a disturbing attack on everything that concerts represent. Joy. Community. Happiness. Fun. Enthusiasm. Friendship. Imagination. Creativity.

Regardless of who the murderer turns out to be or what ideology he followed, one thing is certain. He hated these things. He saw somewhere where people went to have fun and feel happy and it disgusted him so much that he wanted to replace it with pain, fear, misery and death.

So, the only thing to do in this situation is not to let him win. To defy him. Even if you don’t feel like going to a concert or can’t go to a concert, get your favourite CD or click on your favourite playlist and turn the volume up as loud as you can – and make this vile murderer spin in his grave! Show him the utter contempt and disgust that he deserves!

Because, as shocking and horrific as the events of yesterday evening were, we can either cower in fear or we can stand up against the terrifying idea that there should be no place for joy, fun, happiness or creativity in the world. And, if there’s anything that the world needs at the moment, it is these things!

[Edit: 1:24pm, I’ve just made a very slight change to the phrasing of one part of this article since, in my haste, I got an expression slightly wrong. Still, the sentiment remains the same.]

The Joy Of… New Nostalgia

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As regular readers probably know, I write most of these articles quite far in advance of publication. Anyway, the night before I originally wrote this one, I watched the first episode of “Red Dwarf XI” and was absolutely astonished by it. This is a sitcom that has been going since the late 1980s (although I only started watching it on VHS and DVD in the early-mid 2000s)… and they’re still making genuinely funny new episodes of it!

But this is hardly the first “old” thing that I remember discovering when I was a teenager or when I was even younger, that is still going in some way or another. In fact, I’d originally written something approaching a full-length article about my history of being a fan of Red Dwarf, Iron Maiden, The Offspring, Blade Runner, the “Doom” games, Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes etc.. before deleting it because I realised that it probably distracted from the points that I’m going to make in this article.

There’s something amazing about things that are “old” and yet “new” at the same time. These are all things that are kept alive by both their creators and their fans.

For example, there’s a new “Doom” game (which is too modern to run on my computer 😦 ) and there’s going to be a “Blade Runner” sequel. Yet, the old versions of both things were and are still going strong because of fan-made content. Whether it’s the fact that there are still thousands of people making new levels for the old “Doom” games or the fact that “Blade Runner” has inspired so many other things in the sci-fi genre (including a lot of my own sci-fi art, comics etc…) for literally decades after it was released, both things were kept alive by their fans as much as, or more, than by their creators.

But, yet, none of the TV shows, films, bands, games etc… I’ve mentioned in this article really pander to their fans in any huge way. Sure, they’ve kept the best bits of their older incarnations, but they aren’t afraid to try subtly different new things. I mean, an Iron Maiden album from the 1980s and an Offspring album from the 1990s sound both similar and different from anything that these two bands have released in 2012-16.

They aren’t like a lot of much more “popular” things, which often seem to be defined and designed as much by things like marketing data as they are by actual people. They often don’t have planned obsolescence built into them (eg: like superhero movie/comic reboots, games that move to the latest consoles etc..) to ensure that the latest version is the “coolest” thing. The latest version is just another version, often no better or worse than the outstandingly brilliant older versions.

In other words, they actually seem like they were (and are!) things that are created by people, rather than focus groups and marketing departments.

They’re things that have been created by people with a particular sense of humour, a particular set of musical tastes, a particular worldview, a particular attitude towards their creative medium of choice etc… In today’s world, this sort of thing would probably be seen as “uncommercial” . In fact, it was probably seen as uncommercial several decades ago. And yet because of this these things still have the kind of dedicated fans that cash-obssesed marketing departments can only dream of.

They aren’t advertised incessantly and yet they still pick up new fans. I mean, most of the “old” things that I consider to be my favourite bands, games, books, films etc.. certainly weren’t “popular” when I discovered them by serendipity, accident, recommendation or curiosity back when I was a teenager. They were inherently cool, but they weren’t the kinds of things that the “cool kids” were enjoying when I was a teenager.

In fact, many of these things have something better than advertising. They have an imaginative fanbase. They have a fanbase that is so inspired by these things that they will actually make their own things inspired by them.

For example, “Blade Runner” may only be one movie but the number of other films, games, TV shows, songs, comics and artwork (including many of my own paintings and some of my own comics) that have been inspired, influenced by, or make references to this one little film are too numerous to count. And, yet, the film itself isn’t something that is advertised everywhere or directly remade every five years.

Likewise, many of these “new and old” things are things that were created by people who are still learning and experimenting after several decades. They are things that are both very much their own thing and yet are open to new influences and inspirations.

One perfect example of this is probably the band Iron Maiden. They’re a band who have made very few covers of other songs, and yet their own musical style has both changed drastically and remained instantly recognisable over more than three decades. It’s probably been influenced by more things than the band will ever reveal, yet it’s very much it’s own thing. They’ve had three different lead singers and they’ve gone through both “dark and serious” and “light and fantastical” phases, and yet an Iron Maiden album is still very much an Iron Maiden album.

I could probably go on about this for hours, but there’s always something uniquely wonderful about finding something that is both old and new at the same time. Something which is both thrillingly new and reassuringly old when you first discover it and twhich later ends up taking up residence in your mind and shaping large parts of your own imagination.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Three Things You Can Learn From Failed Comic Plans

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Well, the afternoon before I originally wrote this article, I’d been planning yet another webcomic mini series for mid-late June. This mini series would have been part of my occasional “Damania” webcomic series (which seems to be the only webcomic series I’m making these days) and it would have been called “Damania Review”.

The idea behind it was that the characters from the series would do humourous “reviews” of various films, games etc… Out of the ten comic updates I’d planned to make, I made the basic plans for about nine of them. The planned comics looked a bit like this rough plan for the sixth or seventh one:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This was the rough plan for a 'Resident Evil' themed update, about how the very first "Resident Evil" game is 'so bad that it's good'

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This was the rough plan for a ‘Resident Evil’ themed update, about how the very first “Resident Evil” game is ‘so bad that it’s good’

Even though I soon realised that this idea wouldn’t “work”, planning this abandoned mini series wasn’t a total waste of time. So, what are some of the things that failed comic plans can teach you?

1) Your humour style: Although the idea of making a mini series that was almost entirely made out of direct parodies of games, films etc.. initially seemed like a good idea, I quickly realised that this is a type of humour that I tend to do best when I only use it occasionally.

In fact, I remembered that I tend to make my best parodies when I try to tell an original story that is a pastiche/parody of an entire genre or sub-genre (probably due to all of the old BBC sitcoms I grew up with, which were forced to do this since UK copyright law didn’t actually contain an American-style exemption for direct parodies until relatively recently – and that was only because the EU told us to make this sensible change).

If your comic plan fails, then there’s a good chance that there was something wrong with the humour (or possibly the narrative, romance and/or horror if you’re making something a bit more serious). In other words, there’s a good chance that the style of humour you’re using in your failed plan is one that isn’t the best one for you.

By looking carefully at the humour in your failed comic plan, you can learn more about which types of humour you are best at writing. Even if you learn which types of jokes don’t work for you, then you’ll at least know a little bit more about your comedy writing style.

2) Comics as a whole: One of the problems with my failed planned mini series was the fact that, although there was a lot of character-based humour in it, the amount of character interaction was fairly low.

In other words, many of the planned comics only contained one of the series’ four main characters – meaning that all of the comedic techniques that can be used with two or more characters couldn’t be used that often in this comic.

By carefully looking at your failed plans as a whole, you can learn a lot of general things about making comics. After all, your plans have failed for a reason. If you can find that reason, then you can learn something new about making comics.

3) Your limits: I had initially thought of this failed mini series as something quick that I could make in a single weekend. After all, I would be making parodies of pre-existing things – what could be easier? That was the theory, at least.

It was only a little while later that I realised that this comic series would mean learning how to draw at least 5-10 celebrities and/or fictional characters. It would mean making numerous practice sketches and looking at numerous reference photos. Not only that, there was a good chance that at least one or two of the celebrities/characters that I would have had to draw would probably be difficult to work out how to draw in my own stylised art style (there’s no rhyme or reason to this, some people are just difficult to draw – I mean, it’s why I barely made any political cartoons when David Cameron was prime minister, because I just couldn’t work out how to draw him).

So, yes, failed comic plans can be a great way to see your own limitations and to either find ways to work around them (by changing your plans) or to find other projects that play to your strengths.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (6th April 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the third episode of “Damania Reverie”, a new webcomic mini series. It has been way too long since Harvey last had a case!
Plus, if any of you were worried about the unusually “light and cheerful” tone of the previous mini series, then the humour in this one will be a lot more cynical (perhaps on par with my “Time Travel trilogy”, that can be read here, here and here). Even more comics can, of course, be found here.

In case you haven’t read the earlier updates (one and two), this comic takes place within one of Harvey’s dreams – which explains why the setting is a strange combination of old Hollywood movies and modern-day Britain.

But, yeah, I remember all of the fuss about “24 hour drinking” when it was introduced quite a few years ago – and, since then, I’ve only seen one bar that was actually open 24 hours a day (and even that eventually just restricted this to weekends, after various people moaned to the council about it).

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Reverie - Mean Streets" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Reverie – Mean Streets” By C. A. Brown