Letting Your Imagination Assert Itself – A Ramble

Although I’m sure I’ve written about this subject at least once before, I thought that I’d talk about how your art can sometimes end up looking totally different to the original idea/plan that you had before you started making the drawing or painting. This tends to happen most often when you draw or paint from imagination (rather than from life, from photographs etc..) with relatively little pre-planning.

This is when it feels like something else was involved with the painting or drawing you’ve just made. Like how, on the journey from the initial idea to the final painting, something has changed a few details and made several alterations. It can be a really strange experience sometimes.

So, what actually happens here?

Simply put, many of the creative influences/inspirations that you’ve (knowingly or unknowingly) encountered in the past can end up having an effect on the painting in some unexpected way or another – for the simple reason that they’ve shaped your imagination and/or your aesthetic sensibilities (eg: the set of “rules” you believe that good/interesting art should follow).

This is a good thing. After all, one of the best ways to make more distinctive art is to learn how to take inspiration properly and to look for things that fire your imagination. Likewise, the more influences and inspirations you have, the more stuff your imagination has to work with. So, the more likely you are to surprise yourself in interesting ways.

Since our imaginations aren’t computers, influences and inspirations don’t tend to stay separated in neat little folders. They blur and blend together to produce slightly new things. This is the foundation of pretty much all types of creativity. It is also why the more inspirations you have, the more original your creative works will be. After all, originality comes from having a unique mixture of inspirations (since it is literally impossible for anyone to create anything that isn’t inspired by something else in some way or another. Even humanity’s earliest cave paintings were inspired by things that the artists saw in real life.).

What this means is that virtually every idea you have for a piece of art will be filtered through your existing mixture of inspirations at some stage in the creative process, and this is one of the main reasons why your final painting or drawing can look somewhat different from your original idea.

After all, if you’ve seen and studied a lot of cool and interesting things that have made you think “I want to make something like that“, then your imagination is going to remember this. It will have probably devised a set of “rules” that it learnt from all of these things, so it will probably feel more right to follow those rules than it is to ignore them. This is where the “something else” I mentioned earlier comes from.

So, if you’ve been practicing for a while (and the differences aren’t down to a difference in artistic skill), then it’s usually a good thing when your final artwork ends up looking somewhat different to your original idea. It means that your imagination is working properly. It means that you are beginning to discover your own unique type or style of art.

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Sorry for the short article, but I hope that it was useful ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Joy Of… Partial Fandoms

One of the most surprising sources of creative inspiration for writers, artists, comic-makers etc… can often be when you really like a few things that have been made by someone (or a few things in a particular genre), but don’t really consider yourself to really fully be a “fan” of everything that falls into this category.

To give you a musical example, there are four songs by AC/DC that I absolutely love (eg: “Thunderstruck”, “Hell’s Bells”, “Highway To Hell” and “Back In Black”, in that order). But, those few songs aside, I’m not really an AC/DC fan. To give you a literary example, I’m not really a fan of fantasy literature, even though I absolutely love some of the George R. R. Martin, Terry Pratchett and Clive Barker novels that I’ve read in this genre.

So, you might think, what on earth does any of this have to do with creative inspiration? After all, most people like a few things by someone or a few things in a particular genre, without being a fan of literally everything.

It’s important for creative inspiration for the simple reason that having a few of these “partial fandoms” can help you to come up with a unique mixture of inspirations for the things that you create. After all, if you only like one author in a particular genre or a few things made by someone, then this usually prompts you to ask “Why? What makes these things different?“. Once you’ve found the answer, you can use it to improve and expand the things you create.

For example, one reason why I like a few fantasy authors, despite not being a major fan of the fantasy genre as a whole is because they often do things like incorporating elements from the horror and/or comedy genres into the fantasy genre.

So, if I made a piece of fantasy-themed artwork, I’m going to do something a bit similar – like in this reduced-size preview of an upcoming piece of medieval fantasy-style artwork of mine:

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 13th March.

Although I was in the mood for making fantasy-themed artwork at the time, I remembered the lessons I’d learnt from the few things I love in the fantasy genre and added some elements from the horror genre. For example, the ominous dark robes that the archer is wearing were mostly inspired by the evil cultists in a horror-themed computer game called “Blood“. Likewise, the menacing fiery lighting was inspired by various scenes from “Game Of Thrones“. Not to mention that my general attitude towards colour and lighting was inspired by some of my more major inspirations like the cyberpunk genre, old heavy metal album covers etc…

Of course, if I was much more of a fan of the fantasy genre, the painting would probably look different. It’d probably be brighter and more detailed. It would probably include a complex background and mythical beings (eg: elves, dragons, goblins etc..), rather than a dark and impressionistic medieval castle in the background. If I’d had a lot more fantasy-based inspirations, the picture would look very different as a result.

Likewise, if I’m going to include fantasy elements in a short story, then I’m probably going to add a lot of comedy too. For example, in this short fantasy-themed cyberpunk story of mine from late 2016, I don’t take the fantasy elements of the story even close to seriously, and I had a lot of fun writing it even though I certainly wouldn’t consider myself to be a “fantasy author”.

So, being a partial fan of something can actually improve your creativity and help you to feel inspired for the simple reason that it reminds you that good creative works come from having a mixture of different inspirations. Likewise, it can also help to expand the range of different things that you feel that you can create.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful ๐Ÿ™‚

Old Machinery And Creativity – A Ramble

A while before I wrote the first draft of this article, I wasn’t in a particularly great mood. Surprisingly, one of the things that cheered me up was watching music videos where people used bulky old machines as instruments.

Whether it was someone using a clanking old washing machine for the percussion segment of a cover version of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, or something a bit more elaborate like Paweล‚ Zadroลผniak’s “Floppotron“, or a mostly mechanical musical machine like Wintergatan’s “Marble Machine“, or even the Floppotron playing a cover of the Marble Machine’s song, there’s something oddly charming and reassuring about noisy old machinery.

Interestingly, this is one thing that classic British sci-fi TV shows often seem to get perfectly right. Whether it’s the amusing malfunctions and labyrinthine architecture of the titular spaceship in “Red Dwarf” or whether it’s the strange machinery of the TARDIS from “Doctor Who”, these vessels are a far cry from the sleek futuristic spaceships that are a lot more common in the sci-fi genre.

To give a more cinematic example, although “Blade Runner” is recognised as a pivotal work in the cyberpunk genre, the technology in it is a million miles away from the more realistically “futuristic” technology in more modern cyberpunk works (or even in cyberpunk novels from the early-mid 1980s). In “Blade Runner”, the technology is bulky, noisy and arcane. When the main character wants to examine a photograph in precise detail, he doesn’t use a microscope or a magnifying glass, he uses THIS:

This a screenshot from “Blade Runner – The Director’s Cut” (1992 [based on a film from 1982]), showing the bulky old “ESPER” machine that is used to zoom in on a photo

So, why does bulky, noisy, obsolete technology appear in so many creative works? Why does it fire the imagination so much?

The first reason is because of it’s age. Because this technology is so old, but still critical to the story – it instantly evokes a feeling of reliability and stability.

In an age where many mobile phones are designed to be replaced every few years (eg: they’re intentionally designed to be difficult to impossible to repair, batteries cannot be easily replaced etc..), in an age where some laptop manufacturers literally solder replaceable components into place (to prevent people upgrading without buying a new computer) and where there’s a constant pressure to have “the absolute latest technology”, there’s something inherently reassuring about an old machine that will just keep going and going.

The second reason is because it enhances the characterisation. Generally, if a piece of technology is old, then the person operating it will have spent a lot of time with it. In other words, the technology almost becomes a character in it’s own right, and the main character’s relationship with the technology can also show the audience more about the character too.

For example, if an old machine in a story has numerous welds, patches, replaced parts etc… then it not only shows that the main character cares about this machine, but that they also either know how to repair it or know someone who knows how to do this. Likewise, if the main character could “upgrade” but chooses not to because the old technology is better or more trustworthy or whatever, this also gives the audience more insight into the character.

The third reason is because it makes the technology look like, well, technology. One trend with modern technology is to make it look sleek, small and unobtrusive. But, this can often lead to a slight feeling of emotional disconnection with the technology itself. It goes from being some kind of wonderfully complex machine that someone has built to being just a “thing”.

Following on from this, the fourth reason is because it reminds us of the days when our relationship with technology was somewhat different, where users had more control and where there was a more ritualistic element to technology use.

It reminds us of the days where watching a film meant getting a physical tape or disc (which you actually own) and inserting it into a machine (rather than just “streaming” it from an online rental service ). It reminds us of the days when, if you wanted to access the internet, you had to go through the reassuring ritual of sitting down in front of a large desktop computer, powering it up and waiting for it to load before focusing your entire attention on web surfing. Sure, some of us (myself included) have never really left those glory days, but a lot of people have.

Finally, old technology can be an important part of creative works because it can be used to surprise the audience. I’m talking about things like sci-fi movies where the main characters’ clanking old spaceship somehow manages to outmanoeuvre or outrun the more “modern” spaceships that the villains are using. I’m talking about old computer and video games that (through all sorts of clever trickery) managed to do things that were considered “impossible” in games at the time (eg: I’ll never forget the time I got a second-hand game for the original Game Boy called “Chessmaster” and when I powered it up, the game literally SAID “Welcome to Chessmaster” in a crackly voice. Here’s a Youtube clip of it that I found).

So, yes, there are a lot of reasons why old technology can be an important part of creative works.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful ๐Ÿ™‚

Why It Is Difficult To Emulate The Past – A Ramble

Although this is a rambling article about making art, making comics and/or writing fiction, I’m going to have to do my usual thing of going off on a slight tangent about computer games for a couple of paragraphs. As usual, this will be relevant to the point that I’m trying to make.

One of the great things about being somewhat behind on computer technology is the fact that, aside from a few modern low-budget 2D indie games (like “Technobabylon“, “Abyss: The Wraiths Of Eden” etc..) and a tiny number of low-spec modern 3D games that will actually run on my computer, most of the games I’ve played over the past decade or so have been made in 1993-2006.

So, I felt a bit of schadenfreude when I saw this negative video review of a modern “retro-style” action game that I’d been vaguely interested in, but couldn’t play due to the system requirements. This was a game that apparently tried to emulate first-person shooter games from 1996-9. Yet, despite an abundance of research material for the developers to draw on, the game apparently fails miserably at this for a multitude of reasons. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

But, what does any of this have to do with art, comics and writing?

It’s because emulating the past can often be a surprisingly challenging thing. As regular readers of this site know, I’m a fan of the 1990s (and, to a lesser extent, the 1980s and early-mid 2000s) – yet, it’s taken me quite a while to get even vaguely good at making art that even looks like a modern tribute to these three time periods:

“Metallic Magic” By C. A. Brown

“Marina” By C. A. Brown

“Death Takes A Holiday” By C. A. Brown

Not only that, my attempts at writing “realistic” fiction set in the 1990s didn’t turn out that well. Plus, although many of my occasional webcomics are heavily inspired by slightly older comics, they still don’t quite seem to have the same quality of humour as many older 1980s-mid 2000s comics do.

So, why is it so difficult to emulate the past? The main reason is that it not only requires a surprising amount of research, but you also have to work out how to use that research in order to create new and original things. You have to study a surprisingly large number of things from the past to see what they have in common and then see if you can derive any “rules” from this that you can apply to your own work.

For example, if you want to include “1980s cyberpunk movie” and/or “late 1990s computer game”-style lighting in your artwork, then the general rule is that at least 30-50% of the total surface area of your painting or drawing has to be covered with black paint or ink, in order to make the lighting stand out by comparison.

“Scaffolding” By C. A. Brown

In addition to finding rules to follow, you also need to know where to look and what to look for. This can, surprisingly, be the most challenging part of the research process.

To give you an example, one of the most informative/inspirational pieces of 1990s research material that I’ve found within the past year or two has been an old American TV show called “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman“.

This is a screenshot from season one of “Lois & Clark” (1993-4). As well as being a fascinating look at a stylised version of part of 1990s America, it’s also something in the superhero genre that ISN’T an ultra-serious, CGI-filled part of a “cinematic universe”. Seriously, I wish that the superhero genre was more like this one good example of it.

It’s a cheesy TV show about superheroes that has been pretty much forgotten when compared to some other TV shows from the time period (eg: “The X Files” etc..). In fact, the only reason that I eventually thought to seek it out on DVD was because I had a vague memory of seeing a repeat of it on the BBC once when I was a child. Yet, although the early seasons of the show are a fantastic source of research material for things like 1990s fashions, 1990s interior design, 1990s optimism, 1990s storytelling etc… it’ll only tell you about a stylised fictional city that is based on 1990s New York.

I mention the location because culture tended to be less “universal” in the past, which also makes it more difficult to emulate – or, more likely, means that your “retro” art/comics/fiction will be a hodge-podge of different cultures from the same time period. For example, something from 1990s California will be very different from something from 1990s Britain. Yet, if you’ve been heavily influenced by both things, then your creative works will be an ‘unrealistic’ mixture of the two. They will still be unique and cool, but probably not “accurate” in the strictest sense of the word.

Finally, even if you’ve done all of this stuff, trying to create new things in the style of things from the past is also challenging for the simple reason that we’re living in the present day. What this means is that we will inevitably be influenced by parts of modern culture when creating things. It also means that we won’t have the limitations that creative people back then used to have (which would often give historical creative works a distinctive “flavour”).

For example, although the written word hasn’t changed much within the past 2-3 decades, the resources available to writers have. These days, if a writer wants to research something or get inspired, they have the whole internet at their disposal. They have streaming video sites, search engines and vast online encyclopaedias. A writer in, say, the 1980s or the early 1990s wouldn’t have had this, so this limitation would have influenced what they wrote about and possibly even how they wrote.

So, yes, emulating the past can be surprisingly difficult. But, it’s incredibly fun nonetheless.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

Three Tips For Getting To Know An Obscure Genre (If You Want To Make Stuff In It)

I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this before but, for today, I thought that I’d look at how to learn more about fascinating (but slightly obscure) genres of fiction, comics, art, games etc.. This is mostly because, a few years ago, I knew relatively little about the cyberpunk genre. Yes, I’d seen and read a couple of famous things in the genre – but I was eager to learn a lot more about it.

But, whilst I’m not an expert on it now, I know significantly more about the genre than I used to (to the point where it turns up in a lot of my art, and some of my fiction). In fact, it’s probably one of my largest creative inspirations.

But, how can you do this with obscure genres that fascinate you? Here are a few tips:

1) Look at the main genre: Generally speaking, more obscure genres tend to be an offshoot of larger and more well-known genres. If an obscure genre is slightly old (and had a “heyday” in the past), then there’s a good chance that more of it can be found hiding in more modern stuff from the “main” version of the genre in question.

This is mostly because things that are obscure today are often only obscure for the simple reason that they’ve been absorbed into the mainstream version of the genre. Likewise, people can only take inspiration from things that have been made in the past.

To give you an example, “splatterpunk” fiction was a sub-genre of horror fiction that was very popular during the 1970s-90s. At the time, this sub-genre was groundbreaking due to it’s nihilistic attitude and willingness to describe horrific events in high levels of gory detail. This was a far cry from the more subtle horror fiction of past decades that left a lot to the audience’s imaginations. Yet, although some classic splatterpunk authors like Shaun Hutson and Clive Barker still return to the genre occasionally, there aren’t really that many “new” splatterpunk novels out there.

However, if you’ve read a few splatterpunk novels, then the mainstream horror genre might not be as unfamiliar as you think. Leaving aside stories about ghosts and modern vampire romances, one of the major effects of the splatterpunk genre (and one reason it doesn’t really exist any more) was to show horror authors that horror fiction can be gruesome.

These days, no fan of horror fiction bats an eyelid at highly-detailed gruesome descriptions, since such things can be found in “mainstream” horror fiction. Yet, a couple of decades earlier, they would be labelled “splatterpunk”.

In other words, one way to get to know a slightly old and obscure genre better is to look for things that were produced after it. Sometimes, these things will contain some elements of the genre that you are looking for (another good example is the film I reviewed yesterday. This is a modern sci-fi/action/comedy film from 2014, yet the set design is heavily influenced by old cyberpunk films like “Blade Runner” . Likewise, the modern TV series “Humans” has a lot of cyberpunk themes, even if the setting isn’t cyberpunk.).

2) Look at other mediums: Although I’ve only seen relatively few cyberpunk films and read relatively few cyberpunk novels, most of what I’ve learnt about the cyberpunk genre has come from other mediums. In particular, television, comics and computer games.

Often, if an obscure genre made a bit of an impact during it’s heyday, people working in other mediums will probably want to do stuff with it too. So, if you widen your search slightly, then you’ll find lots of extra stuff in this genre in places that you might not have expected.

To give you an example, the film noir genre was most popular in the 1930s-50s. These days, there aren’t many (if any) new classic noir-style films released by major film studios. Yet, the genre has had a fairly large influence on television, prose fiction, comics and computer/video games. So, if you’re looking for film noir these days, you probably won’t find it at the cinema.

3) Look for commonalities: Of course, if you want to learn more about an obscure genre, you’ve probably already done your fair share of internet research. You’ve probably, time and budget allowing, tried to track down as many things in this genre as you can. But, how do you learn from what you’ve found?

Simple, you look for what these things have in common. You study them carefully for general elements (eg: themes, visual elements, character types etc..) that appear often.

For example, one common visual element in many things in the cyberpunk genre is high-contrast lighting (using artificial light sources). This is where most of the lighting in a given location comes from things like computer monitors, neon lights etc.. and the rest of the background is kept slightly gloomy in order to allow the light to stand out more. This style of lighting can be found in numerous cyberpunk things – here are a few examples:

This is a screenshot from “Blade Runner” (1982).

This is a screenshot from the opening credits of “Ergo Proxy” (2006). However, not all of what I’ve seen of the series looks like this.

This is a screenshot from “Total Recall 2070: Machine Dreams” (1999).

This is a screenshot from “Technobabylon” (2015).

As you can see, the lighting in all of these things comes from artificial light and the rest of the background is kept gloomy to make the lighting stand out more. This is one of the visual “rules” of the cyberpunk genre, and you can learn stuff like this by looking carefully at things in your favourite obscure genre and making comparisons.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful ๐Ÿ™‚

Three Reasons Why Combining Two Awesome Things Can Sometimes Be Less Awesome

I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this before (I had a sudden moment of deja vu halfway through writing the article), but I thought that I’d look at one of the more paradoxical things that can happen with creative works.

This is when something either directly combines two incredibly cool things or takes inspiration from two incredibly cool things, but somehow ends up being mildly less awe-inspiringly magnificent than it should logically be.

For example, I’m a massive fan of both Iron Maiden and “Blade Runner“. So, you would think that “Somewhere In Time” would be my favourite Iron Maiden album.

After all, Derek Riggs’ ultra-detailed cover art for the album is inspired by “Blade Runner”, there are a couple of sci-fi themed songs on the album (with the opening track being one of Iron Maiden’s best songs) and, when the band originally toured the album during the mid-late 1980s, they apparently played the “Blade Runner” theme on the PA before each concert.

Yet, it isn’t quite my favourite Iron Maiden album (that title probably goes to either the criminally under-appreciated “Virtual XI” or possibly to “The Book Of Souls). Sure, “Somewhere In Time” would probably appear in my top five or top ten Iron Maiden albums, but it isn’t my absolute favourite.

So, why can combinations of awesome things somehow end up being slightly less awesome than they “should” be?

1) Creativity isn’t maths: This one is fairly self-explanatory really. With something as subjective as both the creator’s imagination and the unique tastes of each audience member, creativity doesn’t exactly follow logical mathematical rules.

Merely adding two cool things together won’t always produce something better than either thing for the simple reason that it depends a lot on how those two things are combined and how the audience expects them to be combined. In other words, everyone has a slightly different idea of what makes something awesome – and they will focus on these elements when either creating things or being a member of the audience.

For example, one of the reasons why I don’t consider “Somewhere in Time” to be my favourite Iron Maiden album is because it really doesn’t focus that much on the philosophical themes or the cyberpunk atmosphere in “Blade Runner”. Then again, the album is Iron Maiden’s interpretation of the science fiction genre, rather than my own interpretation of it. So, it’s going to be different.

Once again, creativity isn’t maths. Merely adding two things together won’t automatically produce something even greater because creative works are made and consumed by humans rather than machines.

2) High expectations: This is also another self-explanatory reason. When you hear that something has combined or taken influence from two of your favourite things, then it’s only natural to expect it to be the best thing in the world. And, even if it’s just as good as one of the two influences, then it’s still going to fall short of the impossibly high expectations that you have about it.

Going back to “Somewhere In Time”, it’s a very good album. In fact, it’s one of those great albums that doesn’t contain a single “bad” song. But, because it presents itself as being Iron Maiden’s version of “Blade Runner”, I kind of expect it to be twice as good as I would ordinarily expect an Iron Maiden album to be. And, given that I already consider this band to be perhaps the best in the world, not even they could surpass themselves to that extent.

So, yes, hearing that something combines two of your favourite things can sometimes create unrealistically high expectations that can lead you to look down on things that, on their own merits, would otherwise be considered great.

3) Crossovers and Canonicity: Although this isn’t a problem with original works that take inspiration from two great things, it can be a problem with “crossovers” between your favourite things. Basically, as cool as crossovers are, they often carry less dramatic weight than each of their component parts do.

The reason for this is simply to do with canonicity. Basically, because a crossover consists of characters from two completely different fictional “universes” meeting each other, there usually has to be some kind of convoluted explanation for it. Likewise, it’s not usually considered to be an “official” part of either story. As such, there can’t really be any significant character or plot developments in many major crossovers.

So, if the characters from two great stories happen to meet during a crossover film, comic, novel, TV episode etc.. then it will often be more like “Hey! These characters have met each other and gone on a fun self-contained adventure!” rather than a more complex story like the one you would find in either individual thing.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

Four Reasons Why We Enjoy Things That Are “So Bad That They’re Good”

I’m sure that I’ve written about this subject before, but I ended up thinking about things that are “so bad that they’re good” recently.

This was mostly because I ended up playing part of a computer game from 2003 called “Deus Ex: Invisible War”. Although it’ll be a while until I post a full review of it here, it’s a perfect example of something that is “so bad that it’s good”.

If you’ve never heard of this game before, it was the sequel to a game from 2000 called “Deus Ex” (which is widely regarded as a masterpiece). The sequel, on the other hand, isn’t a masterpiece. I could spend quite a while listing it’s many faults but, strangest of all, I actually find them to be slightly endearing. So, I thought that I’d look at a few reasons why things that are “so bad that they’re good” are so enjoyable.

1) Forewarning and curiosity: One of the reasons why things that are “so bad that they’re good” are so enjoyable is because the audience is often forewarned of this fact by either reading reviews or just by looking at the packaging/promotional material for something. For example, if you see a DVD in a bargain bin with a slightly cheesy title and some slightly shoddy cover art, then you know that it probably isn’t Oscar material.

However, hearing that something is hilariously terrible will probably make you curious about how or why it gained that reputation. As such, it means that you are likely to start watching, playing etc… the thing in question with an attitude of amused curiosity. This attitude generally results in a much more enjoyable experience than if you just approach it in the way that you would approach an “ordinary” game, film etc…

However, if the audience isn’t forewarned, then these things lead to nothing but disappointment and frustration. So, forewarning is a key part of why things that are “so bad that they’re good” can be enjoyable.

2) Adorability: Simply put, things that are “so bad that they’re good” are adorable. This is because they are often examples of someone really trying to make something good using whatever limited skills or resources they have.

For example, one of the reasons why “Deus Ex: Invisible War” is such an endearingly terrible game is because, unlike the original “Deus Ex”, it was originally designed to also run on the original Xbox console. Since this console wasn’t even close to computers of the time in terms of processing power, memory etc.. there were a lot more limitations. As an example, here’s how the first two “Deus Ex” games depict nightclubs:

This screenshot from “Deus Ex (2000)” shows part of a sprawling nightclub with a large dancefloor and several large balconies.

This screenshot from “Deus Ex: Invisible War” (2003) shows the whole dancefloor of a nightclub. Yes, this little room is the entire dancefloor!

Yet, the people behind the game still tried to make a good “Deus Ex” game with these limited resources. Yes, they failed. But, the fact that they actually tried is extremely adorable.

Things that are “so bad that they’re good” are enjoyable for the simple reason that they show us someone trying to make something great. They show us that the people who made these things were enthusiastic. They are examples of hope and ambition.

3) “I can do better!”: I can’t remember where I read this, but I vaguely remember reading something about the horror author Shaun Hutson – where he apparently pointed out that one of the things that got him into writing horror fiction was reading a badly-written horror novel and thinking “I can do better than this!“.

If you are a creative person (or want to be one), then seeing things that are “so bad that they’re good” can make you feel better about yourself by comparison. It can also make you feel less disappointed about your own failures, for the simple reason that other people fail too. It can also motivate you to actually create something just to see if you can make something better.

4) Cheapness and counterculture: Finally, another reason why things that are “so bad that they’re good” are so enjoyable is because they are often both cheap and (most of the time) non-mainstream. Since things that fall into this category are often either made on a low budget, are sold at a reduced price to recoup any expenses and/or are quickly dumped in second-hand shops by unsatisfied customers, they often tend to be slightly on the cheaper side of things.

So, we tend to feel like we’re getting more value for money when we find something that is “so bad that it’s good”. It also reassures us of the quality of any more expensive things that we’ve bought too.

Likewise, there’s a certain perverse thrill to looking at films, games etc.. that are widely considered to be terrible and unpopular. There’s a slight sense of sticking two fingers up at popular culture telling us what we “should” watch, read, play etc.. So, this can also explain why these kinds of things can be so enjoyable.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting ๐Ÿ™‚