Today’s Art (29th April 2014)

Well, at the moment, I’m still making new watercolour versions of some of my old drawings (partly out of curiosity and partly out of a lack of inspiration).

Today, I thought I’d revisit the drawing that ended up inspiring my old “CRIT” comic series from 2012/13 (Plus, I wanted to see what Suzy would look like in my current art style too). You can also read the full story of how this comic series began here.

As usual, I’ll include the original drawing from 2012 for comparison too.

Plus, as usual, these two pictures are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Overpass (II)" By C. A. Brown

“Overpass (II)” By C. A. Brown

Although I’m really proud of how “Overpass (II)” turned out, it required a surprising amount of digital editing after I scanned the original painting.

"Overpass" by C.A.Brown  [19th November 2012]

“Overpass” by C.A.Brown [19th November 2012]

Well, this is my original “Overpass” drawing from 2012. If you want to know more about how this one drawing ended up inspiring an entire comic, then I’ve written an entire article about it (one year and three days ago precisely), which can be found here.

Oh, here’s some interesting trivia for fans of the original comic series – if it had ever been made into a TV show (which was my original, obviously unproducable, idea for the series before I decided to turn it into a comic). Then the theme tune for it would probably sound something like this song [“Leaving The Light On” By Blank Dogs]. Or at the very least, this song would have been the perfect background music for episode three.

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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

CRIT: Episode Seven – A Retrospective

"CRIT Episode 7 - Cover" by C.A.Brown (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence)

“CRIT Episode 7 – Cover” by C.A.Brown (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence)

(After I finish an episode of “CRIT” , I usually write a retrospective. This is kind of a short “making of” essay, where I look back at how well I thought the comic went (usually in kind of a self-critical way) and talk a bit about how it evolved too. Anyway, since I’ve got a blog now, I thought that I’d post an extended version of this episode’s retrospective on here too.)

Well, this episode has certainly been interesting to write/draw. Although, unfortunately, it seems to suffer from the same problem that the last two episodes suffered from, namely that the ending was slightly too rushed and the first half of the episode is better than the second half. I don’t know, this always just seems to be a thing whenever I write narrative comics – after about a week or so, the story just seems to start running out of steam.

Likewise, as usual, the cover art had very little to do with actual episode itself – this usually happens because I only have the vaguest idea of what an episode will include when I start it. Not to mention that the cover is obviously the first thing that I draw too. But, on the positive side, I’m seriously proud of the art and the writing in the first half of this comic and it’s probably the best art/writing I’ve done in any “CRIT” comic so far.

Interestingly, there was one point when I was making this comic that I actually considered splitting the episode into two halves and having a “To be continued….” at the end of page 20 or so. But, well, these endings are kind of annoying and I also wasn’t sure whether the rest of the episode would actually fit into another comic too (I was probably right about this, since it only ended up being 28 pages long). Also, if I’d split this into two episodes, the second half would probably be titled “…The End” or “…The War” or something melodramatic like that. But, since I didn’t do this, the title of this episode (“What Comes Before…”) doesn’t quite make sense in grammatical terms.

Still, the ending aside, I really enjoyed writing a prequel episode to CRIT and it was a lot of fun to show the characters in a slightly different way to how they appear in the other CRIT comics. Although, annoyingly, this episode didn’t answer as many questions about them as I initially thought that it would do (if anything, it actually raises a few more questions…. hmmm… maybe I’ll write another prequel episode sometime in the future?)

As usual, I’m never quite sure what kind of tone an episode of “CRIT” will end up having when I start writing it. Originally, this episode was going to be a lot more “serious” than it eventually ended up being – but, well, I always seem to write comedy when I least expect to and, like with the previous episode, it just started feeling more like a comedy episode once I’d got a few pages into it.

Another thing I’m really proud of is the small plot twist on page 20 (which I suddenly thought of the day before I wrote this page). Although people who are new to “CRIT” probably didn’t even really notice it, it kind of changes pretty much everything about the events of episode one (and actually makes it kind of creepy). Although, saying this, I think that this slight twist is also hinted at in episode five too (eg: the false name used on the entry records to the bunker). Still, I’m quite proud of this part of the story.

One of the slight issues with this comic was the fact that I’m also writing this blog at the same time too – although I like to think that I got the balance between working on these two things reasonably right, it was surprisingly exhausting at times and there were a few times that I was worried that I was neglecting one or the other. Still, overall, the comic only took about a day or two longer to make than I initially expected.

Anyway, criticisms aside, I really like how this whole episode turned out and it was definately better than the previous episode was too (although I still like that episode too). As usual, I guess that I’ll probably go back to drawing non-comics art for a while to give myself a bit of a break until I feel inspired or motivated to do another comic (although I don’t know if it’ll be a “CRIT” one or something different).

How and Why You Should Add Crossovers To Your Stories and/or Comics

2013 Artwork Crossover Blog Sketch

I love crossovers (where something or someone from one story appears in another story), both when it comes to reading or seeing them in other people’s works and writing them myself.

Crossovers can range from being so small that you barely even notice them (eg: as an in-joke or a background detail in a comic) or they can be the basis for an entire story (such as the excellent “Star Trek: The Next Generation”/”Doctor Who” crossover comic). However, they can sometimes be difficult to write well and it can be difficult to know when and when not to include them.

They turn up surprisingly often in my work and there are numerous crossovers with my other comics in “Somnium” and even episode four of “CRIT” was basically just a geeky excuse to write a crossover story with an unpublished sci-fi story I wrote in 2009. Not to mention that the title illustration for this article also includes Suzy from “CRIT” too.

I could devote an entire article or series of articles to listing all of the crossovers in my comics and stories, but I might save that for another time. After all, this article is about helping you to write your own crossovers.

This article will focus on writing crossovers between your own stories rather than crossovers with other people’s stories. Whilst some very small crossovers with other people’s work in your own published may be covered by “fair use” and/or “fair dealing” exemptions in some countries, this is quite a complicated subject from all I’ve read about it. Larger crossovers with or between other people’s work are probably likely to be ok most of the time in non-profit fan fiction or fan art which is properly labelled as such though. However, for both creative and legal reasons I’ll be focusing exclusively on crossovers between your own stories.

There are ways to use other characters from other stories, for example if they’re from works which are out of copyright (eg: “Alice in Wonderland”, “Dracula” etc…) or if a character is clearly a parody of a character from another story (but has a different name and appearence) or if a character from another story is only alluded to briefly but never really named or shown. But, even so, I’ll only be focusing on crossovers between your own stories for artistic/creative reasons.

One benefit of adding crossovers to your story is that it subtly introduces your other stories to new readers and it is also a fun bonus (but hopefully not a service…) for fans of your other work too. Plus, crossovers are fun to write, in fact they’re either an essential part of or a natural extension of geeking out about your stories.

As well as this, crossovers also contain a sense of connection between your works. This helps the reader, as well as you, to see your entire body of work as a single thing with lots of different parts to it. The human brain works by making connections between neurones (or is it neurites or neurons? I’m really not sure), imagination often works by connecting two different ideas and the internet works through connections too (both between sites and between users). Connection is a basic part of humanity. Crossovers are connections.

The thing is that writing a good crossover can be more difficult than it looks. Although, if you read a reasonable amount of stories and/or comics or you watch a lot of TV, you’ve probably worked some of this stuff out for yourself anyway:

1) Sometimes “less is more” if your stories are very different: This is a good rule to follow with crossovers. If it isn’t appropriate to the general tone and storyline of your story, then it can be better to make your crossover quite subtle and small. Just have your other character standing in the background, or a memorable object from your other story appear briefly in one of the settings or have another character briefly mention or refer to (either directly or indirectly) something or someone from one of your other stories, without showing it.

This works best if you’re writing a crossover between two stories in very different genres or vastly different fictional universes. For example, having a character from your serious contemporary police procedural stories appear in your historical fiction stories about 16th century Europe would look incredibly contrived. There are, of course, ways of writing these kind of storylines, but on the whole, they only really work as novelty storylines, non-canon storylines and/or if they’re played for laughs.

However, you can use it for serious stories if you’re really clever about it. Going back to my earlier example, a good way to do a “serious” crossover between those two stories would be to have the protagonist in your realistic detective story (and I’m going to assume that it’s set in America, because many of the famous “police procedural” TV shows are usually set there) being called out to investigate a murder at a Renaissance fair where either the victim and/or the suspects bear an uncanny resemblence to the characters from your historical fiction stories, even though they’re technically different people.

In short, if your stories are very different – then you have to either play it for laughs, be very subtle or be very clever about how you write it.

2) Know your characters very well: This is essential for storytelling in general, but it’s even more important when you’re writing a crossover. One of the main appeals of reading crossovers is that you get to see how characters from different stories would get on with each other if they ever met. This means that you, the writer, have to have a very good sense of who your characters are and what their personalities are. If your characters suddenly start acting out of character during a crossover, then this can be extremely noticeable.

If you do this well, then it also helps to add characterisation to both of your characters at the same time and you can use it to subtly reveal things about one or both characters which may have been more dififcult or incongruous to reveal in each character’s induvidual storyline. Again, this can either be done seriously or for laughs or both.

3) Stories with crossovers should still work as standalone stories: What I mean by this is that a reader who has never read any of your other stories should still be able to understand and appreciate your crossover story. This may sound fairly simple, but ignoring this can confuse and alienate some of your newer readers. However, there are quite a few ways around this. Either make your crossovers small enough so that they won’t really be noticed by new readers or give a small amount of background for the character from your other story if they’re a main character in your crossover.

This doesn’t have to be their entire life story, but it should briefly give a new reader a sense of who they are and why they’re in your story. This can be done either by having the other character introduce themseleves or having the characters from your story briefly talk about the other character. Or some of the other character’s backstory can be briefly mentioned via dialogue with the main characters later in the story.

This can also be done by either pretty much just presenting the other character as a new character or by making their personality obvious from the context of the storyline. For example, in part of the first volume [“Preludes and Nocturnes“] of Neil Gaiman’s excellent “Sandman” comics, the main character needs to find a bag of magical sand which he has lost several decades earlier. In the end, he enlists the help of a private detective who specialises in the occult. This private detective wears a trenchcoat, is reasonably cynical and smokes like a chimney. His name is John Constantine.

If you didn’t know this last fact, it’d still work very well as a standalone story – but fans of “Hellblazer” (which, regrettably, I’ve only ever read a couple of issues of) would instantly recognise this as a crossover. By doing this, Neil Gaiman is adding something for “Hellblazer” fans, whilst still ensuring that people who have never heard of it before won’t end up being totally confused by this storyline.

4) Have a small motif or common object in many of your stories: This is an extremely subtle type of crossover, but it can work if you’re writing lots of very different stories or if a character-based crossover wouldn’t really be appropriate. It’s something which your fans can have fun finding and it’s something which marks your stories as being yours.

This doesn’t have to be anything major, in fact it works best if it’s something totally mundane (but with a rather distinctive name), but it provides a very subtle sense of connection and continuity between your works as a whole. Plus, it’s just good fun to do too. Some examples from my own comics and (mostly unpublished) fiction include Tangerine Frost [an orange ice-based drink, occasionally with vodka], a heavy metal band called “Twilight’s Requiem” and an old book called “The Forgotten Art of Oneiromancy”.

These don’t have to appear in literally every one of your stories (if it doesn’t fit into the context of your story) and it’s usually good to have at least a couple of them to choose from, but it can be a fun way to add your “signature” to your work.

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Anyway, if you didn’t already know this stuff, then I hope that this helps you to add crossovers to your work. If they’re done well, then crossovers can be a real treat for both you and your readers.

The Pros and Cons of Writing a Fiction/Comic Series

2013 Artwork Series Sketch

Everyone has their favourite TV series, or several of them. But this isn’t an article about writing for television (something I have precisely no experience with), it’s an article about writing like television (something I have some experience with).

I’m talking about telling your story, whether it’s prose fiction or a comic, as a series. The fact is that this way of storytelling is much more common on television and also in comics too (eg: many comics have several 8-10 issue length story arcs etc..), but episodic storytelling is also growing in popularity in other areas, such as in computer and video games. And, since the comic that I’m currently working on is released in this format , then I thought that it’d be the perfect time to write an article about it.

I should probably make a distinction here between an episodic series and a novel/comic which has several sequels or prequels. Episodes are usually shorter than a full-length novel or graphic novel. Possibly about the length of a short novella/long short story or so. It’s kind of like the difference between a TV series and a series of films.

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There are basically three types of series, and I’ll mostly be focusing on the last two of them:

1) A single storyline split into instalments – This used to be be more common with serialised novels in magazines, but it seems to be fairly rare these days. The most notable example I can think of is when Stephen King originally released “The Green Mile” in about six instalments (which, for some bizarre reason I actually own after finding it in a 2nd hand bookshop or charity shop when I was younger. I still haven’t read it yet though).

One advantage of this type of series is that, if it’s compelling enough, your readers will probably end up eager to read the next instalment whenever it’s released. It’also seems to be kind of like writing a novel or a longer graphic novel – although there are some structural differences (eg: each episode should ideally end with a cliffhanger of some kind or another to keep the readers interested). However, new readers may not be as interested if they hear about the series a while after it’s started and have to find the earlier episodes of it..

2) A series with the same characters and settings, but different storylines in each episode – These are probably more like some TV series where there is little or no continuity between episodes (a perfect example of this would be “Star Trek: The Next Generation” or “The Simpsons”. A Good literary example would be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories). This has the advantage that readers can pick up the series at any point rather than having to start at the very beginning. Although they can also be harder to write, since you have to think of a different storyline or mystery for each episode and you have less space to tell stories than you would if your series only has a single storyline.

3) A combination of the previous two types of series – Most TV series usually end up doing this after a while, they have induvidual storylines in many episodes but there’s often an overarching plot too throughout the entire series. This combines the advantages and disadvantages of both of the previous types of storytelling.

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So, what are the pros and cons of writing an episodic series (with different storylines and/or an overarching plot), rather than a novel or a short story collection?

I’ll start with some of the advantages:

1) The internet makes it more possible (and often free too): Whilst more traditional publishers may not be interested in releasing an episodic series (although they’re often interested in sequels for novels etc…), this is less of an issue these days now that anyone can publish anything on the internet. In fact, the internet seems to be practically designed for self-publishing a series. Although I seem to be kind of a luddite/traditionalist when it comes to books, the fact is that ebooks are becoming a lot more popular these days and they have none of the physical limitations that publishing a traditional book has, when it comes to things like book size, distribution etc…

2) It can be a great motivational tool: In my earlier article about creative blocks, I mentioned the importance of keeping a regular schedule. Well, writing a series which is released at a particular time (eg: every day, week, month etc…) can really help you to keep writing. After all, you don’t want to disappoint your readers? Although, this additional pressure can also be kind of a disadvantage too…. A good comporpmise can be to be more flexible about when you release episodes, but when you do make one, then be sure to stick to your schedule for it.

3) You don’t have to think of new main characters for every story : Once you’ve come up with the main characters for your series, you can use them in every episode rather than having to think of new characters for lots of different short stories. However, every good series usually depends on having good characters – especially if each episode has a different storyline. So, although you don’t have to think of lots of new characters

4) You have more creative freedom: Many of the best TV series often just don’t stick to just one genre. There are sad episodes, funny episodes, surreal episodes, scary episodes etc…. If you are writing a fiction or comic series, then you can do the same thing too. It keeps things interesting and allows you to have a lot more room for creativity and experimentation than writing a novel/graphic novel does.

For example: Episode 1 of “CRIT” is a fairly conventional sci-fi detective story. Episodes two, three and six are horror stories. Episode four is more of a conventional sci-fi story. Episode five is more of a suspense/thriller/locked room mystery kind of episode. Episode seven is a prequel episode…. although I’m still working on this one at the moment.

5) You can get away with the occasional “filler” episode if you absolutely have to: Try to avoid this if you can, but it can be useful if you are running low on ideas or feeling burnt out or just need a break of some kind. Many TV shows usually seem to have at least one bottle episode per series. Just remember that too many filler episodes may well end up annoying your readers, it should be a tactic of last resort.

6) It’s more appealing to busy readers: Someone who may not have the time or the enthusiasm to read an entire novel/graphic novel may be more interested in reading a shorter series. Plus, the structure of a series means that your readers will have something to look forward to every week, month etc…

7) You can make collections afterwards: If your series is successful, then you can collate it into a single book which publishers might be more interested in. Although your series has been previously published by you online or wherever [which apparently can be a turn-off for publishers], if it already has a lot of fans/readers then this could be a good selling point – since there’s already a market for it.

The only important piece of advice here if you’re making a collection of your series to sell is that you must put some extra stuff into it. The audience has already read and/or bought it before – so you need to provide something in your collection which they haven’t seen before. Whether it’s an extra short story, a bonus episode, additional scenes or even just some extra sketches or art or a preface by another writer/artist or all of these things, adding bonus content is essential if you want to sell a collection of your series.

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Now for a few disadvantages:

1) Pricing: I’m not an expert when it comes to business, but if you’re selling your series, then you have to think very hard about how much you will charge for it. Ideally, it should probably have a fairly low price per episode (£1-3 or $1-5 at the most) but the cost of any collections you make of your episodes should be slightly lower than the cost of buying each episode induvidually. But it shouldn’t be too much lower otherwise people might just wait for the collection and not bother with buying the induvidual episodes (unless there’s a gap between the episodes being released and the collection being released – although if this is too long, then it can be extremely annoying). I don’t know, it’s all fairly complicated and I’m really not an expert on any of this.

Or one possible idea could be to give away all of or one of the episodes for free and then sell the collection (with bonus content) at a similar price to a normal book or graphic novel.

2) You have less room for characterisation: Your characters have to be fairly recognisable and distinctive, but they mustn’t end up becoming bland/stereotypical stock characters either. However, you have to pretty much re-present your characters in each episode if your series doesn’t have a continuous storyline to account for the fact that some readers may not read the entire series or read it in order either.

There are quite a few ways of doing this though (eg: using dialogue for characterisation or , if you’re writing a comic series, the appearence of a character can sometimes be used for characterisation [for example: this is why, in most episodes of “CRIT”, Jake is usually seen wearing a lab coat]. Plus, there are numerous examples of series-based characterisation in TV series (I don’t know, you tend to pick up a few things if you watch a lot of these) which may be useful if you’re drawing/writing a comics series.

3)Your stories have to be tighter: Even if your series consists of a single continuous storyline split into several instalments, then you still have to ensure that each one ends in a way which makes the reader want to read the next instalment (usually a cliffhanger or an unresolved plot thread of some kind) and the structure of the story probably has to be slightly different to that of a novel. If each episode tells a different story, then it’s basically kind of similar to writing a series of short stories – with all of the limitations which can come with this (eg: there’s little to no room for sub-plots).

4) You MUST geek out about your series: I’ve mentioned this subject before, but it’s essential that you are the number-one fan of your series. You really have to like it, since you’ll probably be spending a lot of time with it. If you’re indifferent about your characters or the world of your series or are starting to get tired of them, then it probably won’t last that long. This advice applies to every form of storytelling – but it’s even more important if you’re writing a series.

5) If it ends up getting adapted for television, then they might change a lot of things: Ok, if it gets adapted for television, then you’re probably fairly successful anyway and this probably isn’t too much of a disadvantage (what with all of the money, fame, free publicity for your books/comics etc…) but I thought that I’d probably mention it anyway.

6) There’s less room for editing: if you’re writing a novel and you suddenly notice something in the earlier part of it which will cause a plot hole or a major continuity error later in the story, then it’s just a simple matter of going back and editing it.

However, when you’re writing a series and you notice something like this in an earlier episode (which has already been released), then you can’t really do this. You either have to think of a creative way to work around or explain the plot hole [which can look kind of contrived] or find a way to use it to your advantage [eg: if a character acts out of character (compared to earlier parts of the story) or gets a detail of their own backstory wrong, then it could be evidence that they’re an impostor or something like that].

7) World-building and settings matter even more: Chances are, some locations may well appear quite often in your series and setting a series in the same place means that creating interesting settings (especially in more visual kinds of storytelling like comics) which convey a sense of a much larger world is even more important.

In fact, in many television series, key settings often almost actually pretty much become characters in their own right (literally in the case of the Tardis from “Doctor Who” or Moya in “Farscape”). The same is true for fiction/comics series too (a classic literary example is probably 221b Baker Street in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories).

8) The episodes should be a reasonably consistent length: This isn’t something which is as strict or fixed in fiction or comics which are published online as it often is in TV series and conventionally published stories/comics. But it’s something to bear in mind nonetheless. Each episode should at least be a vaguely similar length to the other episodes.

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In conclusion, writing a series may not work for literally every type of story – but it’s definately something that might be worth trying – you might surprise yourself…

CRIT Episode 7 – What Comes Before….

"CRIT Episode 7 - Cover" by C.A.Brown (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence)

“CRIT Episode 7 – Cover” by C.A.Brown (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence)

Well, I am very proud to announce episode seven of “CRIT” 🙂

[Edit: I’ve just fixed the broken link to my “CRIT” gallery, I’m not sure what mistake I made when I originally made the link. But I apologise to all of my readers who tried clicking on the original link]

I thought it’d be interesting to make a prequel episode, set before Suzy, Jake and Darius become members of Makerton-Riyadi’s “CRIT” unit.

I’m really not sure what this episode will be like at the moment, or even what the plot of it will be – but I’m eager to see how it will turn out….

I’m also not sure whether or not this episode will be updated quite as often as the previous episodes, since I’m also working on this blog at the moment too. But, as usual, I’ll probably upload at least one page a day (but hopefully/probably more).

How “CRIT” Began…

I’ve always liked “making of” features on DVDs, they’re essential to any artist or writer or film-maker. Or maybe they’re essential for any artist, writer or film-maker? Or maybe both? Anyway, earlier today, it seemed like a cool idea to write an article about how my “CRIT” comic and fiction series came into being. Every creative project starts out differently and has it’s own story behind it and I thought that it may be interesting to show “the story behind the story”, so to speak….

"Overpass" by C.A.Brown - The drawing which would eventually become "CRIT" (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence)

“Overpass” by C.A.Brown – The drawing which would eventually become “CRIT” (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence)

It all started one night in late November 2012 with a drawing called “Overpass”. I’d been watching the music video for “This Corrosion” by The Sisters of Mercy on Youtube and I really loved this atmosphere of this video. In fact, it kind of put me into a 1980s kind of mood and it made me think of “Blade Runner” too – so I decided to draw something which captured this exact feeling and ended up with a drawing called “Overpass”.

Later on that night, I started daydreaming about a TV series I’d love to make if I could. My original idea for it was: ” ‘Blade Runner’ + ‘NCIS’ + Goths = Win! “, to quote my notes at the time.

I spent a while daydreaming about it and even I made a few notes at the time about what would be the perfect opening scene for this TV show:

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“We start with a panorama of a grimy industrial futuristic city. The buildings are complex. The sky is orange. There is dreamy synthesiser music in the background. As the camera pans across, it finally rests on a handsome man with blond/brown hair and a blue jacket leaning on some railings on the top of a building and looking dreamily into the distance. Slowly, the camera moves closer to his face, he is clearly thinking of something. When it [the camera] gets to a close-up, it lingers there. The music does not change.”

“After about ten seconds, it begins to zoom out/move away. As it does, a red spot suddenly appears in the centre of the man’s forehead and a slow motion crimson starburst of blood explodes from the back of his head. The music does not change. He begins to fall, muffled screams can be heard in the distance as the screen fades to black and the opening credits roll”

——

At the time, I thought it would probably fall into the category of “good ideas I’ll never follow up on”. A while later that night, I did another 1980s-style cyberpunk drawing called “System Core” which would feature a character who would later become Darius:

"System Core" by C.A.Brown (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence)

“System Core” by C.A.Brown (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence)

The thing was, I just couldn’t get this idea for a TV series out of my mind and, the next night, I drew a storyboard illustration of the opening scene I’d described in my notes (although it isn’t particularly gruesome and is in black and white too, I decided to label it as “mature content” on DA since it’s basically a comic about someone being shot in the head).

Later that night, I did another drawing based on the same idea called “A Heartless Crime” – it was kind of different to my original idea for the TV series and it kind of looked more like a scene from a more conventional cyberpunk comic/TV show/videogame than the gothic kind of TV show I’d originally envisaged. I decided to include the character from “Overpass” (who would later become Suzy) as well as a random goth guy (who would later become Jake). The thing was, this drawing seemed to have more of a story behind it than most of my drawings do and it seemed intriguing enough to make me want to draw more things related to this idea.

"A Heartless Crime (Concept Art)" By C.A.Brown  (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence)

“A Heartless Crime (Concept Art)” By C.A.Brown (released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence)

The fact was, like with any good idea, I only had the vaguest and haziest idea about it when I started. This may not be the case with every writer or artist, but for me, finding a good creative idea can be like playing a 1990s stragegy game. When you start out, you can see a small part of the entire map, but most of it is covered by fog or darkness and the map only reveals itself gradually when you explore more and more of it.

I had a general sense of some things, like what the world of this TV series would look like and what the main characters looked like, but I had no clue what their names were, what the backstory behind the series was or what it would even be called. But, driven by curiosity, I spent the next couple of weeks drawing lots of “concept art” (this was also kind of how “Damania” got started in spring 2011 and summer/autumn 2012 too) which kind of helped me to look at possible storylines for “episodes” of the show as well as work out what the ‘world’ of this untitled series would look like. I was fascinated. I could even vaguely imagine what the DVD boxset for the first series would look like.

Somewhere along the way, I also decided to incorporate the two mega-corporations (Dextek and SYL-Corp) from an unpublished novella called “Ephemera” that I’d written in 2010 and then I decided to add a third mega-corporation which the main characters would work for. I eventually decided to call this corporation “Makerton – Riyadi” and it was kind of inspired by the “Weyland – Yutani Corporation” from The “Aliens” movies.

If anyone is interested, all of my concept art can be found here – although it may contain spoilers for possible future “CRIT” storylines (you can see the beginnings of episodes 1,2,3 & 6 in this gallery). The only new addition to this gallery since I started making the comic is a short animation showing some of the backstory to the series.

However, I started to get quite frustrated about the fact that I didn’t really have the knowledge or money to make a TV series and, by the time that the gold pencil I’d been using to colour in a lot of the backgrounds was only about an inch long, I felt completely worn out. I wanted to draw other things. So, I abandoned the idea and consigned it to the category of ‘great ideas which will never get made’ .

Then I got back into drawing comics again.

It started with “Damania” and then “Anachrony” and by about mid-December 2012, I thought that I’d have time to make another comic before Christmas. Of course, my untitled sci-fi series idea came into my mind and I looked at my concept art again and facepalmed a couple of times. It had been a comic all along!

But, I still couldn’t think of a title for it. Eventually, distraught, I decided to distract myself with sarcastic reviews of old videogames on Youtube. Anyway, when I was watching a review of “Dino Crisis 2” (which I’d played in early-mid 2010), the reviewer made a sarcastic comment about the special forces unit which one of the main characters belonged to (called “T.R.A.T” ). For some reason, this name stuck in my mind and it wasn’t long before my mind had come up with something which sounded similar to it.

And, after that, the rest is history….

2012 CRIT Episode 1 - Cover small