Eccentric Humour And Storytelling Must Still Include Logic- A Ramble

Well, since I’m still preparing this month’s webcomic mini series at the time of writing, I thought that I’d talk briefly about eccentric storytelling and eccentric humour.

This is mostly because the mini series will consist of large single-panel monochrome comic updates (since I was busy with other stuff at the time of making it). This more limited format means that the humour in my comic has become somewhat more eccentric as a result. Here’s a detail from one of the upcoming updates.

The complete comic update will be posted here on the 22nd August.

Whilst eccentric humour or storytelling might seem like a free for all at first, it is important to remember that it still must contain some kind of logic. Yes, the logic can be a little bit strange – but the audience still needs to be able to discern that there’s a reason, system or pattern behind what is happening.

One of the easiest ways to do this is simply to understand your characters. If you know how your characters think, or even just your character’s personality traits, then you can extrapolate from this in order to come up with eccentric humour and plot elements that either have a consistent logic behind them or have a reason that makes sense on a narrative level (even if might seem strange or silly at first glance).

Several good examples of this can be found in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories. Although Sherlock Holmes will often do somewhat strange things, there is almost always some kind of reason for it. Even if it’s just that he’s stressed out because he hasn’t got a case, or that he wants to improve his scientific knowledge (which will help in future cases), Doyle virtually always shows that Holmes’ more strange behaviour happens for a reason.

Likewise, even if a story is thoroughly surreal, then there still has to be some kind of underlying logic, system or reason behind what is happening. In other words, there still has to be an actual story that makes sense on some level.

Even if the underlying logic in your story is more like dream logic (eg: based on symbolism etc…), then it still needs to include actual logic. It can’t just be completely random. There has to be some way for the audience to, theoretically at least, understand what is going on. Likewise, if there’s a possibility of the story being confusing, then there needs to be some other element to keep the audience’s attention (eg: humour, mystery, horror etc..)

A good example of this would probably be a Satoshi Kon film called “Paprika“. Even if you don’t understand literally everything about the story of this surreal sci-fi film, it’s still a very fascinating and memorable film because is also filled with lots of visually-complex animation, creepy horror etc..

So, yes, if you are going to use eccentric humour or tell a somewhat surreal story, then there must be some kind of logical reason behind the stranger parts of your story. Or, failing this, there must be something else to keep the audience interested.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Why You Need To Use Eccentric Characters When Writing Comedy.

2016 Artwork Eccentric Characters And The Comedy Genre

Although this is an article about writing comedic fiction and/or comedic comics, I’m going to have to start by talking about TV shows for a while. There’s a good reason for this that I hope will become obvious soon.

Anyway, a few days before I wrote this article, I started watching an American sitcom called “30 Rock“. Although I could spend a while talking about how Tina Fey is a comic genius, I’m mentioning this TV show because it’s a really brilliant example of one of the central parts of writing good comedy that can sometimes be overlooked by writers and/or audiences.

I am, of course, talking about eccentric characters. One of the brilliant things about “30 Rock” is that virtually all of the characters are eccentric in one way or another – in fact, the character list on Wikipedia actually points out exactly how each character is eccentric.

If you look at virtually anything in the comedy genre, you’ll see that it contains at least a few eccentric characters. In fact, the comedy genre is one of the few genres where at least some of your characters are required to be eccentric or strange in some way or another.

It doesn’t matter if they’re eccentric in a subtle way or if they’re eccentric in a really obvious way, they have to be eccentric. There are several reasons for this:

The first (and most obvious) reason is that the contrast between the eccentric characters and the “normal” characters can be played for laughs in all sorts of different ways. In fact, the technical term for this contrast between characters is a “foil“. Curses! Foiled again!

The second reason why eccentric characters are such an important part of the comedy genre is because they are inherently fascinating and very memorable. Since a good eccentric character is totally and utterly different from any character that your audience has seen before, they’re probably going to both remember these characters and want to learn more about them.

From a writing perspective, eccentric characters are great fun to write for the simple reason that you don’t have to worry too much about whether they’re “realistic” or not. As long as your eccentric character has a distinctive personality and they don’t act out of character too often, then you can do a lot of things with these characters that you can’t really do with “normal” characters.

Finally, eccentric characters are an integral part of the comedy genre for the simple reason that they make the audience feel better. There are two reasons for this and they both rely on the fact that literally no-one (no, not even you) is a completely “normal” person. We all have our strange quirks, fascinations, mannerisms, ways of doing things etc…

This means that really eccentric characters can make the audience feel better about themselves, because these characters make the audience feel more “normal” by comparison.

But, much better than this, the audience can often see a reflection of themselves (or parts of themselves ) in subtly eccentric comedic characters (like Liz Lemon from “30 Rock”). This can be a strangely uplifting and reassuring experience, especially since most of the mainstream media tends to promote hyper-“normal” characters.

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Sorry for such a short and basic article, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂

Creativity, Eccentricity And Hipsterism – A Ramble

2015 Artwork Creativity Eccentricicty and hipsterism sketch

Although this is a rambling article about both why creative people can sometimes be a little bit eccentric and about my thoughts on the whole subject of “hipsterism”, I’m going to have to start by talking about *ugh* mobile phones for a while. Trust, me there is (unfortunately) a good reason for this.

Anyway, I was watching random videos on Youtube a couple of months ago, when I suddenly learnt that I was a hipster.

This revelation came as something of a shock to me, since the last time that I felt “hip” was sometime between when I read Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” at the age of seventeen and when I gleefully bought an old typewriter when I was about nineteen or so (despite already owning a perfectly functional computer with much better word processing capabilities).

But, according to this Youtube video at least, not owning a modern smartphone apparently makes you a “hipster” these days.

The only possibly functional phone I own is a rather basic feature phone (with a colour screen!) I bought about six years ago and which is now covered with a thick layer of dust from sheer disuse alone. I’m still not sure if it even works.

As you may have gathered, I don’t like phones. They are the most annoying form of communication ever developed and I avoid them like the plague, even if it’s pretty much compulsory to own one these days (but not, necessarily, to turn it on).

Don’t get me wrong, I love old stuff – but I’m surprised that my reluctant ownership of a disused old phone supposedly now makes me a “hipster”.

Still, this shocking incident made me think about the whole subject of eccentricity and creativity.

You see, if there is anything that creative people are renowned for, it is being at least slightly eccentric. Although there are plenty of “boring” creative people in the world, the ones that really fire people’s imaginations are the ones who tend to be a bit…well… strange. And, well, even “boring” creative people are only usually boring on the surface.

The fact is, in order to create things, you have to be at least slightly eccentric or unusual.

Why? Because you need to imagine the world in a different way – you have to be dissatisfied enough with the world around you to want to either tell more interesting stories about it, tell stories about somewhere more interesting and/or to either create images of more interesting places or more interesting versions of existing places.

In other words, you need to be someone whose imagination is a more interesting place than the world around you.

You need to be someone who either looks to the past and/or the future for inspiration or someone who can at least imagine a different version of the present day. And, well, this usually means that people think that you’re a little bit eccentric.

Although some creative people “fit in” more than other do, it’s the feeling of not fitting in that drives us to be creative. After all, if you lived in a fascinating world that you fitted into perfectly, then would you really feel driven to imagine new and interesting things rather than to just be a member of the audience for whatever is popular at the moment?

And, well, this is the thing that surprises me about “hipster” culture. From all I’ve heard about it, it sometimes seems to just be about showing off the superficial elements of this eccentricity (eg: clothes, coffee etc..), rather than the interesting and creative results of it.

Personally, I’d argue that the best way for someone to show off how “hip” or “cool” they are is by the things that they create.

And, to be honest, if you spend a lot of time trying to make other people think that you’re “cool”, then you’re neglecting the one person who is the real judge of whether you’re cool or not. Yourself.

So, if you’re not going to own a new phone – then make sure that it’s for reasons that actually make sense to you. If you wear an old band T-shirt, then make sure that you actually like the band on the shirt. If you drink coffee in Starbucks, then make sure that it’s because you actually like expensive American coffee (as opposed to, say, sensibly-priced green tea) etc….

The fact is, you don’t have to be “hipsterish” or to make a show of being “eccentric” in order to be creative. Just be yourself, be the version of yourself that you think is really cool – then create things that you yourself think are cool.

Chances are, this will make you both more uniquely creative and more creatively unique than fitting into any modern fashion trend or subculture ever will.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂