Today’s Art (21st March 2019)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the second comic in “Damania Requirement”, this month’s four-comic webcomic mini series 🙂 You can also find lots of other comics featuring these characters on this page too 🙂

And, yes, I’ll be experimenting with photo-based backgrounds again in several of the comics in this mini series. The photo in the background of this one is a digitally-edited detail from a photo I took of a graveyard last March.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Requirement – Graveyard” By C. A. Brown

Short Story: “Culture” By C. A. Brown

Vicky had never seen a real, honest-to-god goth club before. It wasn’t what she’d expected. For starters, there were people who weren’t wearing black. And, the music! It was some kind of strange groaning, droning, mumbling dirge that sounded like it came from an old vinyl record. Even the walls of the club just looked ordinary, they weren’t painted nail varnish black or blood red. They were magnolia. Magnolia!

It wasn’t what she’d prepared for. And, how much fun it had been to prepare! She’d cranked her Evanescence playlist as loud as the computer speakers would go, she’d re-read random passages of her favourite Shaun Hutson novels and chosen the darkest and gnarliest Cradle Of Filth top in her wardrobe. There was a feeling that none of this could be real. Like all of the movies she’d seen over the years actually existed, like there were actually other goths and that she’d finally get to meet them.

Because, dammit, there had to be. In every Hollywood comedy movie she’d seen when she was growing up, there was always a goth or two. Even in Podunk, Arkansas – there would be a goth who wore eyeliner, talked about death and hung out with a few other goths.

On one level, she knew that was Hollywood. In Britain, things were different. She’d never met another goth in all of her two decades. Sure, there had been skaters, nerds, that emo guy with the floppy hair who had run a mile when she asked him if he was a goth and even a few friendly stoners. But, no other goths. Such things, apparently, didn’t exist in towns over here.

So, she’d had to work it out as she went along. She’d bought every gnarly-looking vintage monster, zombie and werewolf-themed horror novel she’d seen in the charity shops – the grislier the cover art, the better. After all, she thought, horror is awesome and therefore I must be a goth.

Ever since she heard “Going Under” on the radio, she’d bought and worn out two copies of Evanescence’s Fallen album. Then, after they were mentioned on TV, she’d picked up more Cradle Of Filth clothing than she could shake a stick at. Their music, she thought, wasn’t bad either. It was angry, it was about death. And the lead singer looked like a zombie from one of her horror novels. She loved it. So, of course, it must be as goth as goth could be.

And, of course, there wasn’t a single episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that she couldn’t quote from. Every frame of every episode had been imprinted in her mind ever since she’d first seen it on TV and stood there in catatonic amazement until the credits rolled.

And, finally, thanks to an off-hand comment from a guy called Garth who had moved into the flat next door, she’d learnt that there was a goth club in town. Ironically, she’d walked past it more times than she could remember and had always thought that it was some grim old working man’s club or a run-down community centre or something like that.

But, after Garth offered to meet her there and she’d asked around, it was apparently a goth club. It had been there the whole time and she’d never noticed. It was like something from a vampire romance, if she could ever lower herself to read such obviously non-goth things.

And then she’d put on some eyeliner, picked up her leather trenchcoat and got a taxi to the club. And Garth wasn’t there.

Maybe, she thought, it was the wrong club. Maybe it was all an elaborate joke on Garth’s part. More to the point, where the hell was Garth? She checked her phone again, the amber LCD screen showed that she had one new message. She read it. Garth was running late. At least he’d texted.

She stood nervously beside the entrance and watched the people. They almost looked like a crowd from an ordinary pub. No-one else was wearing a trenchcoat. A couple of bearded men were even wearing Indiana Jones hats. The few people who were dancing to the dirge were dancing too slowly. She didn’t recognise anyone.

Remembering a line she’d seen in a comedy on TV, she nervously walked over to the bar and – putting on her most serious voice – asked if they sold absinthe. They didn’t. She bought a bottle of Vodka Tropical instead, and stood near the end of the bar sipping the bright orange liquid and staring out at the club.

Maybe, Vicky thought, she wasn’t a goth. But, that didn’t seem right. She always wore dark clothes. Songs about death were her background music. The horror genre was her genre. But, why did her supposed home look so different? A flush of fury spread through her chest. Where had these people been when she had been growing up? Why was she left to come up with her own version of what a goth was, pieced together from whatever she could find, only to discover that no-one else had had the same ideas?

Vicky felt alienated. And, suddenly, everything around her made a lot more sense. A smile crossed her face. She was, she realised, more of a goth than everyone she saw around her.

Today’s Art (28th February 2017)

First of all, if you want to see a step-by-step “making of” article about this comic, then it can be read here 🙂

This is the second comic in “Damania Repressed” and, although I’m hoping that this mini series will be fairly self-contained – it follows on from the events of this mini series (which, in turn, follows on from this one). Links to more mini series can also be found on this page.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Repressed - Goth" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Repressed – Goth” By C. A. Brown

Mini Review “Oniria” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”)

2016 Artwork Oniria WAD review sketch

Well, I was in the mood for reviewing another fan-made level for “Doom II”, so I thought that I’d check out a rather interesting-looking WAD called “Oniria“.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this level. Although it may possibly work with other source ports, it happens to have been designed for “ZDoom” (which is always a bonus) and – like many modern (well, this level was actually made in 2006) levels, it requires a source port that allows jumping.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Oniria”:

Yay! An ominous skull! This is always a good sign :)

Yay! An ominous skull! This is always a good sign 🙂

“Oniria” is a single-level WAD for “Doom II”/”Final Doom” that contains new textures and music. The premise of the level is that the Doomguy has fallen asleep and is in the midst of a dream…. a nightmare!

And with cool-looking posters like this on his bedroom wall, you can tell that it's going to be an interesting one...

And with cool-looking posters like this on his bedroom wall, you can tell that it’s going to be an interesting one…

The best way to describe this level is that it is what “Doom II” would look like if it had been designed by Tim Burton and/or American McGee… wait a minute, American McGee did make parts of “Doom II”. Well, although this level wasn’t made by him, it reminded me of his later game “American McGee’s Alice“.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Curiouser and curiouser…

The first sign that this WAD is more on the gothic side of things is the interesting choice of colour palette. The only colours you will see in this level are black, white, grey and blood red.

This minimalist colour scheme goes together really well and it really helps to add to the creepy, gothic and carnivalesque atmosphere of the level. Did I say “carnivaliseque”? Well, there are a lot of creepy clowns anyway….

Can't sleep, clown will eat me... Can't sleep, clown will eat me...

Can’t sleep, clown will eat me… Can’t sleep, clown will eat me…

Needless to say, the visual design of this level is fairly good too. As well as several new textures, there are ominously dark corridors, large imposing buildings and creepy swirling patterns. Seriously, this level really looks cool.

Yay! I wish more rooms in "Doom II" looked like this!

Yay! I wish more rooms in “Doom II” looked like this!

Yay! Lampposts and swirling patterns!

Yay! Lampposts and swirling patterns!

One interesting feature of this level is the key system. Instead of just collecting three skull keys, you have to find nine skull keys and one door key. This adds an extra level of challenge to the level, since most locked doors won’t open unless you’ve collected 2-4 skulls of a particular type. Of course, whilst many of the skulls can be found quite easily, at least a couple of them are hidden in clever places.

The same is true for at least one of the locked doors that you’ll need to open in order to complete the level (you have to jump/run off of a platform in precisely the right place to get to it). So, yes, this is one of those levels that requires a fair amount of exploration. If you’re the kind of player who doesn’t like getting “stuck”, then you probably won’t like this level. But, if you’re a seasoned 1990s FPS gamer, then getting stuck won’t be too much of an issue.

In terms of the difficulty, this level is moderately challenging. As well as cleverly-hidden doors and keys, you’ll also be fighting groups of low-mid level monsters on a regular basis and this is something that the game itself actually points out to you in one part:

Yay! I was wondering where they had got to....

Yay! I was wondering where they had got to….

 It is pretty much compulsory for "Doom II" WADs to include at least one of these, this level contains three :)

It is pretty much compulsory for “Doom II” WADs to include at least one of these, this level contains three 🙂

As for the music in this level, it’s a fairly good fit with the level. Although it’s suitably ominous and gothic, it’s also surprisingly upbeat too. It kind of reminded me of something that I’d expect to hear in a 1990s “point and click” game, which is always cool.

All in all, I really liked this level. Yes, some parts of it can get slightly confusing at times but it’s an enjoyable level with a wonderfully gothic atmosphere.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least a four.

Today’s Art ( 6th October 2016)

Woo hoo! My long-running “Damania” webcomic series has reappeared for another mini series 🙂 You can catch up on the previous mini series here, here, here, here and here.

Although there’s a slight continuity error in the second panel, it is true that Rox has never personally seen Harvey venture outside during the day (in the new comics at least). And, hopefully, this time, Harvey can read “The Raven” without interruptions

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Reappears - An Accidental Goth" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Reappears – An Accidental Goth” By C. A. Brown

Musical Subcultures, Belonging And Art – A Ramble

2016 Artwork Subcultures and art

Well, for today, I thought that I’d ramble about the role that musical subcultures can play in being an artist. This was mainly prompted by some interesting news stories that I read earlier this year about the reactions to the plans for an official celebration of punk music in London this year.

A lot of people thought that such a celebration “wasn’t punk”, but my initial reaction to it was more along the lines of “Cool! Punk music is finally getting some recognition. Now, where’s the celebration of heavy metal?

To say that I have a complicated relationship with the punk genre would be an understatement. It was actually the very first “cool” genre of music that I ever discovered when I was a kid in the late 1990s. This was, of course, near the end of the wonderful (but brief) time when American punk music became sort of mainstream. Although this instantly led to me becoming a lifelong fan of The Offspring (and later to discover other great punk bands too), I’ve kind of had a sporadic relationship with the punk genre.

Thanks to discovering the heavy metal genre a couple of years after I first discovered punk, punk music has always been something that I seem to go through phases of listening to and not listening to. It’s still one of my absolute favourite genres, but whenever I’ve met people who are into punk music, I always feel like I’m “not really punk” by comparison. And yet, the punk genre turns up relatively often in my art (albeit mostly in subtle ways, unlike this painting):

Yes, I added myself to the background of this painting, but I'm probably the least punk person in it ("Days Of The Angel" By C. A. Brown)

Yes, I added myself to the background of this painting, but I’m probably the least punk person in it (“Days Of The Angel” By C. A. Brown)

I had the same sort of reaction when I finally discovered gothic rock during my very early twenties. Despite the fact that I’ve been interested in the horror genre, to varying extents, for most of my life. Despite the fact that I almost always wear dark clothing. Despite the fact that I was reading H.P. Lovecraft when I was seventeen. Despite the fact that Billy Martin/ Poppy Z. Brite is my favourite author. I still don’t really call myself a “goth”.

Because I was somewhat of a latecomer to gothic rock, I often still don’t really consider myself to be “really a goth”. This is especially true whenever I’ve met people who are actual goths. And, again, quite a lot of my art tends to be slightly gothic. Even when I’m not planning to make gothic art, my art can still have a slight gothic look to it. Like this:

"La Chanteuse" By C. A. Brown

“La Chanteuse” By C. A. Brown

Ironically though, I’ve never had this problem with heavy metal music. As soon as I bought my first Iron Maiden CD, I was a metalhead. Whenever I’ve met people who are into heavy metal, I’ve never really felt like I’m “not really a metalhead”. Whenever I’ve been to metal concerts, I’ve just felt like part of the audience. Metal seems to be a surprisingly open-ended subculture in many ways.

And, yet, when it comes to making art, heavy metal imagery doesn’t really turn up as often as it “should” in the art that I make. In fact, my art often tends to include more punk and gothic imagery than heavy metal imagery. Even though there’s a good chance that I’ll be listening to heavy metal when I make most of my art, it still doesn’t actually turn up in my paintings and drawings as much as punk/ gothic imagery does.

I guess that, in a way, this is because subcultures are about more than just music. I mean, both the punk and goth genres have a surprisingly rich and accessible visual tradition. Gothic artwork is more about the levels of gloominess in a particular picture and the actual content of the picture (eg: settings, clothing styles etc..) – it doesn’t matter whether a picture is realistic or cartoonish, if it contains certain elements, then it’s gothic art.

And, since it looks really cool, most of my art tends to include gothic elements. Even if this is only the fact that my art tends to contain bold contrasts between light and darkness, this is at least partly a gothic thing. It’s also inspired by other things too, but it can still look fairly gothic too. Like in this painting:

"Behind The Wall" By C. A. Brown

“Behind The Wall” By C. A. Brown

Likewise, thanks to the DIY tradition of punk (something I really probably should know more about), punk art is meant to be slightly stylised and unpolished. It’s the eccentric artwork in a “Tank Girl” comic. It’s a cynical political cartoon. It’s a type of art where you can include hilariously grotesque things (eg: zombies etc..). It can be detailed or undetailed. It has to be at least mildly rebellious. Best of all, when combined with science fiction, it turns into the cyberpunk genre – the coolest sci-fi sub-genre of them all.

It’s an absolute joy to make art in this genre, especially when I don’t think that I am. Like in this very 1990s punk-influenced picture of some zombies that I made a while ago.

"Fake '80s Movies - Zombie Quad Bikers 2" By C. A. Brown

“Fake ’80s Movies – Zombie Quad Bikers 2” By C. A. Brown

Or one of my many 1980s/1990s-style cyberpunk paintings:

"Cityship Bridge" By C. A. Brown

“Cityship Bridge” By C. A. Brown

Heavy metal art, on the other hand, is often highly realistic. It’s a really awesome genre of art, but to make “proper” metal art (that could grace an album cover), you need to be able to paint or draw in an extremely realistic style. I am at least a few years away from being able to do this. Yes, I’ve made heavy metal-themed artwork, but I don’t know if I’d say that any of my art is truly “metal art”.

So, I guess that what I’m trying to say is that there is more to most modern subcultures than just music. When it comes to making art, there are probably a lot of other factors that will influence what kinds of art that you make. Trying to fit yourself into one genre will probably limit the kind of art that you make. So, just make the kinds of art that you think are “cool” and if anything from your favourite musical genres appears in them, then this is a bonus.

At the end of the day, you’re probably going to make the kind of art that you think looks cool. So, just make it and stop worrying about musical subcultures.

———————-

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂