Three Reasons Why Books Don’t Get Remakes

Well, the day that I wrote this article, I ended up thinking about the subject of remakes after seeing a trailer for the then-upcoming remake of a classic 1990s horror videogame called “Resident Evil 2”. Although the game itself looked far too modern to actually run on the computer I was using, even just seeing footage of it evoked lots of nostalgia… and made me think about the subject of remakes.

But, since I’m going through more of a reading than a gaming phase at the moment, I started to wonder why books don’t really get remakes. After all, there are plenty of compelling vintage classics which could probably be spruced up with more readable and/or fast-paced modern narration etc… So, why doesn’t this happen? Here are a few of the reasons.

1) There’s no need: As I sort of mentioned a couple of days ago, the “technology” behind literature is pretty much the same as it has been for quite a few years.

In other words, most English-language books use 26 letters and standard systems of spelling, grammar and punctuation. None of this has really changed too much during at least the past century or two.

In purely technical terms, old books are still as readable as new books. Unlike with film or games, where the technology is still constantly changing and growing, the written word has pretty much been perfected these days. As such, a new remake of an old book would still look like… well… a book. It would still contain 26 letters and the usual spelling, grammar and punctuation.

In other words, remakes of films and games allow people to add modern graphics, special effects etc.. to older works. With books, there’s less of a need for this. Sure, you could update the wording or the settings slightly, but the original would still be pretty much the same thing as the remake.

2) Authorship: Unlike films and games, which are large collaborative projects, books usually have just one author. As such, books will often have more personality and uniqueness to them than films or games do.

Yes, you should always view a novel on it’s own merits, but there’s no denying that part of what makes a good novel so compelling is the unique way that the author describes, sees, thinks about etc.. the story they are telling and the world they are describing.

And, without getting into questions of copyright, moral rights etc…., this is a major practical reason why slightly older books don’t usually get remakes in the same way that films or games do. After all, the author is an integral part of what makes a novel so interesting. By changing the author, you change the story itself in a fairly major way.

In other words, another author’s remake of a classic novel wouldn’t be a remake… it would be a different novel altogether. After all, novels aren’t usually collaborative projects in the way that films and games are.

3) They get adapted instead: Sad as it is to say, books are no longer a popular entertainment medium in the way that they apparently were a few decades ago.

As such, if there’s a really compelling older story that someone wants to bring up to date so that modern audiences can really enjoy it, then they’re probably not going to reach a large audience with a rewritten book.

As such, instead of remakes, interesting older novels usually tend to get adapted to more popular mediums like film and television instead. Yes, these adaptations will sometimes do all of the things that a remake would do (eg: updating the settings etc..) – but they will still be adaptations rather than remakes.

So, yes, because the largest popular audience is more likely to be found in front of a screen than a book these days, interesting older books usually tend to get adapted rather than remade.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

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The Complete “Damania Revisited” – All Six Episodes Of The (Sort Of) New Webcomic Mini Series By C. A. Brown

Well, in case you missed any of it, here are all six comic updates from my recent “Damania Revisited” webcomic mini series. You can also find lots of other comics featuring these characters on this page too.

As the title suggests, this mini series was a series of new remakes of old “Damania” comics from 2012/13. Although I’ve been meaning to make a mini series like this for ages, I only got round to it due to writer’s block and/or time issues shortly before making this mini series.

Still, I quite like how these remakes turned out and it was an interesting little trip down memory lane. Interestingly, some of the remakes here are actually composites of two old comics (eg: because the comics were either too short or too similar to justify individual remakes). Likewise, I also did a little bit of rewriting etc… when remaking these comics.

But, if you want to compare them to the original source comics, then the original comics from 2012/13 can be found here: “Damania – Youtube“, “Damania – Copypasta“, “Damania – Newsagent“, “Damania – Dark Electric“, “Damania – Evil Cyborg“, “Damania – Trolls“, “Damania – 11:11” and “Damania – Haunted“.

As usual, these six comic updates are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence. You can also click on each one to see a larger version. Enjoy 🙂

“Damania Revisited – Youtube/Copypasta (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Newsagent (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Dark Electric/ Evil Cyborg (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Trolls (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – 11:11 (II)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revisited – Haunted (II)” By C. A. Brown

Three Tips For Remaking Your Old Webcomic Updates

At the time of writing, I’m busy preparing this month’s webcomic mini series (which will start on the 21st). But, due to writer’s block, the mini series will consist of modern remakes of several old comic updates from 2012-13. As such, I thought that I’d provide a few tips for remaking webcomic updates.

1) The older, the better: This one is fairly self-explanatory – but if you’re going to remake an old webcomic update, then try to make sure that it is as old as possible. Not only will this be a good source of nostalgia for older fans of your comic, but it also means that the difference in art quality will be a lot more noticeable too. For example, here’s a comparison of a panel from an old comic update from 2012 and the modern remake:

So, this is what the comic looked like in 2012 and this is what it looks like in my current style.

However, one thing to watch out for in older comic updates is what TV Tropes calls “Early Installment Weirdness“. Chances are, when you started your comic, you had a completely different idea about what it would be like. As such, seeing ultra-old comic updates can be a surprisingly weird experience.

For example, in my webcomic, the characters used to have slightly different personalities to their current ones and there were also a lot more horror/fantasy elements (because I’d originally intended it to be a slight parody of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer“, of all things) in the older updates.

To avoid confusing your audience, it’s usually best to avoid remaking comic updates that include too much “Early Installment Weirdness” or to do a very minimal amount of rewriting, so that your remade comic updates are more comprehensible to newer fans of your webcomic.

2) Artistic licence: Unless you have a George Lucas-like attitude towards your past work, then the originals will probably still be on the internet for people to view.

This means that you can use a little bit of artistic licence when remaking your comic updates. Whether this involves visual changes or rewrites, don’t be afraid to do something a little bit different. But, try to make sure that your remake is at least mostly faithful to the original and that you have a good reason for making any changes.

For example, the first update in this month’s mini series will actually consist of two shorter comic updates that have been merged together. This was mostly because they were both set in the same location and neither comic was quite long enough for a full remake. Of course, in order to merge the two comics, I had to rewrite a couple of lines of dialogue and remove a panel. However, the bulk of the comic update is a reasonably faithful remake of these two old comic updates:

“Damania – Youtube” By C. A. Brown [2012]

“Damania – Copypasta” By C. A. Brown [2013]

Think of your remake a little bit like a “live version” of one of your favourite songs. People listen to live recordings of music because they are often very slightly different to the studio version. A live recording will still usually be the same song, but it is the variations that make it interesting.

3) Have a good reason (or do something else): Simply put, if you can make new and original comics, then make them instead!

Remakes are something that you should only make if you’ve got serious writer’s block and/or you have an extremely good reason (eg: it’s an anniversary or something like that). Basically, a new comic update is better than a remake, but a remake is better than no comic updates at all.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, but you don’t want to do a full remake, then either make a partial remake or include some kind of call-back in your comic. Doing this is more creative than just remaking your old comics. For example, the final panel of last year’s Halloween comic is a new comic panel in the style of my old comics from late 2012. This isn’t a remake of a specific comic update, but it is a call-back.

This is a new comic panel, made in 2017, that is mostly in the style of my comics from 2012. It’s an example of a more creative alternative to a simple remake.

So, unless you’ve got a good reason for remaking a comic update, then try to do something slightly different instead.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Alternate Versions Of Recent Paintings – A Good Idea If You’re Uninspired?

Well, although I was still busy writing last year’s Christmas stories at the time of writing this article, I thought that I’d talk very briefly about making art today. This was mostly because I found myself feeling somewhat uninspired.

Basically, I’d made a 1980s-themed drawing that didn’t really turn out as well as I’d hoped – even after extensive editing. So, I thought that I’d try to make another piece of art instead. But, I was a little bit pressed for time and needed to come up with a good-looking painting quickly.

Luckily, I remembered the view from the kitchen window earlier that morning. Thanks to the season and the time of the day, the world outside was shrouded in wonderfully atmospheric dark blue blue light. Needless to say, this seemed like it was worth painting. But, I’d already made a painting of the same view about a month earlier:

“Kitchen Window” By C. A. Brown

So, thinking quickly, I decided that my upcoming painting would be a companion piece to that one. I could use the old painting as a reference, whilst also doing a few things differently in my new painting. Here’s a preview of it:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 5th October.

So, is this sort of thing a good strategy when you’re uninspired?

Simply put, anything that works when you’re feeling uninspired is a good thing. Plus, since you’re partially repeating what you’ve done before, then it also means that you can make a good-looking piece of art quickly too. So, as a way to make art when you’re uninspired, it can certainly work!

However, I’d advise either not doing it too often, making extensive changes or waiting as long as possible before making new versions of your existing art. The thing to remember is to set your new version apart from the old version in an immediately noticeable way, and to make sure that there’s still a decent level of variety in the art you produce.

The main advantage to waiting as long as possible is that you’ll have become a better artist (if you practice regularly) during the time gap, so a remake of a painting from say – a year or two ago- can also be a good way to show how much you’ve improved.

Still, if you’re feeling uninspired, then making a new alternative version of one of your more recent paintings can be a good way to actually make some art. Just don’t rely on this technique too often.

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Sorry for such a short, basic and rambling article, but I hope it was useful 🙂

Two Things That Remaking Your Old Art Will Show You (Apart From Your Skill Level)

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For today, I thought that I’d look at a few things (other than improvements in your skill level) that making new versions of your older works of art will show you. For best results, it’s usually a good idea to wait until a piece of art is at least 1-2 years old before attempting to create a new version of it.

So, here are two other things than how much better you’ve got at making art that remaking your old art can show you:

1) Your influences: Whilst writing yesterday’s article, I went looking for a painting that I remembered making in 2015. When I saw this painting, I just had to remake it. But, something interesting happened when I did…

Here’s the painting from 2015:

"Data Tower" By C. A. Brown [2015]

“Data Tower” By C. A. Brown [2015]

And here’s a reduced-size preview of the new version, which will be posted here in December:

This is a reduced-sized preview, the full-size painting will appear here on the 17th December.

This is a reduced-sized preview, the full-size painting will appear here on the 17th December.

As you can tell, both versions look radically different. This is mostly because of all of the extra inspirations I’ve found in the time between making these paintings.

When I made the original painting in 2015, the two main influences were “Blade Runner” and a game called “Dark Forces“. But, when I made the remake, I’d also been influenced by other things in the sci-fi/cyberpunk genre like these “Doom II” levels, “System Shock“, “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex“, “Technobabylon” etc… too.

So, remaking an old painting in your current style can be a great way to see how many extra influences you’ve picked up.

2) Your best works: Generally speaking, you can find out a lot about what your “greatest hits” are by seeing which of your old paintings or drawings you really want to remake.

Whilst everyone’s motivations for remaking a piece of art might differ, it often happens because you want to see what one of your favourite pictures looks like at the highest level of quality that you can produce. In other words, you probably want to see a clearer picture of what you really wanted to draw when you had less experience.

This can be a good way to find a group of paintings or drawings you can show off if you ever need to give a brief overview of your art to anyone. Seeing which paintings you’ve remade (or want to remake) can be a quick way to find your own collection of “classics”.

Likewise, if you try to remake a picture and find that any remake doesn’t look as good as the original does, then this is usually a sign that the original is one of your best works because it has stood the test of time (although it can sometimes mean that you need to wait longer before remaking it). For example, here’s a painting of mine called “La Chanteuse” that was posted here in 2016:

"La Chanteuse" By C. A. Brown [2016]

“La Chanteuse” By C. A. Brown [2016]

I really like this painting! It’s dramatic, gothic and atmospheric. So, naturally, I tried to remake it about a year or so later. The remake was an absolute failure – although the lighting looks slightly more realistic and the characters are more well-drawn on a technical level, the remake just really doesn’t have the same atmosphere and ambience that the original did:

"La Chanteuse (II)" By C. A. Brown

“La Chanteuse (II)” By C. A. Brown

So, if you really want to remake a painting and/or if the remake doesn’t turn out as well as the original, then this usually means that it’s one of your best works.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Tips For Remaking Famous Old Paintings In Your Own Style

2017-artwork-remaking-old-paintings-article-sketch

As long-time readers of this blog probably know, I had an interesting request to remake Van Gogh’s “Bedroom In Arles” in my own style last autumn. Although it had been a while since I’d done this with an old painting, it was a lot of fun. First of all, here’s Van Gogh’s original painting:

"Bedroom In Arles" By Vincent Van Gogh (Via Wikipedia/Google Art Project)

“Bedroom In Arles” By Vincent Van Gogh (Via Wikipedia/Google Art Project)

And here’s the remake, in my own style, that I originally posted here last November. Although I’d originally planned to stay faithful to the original, I felt that the room looked a bit “empty” and, as soon as I started adding stuff, the picture went in more of a gothic horror/ 1980s cyberpunk kind of direction:

"Another Bedroom In Arles (After Van Gogh)" By C. A. Brown

“Another Bedroom In Arles (After Van Gogh)” By C. A. Brown

So, for today, I thought that I’d give you a few tips about how to remake famous old paintings in your own style:

1) Legalities and Formalities: I’m not a copyright lawyer but, whilst making non-commercial fan art based on other media like TV shows, videogames etc.. is generally tolerated by the original creators (if theoretically against the rules), making a copy/remake of a modern painting is something a bit different.

Given that you’re working in the same medium (or a similar one), there are more likely to be copyright complaints if you remake a copyrighted modern painting or drawing. So, either seek permission or – more sensibly – only remake paintings whose copyright has expired. But, if you’re making a parody of a modern painting, then some copyright laws contain an exemption for this sort of thing.

So, do your research. Copyright law varies from area to area. In most European countries (including the UK), the general rule is that copyright on an artistic work expires seventy years after the artist who made it has died. Yes, this is ridiculously long, but it’s something you should be aware of.

However, copyright rules between the US and Europe vary slightly. For example, all of Henri Matisse’s paintings are still copyrighted in Europe (since he died in 1954), but quite a few of them aren’t in the US (since, in America, all works published before 1923 are automatically out of copyright). On the other hand, the time limit for copyright in the US is ninety-five years post mortem! And even longer for some types of works.

So, make sure that the paintings you are remaking are old enough to be out of copyright (both in your country and, if you’re posting it online, in the country where the website is based too).

For example, Van Gogh lived until 1890. 1890 + 70 = 1960. So, his paintings have been out of copyright in Europe since 1960/1961 (they are also out-of-copyright in the US too by virtue of both the “1923” rule, and the current American “95 years” rule). The longest copyright limit I’ve heard of is 120 years (for corporate works in the US), and it would even be exempt under that rule too (even though it doesn’t apply to Van Gogh).

Likewise, it is both traditional and polite to add “After [the original artist]” to your remake. Not only does it show that you’re paying tribute to a great artist, but it also means that – if your remake is good enough – no-one can accuse you of plagiarism and/or art forgery, since you aren’t trying to pass a copy off as an original.

2) Make lots of original art first: If you are going to remake an old painting in your own style, then you actually need to know what your own style looks like. You can learn this by making lots of original art first. In other words, the only way that you are going to learn what sets your style apart from everyone else’s is to practice.

Whilst you’re practicing, you should obviously take inspiration (but, make sure to do it properly!)from anything that inspires you. This will all help to shape your art style. Likewise, if you see another art style that you really like, then try to work out what general techniques the artist used and then add these to the techniques that you already know. Then practice them a lot.

When you have a fairly solid understanding of your own art style (eg: how you use colours, what types of lighting you like, how you draw people, the general themes of your art etc..), then you are almost ready to remake an old painting. But, you need to learn another skill first.

3) Copying by sight: Yes, it might not be as ultra-precise as tracing, but copying things the old fashioned way is so much better for so many reasons.

Yes, it can take a bit of practice to get right. Yes, you’ll have to learn how to “see” paintings that look 3D as being the 2D images that they actually are. But, despite the extra effort, it’s an essential skill to learn if you want to remake things in your own style.

Why? Well, first of all, it makes your copy look just a little bit different. The slight imprecision of copying by sight gives your painting more individuality than a simple mechanical tracing will ever do. This also gives you a lot more opportunities for the individual quirks of your personal art style to emerge too, when compared to a strictly similar tracing.

But, most importantly, it allows you to change things much more easily! Since you’re creating your sight copy in a similar way to how you would sketch an original painting, you can easily alter things whilst you’re copying. Although you can still obviously alter tracings too, the fact that you’re drawing a sight copy without guidelines means that your changes can be a lot more seamless.

4) Use your imagination: A good art remake is like a good cover version of a song. It keeps enough of the original to be recognisable, but it also tries to improve the original in a unique way. In other words, it’s someone’s interpretation of something else, rather than just someone copying something else verbatim.

So, don’t be afraid to change things. Don’t be afraid to add elements from your favourite genres of art. Don’t be afraid to use different colours. As long as you think that it improves the original painting in some way, then make the changes!

For example, in the Van Gogh remake that I showed you earlier, I noticed that the room in the painting looked a bit “empty”. So, I began to add more stuff. Since I’m also a fan of the cyberpunk genre (and have had a lot of practice making 1980s-90s style cyberpunk art), I thought that I could make the painting look more interesting if I included elements from this genre in the painting.

At the moment, my favourite colour palette is a red, yellow, blue, green, purple and black one. So, these were the only watercolour pencils that I used when adding colour to the painting. Likewise, there are a few digital editing techniques that I really like to use, so these got added to the painting after I scanned it.

Likewise, my absolute favourite lighting style is ambient lighting in gloomy locations- so, I set the painting at night and added several orange, blue and green light sources to the painting (the green one is slightly in front of the area shown in the painting).

Yes, whether you think that all of this is an “improvement” is up to you. But, it’s my own personal interpretation of how I would “improve” the original painting. And, well, isn’t personal interpretation the whole point of remaking old paintings in your own style?

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Basic Reasons Why Remakes Change Things

2017-artwork-remakes-changing-things

I’m sure that I’ve probably talked about this before (and tomorrow’s article will be a much more interesting interpretation of the topic of remakes), but since I was in a slight rush at the time, I thought that I’d go over some of the most basic reasons why remakes change things.

Although it won’t be posted here until August, the day before I wrote this article, I re-made one of my favourite paintings from last year called “La Chanteuse” because I was feeling too uninspired to come up with a totally new idea for a daily painting. Here’s the original painting from 2016:

"La Chanteuse" By C. A. Brown [2016]

“La Chanteuse” By C. A. Brown [2016]

And here’s a reduced-size preview of the new version:

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 18th August.

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 18th August.

As you can probably see, it looks fairly different to the original version. Personally, I’m not sure which version I prefer, but I thought that I’d talk about some of the reasons why remakes can end up being different from the things that they’re based on.

1) Skill changes: If someone returns to something they’ve made a long time ago, or if someone remakes something by someone else, then there’s a good chance that the person making the remake has at least slightly different skills to the one who made the original.

For example, between the time that I made the original version of “La Chanteuse” and the remake, my attitude towards using colours in art completely changed. I went from using strict limited palettes, to using a slightly wider palette in a particular way. Likewise, I’ve become more interested in (and/or very slightly more practiced at) painting realistic lighting. I’ve also learnt a few new digitial editing techniques for my art too.

So, when I made the remake – I ended up using all of this new knowledge. After all, what would be the point of remaking something if I wasn’t able to add everything I’ve learnt to it?

2) Inspiration changes: Likewise, the inspirations that someone brings to a remake will probably be different to the inspirations that were behind the original thing. This can either be because the remake is being made by someone else or because the person who made the original has found new influences.

A good example of this can be seen in the 1982 film “Blade Runner“, which is an adaptation of a novel from the 1960s called “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” by Phillip K. Dick. The setting of the original novel is closer to a semi-abandoned post-post-apocalyptic city than anything else. This was probably at least partially inspired by anxieties about nuclear war, pollution etc.. at the time.

But, when Ridley Scott directed the film adaptation, he was a lot more influenced by old film noir movies and contemporary cities in Japan, South Korea etc.. when shaping the ‘look’ of the film. So, far from being the decaying remnants of a civilisation, the city is a bustling futuristic metropolis that is lit with neon signs, filled with towering buildings and omnipresent rain.

The book and the film tell slightly similar stories, but their settings are very different because they were made by people who had different inspirations.

3) Times and trends: As I hinted at in the previous point on this list, the time that a remake is made can also cause changes too. Popular fashions can change, popular trends can change, technology can change, popular politcs can change etc… And this can often be reflected in remakes.

For example, things in the horror and dystopian sci-fi genres that tapped into contemporary anxieties when they were originally released will often be updated to reflect current anxieties when they are remade. Likewise, bringing a story “up to date” can sometimes involve transposing an old story to a modern setting – with mixed results.

This is especially noticeable when Shakespeare is performed live these days. Although a lot of people have tried to “update” these plays by setting them in the modern age, few directors would dare to change the original dialogue too much. So, you end up with this surreal situation where modern people are talking in 16th-17th century English. It’s hilariously bizarre.

So, yes, the time that a remake is made can also have a huge effect on it too.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂