Merry Christmas Everyone :) [And Upcoming Comics News :) ]

Well, merry Christmas everyone 🙂 Have a fabulous day 🙂

For today, I thought that I’d make a quick digtally-edited painting of the characters from both my old “Damania” webcomic and my more recent “Diabolical Sigil” and “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall” comics. This cartoon was originally also going to include dialogue, but I couldn’t quite think of any.

For fans of the series, you’ll be pleased to know that these characters (well, except for Horace [the green creature]) will be returning in the spring for – at the time of writing – two webcomic mini series and one B&W narrative comic (starring Harvey [the guy in the trenchcoat] – it’s about time he got his own comic).

Normal daily articles and daily art posts will resume tomorrow. I’m also not sure if I’ll be reviewing the “Doctor Who” christmas special sometime (it depends on time, enthusiasm etc.. it’s probably best to assume that I won’t, but it’s possible that I might – although it will probably be late if I do). Anyway, have a wonderfully festive day 🙂

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

"Merry Christmas 2015" By C. A. Brown

“Merry Christmas 2015” By C. A. Brown

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Some Thoughts On Mysterious “WTF?” Endings – A Ramble

2015 Artwork Mysterious endings article sketch

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

However, I should warn you that this article will contain SPOILERS for both “Battlestar Galactica” and “A Field In England”. It’ll also contain spoilers for my “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall” comic too (or, at least an explanation for the second half of it).

Anyway, a while before I wrote this article, I finally watched the last few episodes of “Battlestar Galactica“. Although I’d accidentally heard about some of the ending to this show before I actually watched the last episode, some parts of the ending still left me absolutely baffled.

In the ending, one of the main characters (who seemingly returned from the dead earlier in the series, without any real explanation) just suddenly disappears. There’s also a whole sub-plot about “god” and “angels”, which is only barely foreshadowed in earlier episodes. Although it’s a very dramatic ending to a spectacular series, some parts of the ending just make no sense.

This then made me think of a rather surreal film that I watched in 2013 called “A Field In England“. Although a lot of this film doesn’t quite make sense, the ending is especially puzzling.

About the only logical explanation for it is that the main character is trapped in some kind of bizarre time loop… in the 17th century. Either that, or he hallucinated some of the events of the film. Or he died on the battlefield and is possibly in some kind of old-fashioned purgatory. It’s a very puzzling ending to a very puzzling film

For writers and comic creators, mysterious and puzzling endings are a real double-edged sword. One the one hand, they force your audience to think about the ending of the story and to spend quite a while working out what really happened. Because the ending isn’t fully explained, these kinds of endings can make your audience feel curious about your work and more interested in re-reading it to try to understand the ending.

On the other hand, there’s also a good chance that your audience will feel cheated by an ending that doesn’t quite make sense. If your audience have invested quite a few hours of their time in reading your story or comic, then a puzzling ending can make them feel like that time has been wasted.

A good compromise if you plan to include a “WTF?” kind of ending in your story or comic is to logically resolve at least a few parts of the story, before you include something bizarre. This way, your audience still has something to feel curious about – but, because there’s some resolution, your audience won’t feel completely cheated.

For example, although the ending to “Battlestar Galactica” had some really bizarre scenes in it, the main plot of the series was still resolved in a fairly logical way. The main characters defeat the bad guys and finally find a planet to settle on (our planet, no less)… and then a few weird things happen a bit later.

However, if you’re going to include a mysterious ending in your story or comic, you should know what it means. In other words, even the most bizarre ending must have a meaning of some kind that your audience actually has a chance of working out for themselves if they think about it for long enough.

In other words, you shouldn’t use these kinds of endings as a way to finish your story abruptly because you don’t know how to end it. And, yes, it can be very tempting to do this when you have writer’s block at the end of your story. In fact, I almost did this with my “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall” comic, which was posted here in late October.

Basically, in the second half of the comic, a lot of strange stuff happens. At the time, I thought that this was a way of including a lot of interesting drawings and vague parodies of various things in my comic.

The last page also contains a tiny bit of lazy writing too (eg: the laws of physics are conveniently suspended for a few seconds, although it is foreshadowed by other strange stuff happening earlier in the comic). But, a while after I finished this comic, I suddenly realised that the second half of the comic did have a meaning.

Roz and Rox are excited about it – and they discover lots of cool stuff in the mansion (Roz discovers more cool stuff, since she’s more excited). Derek is indifferent to the news and has a rather boring (and mildly crappy) time in the mansion. Harvey, on the other hand, is shocked and terrified – and he’s the only one to find anything genuinely terrifying in the mansion. In other words, the mansion is a reflection of each character’s emotions. It’s a strange mirror of some kind.

So, yes, make sure that your strange endings have at least some kind of meaning and try to resolve at least some of the plot before you bewilder your audience.

——–
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Why Comics Are Better Than Animations – A Ramble

2015 Artwork  comics are better than animation article sketch

Like with the past couple of articles, at the time of writing this, I’m busy making a comic called “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall“, which will probably have been posted here in late October. Once again, here’s a random page from it:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 5 (edited version)" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 5 (edited version)” By C. A. Brown

Anyway, for today, I thought that I’d ramble briefly about one of the reasons why comics are one of the best storytelling mediums to work in. Personally, I’d argue that making a comic is vaguely similar to making an animated film – but making a comic is also a lot better than making an animation for a large number of reasons.

Like with animation, comics tell a story through a series of pictures and words. Like with animation, comics usually tend to use a rather cartoonish art style. However, comics can’t include things like background music and voice acting – but, given how expensive both of these things can be, I’d argue that this is a bonus.

In fact, comics basically make your audience’s imaginations supply the voice acting (which means that it’ll probably be of a better quality than actual voice acting would be).

So, not only do you save money on voice acting and imagination, but you also save a lot of time when you make a comic. Even if you’re using one of those fancy modern animation programs, you’re still going to have to create at least several frames of animation for each second of footage. You’re also going to have to plan your animation carefully in order to ensure that it’s actually practical to make.

With comics, all you really need to do is to draw a few of the most important “frames” and your audience’s imaginations will “fill in the gaps” between them.

To use a classic example, if you wanted to show your main character punching someone in an animation, you’ve have to work out how to make their whole body move realistically. You’d have to work out exactly how the other character would react etc… You’d probably spend quite a lot of time animating something that would only be on screen for a second.

However, if you’re making a comic, all you need to do is to draw one panel with your character’s arm drawn back and one panel with their fist extended (and the other character reacting to being punched). You’ve only shown the beginning and the end of that action, but your audience will know exactly what happened. In other words, a comic can do in two drawings what an animation can only do in 12+ drawings.

Talking of time, one other great thing about comics is that you have a lot more control over how fast the story progresses. Although each comic panel is a snapshot of a single moment in time, you can decide how far apart those moments are. Like with writing prose fiction, you can devote an entire page of a comic to anything from a single second to a thousand years.

However, with animation, you’re limited to real time. Yes, you can show a series of scenes that take place at different times but time will always pass at the same rate in an animation. A second of animation is a second of animation. Ten minutes of animation is ten minutes of animation. I’m sure you get the idea.

Finally, there’s the subject of tools and costs. To produce a comic, all you basically need are a pen and several sheets of paper. Yes, it helps to have a digital camera or a scanner (as well as an image editing program and possibly a graphics tablet), but all you need in order to produce a comic are a pen and paper. To produce anything more than a flick-book animation, you either need a computer and/or lots of film equipment.

——-

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Two Simple Ways To Tell Whether Your Comic Is Going Well (Plus An Exclusive Deleted Scene From One Of My Comics!)

2015 Artwork Two ways to know if your comic is going well article sketch

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m working on a short horror comic called “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall” at the time of writing these articles. This comic will probably have already been published here in late October, but here’s a random page from it to refresh your memory:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 3" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 3” By C. A. Brown

Anyway, when I was making page five – I had a sudden bout of writer’s block, and after an hour, I’d only produced one panel.

So, in the end, I ended up scrapping that panel, taking a break and starting over. But, as an exclusive, here’s the “deleted” scene from “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall”

 Sorry about the scribbles. Needless to say, I was feeling quite frustrated.

Sorry about the scribbles. Needless to say, I was feeling quite frustrated.

Still, I thought that I’d write briefly about two ways you can tell whether your comic page is going well. In other words, these are two extremely simple ways to tell whether you’re in an inspired state of mind or not. However, if you’ve made a few comics before, then all of this stuff will probably be fairly obvious to you.

1)When you’re actually making your comic: Pay very close attention to how you feel when you’re actually making your comic. If making your comic feels like a chore or if it feels like you’re trying to solve a fiendishly difficult puzzle, then there’s a good chance that you’re in danger of feeling uninspired.

However, if it feels like you’re quite literally creating something magical, then this is a good sign. Likewise, if making your comic feels like you’re doing something important or special, then this is also a good sign. Finally, if making your comic feels even more enjoyable than playing a great computer game does, then this is obviously a good sign too.

If you’re feeling these things, then keep going with your comic. But, if you’re starting to feel like making your comic is a chore, then either take a short break from it (don’t leave it too long, or you may never return to your comic again) or change something about it until making your comic feels exciting, enjoyable and special again.

2) After you’ve made a page:
One of the best quality control tests for your comic is to take a look at your reaction to your latest finished comic page. Does it seem boringly familiar and mundane or do you keep wanting to look at it again and again for at least a few minutes?

This may sound like a strange question, but it’s one that you should ask yourself after making each comic page because it measures the level of accomplishment and satisfaction you feel about that particular comic page.

Generally speaking, if a page of your comic is something that you want to admire and re-read repeatedly after you’ve finished it, then there’s a good chance that your audience might feel the same way about it too.

On the other hand, if you don’t really want to look at your comic page enthusiastically after you’ve finished it, then this usually means that you either aren’t satisfied with the quality of the page or that creating it felt like something of a chore.

It’s ok to feel this way about a couple of pages of your comic (after all, every page probably won’t be perfect) but if you start feeling it after making every page of your comic, then it might be worth either taking a break or changing something about your comic.

———

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

The Complete “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall” – The New Dark Comedy Comic By C. A. Brown

2015 The Complete Horror Of Hardtalon Hall

Well, in case you missed it, here’s all nine pages of “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall” – a dark comedy/ horror parody comic that I made for Halloween this year.

It’s kind of a follow-up to my “Diabolical Sigil” comic from earlier this year and, despite getting writer’s block a couple of times, it was great fun to make 🙂

(If you want to view a larger version of any page of this comic, just click on it )

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]"The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Cover" By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Cover” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]"The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 1" By  C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 1” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 2" By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 2” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 3" By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 3” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 4" By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 4” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 5 (edited version)" By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 5 (edited version)” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 6" By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 6” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 7 " By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 7 ” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 8 " By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 8 ” By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 9 " By C. A. Brown

“The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 9 ” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art ( 31st October 2015)

em> Plot twists! Contrivances! More treasure! Yes, what else could it be but the shocking conclusion of eight of “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall”? Despite a couple of bouts of writer’s block, this comic was an absolute joy to make and I hope that it was as enjoyable for you too 🙂

Don’t worry if you missed any of it, I’ll post a re-cap of the entire comic on here shortly before midnight (GMT). My usual daily paintings will also resume tomorrow.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 9 " By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 9 ” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (30th October 2015 )

Treasure! Cosmic horrors! A cold day in hell! Yes, what else could it be but page eight of “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall”? This is a new short comic which I decided to make for Halloween and it’s kind of a follow-up to my “Diabolical Sigil” horror/comedy comic from earlier this year.

Anyway, stay tuned for the shocking conclusion of this comic tomorrow night 🙂

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 8 " By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 8 ” By C. A. Brown