Chloë's Quantum Quest

chloe-quantum-quest

Greetings! It's cold here in Blighty but it's beautiful in the sunshine.

The beginning of February is only a week away. I was planning to bring out the second issue of 'Visiting Alien' magazine. Unfortunately, there haven't been enough downloads to justify putting out another issue at the moment; but that's okay, as putting the magazine together and working on its contents has already reaped creative dividends.

While assembling chapter 2 of 'Chloë solves the Universe', I delved a little deeper into the history of the Neumann-Wigner hypothesis. This is the idea, put forward by two brilliant scientists, that our minds must be outside of the physical system and influencing it, in order for ghostly quantum superpositions to turn into real objects like photons and electrons. I discovered that this viewpoint wasn't just the view of two mavericks. It was actually fully or partly supported by a host of famous quantum physicists, astrophysicists and mathematicians. Wolfgang Pauli, John Von Neumann, Max Planck, Arthur Eddington, Erwin Schrödinger, Eugene Wigner and Werner Heisenberg were all of the view that materialism was no longer valid. Quantum physics had effectively killed that belief. Instead, they concluded that reality had to be dependent on the mind, either being a creation of the mind or a separate construction to the mind that the mind actively influenced. They debated about this matter for decades. Like any long-running debate, the views of those involved shifted but for many of them, the mind-first idea became more valid over time, rather than less.

I think it's very surprising that this important debate has never been written about in a popular science book (as far as I know). That may be because popular science books are usually written by senior scientists who are still active in science. The problem with this approach is that it may lend weight to the scientist's views but nowadays, any scientist who espouses a view that isn't materialist is endangering his or her scientific career, whether or not the evidence supports such a view. In recent decades, many senior scientists, doctors, biochemists and neurologists have produced evidence strongly indicating that the materialist view is wrong but in most instances, they've been careful not to make any statements but simply present the evidence. This is a shame, and it's not scientific, but there you go. Eugene Wigner, who won a Nobel Prize in 1963, wrote of this problem in his article 'remarks on the mind-body question':

"In the words of Neils Bohr, 'the word consciousness, applied to ourselves as well as others, is indispensable when dealing with the human situation'. In view of all this, one may well wonder how materialism, the doctrine that 'life could only be explained by sophisticated combinations of physical and chemical laws' could so long be accepted by the majority of scientists. The reason is probably that it is an emotional necessity to exalt the problem to which one wants to devote a lifetime. If one admitted anything like the statement that the laws we study in physics and chemistry are limiting laws, similar to the laws of mechanics which exclude the consideration of electrical phenomena, or the laws of macroscopic physics which exclude the consideration of 'atoms', we could not devote ourselves to our study as wholeheartedly as we have in order to recognise any new regularity in nature. The regularity which we are trying to track down must appear the all-important regularity, if we are to pursue it with sufficient devotion to be successful."


I'm therefore rewriting 'Chloë solves the Universe' as 'Chloë's Quantum Quest'. Its central focus will be this historical debate between these Nobel Prize-winning physicists. Chloë will find out about quantum physics and then hear of the Big Argument between the physicists about the nature of reality. When she hears that the mind-first view has been abandoned by modern physicists, she is indignant and decides to do something about it.

chloe-quest-1-8

That'll be my job for the next couple of months. Roll on Spring!

Lovecraft and Tintin

While hunting for inspirational 1920s/Lovecraft/graphic novel images, I came upon these very funny covers by the artist and illustrator Muzski:

Tintin At The Mountains Of Madness by MuzskiTintin And The Reanimator by MuzskiTintin From Beyond by MuzskiTintin In R'lyeh by MuzskiTintin The Dunwich Horror by MuzskiTintin The Shadow Out Of Time by Muzski

Muzski is the pseudonym of the Scottish artist Murray Groat. Do please check out his website as there's some lovely work on show.

Off-Pitch Productions graphic design project

Earlier this year, I designed a logo for a friend. She was setting up a voice-overs company and was looking for advice on a web presence, a banner, logo and the other related bits and bobs required to let people know about her service. Along with an extended waffle about websites, I offered to put together a logo for her. Here's what I came up with:

off-pitch-productions

It was fun to do. I really enjoyed the challenge of creating a visual, iconic version of a organisation or endeavour (in this case, a voice-over company). It was also enjoyable laying out different versions and seeing how small changes can affect the impact of the design.

off-pitch-designs


Fortunately, Alison was very pleased with the result and it is now her official logo. If you need some voice-over work done, you can contact her through her Facebook page and on her website (which is currently under construction).

Although I really enjoyed this graphic design project, I'm not sure I'd want to do it as a profession. I can imagine that some fee-paying clients might get very demanding and I can get tetchy even when helping my friends. I remember talking to a former graphic designer years ago and he did admit there was one pernickety client he'd have happily throttled. Luckily, I don't have to. Hooray! :-)

Illustration for 'The Lost Emotion'

John Prindle has kindly sent me a copy of the illustration he recently made for my science fiction short story ‘The Lost Emotion’. This won’t be the illustration that appears in the Arc magazine issue but it’s a fine piece of work and I’m happy to show it here. John is primarily a writer and is currently contributing to the juke pop serials website with his story The Art of Disposal. Read More...

Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story 2012

I’ve taken a short break from the novel to get an entry in for the Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story Competition. The story is entitled ‘Enduring Love’. Here’s the first page (click on it to see the whole, four page story in higher resolution). Wish me luck!

page1-550px

Sci-fi short stories are go...

blogEntryThumbnailJust a quick note to say that the graphic novel has had to take a back seat (again) as I'm now working on some humorous science-fiction short stories in a similar vein to '18% happier'. That story has had a lot of good feedback (more on that soon) and so I feel I should go with the flow and write some more of that ilk. Hopefully, I'll come up with a dozen or so and put them together in a collection.

Until then, here's the emblem/logo I came up with for the collection: Read More...

Making a graphic novel the Logicomix way

Last Spring, I embarked on a graphic novel... and went about it completely the wrong way. At the beginning, I was keen to produce some completed pages as fast as possible, mostly so I would have something to show to people; it's pretty embarrassing to work on a graphic novel for three months and then someone asks to see your progress and all you've got is a pile of sketches and a dull-sounding script. Unfortunately, the 'produce some slick, colourful pages as fast as possible' was a disaster and I gave up after two months. Here's a list of some of the mistakes I made with that approach:
Read More...

Kuriositas



While hunting around for reference material for a graphic story, I stumbled upon a very enjoyable site called Kuriositas. It's full of great visual material. I found it through its article about an artist whose made Minas Tirith out of matchsticks and it's a most impressive sculpture.



Kuriositas's current entry is a visual exploration of abandoned buildings; always great for fascinating and inspiring images. Here are a few examples:









Enjoy!

Shrewsbury Folk Festival T-shirt design

Shrewsbury Folk Festival are running a T-shirt design for their festival this year. I can't resist a design competition so I've submitted an entry. Here it is:

The design is inspired by the fact that there are an awful lot of instruments in folk music. Not only does that make for more variety, but it's a great excuse to buy more instruments! I can't decide whether to call the design 'mutant guitar' or 'instrument splat!'. For interested parties, the design was done in a vector art program (I use Lineform for the Mac which is not being updated but still does a great job). The font is Lucida Bright Demibold.

Enjoy your day!

Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story 2011

Here's my four page entry for the 2011 Jonathan Cape Graphic Short story competition. I entered the competition last year with a mad dash entry reported here. This year, I've tried to make it a little more adult, more about an emotional drama. Read More...

Graphic novel progress - first chapter done

Well, I've been living like a hermit for the last two months but it has produced something. Here's the first chapter of the graphic novel 'Cziltang Bone and the Reality Shifter' that I've been working on. I was going to make it available as a pdf but the file's 60Mb so, instead, I've put in this post as screen shots. Read More...

Graphic novel progress - Brush pens are good but...

Here's a page I've done using only the Tombo brush pens for colour. I'm fairly pleased with it although it does highlight one key problem with brush pens - they don't cover areas well. You might have spotted that the sky is messy, something I just can't fix with a brush pen. I've also found that I couldn't get the right colour for a frog's skin.


The answer, I think, is to use a mixed media approach. I'm going to use gouache or watercolour for large areas and the brush pens for small areas and shading. I bashed out a quick sketch this way and it was both quick and easy.


I'm making progress. Hopefully there'll be a first chapter to show soon!

Graphic novel progress - Vectorisation is getting to me...

After two days of wrestling with the whole vectorising approach (mentioned here) and going slightly bonkers, I sank back in my chair, took a deep breath, put the computer to sleep and bashed out an ink illustration in a few minutes. It's the picture shown. Read More...

Graphic novel progress - Decisions, decisions...

Oooh, it's difficult to decide. After talking at length here about the qualities of vector illustration, I've been drawn back to my pencil shaded black and white work. I was examining one of my black and white illustrations for my fantasy comedy novel and wondered what it would look like coloured. I got my water based ink brush pens out (Tombo ABT dual brush pens) and inked in most of the picture. I then finished it off with some gouache to the face, hands and the strange eggy lump on the door. Read More...

Graphic novel progress - Colour vectorising a pencil sketch

After three weeks of working away (in between other bits and bobs), I've made some progress on the graphic novel. The first week or so was spent investigating whether I could do the work in gouache - a sort of paint similar to watercolour but less watery (I know that's not a very technical or accurate description but it'll do). I've done gouache illustrations before, I've popped one alongside this text.

I found though that it is a slow job doing the gouache. I think I'd need to spend six months or probably longer just practicing the gouache to get good enough to churn out an entire page of gouache illustration in one day (my target rate). Juanjo Guarnido - the Blacksad artist - has certainly found a way to produce his painted artwork at a viable rate but he's spent years doing fine art followed by more years working as a Disney animator. That's a lot of practice!

Read More...

Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story competition

When the Arvon graphic novel course finished, I was all ready and motivated to do some comic work. Unfortunately, a very sad event occurred on the way back which I won't go into in a blog. Suffice it to say, that strongly affected the whole of the next week. What I was able to do though was get together an entry for the Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story competition. The competition had been recommended to me on the course by Hannah Berry and I checked the details on my return home. I had a little over a week to produce a four page graphic short story. Yikes! I decided there wasn't time to think up a new story. I would have to use one I'd already written. In the end, I went for the frog poem I'd submitted to a climate change competition.

Here's what I produced: Read More...

It's catch up time... (with fun pics!)

Many apologies, but I haven't added a blog entry for months. It's been a hectic two months, for both good and bad reasons, but I'm going to try and catch up today.

The first entry that springs to mind is from the 18th September. I had booked to go on an Arvon Writing week (http://www.arvonfoundation.org/). The subject of the week was Graphic Novels and the tutors were Bryan Talbot and Hannah Berry. Since the week would be about creating stories with both text and images, I thought it would be good to get down and do some drawing. I had done drawing and painting before, but I'd only produced a few illustrations. I decided to dedicate the whole week to producing some fun black and white illustrations for Copper Book. In the end, I only got about three days of work done, but I did produce work I was very pleased with. Here's what I came up with: Read More...