While Charlie tends to upload photos of fan artwork which has been drawn traditionally with pencils and ink, he also has experience creating digital pieces. What makes his artwork unique is the level of detail he puts into the character's facial expressions. Colours are also taken into careful consideration with each piece, with chosen tones intended to complement the game's colour scheme. There's a obvious sense of passion and affection behind his work.
As it is a personal topic, it felt a little weird to speak for him about his relationship to the game. So I asked Charlie if he would be interested in writing a little bit about how he got involved in the community, and what the characters mean to him:
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m Charlie, aka CMDonovann. I’m a trans guy, and I’d like to fancy myself a semi-professional artist despite the fact that I technically work in retail. I do all kinds of creative stuff; I make art, play a few instruments, and occasionally make videos on YouTube. Mostly I spend a ton of time on the internet admiring other creators and looking for inspiration and ways to improve my own work.
How were you introduced to Quantum Break?
Hah, that’s a long and weird story. I got interested in the game soon after it came out when I watched Jacksepticeye play it, but I never expected to be able to play it myself since I could never afford it. However, I was invited to help run the Quantum Break fan blog monarchsolutions on Tumblr when the blog’s main mod noticed that I drew some art for the game, and Gwin, one of the other mods, became one of my best friends. Then they bought the game (and an Xbox!) for me as a housewarming gift when I moved into my apartment! Honestly it’s one of the nicest things anyone has done for me, and I’m forever grateful to them.
You mentioned on your blog that your experience and interpretation of the game and of its characters has created personal role models for you. Can you tell us a little about that?
I suppose you’re referring to the fact that my personal blog title and my Twitter display name are both “Jack Joyce is trans,” huh? I guess an explanation is due here. I have talked about it a lot on my blog, but yes, I absolutely think Jack is a trans guy. He has a lot of personality traits that I relate to and which, in my case, are intrinsically linked to the fact that I am trans, so it just makes sense to me.
Jack’s an incredibly interesting and well-written character, but his defining point to me is his stubbornness. This is a trait which I have also developed, as one is wont to do when they grow up being told they are a girl despite feeling like they really aren’t. I also think his line to Beth about how he’s “never been a great listener” is painfully relatable because when the whole world is telling you that you shouldn’t be who you are, you sort of have to learn not to listen to people. Jack’s stubbornness, his clear distaste for authority, his tendency to act on gut instinct and emotion— these are all traits that I have and which I can trace back to the fact that I’m trans and the way I’m viewed and treated because of it. Plus, it’s kind of nice to have a character that I look up to who I imagine has gone through a lot of the same things I have. It’s kind of comforting, in a way.
Why are your headcanons important to you?
For a lot of people, having characters that you can look up to is really important. You can look at a superhero like Spiderman and think, “Spiderman got bullied in school and he still saves the world, so even if I get bullied, I can be a hero too.” And I think it’s really important that everyone can have characters who they can relate to and look up to, which is why I care so much about representation in stories. There are so few transgender characters in movies and games that headcanons are really all we’ve got, until popular media becomes more inclusive.
It’s important to me personally because honestly, as cheesy as it sounds, I think about this kind of stuff when I’m feeling bad. When I have a crappy day at work because customers keep calling me “ma’am” instead of “sir,” I tell myself, “Look, if Jack Joyce can deal with people hating him for being trans and still end up a total badass, I can too.”
Over the past few months you’ve drawn dozens of pieces of Quantum Break fan art. Where did you get your passion for art and why do you enjoy sketching QB inspired pieces?
Well, I’ve been doing art since I was in about 6th or 7th grade, and back then I did it mostly because I got bored in class and didn’t want to take notes! Nowadays my desire to do art comes from the fact that when I see beautiful things, I feel the need to make even more beautiful things for other people to see.
A lot of my inspiration to draw art for Quantum Break comes from the fact that it’s such a visually stunning game. That’s really what drew me to it initially. It’s so aesthetically pleasing to me that I feel the need to recreate the things about it that I find appealing. In particular I love the visual effects related to the fracture, like the glass-shatter effect and the distortion and the eerie stillness when time stops. There’s also a noticeable change in the color of the world during stutters, where everything goes slightly greenish-blue with the occasional spark of warm yellow, and it makes that part of the game so visually distinctive that I always associate those colors with Quantum Break now!
What would you like to see in possible future sequel?
Well I don’t think I can get my hopes up for Jack being trans, can I? Heh. Actually, I’m very curious about what happened to Paul. I’d like to see what became of him and if he can be redeemed. The Zero State novel offers a bit more insight into his fate, but not into what can be done about it, and anyway the novel isn’t exactly canon. And I’d like to see if Jack can save Beth. All the internal mechanics of the time travel narrative say that what happened can’t be changed or prevented, and that’s definitely corroborated by the game’s ending, but if anyone can do it, it’s Jack. His stubbornness could move a mountain. I’m also curious to learn more about the Shifters, and if Jack becoming one can be prevented.
Evil question buuuut, Jack Joyce and Paul Serene. Whose side are you on?
That’s tough. Logically speaking, I’d probably side with Paul. Despite everything that can go wrong with the paths you take, he was right about The End Of Time and his plan would have worked if everything went right. His intentions were definitely in the right place, although depending on how you play, he may stray a bit far and let his determination obscure his rationality and empathy. Morally speaking, they both have good intentions; Jack’s desire to save his brother, to set things right, and to ultimately save the world definitely come from a good place. Paul clearly has similar motives with the Lifeboat to save people and eventually fix the fracture, even though he is, after everything he’s been through, much colder and detached about it.