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The Cat Party (2005) — Sep 22, 2015

The Cat Party (2005)

The sixth book exhibition of my blog!

The Cat Party (2005 Version)

(Click on the link above to open the book in your browser. You will need Adobe Reader installed to view the book. If you don’t have it, you can download it for free at https://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/)

Last week, I exhibited a literary gem of mine called The Cat Party. You may remember that I wrote and illustrated two versions of this book, one in 2004 (the version I exhibited last week) and the other in 2005. What you may not know is that I created a brand-new set of characters, named the Adventure Advanced Gang, for this version…

During a lesson at primary school, I became distracted and started to put a book together. I decided to write another Cat Party, but give the characters a complete overhaul from the last version. That’s where the Adventure Advanced Gang originated. Deciding to collect all my favourite cartoon characters together in one gang to write fanfictions about seemed like a great idea to me – I was somewhat inspired by House of Mouse, a TV series featuring all the Disney characters – but for some originality, I decided to throw some of my own characters into the mix. And thus the Adventure Advanced Gang was born.

The story starts off on a slightly different note from the 2004 version, but it more or less remains the same – the friends go to visit a convention for cats (see the 2004 version for where I got this idea from), but a rogue cat is angry at being left out of the show and plans to exact revenge by kidnapping the performing cats so he can steal the show for himself.

I’ve now written a blog post describing each member of the Adventure Advanced Gang in detail – find it both above and here.

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Once Upon A Time In Canada: Chapter 11 — Sep 21, 2015

Once Upon A Time In Canada: Chapter 11

In a vast forest just outside of town, the Denoons strolled through an autumnal rainfall of red, orange and brown leaves blowing off the trees, a fresh breeze carrying them through the air onto the damp soil, where fungi sprouted. Nearby, a moose munched on blueberries off a thorny bush. Pictou looked around himself. “Beautiful, isn’t it, Picky-tou?” asked Port Hawkesbury. “Yes,” Pictou agreed.

Pictou caught sight of a mound of toadstools growing at the base of a giant oak tree. He examined them carefully, and Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton came closer. “What are these?” he asked, stepping out of the way. He sniffed the musky smell of dead leaves in the air. “They’re toadstools, my dear,” Port Hawkesbury replied. Stellarton jotted some notes down in his notebook, and Pictou carefully examined the toadstools again. “They look like the ones in storybooks,” he remarked. “Yes, picky-Pictou,” Stellarton replied. “They’re lovely.” Pictou reached out to touch the toadstools. “Don’t touch, Pictou,” Stellarton warned him, and Pictou quickly moved his hand away. “Oh, sorry,” he apologized.

Pictou gazed at his parents. “Don’t eat the toadstools, my little one,” Port Hawkesbury advised him. “They’re poison.” Stellarton gazed at his nine-year-old son. “Some Canadian Boys ate those mushrooms. They became very ill and they died, because they’re toxic. And, of course, I don’t want my little Picky-tou to die just because he ate a poisonous mushroom, do I?”

“No,” Pictou quickly replied, shaking his head slowly and solemnly. “Good Pictou,” Stellarton praised him in a serious tone. Port Hawkesbury picked Pictou up to keep him safely away from the toadstools. “You can also get skin diseases from touching those mushrooms,” she warned him. “Ooh,” said Pictou. “But they’re pretty.” “Yes, little Pictou,” Port Hawkesbury smiled sweetly, but her sweet smile soon turned stern. “But they’re also dangerous – and deadly.”

As the Denoons strolled on, they could hear the plaintive, hooting call of a loon. A wild rabbit scuttled out of its burrow, while a beaver paddled in a nearby stream. A fellow outdoorsman trudged past the Denoons, jabbing his walking stick into the soil.

The Denoons broke their walk to admire the surrounding environment. The sun shone through a gap in the trees, creating a natural spotlight. Pictou sniffed woodland aromas in the air, spotting a caribou lapping up water from a nearby stream, some geese swimming about in a small puddle of rainwater, honking loudly, and a pigeon perching on a sycamore tree branch.

Soon enough, Pictou created a puddle of his own kind – the kind that stank of ammonia, which Port Hawkesbury quickly caught. “Oh, where can we changed you with some privacy, Pictou?” she asked, picking him up. Just then, Stellarton spotted a thorny bush beside a maple tree. “Oh, très bien.” The Denoons hid behind the bush, being careful not to prick themselves on the thorns, and Port Hawkesbury lay Pictou down on the ground, the leaves rustling and crunching as she pulled his pants down. She removed Pictou’s wet diaper, disposing of it in a convenient bin nearby. Stellarton made notes in his notebook as he watched. Port Hawkesbury cleaned Pictou’s backside with a baby wipe – thankfully not a dead leaf, and she slipped him into a fresh, dry diaper, pulling his pants back up. Port Hawkesbury grabbed Pictou’s hand and hauled him up off the ground. Pictou was caked with dry soil, and some leaves were glued to his back.

Port Hawkesbury gave Pictou a good dusting-off all over his body. “I’ll need to give you a hot bath tonight, Pictou,” she told him, then she looked down at herself. “Oh, goodness me! I’m gonna need a bath, too!” she exclaimed, then she turned to Stellarton. “Oh goodness, not you too, Stellarton!” “I’ll be needing a bath too, unfortunately,” he smiled wryly. “Well, looks like all three of us’ll be needing a good old hot bath tonight, eh?” Port Hawkesbury giggled, and the Denoons laughed all together ruefully.

The Denoons set off again, listening to the relaxing whistle of the soft breeze. Pictou spotted a squirrel scuttling down a tree, an elk chewing at some grass beneath a thorny bush, and a sparrow warbling on a twig.

BANG!

The Denoons suddenly jumped up, their hearts leaping, gasping in shock. They all scanned around themselves, breathing heavily. Pictou sighed. “Oh, that scared me!” he clamoured. Port Hawkesbury nodded. “It scared us too, Pictou.” Stellarton jotted the noise down in his notebook. Strolling on, the Denoons discovered who’d made that startling noise – a young hunter, who was carrying a rifle, trying to take down a moose. His face had annoyance and determinism plastered across it. “Oh, hello. I’m Port Hawkesbury,” she introduced herself to the hunter. “And I’m Stellarton,” he added. The hunter focused on Pictou. “Hello, little softness.” “I’m named Pictou,” Pictou introduced himself. The hunter made sweet sounds to Pictou. “Pictou,” he repeated. “An endearing little name.” “Mmm-hmm, yes,” the Denoons all agreed, nodding at each other.

The hunter re-focused on the moose. “What you hunting?” Pictou asked him. “Moose,” the hunter replied, steadying his aim. “Ah-ha.” “I’ve also hunted bears, beavers, deer, caribou, elk, ducks and geese. Pretty much the whole lot,” the hunter added. “Ooh,” said Pictou, surprised. The hunter kept his focus on the moose while the Denoons watched.

Then he thought. “Maybe if I place a little bait there, he’ll come closer,” he suggested to himself. “Alright,” said Pictou. The hunter rummaged in his backpack for a salt-lick and carefully placed it down in plain sight of the moose, then cautiously moved back. The moose sniffed salt in the air, and it slowly edged closer to the salt-lick, taking one little nibble at a time. The hunter stayed focused as it nibbled away. His breathing began to deepen, and his heartbeat quickened. The moose was now in his line of sight. “Now!” Pictou commanded.

Taking a deep breath, the hunter fired once at the moose, piercing its skin and causing it to bleed, roaring in pain. The Denoons and the hunter stared out, gasping in shock. The hunter fired another shot, wounding the moose further and making it pour more blood, roaring in pain again. The Denoons and the hunter were on edge as they watched the moose suffer, breathing heavily. “One more!” Pictou yelled.

The hunter took another deep breath, and he pulled the trigger on his rifle, firing a third and final shot at the moose. The bullet pierced the moose’s heart, causing it to roar in agony and bleed profusely as its heart ground to a halt. It crashed down to the ground, grunting and struggling to raise itself up, until it grunted its dying breath… and dropped dead, the dry leaves rustling underneath.

The Denoons and the hunter all uttered a huge sigh of relief, breathing heavily. “Got him,” the hunter smiled. “Oh, finally,” Pictou sighed again. The hunter returned the salt-lick to his backpack, held onto the moose’s antlers and began to haul it over to the Denoons with all his strength, straining and staining himself with some of the moose’s blood. The hunter set the moose down, sighing with relief and wiping his brow. “Another one down,” he proclaimed proudly, and the Denoons all smiled.

Pictou looked at the moose. “What you gonna do with him?” he asked. The hunter held the moose by its antlers. “Have his head mounted on my sitting room wall,” he announced with pride. “Alright,” Pictou replied, and Stellarton jotted down more notes in his notebook.

“Well, thanks for meeting me today – and bringing some big game down,” the hunter thanked the Denoons. “Oh, aren’t we glad we did?” Port Hawkesbury smiled. “Farewell, my friends,” the hunter bid goodbye. “Farewell!” the Denoons called back as they left the hunter behind with the dead moose.

The Denoons once again set off into the forest, with an otter diving into a nearby river. A monarch butterfly flapped its wings as it soared through the air, while a bluebird fed its hungry newborn chicks with freshly-excavated, pink, juicy worms.

The Denoons stopped for another pause, and Port Hawkesbury stared up towards the sky, the sun spotlighting her and the other Denoons. She unexpectedly began to cry, warm tears coursing down her cheeks. She buried her face in her hands. “Aw. Whatever’s the matter, ma chérie?” Stellarton asked her in French, stroking her with care. “Pictou,” she sobbed. “Aw.” Pictou turned to Port Hawkesbury. “Here I am, Mom.” He sniffed, touched and stroked her lovingly, then he caught a sugary aroma in the air. The Denoons passed by a young Canadian Boy, who was picking berries from a thorny bush and storing them in a seagrass basket, Stellarton comforting Port Hawkesbury. Pictou examined the bushes, sniffing the air. “Berries,” he said. “All kinds of berries.” “Be careful, Pictou,” Stellarton warned him, “some berries are inedible. And if you’re gonna eat the edible ones, wash them first.” Pictou nodded in understanding. “Mmm-hmm.”

Pictou noticed some blackberries, sniffing them. “Here,” he called in French, and his parents came over. “They look very juicy,” Stellarton commented in French. Port Hawkesbury agreed through balmy tears.

Next, Pictou sniffed some raspberries. “These ones, too.” “Lovely,” Stellarton remarked. Then on to sniffing some strawberries. “These taste delicious with cream,” Pictou commented. “I know, Picky-tou,” replied Stellarton, and he jotted some notes down in his notebook.

Pictou then sniffed at some round, dark bluish berries. “Hmm? What kind of berries are these?” he asked, giving them another sniff. “Blueberries, sweetheart,” Stellarton replied. “Oh,” said Pictou, sniffing the berries again. He made sure that he also caught the unmistakable blueberry aroma.

Pictou gave the blueberries a thorough, detailed sniff. “Blueberries are a very Nova Scotia thing,” he remarked. “Yes, Pictou. A very Nova Scotia thing indeed,” Stellarton agreed. He jotted more notes down in his notebook as Pictou gave the blueberries a finishing sniff.

Pictou and Stellarton returned to Port Hawkesbury’s side. “No crying, please,” Stellarton pleaded her in French. Pictou sympathized with his mother. “No need to cry,” he comforted her, sniffing, touching and stroking her sweetly.

Once again, the Denoons strolled off, experiencing the sights and sounds of the forest, like a fallow deer looking out from behind a tree, a brook trout leaping out from a nearby stream, and a duck quacking as it waddled out of a puddle. The sun shone down on the Denoons like a spotlight as Pictou and Stellarton comforted Port Hawkesbury, Pictou sniffing, touching and stroking his mother caringly.

Five Years of Canadian Boys — Sep 20, 2015

Five Years of Canadian Boys

Five years ago today, I stumbled across Canada after a mix-up at the cinema. Although initially I tried to resist being pulled in (I was into the US at the time), as days turned into weeks, then into months and inevitably years, Canada’s spell was too strong and it has now grown into my lifetime passion and prime focus of my creative works.

After attempting to personify every place in England (where I’m at) and the United States, the next logical step would be to personify Canadian places. Modelling the new ‘Canadian Boys’ after the previous two entries in the series, Britain Boys and American Boys, I initially created one character, named Vancouver, as I did not expect my ‘fling’ (as it was back then) with Canada to last beyond a few months.

vanburn

As I became more attached to Canada, however, I gradually began to create more characters for the then-upcoming Canadian Boys. Since Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and following the model of Washington D.C. and London in always making the capital city the main character, I designated him as the protagonist of the series. I then revealed the names of several more new characters through writings and ‘newspaper’ articles.

Ottawa Carleton Ottawa Carleton

Once January 2011 had rolled around, I was ready to release Canadian Boys out into the open! Using the names I’d already revealed in the newspaper article, I created the thirteen main characters for Canadian Boys in addition to Ottawa – Calgary, Charlottetown, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Regina, Saint John, Saskatoon, Toronto, Vancouver (obviously), Victoria, Winnipeg and Winnipegosis.

ottawa2winnipegosis

Of course, I don’t just stop at making only a few characters whenever I begin on a new series. As was the case in Britain Boys and American Boys, I created tens of characters to potentially extract a compelling storyline from and interact with the others. This resulted in many evenings spent typing up character profiles onto my Windows 2000 computer (ten years old and still got it!) and researching every place in Canada on the Internet and in books.

With a big project, inevitably small seeds of side-projects will be sown. Inspired by how I’d personified each state of the US in The States Show, the ‘spin-off’ of American Boys, I decided to give Canadian Boys the same treatment. And thus I created The Provinces & Territories Show, with Ontario – the province with the largest population in Canada, containing both Ottawa and Toronto (Canada’s prime city) – as the protagonist.

Ontario HuronOntario Huron

Browsing through DeviantArt one day for some Canada-themed artworks, I came across the IAmMatthewian Project – a fan-series based around the (mis)adventures of Canada from Hetalia: Axis Powers and personifications of his provinces and territories. Inspired to expand the Canadian Boys ’empire’, I decided to create fan-works of these characters, and the Canadian Boys label practically swallowed them up.

iamalltogethernow

slcpt2gether

cbairremembranceday13

Constant browsing through DeviantArt led me to discover many more personifications of the Canadian provinces and territories, many of which I drew and wanted to include in the Canadian Boys canon. Entry into the Hetalia fandom eventually inspired me to create my own Hetalia-styled province and territory personifications under the name A Mare Usqua Mare (Latin for ‘from sea to sea’, Canada’s motto), experimenting with the anime and manga art style.

dfcanadapt

canadiapt

wcanadaskimx

amuaprovincesterritories

Today, I show absolutely no signs of breaking up with Canada and going off with another country (though I did have a short ‘Highland fling’ with Scotland last year). Never-ending thinking of Canada has caused me to fervently wish every day that I could fly there, as I’ve never been there but wish I did. Although I am increasingly focusing on the IAmMatthewian Project (which is now called Project Canada), Canadian Boys still remains my prime focus, and thrives alongside the side-projects. I recently designed a cover to be used for the 2016 annual.

cb16annualfc

No other series of mine has lasted this long (the second-longest was The Months, which lasted two years). Something about Canada keeps me going, even in the face of constant criticism and satire from people who think Canada is cold all the time and is full of igloos and moose. As long as I’m not distracted by another country, Canadian Boys should survive the next five years and possibly last for the rest of my life.

Let’s make it ten!

ottawawith4cb

Once Upon A Time In Canada: Chapter 10 — Sep 19, 2015

Once Upon A Time In Canada: Chapter 10

The Denoons strolled along the stony seashore, the roar of the waves crashing against the coast resonating inside their ears. Nearby, an elderly man wearing thick brown leather gloves was picking up crabs from across the beach. Noticing the crab collector, the Denoons slowly approached him. “Hello. I’m Port Hawkesbury,” she introduced herself. “I’m Stellarton,” he added. “And I’m their son, Pictou,” Pictou presented himself. “Why are you collecting crabs?” The crab collector picked up a crab from beside a small, barnacle-covered rock. “My long-time friend’ll be cooking crab dinner for lunch today,” he replied, cupping the crab in his hands. “Ah-ha,” Pictou nodded as the crab crawled around on top of his palms. “And the gloves? What are you wearing those for?” The crab dangled from the crab collector’s finger. “If a crab pinches me, it won’t hurt as much,” he explained.

As he spoke, the crab pinched his finger, strengthening its grip. “Ooh…” Pictou flinched. “Oh, I feel barely any pain at all!” the crab collector chuckled pleasantly. “Alright, come off it now.” The crab dropped off back onto the rocky sand. Picking it back up, the crab collector stored his catch in a lobster trap. He strolled seaward down the shore, where he picked up another crab wallowing in a shallow puddle, the Denoons following him.

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The Cat Party (2004) — Sep 16, 2015

The Cat Party (2004)

The fifth book exhibition of my blog!

The Cat Party (2004 Version)

(Click on the link above to open the book in your browser. You will need Adobe Reader installed to view the book. If you don’t have it, you can download it for free at https://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/)

As a primary school girl, I used to read a series of little storybooks known as ‘Learn With Biff, Chip & Kipper’ (that’s the name it’s known by now, I don’t know if it had an actual name back then). The books followed five kids and their dog who would explore various themes such as starting school, a new baby and being addicted to TV/video games. When I read the books in my schooldays, the kids had a key that would magically transport them to wherever they wished to go. One particular story focused on Kipper, one of the kids, being transported to a convention for teddy bears from all over the world in… Bern, Switzerland (see what I did there?)

That story inspired me to write/draw The Cat Party, about a day out to a convention for cats, who replace the bears. Like The Rainbow Door, I wrote and illustrated two versions of the book – this one is the 2004 version. If you read the book, you might notice that two of the characters are Pokemon – namely Dragonite (Anneeda) and Meganium (Dumbo). I was highly into Pokemon at the time of writing this book, so naturally that would cause me to incorporate them into my drawings and stories, rather like fanfiction. The other two characters are a cat (simply named Kitty) and Sherwit, a friendly shark. I got his name from a ‘Knock Knock’ joke in one of my old PC games where I thought I could hear the name ‘Sherwit’, and thought it would be a good name for a shark. Oh, and I almost forgot there’s a pig too.

The story follows the gang as they prepare to set off to the annual Cat Party, which as I mentioned before is a convention for cats. However, a rogue cat (who presumably didn’t get to perform at the show because of his badness) is secretly watching the other cats from behind the stage, jealous of the attention they’re getting. He plots to ‘catnap’ the lucky participants as revenge for his exclusion from the line-up, and now Dumbo (Meganium) and Sherwit must free the performers in order for the show to go on.

As mentioned before, I’ve written two versions of The Cat Party; the 2005 version will be exhibited next week.

(On a small sidenote: This was the first book I completed to contain words along with pictures, rather than the picture books I drew before.)

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