Surfing the Sea

Since 1995

Dalston at the Dalston Party (2008) — Jun 26, 2016

Dalston at the Dalston Party (2008)

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Ever wondered why nowadays almost all my characters are named after geographical locations? Well, it all started back in 2008… with a little drabble called Dalston Rocks!

Set in the Los Niños Meses 2008 canon, it follows December who one day stumbles across the “Dalston Party” (originally it was the “Really Cool Party Which Turns Up The City”, but I thought that’d be too long to fit in the title, so I just shortened it to the “Dalston Party”). Curious, he finds out what or who Dalston is – an almost exact doppelganger of December, just named after a district of East London, wearing a pink Santa hat and with more villainous tendencies.

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Dalston

Initially believing Dalston to be a hero (although December can actually see he’s a villain all the way through), people across the city cheer him on whenever he appears, even while he’s tackling December head-on to the ground and trying to tie him up. At one point he mocks December’s “bathroom problem” by claiming that he’s gone in his trousers on top of him, which takes December somewhat by surprise, until he finds out it’s true. He obviously berates him for this, complaining that now he’s wet too.

At the end of the day, Dalston reveals to a shocked crowd that he actually was a villain all along. December pretends to be shocked, even though he actually saw through Dalston’s ‘disguise’ from the beginning, and the crowd say they didn’t know he was a villain – they thought he was a hero. Dalston then delivers another bombshell – he’s actually a part of the infamous ‘Hackney Boys’ gang, and laughs as he runs off to cause some trouble with his ‘friends’. (This set up the plot for the Hackney Boys movie, rather uncreatively named Hackney Boys: The Movie.)

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Dalston At The Really Cool Party Which Turns Up The City

So this drawing could be considered episode artwork of a sort for the whole ‘Dalston’ incident. All the members of the ‘crowd’ (I say a ‘crowd’, but there’s only six or seven members here) are Adventure People, many of them ‘founding members’ – classics like John the Chihuahua dog, Girassa the giraffe, Puggie the pug dog and Swannie the swan. They’ve fallen for the ruse of thinking of Dalston as a ‘hero’ rather than the villain that he really is, hence all the signs sporting positive slogans aimed at him and the repetitive cheering of his name. December, in the far background, can’t see what all the fuss is about, and he rightly senses something suspicious about Dalston.

Two more Adventure People appear as both a member of the crowd and as the bouncers – Dinotenna the alien dinosaur and Poplar the herb alien. They are from the Ruby & Amber incarnation of The Adventure People, not the original series.

Though the whole drabble with Dalston was only originally meant to be a one-off, it was the thing about naming him after an East London neighbourhood that sparked something in my mind. It was about to turn into something a lot bigger than I’d ever imagined in my whole life…

Oxford and Berwick (2016) — Jun 23, 2016

Oxford and Berwick (2016)

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It’s another A Nova Scotian Way of Life artwork! But these are two new characters who didn’t appear on my incomplete cast poster of the ‘whole’ ANSWOL crew.

These two new colourful personalities are named Oxford and Berwick – or, to give their full names, Oxford McCormick and Berwick Welsford. They are named after the towns of Oxford and Berwick in Nova Scotia to keep in with the series’ Nova Scotian themes. (Not Oxford and Berwick in England – the English Berwick, located near the border with Scotland, is officially called Berwick-upon-Tweed. Although it does fit in a little with “Nova Scotia” being “New Scotland” in Latin…)

You might be wondering why they’re both dressed up entirely in the same colour, with Oxford in blue and Berwick in red. This will need a little explanation: Oxford grows blueberries and Berwick grows apples. They have apparently grown to love these fruits so much that they dress up completely in the matching colours, even dyeing their hair in that colour and decorating it with the corresponding fruit – so Oxford dresses up in blue to look somewhat like a blueberry, decorating his hair with blueberries, while Berwick dresses up in red to look a little like a red apple (not the green kind), decorating his hair with apples.

And why blueberries and apples? The town of Oxford is called the “Blueberry Capital of Canada”, and a sculpture of a giant anthropomorphic blueberry graces the entrance to the town to reflect this status. The surrounding fields are located in Nova Scotia’s blueberry-growing region of Cumberland County.

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Welcome to Oxford, Nova Scotia – The Blueberry Capital of Canada
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The Giant Blueberry in Oxford, NS

And the town of Berwick, Nova Scotia is called the “Apple Capital of Nova Scotia”. It is located in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, which is home to some of Canada’s largest apple-growing farms – the town of Kentville near Berwick holds an ‘Apple Blossom Festival’ around the end of May each year. A huge apple on a pole marks the entrance to Berwick, and a small apple appears on the town’s welcome sign. So forget New York – Berwick, Nova Scotia is the REAL Big Apple!

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Welcome to Berwick, Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia’s Apple Capital
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Berwick, NS – Big Apple
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Welcome to Berwick, Nova Scotia

By the looks of it, it seems Nova Scotians (including Oxford and Berwick themselves) really love their blueberries and apples – or their food in general!

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Nova Scotian blueberries
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Nova Scotian apples
Oct, Nov ‘N’ Dec Promotional Poster (2008) — Jun 19, 2016

Oct, Nov ‘N’ Dec Promotional Poster (2008)

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If you were growing up in the late 90s to early 2000s and had Cartoon Network on your TV, chances are you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the cartoon show Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy. Animated by a cross-border team of Canadian and US animators and running on Cartoon Network from 1999 to 2009 (it ended with a ‘movie’ called Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy’s Big Picture Show), the show follows three preteen boys in a suburban neighbourhood who just all so happen to be named ‘Ed’, short for ‘Edward’ or ‘Edwin’, or a variation of it. Edd (with two D’s) nicknames himself “Double D” to distinguish himself from Ed (with just one D). It has grown to become one of CN’s classic cartoons from the 90s/early 2000s along with the likes of The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory and Teen Titans.

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Ed, Edd & Eddy

I’ve always liked to create my own versions of cartoons which are already ‘out there’, so one day I thought about what would happen if there was a Months version of Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy. The answer: Oct, Nov ‘N’ Dec.

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Oct, Nov ‘N’ Dec

Taking their names from the abbreviations for October, November and December to make “Oct, Nov ‘N’ Dec”, these three show off the ultimate in ‘cool’ in Monthland (it takes place in the same universe as the main Months series). Oct is the skateboard fanatic who’s always doing ollies and grinds around the neighbourhood, even if it’s against the ‘authorities’; Nov is the kind heart who loves to bake and look out for his friends; and Dec is the city slicker who’s into good food, good drinks and good times.

They are all a little older than Ed, Edd and Eddy – Oct is 15, Nov is 14, and Dec is 22 (so he can be a little over the legal age to drink alcohol in the US). It could be seen as Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy set a little further on into the future, except it’s very much set in the present. In keeping with the ‘abbreviated names’ theme, all of Oct, Nov and Dec’s best friends are named with month shortenings – so there’s Jan, Mar, Apr (pronounced ‘Aper’, like ‘caper’), Jul (pronounced similar to the name ‘Jules’) and Sep/Sept (he apparently doesn’t like it when people pronounce the ‘T’ in his name, so he acts as the ‘villain’ for the series).

All this was only an experiment to see what would happen if one cartoon got turned into another with my own characters, so I never made it into a full-fledged series. (I still do this sometimes with my own series – so I often think of Sackville Sailor as being in tandem with the Canadian children’s TV show Theodore Tugboat, both sharing a similar nautical theme but replacing the boats with sailors. Unlike Oct, Nov ‘N’ Dec, however, Sackville Sailor is a fully-grown show, with me drawing artwork and writing stories for it.)

Autistic Pride Day 2016: A Part of Me — Jun 18, 2016

Autistic Pride Day 2016: A Part of Me

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The 18th of June each year is designated as Autistic Pride Day. First observed in 2005 by the Aspies for Freedom online group, which sadly no longer exists, 2016 marks the 11th Autistic Pride Day. It aims to celebrate and recognize the talents of people who are living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Asperger’s Syndrome, like I am.

I have previously written about my experiences of living with autism for World Autism Awareness Day and Month in April of this year, but this time I want to be a little more positive about my life with the condition as today is meant to celebrate pride of being autistic. While of course autism presents me with various challenges, such as not being able to socialize as easily as ‘neurotypical’ people, difficulty in talking about things other than my special interests (namely Canada) and often feeling alone, it does come with many positives which help to compensate for the negatives.

If you’re a regular reader of mine, you’ll know that one of my biggest talents is writing, drawing and creating my own cartoon characters. My deep concentration on my creative works ever since I was a very little girl has helped me to hone my skills continuously over the years – something that has grown up with me well into my teens and early 20s (I’m currently 21 years old and I show absolutely no sign of stopping!) My special interests have played a significant role in this utmost determination to be creative, and with Canada, it’s no exception – currently six years and still ongoing. My never-ending love of Canada and never giving up on my wish to go there is what helped me to achieve my ultimate dream of seeing it in real life, with me visiting Nova Scotia in February this year. And I’m still wishing to see it again, though this time in the summer.

People on the autism spectrum often use anthropomorphization of inanimate objects and abstract concepts to help them understand the world better, and this is what I do on a daily basis, which of course includes geographical locations (especially Canada!) But it’s not just countries or cities and towns which I personify – I’ve also used this technique with the days of the week, months of the year, and even the letters of the alphabet. In 2013, I created Alphabet City, which follows 26 inhabitants of the eponymous city who are each given a name beginning with each letter of the alphabet from A to Z. (Their character profiles will be up on this blog a little later on!)

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Cast of Alphablocks
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Humanized Cast of Alphablocks

So as you can see, I’m a lot more than just a ‘girl with autism’ – I have my own personality, likes, dislikes and talents just like every other person around the world, whether autistic or not. But I’m proud to be autistic because of the ‘extra goodies’ it gifts me with. This is why I hate it when autism is referred to as a ‘disease’, but we all know it’s not, and so it can’t be cured. It is simply a part of us.

If there’s pride for those who are LGBT, then why shouldn’t there be pride for those living on the autism spectrum? We should stop seeing autism as a ‘tragedy’ and instead see the good side of the autistic community, and accept their autism as part of what makes them who they are. And that applies to me and everybody who I meet up with.

Let’s celebrate the wonderful world of autism and its amazing inhabitants!

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Short Story: Sackville’s Nightmare — Jun 17, 2016

Short Story: Sackville’s Nightmare

It was a peaceful, quiet night onboard the HMCS Glacier. All the sailors were fast asleep in their beds, seemingly undisturbed. Suddenly, Sackville started to grunt and twitch about in his sleep, knocking himself around. He began to have a nightmare.

Sackville slumbered on the surface of the sea, when the waves suddenly began to roughen up with an icy mist. He felt seafoam bubbling up beneath his body, lifting him into the air, as though somebody was picking him up from under his arms. Only this person wasn’t human at all, as Sackville realized when a tower of seafoam stretched out in the shape of an arm and starting tying Sackville up in impossible knots, almost choking him. Sackville wriggled about, staring out in terror. It was a seafoam monster!

Sackville jolted awake, gasping and breathing heavily as his eyes darted across the room. Some of the other sailors awoke, especially Oromocto, who looked at him concernedly.

“What’s wrong, Sackville?” asked Oromocto.

“I… I had a t-terrible n-nightmare…” Sackville stammered fearfully, his duvet pulled up to his chin, shivering.

“Well, tell me about it in the morning, okay?” Oromocto told him. “Go back to sleep now.”

Oromocto fell back asleep, but Sackville couldn’t, not after that terrifying nightmare. He tried desperately to stay awake for the rest of the night.


Sackville jolted awake, gasping and breathing heavily as his eyes darted across the room. Some of the other sailors awoke, especially Oromocto, who looked at him concernedly.

“What’s wrong, Sackville?” asked Oromocto.

“I… I had a t-terrible n-nightmare…” Sackville stammered fearfully, his duvet pulled up to his chin, shivering.

“Well, tell me about it in the morning, okay?” Oromocto told him. “Go back to sleep now.”

Oromocto fell back asleep, but Sackville couldn’t, not after that terrifying nightmare. He tried desperately to stay awake for the rest of the night.


The next morning, a sleepless Sackville shuffled up on deck to Oromocto and Aulac, who were carrying out the daily cleaning duty. Hearing his rough steps, they turned around to him.

“So what was your bad dream about, Sackville?” asked Oromocto, and Sackville took a deep breath.

“I was sleeping on top of the sea. Then the waves became rough and misty and lots of bubbles were foaming around me. It was like someone was picking me up, but this someone was tying themselves around me in un-untieable knots and I nearly choked. I was being tied up… by a seafoam monster!”

Sackville’s baggy eyes widened in horror as he concluded his retelling of last night’s frightening dream, as did Oromocto and Aulac’s. “A seafoam monster?” they repeated together.

“Yes! A seafoam monster!” Sackville exclaimed again. “It was like the height of two sailors standing on each other’s shoulders! Or, no… three sailors standing on each other’s shoulders!”

Oromocto and Aulac both gasped out loud. “Shouldn’t he tell the Captain about this?” Aulac murmured to Oromocto. “Yes, I think so,” Oromocto agreed, and he turned back to Sackville. “Sackville, why don’t you tell the Captain about your bad dream? Maybe he could find out what it means.”

Sackville thought about it for a moment. “Okay… If it’ll clear anything up for me…” he groaned, shuffling off to the Captain’s office while Oromocto and Aulac got back on to cleaning the decks.


Slumping in the chair in front of the Captain’s desk, Sackville began to explain the events of last night’s terrible dream. “…It was a seafoam monster!” he exclaimed, throwing his arms up in the air.

“…a seafoam monster?” the Captain reiterated, staring with eyes wide open at Sackville, unable to comprehend what he had just heard. He made a note of it in the crew log. “Yes! It was taller than a cliff! Or, or, or two cliffs!” Sackville spluttered.

The Captain sat straight back up in his chair. “Sackville, don’t get so anxious. It was only a horrible nightmare. Seafoam monsters are just a myth that some sailors like to recount. Try to sleep normally tonight, and the morning will come faster than you know it.”

Sackville slumped off towards the door. “Must… try… to… sleep…” he droned in an almost hypnotic manner, dragging his tired body back out onto deck to help with the cleaning, or as much as his sleepiness would allow.


That night, Sackville again tried as hard as he could to get a good night’s sleep, but soon the tossing and turning resumed, and the nightmare returned. Sackville relived the terrifying events scene by scene – water bubbling up, waves roughening, his body being slowly lifted into the air as the seafoam monster arose from the choppy waves, and being tangled up in its tight grip, almost suffocating him.

As the seafoam monster was about to swallow him up in thick sea scum, Sackville forcefully jolted himself awake, a clammy sweat breaking out on his forehead, making his hair stick to his moist skin. He pulled his duvet up to his chin, shivering with terror, and Oromocto woke up to look at him.

“Another nightmare, Sackville?” he asked concernedly, and Sackville could only nod with fear as he tightly clutched his duvet. “But the Captain says seafoam monsters are just a myth. It was only a bad dream, so just try to forget about it and sleep it off,” Oromocto advised him. Sackville cowered beneath his pillow and duvet, unable to stop trembling as memories of the nightmare raced through his mind.


The next morning, Sackville felt even more exhausted than yesterday. He was so tired he couldn’t even stand up straight, slumping down so his hands dragged along the floor. He just barely managed to reach Oromocto and Aulac as all the sailors were gathering on deck for the salute. “Oh, you came just in time, Sackville,” said Oromocto. “The Captain’s about to do the salute. You like this part.” He then noticed Sackville’s overly hunched posture. “Oh no, he must have gotten no sleep at all after last night’s bad dream,” he thought, beginning to feel profound alarm for Sackville’s wellbeing.

The Captain arrived on deck, prompting Oromocto to look back up. “Sailors,” he began, “it’s time for the salute.” Standing up tall, he put the side of his left hand up to his forehead, and all the sailors soon followed suit. Sackville tried as much as he could to do the salute, but all he could manage was a weak flop of his left arm up to his forehead and back down. This caught the Captain’s attention. “Sackville?” he called him out, looking serious. The other sailors, including Oromocto and Aulac, turned to see Sackville drooping almost to the floor, tiredness taking a heavy burden on him. “It’s that nightmare he had, isn’t it?” the Captain asked Oromocto. “Yes, Sir,” Oromocto replied with apprehension.

Eventually, Sackville couldn’t stay up any longer, and he collapsed to the floor in a jumble, totally out of energy. “Sackville!” Aulac called out suddenly, and he, Oromocto and the Captain rushed over to tend to Sackville, who had now fallen into a deep sleep. The other sailors slowly gathered around, all looking worried. Oromocto propped Sackville up by supporting his back with his right arm, resting Sackville’s head upon his hand. “Poor Sackville,” Aulac lamented, stroking Sackville’s hair. “He hasn’t gotten any sleep for the past couple of nights. He just isn’t himself when he’s tired.”

The Captain came closer to Sackville, listening to his heavy breathing in and out while he slept. “Please, Sackville. Listen. It was only a terrible nightmare,” he asked of him. “You shouldn’t try to let your dreams interrupt your sleep. Dreams are a normal part of sleeping. Sometimes they’re good, and sometimes they’re bad. And they’re only part of your imagination. They’re not real.”

As the Captain spoke, Sackville’s sleeping became more peaceful, as if he understood. A little smile seemed to form on his face, which made the Captain, Oromocto, Aulac and the other sailors smile slightly too. “Oh, I think he finally got the message,” Aulac beamed. “Good sailor, Sackville,” Oromocto praised Sackville for finally getting to sleep.

The Captain stood Sackville up, sliding his arms around Oromocto’s neck, and Oromocto held onto Sackville’s hands. “We’ll put you to bed so you can sleep properly, okay, Sackville?” said Oromocto, and he headed off to the dormitories with Aulac and the Captain following.

Inside the dormitories, Oromocto carefully lay Sackville down on his bed, plumping up the pillow for extra comfort and gently pulling the duvet over. Aulac went over to the communal fridge and fetched a carton of milk, filling a glass up to the top but not to the brim to avoid spillage. He placed the brim up to Sackville’s mouth, and he slowly began to sip on the milk. “Here, Sackville. This will help you sleep,” Aulac told him softly. Oromocto and the Captain kept watch as Aulac encouraged Sackville to drink it all up.

Once Sackville had drank the whole glass, Aulac wiped his mouth with a tissue and went to rinse the glass out. “I’ll make an exception for Sackville today as he’s too exhausted to carry out his duties,” said the Captain. “He needs it,” added Oromocto as they left the dormitories with Aulac, who briefly paused at the door. “Have a good rest, Sackville,” he said. “And don’t let your nightmares keep you awake.” Aulac shut the door, leaving Sackville to get some much-needed sleep.


Much later on, during the night, Sackville lay soundly asleep, when he started to toss and turn about, grunting. The nightmare returned for the third night in a row, and Sackville once again relived his horrors: the waves misting up and becoming choppier, the water bubbling over into seafoam and mutating into the dreaded seafoam monster. It tightened its grip around his body, and Sackville screamed as it tied itself around him in intricate knots. It hovered its hand above its mouth as if it was about to eat Sackville, who began screaming even louder out of total terror.

The seafoam monster slowly rose up, a wave of thick sea scum slowly washing upwards towards Sackville. He tried desperately to wrench himself away, but it was to no avail, and the wave of sea scum finally caught up to Sackville. He let out a final scream as it swallowed him up completely, his screaming becoming distorted into bubbles. Sackville curled into a ball, drifting helplessly down towards the cold, dark ocean floor as he silently succumbed to the merciless wrath of the seafoam monster.

With all his strength, Sackville powerfully jolted himself awake from the nightmare, soaked in sweat and breathing so heavily that all the other sailors could hear.

Oromocto woke up, looking across to Sackville. “You had yet another nightmare, Sackville,” he remarked. “But that’s just what it was – a nightmare. Remember what the Captain said. Seafoam monsters are just a myth. They’re not real. And dreams naturally come with sleep, so don’t let them get to you too much. Come on, Sackville, go back to sleep now. You’ll need plenty of energy for tomorrow.”

Remembering that important fact, Sackville calmly laid his head back down on the pillow, falling back asleep, looking contented. “Good sailor, Sackville,” Oromocto praised him, smiling, and he soon went back to sleep too.


The next morning, Sackville arrived on deck, feeling refreshed and fully energized after a good night’s – or rather, day’s – sleep. Oromocto and Aulac noticed him approaching just as the Captain was readying the salute for the whole crew.

“Good morning, Sackville,” Oromocto greeted Sackville. “Oh, you look much better now that you’ve had a good rest.” “And you feel much better, too,” added Aulac. “Oh, thanks,” Sackville smiled gratefully.

The Captain and all the other sailors turned to Sackville. “So you finally slept through the night after three days of restlessness,” the Captain began. “And did you have a bad dream?”

“Yes,” Sackville admitted, looking a little ashamed.

“But remember what I said, Sackville. Dreams are a normal part of sleep. Some are good, and we like having those. But some are bad. And we all have bad dreams every now and then,” the Captain reassured Sackville. “And seafoam monsters? They’re just an old sailors’ tale.”

Sackville returned to smiling. “I guess I won’t let myself believe that my nightmares are real ever again,” he promised himself. “And they never are – unless you make them real,” added Oromocto, also smiling, and all the sailors together with the Captain laughed out loud as Sackville beamed brightly in the warm morning sunshine.

THE END!

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