Surfing the Sea

Established 1995

Canada Cool: The Provinces (2013) — Jul 31, 2017

Canada Cool: The Provinces (2013)

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My first artwork of 2013 on this blog! 🙆🏽

Since I first began drawing, I’ve always loved the idea of printing my characters onto different kinds of merchandise, like T-shirts, tote bags, pencil cases and even mouse mats. (I once accomplished this in primary school, where I had a painting of mine printed onto a mouse mat, and it was used with my own computer for many years! I still have it somewhere around today.)

Although I mostly create characters for various purposes, notably for writing stories or drawing with, I had never before created them solely for selling merchandise. This gave me an idea – channel my undying love of Canada into creating a design range featuring the best of Canadian geography and culture. Not Canadian Boys or even Project Canada, but something a little different.

Taking a bit of The Provinces & Territories Show and Project Canada, I mixed the two together to make Canada Cool. So-named because of the dark sunglasses all the province and territory characters wear, which is the stereotypical ‘cool’ image seen in many a movie or poster, as well as packing alliterative appeal and a small jab at the famously bitterly-cold Canadian winters, the plan was to create merchandise featuring each one or more of the characters and a few things from their home province/territory. Due to a shortage of funds, however, I never did get around to actually printing and producing the merchandise, but I did draw a few artworks for the range.

And even though the characters were designed specifically for the purposes of being merchandised, they do have their own bios, each of which reflects their home province/territory’s distinctive culture and geography:

  • British Columbia

A coffee, marijuana and surfing addict. He uses his home as a giant greenhouse for growing his own ‘grass’ and smoking it. His favourite food is Pacific salmon, and he can never start the day without grabbing a cup of coffee from Starbucks or Second Cup (he thinks Tim Horton’s is too ‘mainstream’, at least in Canada). He loves to spend his summers surfing at the beaches on Vancouver Island, and his winters skiing and snowboarding in Whistler.

  • Alberta

A mechanic. He uses a lot of oil for his job, with the result that he has it splashed all over him, so he wears gumboots and carries a cloth rag with him. He makes a lot of money due to playing a small part in the oil industry. When he isn’t fixing cars, he loves to watch rodeos at the Calgary Stampede, sometimes riding on the cattle himself.

  • Saskatchewan

A wheat farmer. He spends hot sunny days out in the vast fields slicing away at wheatstalks with his scythe, tanning himself as brown as a berry. He always appears to be chewing on a stalk of wheat. While normally hidden from view, he has a scar on his stomach from when he tripped up onto the blade of his scythe, causing him to require stitches and hospitalization.

  • Manitoba

A shoveller. Every winter, he keeps drivers safe by digging away excess snow, and sometimes amuses himself by building snow sculptures with it. He also likes to enjoy the outdoors by hunting, fishing, or going to see polar bears and the Northern Lights in Churchill.

  • Ontario

The brash and obnoxious Ontario is a huge hockey fan. Having a decal of the CN Tower printed on his shirt, he loves to profess his ‘excellence’ at playing hockey, but he is in fact pretty poor at it. This doesn’t stop him bragging, however.

  • Quebec

A French-Canadian cook. He specializes in baking things such as cupcakes and cookies, but he also loves to make and eat his favourite dish, the quintessially Quebecois poutine of French fries, gravy and cheese. Though he is bilingual in both English and French, he prefers French more, even declaring it to be his only recognized language. He has a bit of a rebellious side to him for this reason, wishing for independence in defiance of the others who want him to remain Canadian.

  • New Brunswick

A sailor. As well as sailing the high – and low – seas, he has a part-time job as a lumberjack, chopping down trees in the forests with his axe ad hammer. His left arm is decorated with nautically-inspired tattoos, most notably an anchor and sea waves. For very special occassions, he likes to eat fiddleheads.

  • Nova Scotia

A fiddler and bagpiper. He brings music to the table and party with his sweet melodies, but he actually has quite a sharp tongue, and can easily become provoked if someone or something rubs him up the wrong way. His speech is marked with a strong Cape Beton twang, despite being ‘born’ in Halifax, from whose infamous explosion in 1917 he received his scars and burns. He is a huge fan of seafood, especially lobster and scallops.

  • Newfoundland & Labrador

A fisherman. Sailing out to sea daily to catch fresh fish, he is sometimes seen with a codfish in his hand. Many people have difficulty understanding him because of his very strong regional accent, leading to him being the butt of many bad jokes and stories.

  • Prince Edward Island

A potato farmer. He has a small connection to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, having the former’s Scottish heritage and the latter’s love of the sea. In addition to growing potatoes in the red-tinged fields, he sometimes goes catching oysters. He loves Anne of Green Gables, and his seaside cottage is inspired by her house.

  • Yukon Territory

A gold miner. He pans in rivers and digs underground with his pickaxe, very occasionally striking it rich. He goes places with his husky dogs, during which he may catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. He often simply gets called “Yukon”.

  • Northwest Territories

A hunter. He carries a small moose model around with him, possibly to signify his hunting abilities, along with a sharp spear, which he hunts and fishes with. He wears snowshoes over his boots to help him navigate tough areas which are steeped in snow.

  • Nunavut

Another hunter, much like Northwest Territories. Also carrying a sharp spear, he can stab a target over half a mile away, and can swipe up a fish from below the ice in a matter of a split second. He uses a combination of huskies, snowshoes and his snowmobile to get around.

Following on is a a gallery of addtional artworks I drew for the design range, including a few designs for some city characters, who are a sort of spin-off from the province and territory characters, and who all also wear dark sunglasses:

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Sherry Lai’s Canada: Sticker Album Cover (2012) — Jul 23, 2017

Sherry Lai’s Canada: Sticker Album Cover (2012)

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At this point, the IAmMatthewian Project, AKA Project Canada, AKA Sherry Lai’s Canada (which is my own name for it) probably doesn’t need an introduction on this blog. (If you need one, however, just read up on this post.)

Back when I was first introduced to the fandom, I set my mind on creating every conceivable kind of merchandise to promote these Canadian capers. Backpacks, pencil cases, phone coverings, and even collectible figures (as seen here, although that didn’t come around until a few years later). This idea expanded to include sticker albums, which led to me designing this provisional cover.

Although I call it a sticker album cover, I was actually intending to use it as a scrapbook to store newspaper and magazine clippings about Canada. Much later, however, I created a newer design for the sticker album (seen below), and have used the space inside for that purpose.

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IAMP/PC Official Sticker Album (2016 Edition) – Front Cover Design
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Sherry Lai’s Canada – Sticker Album – Front Cover (2013 Edition)

As with any book cover, it needs to visually introduce the reader (or viewer) to what they can expect inside. Since PC isn’t very well-known, I felt obliged to include every character on the cover so people would know who they’re dealing with and associate them with the mini-fandom:

  • Matthew Williams/Canada (of Hetalia: Axis Powers fame)
  • Victoria Cheung/British Columbia (in the rollerskates)
  • Ralph Campbell/Alberta (in the cowboy hat and red neck bandana)
  • Owen Douglas Carswell/Saskatchewan (in the yellow-green-brown plaid shirt)
  • Ilan Riel/Manitoba (in the red hat with earflaps and yellow scarf with a snow shovel)
  • Oliver Stanley/Ontario (in the glasses and Toronto Maple Leafs hockey jersey)
  • Jean Tremblay/Quebec (in the navy blue-and-white pinstripe waistjacket)
  • Marie McCain/New Brunswick (with the anchor tattoo, axe and hammer)
  • Joel Alexander MacKenzie/Nova Scotia (actually in a different outfit to what he usually wears, as designed below by Clolymy on DeviantArt, with the fiddle):

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  • Catrina Damhnait Williams/Cape Breton (not part of the ‘canon’ cast, but a fan character created by askcapebreton on DeviantArt)
  • Benjamin O’Reilly/Newfoundland (Senior and Junior, as was customary in the old IAMP)
  • Labrador
  • Anne Montgomery/Prince Edward Island (in the ginger braids and dark green pinafore)
  • Kate Sahneuti/Yukon (in the pink Wellington boots with a pickaxe)
  • Cymbeline Thanadelthur/Northwest Territories (with the blue beads)
  • Nanook Puqiqnak/Nunavut (with the light orange bows)

Cape Breton, the only non-canon character shown on the cover, has largely disappeared from more recent works for PC, though I did draw her in my ‘new’ art style a while back:

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Catrina Damhnait Williams

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ANSWOL: New Glasgow, Peggy’s Cove, Presqu’ile and James River (2012) — Jul 16, 2017

ANSWOL: New Glasgow, Peggy’s Cove, Presqu’ile and James River (2012)

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Nova Scotia is my favourite Canadian province; you’d know that if you regularly read my blog, since I love to talk at length about it whenever I talk about Canada (which is nearly all the time), and even got the chance to realize my dream by visiting it last year (along with Newfoundland). In fact, it’s so much of my favourite province that I just had to create a TV show all about it.

The big idea behind A Nova Scotian Way of Life – or ANSWOL, as it’s often abbreviated to – is the ‘scripted reality’ TV series in the real world which once dominated the TV schedules. Think of it as the Canadian – or more specifically, Nova Scotian – version of your The Only Way is Essex, Made in Chelsea or The Real Housewives of…

A somewhat popular show within the entertainment world of Canadian Boys, ANSWOL‘s producers insist that it stars ‘real people’ from around the Eastern Canadian province, and that it presents a realistic image of how Nova Scotians live, work and party. The show is actually a closely-disguised blend of documentary-style filming and scripted ‘reality’, much like the real-world TV shows mentioned above, making it appear at first glance to be an educational series about the lives of Nova Scotians. Veteran TV viewers and those in the know can see through this disguise, however…

The show’s vast cast is ever-growing, with more and more Nova Scotians gathering to represent their home province. At the rate it is going, it just might represent almost the entire province, with the cast members coming from all four corners – from the South Shore to the capital region and Cape Breton Island.

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New Glasgow Munroe, Peggy’s Cove-Clam Pond, Presqu’ile-Gisburn Flowage & James River-Beaver Meadow

Above are just a select four of the members of the ANSWOL cast. Unlike in later artworks, I didn’t really draw them according to their geographical location – I simply drew them in this order on a whim. With Peggy’s Cove being the exception, everybody here wears skirts – and the skirt-wearers are all boys!

  • New Glasgow is the resident ladies’ – and gentlemen’s – man. A Highland dancer, he is a regular at ceilidhs, Highland Games and other Celtic-flavoured festivals around the city. He has a bit of his own way with anybody he meets – he just can’t help falling in and out of love! He also has a pretty high opinion of himself and his looks.
  • Peggy’s Cove is a lighthouse girl, loving to dress up in a costume of the famous lighthouse of her hometown. While she’s normally a cheerful and chirpy kind, she can easily get shocked or disgusted by things which pique her. She’s also a girl with a fighting spirit, supporting gender equality and ‘natural beauty’. Her current romantic interest appears to be Wolfville.
  • Presqu’ile is a dancer who lives a traditional Acadian lifestyle. He wears a golden cross necklace and Acadian apparel in red, white and blue. He reveres the distant history and memories of old Acadia, and strives to keep its unique culture alive through his dancing. His speech blends a curious dialect of old French, modern French and English.
  • James River loves to fiddle about. He often performs with his fellow fiddlers around the city, sometimes out in open air, like on top of a cliff overlooking the sea, for more romance. For some reason, he regularly has to avoid Antigonish because of a perceived grudge against him, though this could be just the producers trying to inject some tensions and drama into the show.

Character bios for the rest of the ANSWOL crew, including the four above, can be found either at this post on the blog, or this article on the Canadian Boys wiki. Some of the characters have their own individual articles to delve deeper into their biological make-up and personalities.

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Cast of House of Strangeity (2012) — Jul 9, 2017

Cast of House of Strangeity (2012)

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After all the festivities surrounding Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s time to settle back into my normal blogging routine – a new exhibition every week.

Today, it’s House of Strangeity – a surrealist comedy TV series in the world of Canadian Boys. It’s the adventures of 14-year-old Stephenville Michaelson and his friends who just might seem… a little bit out of this world. Because they aren’t like normal friends…

Stephenville was out in town one ordinary day with his doting parents, when he accidentally stepped into an open manhole in the road. When he finally came outside, he found out that this new world wasn’t like his own – and neither were its inhabitants. Badly culture-shocked, Stephenville initially cried out for reunification with his ‘real’ family, feeling that the new one was too absurd for his sanity. Over a long time, however, he had to adjust himself, as he could never return to the real world once entering this one. Today, he and his new alien friends form the ‘Anti-Sanity Squad’, who aim to keep the world free from the tediousness of boredom and monotony.

As House of Strangeity has never been written about on this log before, character profiles are to be expected:

  • Stephenville

A 14-year-old boy who enters the world of House of Strangeity when he falls down a manhole while out with his parents. The initial resulting ‘culture shock’ did not bode well with him, and he spent many nights and days crying out to go back to the real world. However, all his attempts to escape were to no avail, since once somebody entered this new world of absurdity, they could never return to their own world ever again. This caused no end of heartbreak and tears for poor young Stephenville. However, as the years passed, he grew used to his crazy ‘new family’, with them adopting him as their ‘son’, and they formed the ‘Anti-Sanity Squad’ together, fighting to keep the world crazy and break the ‘vicious cycle’ of monotony. While he is a little weak and emotional due to being separated from his doting parents in the real world for so long, his ‘new family’ encourages him to stay positive in the face of adversity and enjoy life with them just as he would with his actual family.

  • Fergus

A lizard-frog-Dalmatian mutant with a sharp, three-pronged, forked tail like that of a giant reptilian monster. He was apparently born out of the desire of the mourner of a Dalmatian dog to clone his late pet. In doing so, he accidentally mixed in the genes of a poison-dart frog and a fire salamander. As a result, Fergus ended up having a venomous bite like a snake, and red-and-yellow spots in comparison to the usual black-and-white spots of a Dalmatian. Due to possessing dog genes, he will often wag his reptilian tail and pant when he is happy, chase his own tail and bark to warn of impending danger. Stephenville had to have him microchipped and collared because of the authorities classifying him as a dog (even though he is a frog-dog-lizard mix), and so he often takes him out walking in the park or at the beach, where he can dig holes and chase after sticks which Stephenville throws for him. If there is any food left out around the house, he will promptly snap it up and raid the fridge for even more nibbles to eat. At night, Fergus likes to curl up and sleep at Stephenville’s feet, and in the morning lick his face excessively, just like a real dog.

  • Haliburton Love

A young alien-serpent-sea monster hybrid with purple octopus tentacles for hair. Little is known about his real appearance since he is always fully covered up in black, and even less is known about what he is trying to say because his tentacle hair causes anything he speaks to be garbled as nonsensical alien gibberish. He appears to be attracted to Stephenville, and he is always fondling him with his sticky, stretchy tentacles while incoherently babbling sweet nothings at him. Despite clearly having tentacles for hair, Haliburton is somewhat squeamish – whenever he feels nauseous, he forcefully vomits out a thick, gluey, gooey dark purple liquid which can dissolve some materials as if it was acid. He often vomits near or straight on Stephenville, which has become something of a bad habit of his, as Stephenville always complains about feeling sticky and has to wash himself off as soon as he can. However, sometimes Haliburton vomits on Stephenville to show that he cares so much for him, with Stephenville lovingly cleaning himself up and caressing Haliburton. Stephenville sometimes uses Haliburton as a mop because of the appearance of his serpentine hair, and he will then wash out the dirt with Haliburton’s favourite shampoo and conditioner, which is dark purple like his vomit and contains aromas of blueberries and blackcurrants.

  • Sprucedale

A humanoid tree monster. Once a normal human being who held a passion for gardening and environmentalism, he one day wished he could become a tree to experience the effects of climate change for himself. Little did he know that he would literally develop green fingers – or a totally green body with foliage growing off him, which would be a curse for wishing to become a tree for the rest of his life. As he has foliage, he does not need to eat – he can simply lounge out in the sun and photosynthesize to keep him breathing. Just like a real tree, his foliage changes with the seasons – pink cherry blossoms in spring, bright green leaves in summer, red and brown leaves in the fall, and bare frosted branches in winter. During the winter months, he cannot photosynthesize naturally due to having no foliage, and so has to spend all day under a bright lamp to simulate the effects of photosynthesis. He will often eat gardening foods such as lawn seeds and potassium to help keep himself in shape, and the chemicals will not poison him as he is a tree and not technically human.

(Sprucedale isn’t to be confused with Sprucedale from the main Canadian Boys series, and neither should Haliburton – he has a different surname from the Canadian Boys Haliburton, as well as the two looking and acting nothing like each other.)

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Despicable Me 3 (2017): My Thoughts — Jul 6, 2017

Despicable Me 3 (2017): My Thoughts

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When I began writing for this blog, one of the first films I reviewed was Minions (2015), a prequel to the hugely popular Despicable Me series. Since reviewing Minions two years ago, I’ve gotten around to watching the first two Despicable Me films. Starring the little yellow guys who have dominated the world – metaphorically – for their cute antics and obsessive love of bananas, Despicable Me can now call itself a modern hit for animation, and a franchise. Because it’s now a trilogy! (Or a quadrology, if you count Minions.)

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