Monthly Archives: July 2017

Creator Spotlight: Lauren Faust

The Nickelodeon Animation Podcast is a phenomenal resource for anyone who would like to learn more about the animation industry. Each episode features known figures of the industry, whether it be directors, producers, storyboard artists, animators, voice actors, and everything in between. This podcast is a gem for anyone who is even slightly interested in animation, and in my genuine opinion, I highly recommend that you all check it out! The inspiration for this article came from Episode 18 of the podcast featuring Lauren Faust.


 

Lauren Faust is an incredible woman. She worked on the Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and was responsible for developing My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Her involvement in modern television animation is lengthy, and to top off her incredible success, she is also a fantastic role model.

Faust approaches her line of work with a feminist mindset. As a female writer, director, and storyboard artist, she has experienced what it feels like to be the minority within the animation industry and wider entertainment sector as a whole. As such, she works to inspire many young girls to defy odds and expectations within their line of work, whether involved in animation or not, and to avoid giving in to the supposed restrictions that are set upon them on the basis of gender:

“[Girls] need to know that they can do these bigger things, they need to know that they can be tough and strong. . . her feelings are important too; her goals, her dreams, and her needs.” — Lauren Faust, Nickelodeon Animation Podcast

 

Faust wrote about her perspective on the animation industry in a blog post. She has done a phenomenal job at defying odds within the industry and centering her career around developing lovable and well-rounded female characters:

“I have been a lifelong feminist, and as an artist working in the animation industry for more than 16 years I have striven to do right by women and girls in the animated projects I have been part of. I try to bring sincerity and depth to the female characters I’ve animated and have fought in development and story meetings to make female characters more than just the typical girlfriend, Mom or sex symbol. I’ve even fought to see that there was more than just one girl character in whatever project I was working on. Sometimes I swayed my coworkers (often it was easy, to their credit) and sometimes I lost. My goal, as an artist and as a storyteller, was to one day have a show of my own for and about girls.” — Lauren Faust, Ms. Blog Magazine

 

Aside from being an active feminist, which Powerpuff Girls and My Little Pony truly showcases, she also encourages everyone to follow their dreams, and she does so realistically. The best advice someone has given in terms of their career goals can be summed up in these few lines:

“Live below your means. Don’t live in the awesome apartment, live in the crappy apartment. Don’t buy the awesome car, buy a crappy car. Especially while you’re young because nobody judges you for that. And make sure that you can save. If you got a lot of savings, if you got six-months worth of savings in your account, you can be picky about your jobs. If you get offered something kind of crappy, on a project that kind of lousy, or working for somebody you think is a jerk, you don’t have to take it because you can pay your bills; you can wait for that awesome job.” — Lauren Faust, Nickelodeon Animation Podcast

 

Words of wisdom from the queen of television animation herself. And although this specific podcast really spoke to me, there is a long list of others ones that might have a major impact on you.

 

 

 

buckets and robots

“Beep-de-bop!” A boy shouted, giggling.

“Commander! The robots are taking over! Code red, I repeat, code red!” The second boy yelled, his bucket turning into a special helmet.

The two boys had been playing ‘robot’ for hours. Beginning right after breakfast, past lunch, until now.

The sun was starting to set.

The streetlights beginning to come to life.

The ‘robot’ jumped on the commander’s back, beeping and bopping.

“Ah! There’s too many of them commander, I can’t fight any longer!” the soldier yelled dramatically, falling to the ground.

“Taylor! Henry! It’s time for dinner!” A voice called from a nearby house.

The boys perked up, gazing at their mother who stood on the front porch.

“Coming!” They called in unison.

They darted into the house, tossing their buckets into the front yard.

‘Robots’ would have to wait for another day.

 

NEW GAME DATES!

I’m super excited to announce three new D&D Games

These games are all starting when I am back in Vancouver from GenCon!

The First Bi-Weekly Game that will be during the week for those who work and/or are busy on weekends. This one starts on TUESDAY Aug 29th 7pm (1900).

The Second Bi-Weekly Game will be during the weekends for people who are too busy through the week. This game begins FRIDAY Sept 1 7pm (1900).

Both games will be a building of our own campaign where the characters will play in their own sandbox setting. Each of these games will be $10 per session, and I ask for a 2 month commitment. The games will carry on every two weeks after the first.

I am also excited to announce a Monthly Game that will be running through the new Tomb of Annihilation Campaign. This game will start on THURSDAY Aug 31 7pm (1900). This game is only $15 per session and people can come an go, though if you wish to pay in advance and reserve a seat you are welcome to.

There are 5 spots available for each of these games and all the games will begin with a character building session that may see a little bit of role play before hand. You do NOT need your own Dice or Player’s Handbook, though eventually you’ll likely want to get one. Use the form below to contact and reserve a seat!

See you at the Table!

orbs and tattoos

It was the middle of the night when I awoke, gasping.

A burning sensation rose along my stomach, stretching from my rib cage down towards my navel.

Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt.

Lifting my oversized shirt, I noticed a faint outline that hadn’t been on my body before.

The outline was darkening by the second, taking on colour.

A brilliant silver.

A deep teal.

Rich red.

Black.

The design that took form was intricate, full of swirls and overlapping lines.

Although seemingly random, it made perfect sense.

Excitement vibrated through my body, as I pulled off the covers with my tattooed hands.

A hum of a breath escaped my lips.

I had to wake the others, we were close to the orb.

We could finally bring it home.

Exit the Dragons

I’ve been playing role-playing games for many years now. They have led me to do some really cool things and meet many great people. Few things are more rewarding to me, than to be able to celebrate the geeky accomplishments of some of my players.  A good Game Master (GM) celebrates their player’s character in the game, be their biggest fans. 

I believe that a great GM does that for their players too.

I’ve had a lot of players in my gaming life. I always find it really awesome to see the cool things they go off to do in the creative industries. I have some players who are computer wizards like Mike Vizko who created this amazing website. Others are graphic designers, like Kipp Lightburn who created the Logos for TheGMTim, as well as the Sky on Fire, Loose End z, and SkyFyre Comics Podcasts. Then there is Asher Klassen who is literally creating his own world and comic series out of the games we played years ago. His art is great. I can’t wait to show it off! And of course there is Sarah Fox, Jeremy Green, & Matt Klassen who all are players in a D&D game we’ve been playing for nearly 3 years who have a wonderful podcast called Adventure.exe. 

I started this project because it will allow me to increase the new players I can have and still afford things like rent and food. I’m confident in my abilities, and if you need some second opinions just ask my players. 

Now let’s roll some dice.

girl

“I’m sorry.”

With that, she walked into the rain.

She didn’t look back.

That was the last time anyone saw her.

The town was full of rumours after her disappearance – as if they could make sense of what had happened that horrid night.

Some believed she was abducted by aliens.

Other’s thought she ran away to join the circus.

Yet, they weren’t even close to the truth.

The truth was much darker than any of the simple-minded townsfolk could ever come up with.

To this day, her scarred face was imprinted in my brain, as she looked at me with pity and despair.

I only wished the spirits were taking care of her, of the girl I loved.

6 Friends That Every Twenty-Something Definitely Has

1. The Party Friend

Everyone likes the party friend. They’re always ready to hang out and will dismiss sleep, work and responsibility in order to get down with you. They’re the one screaming at you to do shots, introducing you to hot people, and generally trying to bust you out of your shell.  This friend is great because they’ll get you out of your pajamas, out of the house, and maybe even get you to have a great time. Negatives are that you’ve carried them home on your shoulders more times than you would like to count, and they tend to disappear on particularly messy nights.

2. The Older, Wiser One

This friend has seen some shit. They’re there to watch you try, fail, and fall flat on your face, but you better believe they will coach you through your pain better than anyone else you know. They’ll step right in when the moment is right, and offer you sage advice that would never occur to your young little brain. Most of their stories start with: “Something like that happened to me once…”

3. The Long Distance Bestie

This friend will be your best friend whether they’re 3 or 3 000 kilometres away. When you actually get around to messaging one another, it usually includes: [I misssssss you ♥♥♥] or similar iterations, but you know you’re both very busy and important people and both of your hearts are in it. When this person comes to visit, everything else SHUTS DOWN and they become your life. This friend is not great to drunk text at midnight when you are in different time zones, but is handy to have around when you need a couch to crash on in varying cities!

4. The Younger One

It’s very important to keep a younger friend around to:

  • keep you hip to the newest slang
  • show you cool memes
  • remind you that you are an adult and you can’t drink 9 Hey Y’alls and feel okay the next day
  • make you feel very wise and intelligent (for you are their Older, Wiser Friend)

5. The Decades of Friendship Best Pal

Most people only get one True Blue friend like this one. If you’re lucky, you might have two, or even a handful. This friend knows every. embarrassing. story. that could ever be used against you, along with a vast arsenal of photographs that could most certainly dissuade any suitor from ever engaging with you, were it placed in the wrong hands. This person is your best friend. They’ll be there for you no matter what. You’ve probably had massive fights in the past, but you know that making it through stuff like that has only made your friendship stronger and better. This one will be in your life forever, whether you like it or not, so you should probably get used to it.

6. The One That’s Probably Too Cool for You

This friend hangs out with you even though they’re probably too cool for you. You get to go to cool events with them and pretend like you’re on their level. You’re not, and this is obvious, but it’s pretty nice of them to have invited you in the first place.  This friend is worldly, well-dressed, and has an impressive vocabulary. You may strive to be like this person, but you probably never will. The Cool Friend is very good for your personal self-image, but they probably just like spending time with you, cause maybe you’re cooler than you think.

 

 

Watching Animation Critically.

Progressive.

Deep.

Intriguing.

Complex.

These words are not often associated with Western animation.

 

In most cases, cartoons are presented as naïve works that double as a stand-in babysitter for young children. Animation is historically not meant to be taken seriously. But I believe that all media content that we are exposed to should be approached at least partially from a critical perspective. We should analyze the content that we consume, whether it be music, television, film, or video games, as each of these cannot escape socialized structures that we live within—and in many cases, are desensitized to.

The reason why animation, along with other media, should be viewed critically is because they are created within structures that both emphasize and reflect our daily lives. As a result, many animated works can be very progressive while telling deep and intriguing stories. Many cartoons are swimming in a pool of complexity that is just waiting to be unpacked; however at the same time, many animated titles can do the complete opposite. Either way, we need to assess all of it. Because within each highly-acclaimed and poorly-rated cartoon, are an abundance of systemic issues that are either touched on or built upon.

It’s no surprise that many animated films and programs are targeted at children—which is more than often used as an excuse to dismiss it as an inferior genre of entertainment that doesn’t deserve to be placed under a critical microscope. Much of this content was created under the impression that young minds would be their main consumer; but should this not act as even more motivation to assess the content that is directly impacting the perspectives of young people?

Isn’t it about time that we stop perceiving animation as an inferior form of storytelling and instead fight for progressiveness in these works rather than disregarding them as only superficial enough for shallow minds to comprehend?

This blog was created on the very true premise that animation is not commonly being discussed in a serious manner. Many films, songs, and video games are often analyzed for their deeper messages, but animation is often excluded from this conversation. So as someone who enjoys animated works and who believes without a doubt that animation can be very complex, I would like to contribute to the tiny fraction of cyberspace that discusses animation critically.

 

Consider this a formal invitation to join in on the conversation.

 

Sincerely,

Julianna

Hidden Gems: Delta State

What if you were able to lucid dream on command? What if you tapped into a realm of the subconscious every time you did so? And what if skilled mind hitmen were attempting to control the human psyche by entering this realm?

Delta State is a Canadian animated series that premiered on Teletoon in 2004. It has one season of 26 episodes that completes an entire story arch, with plans for a second season being denied the chance to see the light of day due to low ratings. The series didn’t attract a huge audience, possibly, because of it’s unorthodox animation style, compelling storyline, and Canadian origin. But the main culprit for its unfortunate cancellation (based on keen detective skills) is over the fact that Delta State was simply too smart, unique and intriguing for its time.

In other words, animation in the early 2000s had the mindset of being a form children’s entertainment. And despite many people still holding this viewpoint regarding the subject, the new decade is known to have challenged this perspective many times over.

Delta State features four main characters, who are also roommates and best friends (though mainly as a result of circumstance above anything else): Luna, Claire, Martin, and Philip. None of them remember any details of their lives prior to half a year ago, so in having being able to enter the Delta Sate at will, they were placed into an apartment together protected by a force field created by their mentor, Brodie, to keep them safe.

Aside from being able to enter an alternate realm, the protagonists each have unique abilities related to the human mind. Claire has the ability of remote viewing, so she is capable of retrieving visible information of a person, location, or object that is physically unattainable in a specific moment of time. Luna is capable of precognition,  thus can see both past and future events through sporadic visions that she has no control over. Martin has the ability of telepathy so is capable of reading people’s mind at will. And finally, Philip has the ability of psychometry, so is able to view the experience of past objects through physical contact.

Although these abilities sound very intriguing, they do not define these characters’ beings. Instead the four protagonists are portrayed as very realistic young adults who have to deal with the unwanted pressure of having to combat said “mind hitmen”, known as rifters. Unlike many series that consists of special abilities along with a literal “hero’s journey”, these roommates do not exactly settle into the powers that had been forced upon them. They do not have an inherent powerful sense of justice that transitions them into selfless beings who fight for the sake of mankind—instead remain as a group of 20-something-year-olds who, above anything, just want the memories of their past lives back. The bad-guy butt-kicking ranks second to their very self-focused goal. Even the people who they save from the rifters’ control usually have some kind of personal connection with the protagonists, which in turn motivates them to put their central objective aside momentarily to save whoever requires their assistance.

As a result, the characters are portrayed as very real people who face a combination of both common and otherworldly roadblocks. Delta State inexplicably answers the question of: What if regular everyday people where given special abilities and forced into a “hero” role? This realistic characterization is hardly seen in Western animation, as is a young adult roster. As a 22-year old, many of their worries and struggles are incredibly relatable, and for those of you who currently (or have) live(d) with roommates, the character dynamic is something I’m sure will give off a sense of familiarity.

Delta State was written primarily as a comic, however its rights were purchased before the comic’s release to create the series. As such, it definitely has a comic-book feel to it, in both premise and storytelling style. One very important fact to note is that  the entire series was rotoscoped into animation; so the entire thing was filmed beforehand, then each frame was traced over. This makes for very accurate proportions and perspectives. Because this animation technique is so unorthodox, Delta State was actually the first television series to accomplish this feat in its entirety. And because it’s so unique, it definitely takes some getting used to.

After a while it’s easy to see that the animation definitely suits the premise of the series and sets its overall tone. It is definitely intriguing, and personally, made me want to keep watching.

Delta State follows a continuous storyline with the occasional self-contained episode. Almost every episode carries some kind of revealing plot and/or character moment that adds to the complexity of the series. Keep in mind, that the show is not something that can just be played in the background. It requires a degree of focus on the audience’s part, as it contains a thought-provoking story.

Overall, the best words to describe Delta State are smart and intriguing. The series naturally pulls its audience into the story, and its very real characters inspires the question of “what if?”. As in, what if I was placed in their situation? What if a realm within the subconscious existed and only a small handful of people could tap into it? What if a portion of this story is inspired by true occurrences/possibilities?

In my (self-proclaimed) professional opinion, Delta State is one of the most well-hidden gems of animation.


A/N: The other week I wrote an article covering the Canadian animation industry. And upon researching some Canadian titles, stumbled upon Delta State. It’s a really tough series to come by. Even when searching “Delta State” on Google, Delta State University returns higher on the search query. It is definitely a hole-in-the-wall within the animation sphere, and as such, I highly recommend it to any animation fanatic who appreciates a different and intriguing plot along with a unique overall style. 

256 birthmarks

Her mother hated her the moment she was born.

Despite the child’s long blonde locks, warm brown eyes, and contagious smile, she could not find an ounce of love.

There was only resentment.

Resentment all towards a single arrow-shaped birthmark.

The daughter – full of self-loathing and rage – didn’t understand her mother’s indifference.

Until, the day she turned sixteen, and fell deathly ill.

It was then when she learned the truth about that ugly mark on her skin.

She was not the only individual with a small arrow-shaped spot.

Hundreds of people – 256 to be exact – were born with the same birthmark.

They were the ‘chosen ones,’ able to gain abilities like none other.

If they survived the sickness.

Upon this discovery, the girl wept.

Now she understood the indifference of her mother, the hatred.

Her mother knew – she would become a monster.

Hannah VS Modern Dating Volume I

As someone who is extremely new to the magical world of modern dating, there are a number of nuances and rules that I have yet to catch up on. Terms like ‘ghosting’, ‘negging’, and variations of different acronyms  (hmu is the most confusing, cause those are my initials) have been on my radar before, but never at the forefront of my daily life. This, needless to say, has changed, as my circumstances have, but I still feel like I am playing a game that I do not understand. An analysis of a few of my dating experiences thus far:

Problem 1: Did I ghost him? Did he ghost me? Or are we both just equally apathetic?

Casper would never ghost me

I think most people have been there. You go on a first date, and it’s probably a pretty good first date, at least the kind that makes you want to go on a second one. Then somewhere between the first and… I don’t know, fifth dates, it begins to feel like a chore to make plans, text once in a while, and actually have human interactions with this person.

In time, interactions become fewer, further spaced out, and eventually stop. Do you cut your losses? Do you follow up? Do you wait it out until you receive numerous 2am booty calls until you command him to stop?

Answer still unclear, will report back.

 

Problem 2: How do you let someone down easy without seeming like a total jerk?

There are some really cool people out there, and some of them simply are not the kind of cool that meshes well with my cool. Or rather, that meshes well with my weird. How does one approach these situations without looking like a total spazz who is also really mean?

Don’t: Accidentally ghost them. You won’t be able to sleep for weeks.

Do: Approach them with thoughtful and honest reasons as to why it won’t work out, without over-elaborating or getting into hurtful details.

*This post brought to you by the girl whose friends call her “mom”. Wonder why.

**Gonna try to take my own advice one day probably.

***Just kidding let’s be real.

Problem 3: Why. Why oh why, do they say they want to “keep it casual” and then proceed to cling to you like a bus seat to your butt on a hot day?

This one is baffling. There seems to be a stigma in the millennial culture about relationships, commitment, and what is expected of one when they’ve been on a certain number of dates. The word of choice for self proclaimed modern commitment-phobes is “casual”, which is a word I’ve heard so much it seems to have lost its meaning entirely.

To me, dating someone casually means: going on dates. Getting to know someone. Now, however, it seems to have developed into a kind of code word, for which I haven’t yet managed to find the definition.

The thing I find funny, though, is that it is often those who are most intent on being “casual” that end up being the neediest. Really, it’s okay to be needy (I’m needy as hell, just ask my friends) but it’s kind of sad to be in denial, don’t you think? This has happened to me repeatedly and I can’t quite figure it out, but I think it has something to do with fear of rejection. Not their fault, of course. The world is scary! People can be mean! But vulnerability is fun and interesting and being straightforward and not doing what society proclaims is cool is usually more interesting!

Keep it casual, or don’t, but don’t say one thing and do another. It’s deeply confusing.

Problem 4: Texting sucks.

Read receipts are awkward.

Scenario 1: It’s 1am. You finally fell asleep and you work early in the morning. Your phone buzzes almost nonstop for 3 straight minutes. It’s two different people asking “u up?” and inviting you to come “hang”. You see? Romance is not dead kids!

Scenario 2: You’ve waited approximately four hundred years. You’ve analyzed your last message 15 times with five different people. You will never receive a reply.

In summary: I quit!

Just kidding. My mom once got mad at me for being too positive. Plus I get bored easily, so it’s nice to have new people to entertain me. More neuroses to follow, I promise! This was but Volume I of many.

 

one hell of a day

“How did the meeting go?”

Kate sighed rubbing a hand over her makeup-smudged face. “Not as good as I hoped, the company wants to sue.”

“That’s going to get messy.”

“Don’t I know it.” The water running into the sink interrupted their conversation for a moment. “Did you go to see Julia?”

“I tried.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“She didn’t want to see me.” Her brother, Connor, sighed. “She wanted to see mother.”

“Mom won’t see her, why doesn’t Julia understand that?”

“She refuses to give up I suppose.” He shrugged. “Either way, she told the nurse – who told me – that she would not see either of us until we brought mom.”

“She’s being ridiculous!”

“Julia will probably get over it. You know her obsessions, she’s adamant about something for a week, then gets over it. She’ll be begging us to come see her soon enough.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“I hope they company decides not to sue.”

“Me too.”