Indie Adventures

Latimer's Web Adventures!
Latimer’s Web Adventures!

Latimer: Somehow I’ve found myself on an indie odyssey through the internet recently, stumbling over people making really amazing art, from conception to end-product. As Ridley and I are indie writers ourselves, it’s always great to see what other indie people are up to around the web!

There are some amazing artists out there, doing really cool innovative things. The invention of Kickstarter also means that more and more people are finding ways of getting their ideas out to bigger audiences. It’s really inspiring and I’ve stumbled across some great finds as I’ve wandered and bounced around the wide-open spaces of web-land!

Here are a few of my new, sparkly treasures!

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Podcast: Welcome To Night Vale (created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and voiced by Cecil Baldwin), this really cool podcast about a fictional town somewhere in America, where strange things are happening, almost always… they have hooded figures, mysterious dog parks, vanishing interns… it’s all very random, but brilliantly random!  

Webcomic: Ava’s Demon – oh wow, this webcomic by Michelle Czajkowski, is just fantastic! It is semi-mixed media, in that for each chapter, there are a number of beautiful single panels, and then the very last part of the chapter is a short animation. The story is set in outer-space and on different planets, but it also has this cool fantasy feel to it. It focus’ on a girl called Ava who is possessed by a demon with a mysterious/bloody past.

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The artwork is beautiful and after running this really successful Kickstarted campaign, the artist now has the money to update the comic twice weekly and add lots more fun stuff! (Currently the comic is updated every Thursday! Check it out! It’s great!)

Webcartoon: Bee and PuppyCat, a really cool webcartoon. Bee has been fired and as she walks home, a puppy-cat falls out of the sky. This is so brilliant, hilarious and just… it’s so strange that it draws you in and you are hooked wondering – what on earth is going on?

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The artist and creator of Bee and PuppyCat (Natasha Allegri) works on Adventure Time (she created the female/genderbender version of Finn and Jake – Fionna and Cake!). And Frederator Studios, the indie studio that makes Bee and PuppyCat (and the other shows on the channel), also made Adventure Time (so there are similarities). I’ve never watched Adventure Time, but I feel like I should now!

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Currently Bee and PuppyCat is only one episode, but after a Kickstarter campaign she got enough money to make a series! Not sure when it will be out, but I’ll be subscribing to keep track!

Webcartoon: Bravest Warriors (by Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time), this is also on the same channel (Cartoon Hangover) as Bee and PuppyCat and made by the same people. It’s actually really, really funny. I love the humour in these cartoons, it’s so unbelievably random and quirky!

I can’t wait for the next find! There are some amazing people, doing really cool things out there 🙂

Avatar: Rise of the Naughties Cartoon

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Latimer: As a nineties kid, I always felt like we had the best cartoons – all the Marvel cartoons, Gargoyles, Animals of Farthing Wood, Mummy’s Alive, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Batman… the list goes on!

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Those cartoons had proper, involved story-lines.

But somewhere in the late nineties cartoons got fixed on this one episode, one story, structure, that I never liked. I always missed the ‘larger picture’, the big story arcs.

Then, around this time, I more or less stopped watching cartoons – so they remained, in my mind, fixed in that ‘one episode, one unconnected story’ structure.

In slightly later life, I swapped Western cartoons for Eastern ones. This would be around the time my obsession with anime kicked in. In anime, big story-lines never went out of style!!

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I noticed early in the naughties Western cartoons started to taken on this East-meets-West style; an almost ‘anime but not quite, style’. I think it was due to the popularity of anime at the time.

That was probably what brought me slightly back to Western cartoons.

I think out of all those new ‘East-meets-West’ cartoon series, Avatar, has got to be one of the best.

NICKELODEON THE LAST AIRBENDER

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Forget that terrible movie version. The cartoon is where it’s at!

Avatar is a great show. I was late to the game – I haven’t seen all of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but am a pretty big follower of Avatar: Legend of Korra.

I love the style, music and feel of Avatar… It’s a well-thought out story-line, with interesting characters, with interesting ethnic backgrounds. Basically the story is focused on a world where people have the power of controlling (bending) elements; water, fire, earth and air. The avatar is the one person in the world that can do all four and is sort of the, near as I can tell, spiritual and bending guide of the people. A big figure-head basically.

 

When the avatar dies, the next avatar is born and so on….

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So, when the new Avatar Korra takes centre-stage, you know that the previous Avatar, Aang, is dead.

Which is pretty sad actually, given that the last time we see him is as this chipper 12 year old kid who saved the world. We don’t really get time to grieve over that, we just have to accept it, which is… yeah kind of rough!

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But there’s lots of cool, funny characters in Legend of Korra too (and Korra is a very strong female lead, so that’s pretty cool!)

My favourite characters are Bolin and his little red panda Pabu – Bolin is just brilliant…

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Okay, so maybe the best cartoons didn’t end with the 90s, maybe there are lots more to come! 🙂

Quite Interesting

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Latimer: Lately I’ve been trying to get my ‘reading groove’ back on. Yup, it was gone for a while.

For me, the serious ‘groove’ comes on a little randomly – the urge to read more and more and MORE books!

My problem is, I buy too many books, then don’t get around to reading them. I have a serious backlog of books.

There are more.... there's always more; like Highlander
There are more…. there’s always more; like Highlander

Like you would not believe – and yes, I have since ordered more! I don’t learn, but I have decided that I will stop buying and clear the backlog in the lead up to Christmas.

(she says, but this turned up on her doorstep today!)

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His name is Clod Iremonger, and he is an Iremonger… HOW CAN I NOT READ THIS? I’m so intrigued…. I have a problem!

Ridley, I know, has a similar reading backlog, which I aim to make worse for her, because I have a bag of seven books for her (that she must read)! Ha 🙂

Now though, I am accountable, because I’ve put this in writing – ‘I will clear my reading backlog!’ – I will succeed! If you have a backlog, join me in my crusade of reading-before-buying-more! How is this going to end for me? Not well I don’t think.

But seriously, I have started to make an… effort.

Like I finally finished Qi: The Book of the Dead by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson (and it was brilliant)

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and I’m going to finish Bill Bryson’s At Home, which I have been reading on and off again for too long! (Bill Bryson’s books are fantastic really, but take forever to read!)

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I vow to finish this one before the end of October (oh, what have I done!).

When I finished The Book of the Dead a dam broke inside me and I felt inspired to get out and read all my poor abandoned books, because they’re all full of interesting things 🙂

The Book of the Dead is a book filled with brief stories about lots of different people, people you know like Thomas Edison and Casanova, to people you don’t like, Moll Cutpurse, a bear-baiting cross-dressing pickpocket and James Barry, a famous doctor in the early 1800s, who gave Florence Nightingale the worst dressing-down of her life, and … oh yea and he was actually a woman (though no one found out until she died!).

It has to be one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while.

I got emotionally caught up in peoples stories; like Nikola Tesla.

“If-you-wish-to-understand-the-Universe-think-of-energy-frequency-and-vibration.”-Nikola-Tesla

He invented the radio (although Marconi was awarded the honour and won a Nobel Prize for it).

Tesla was known as the ‘Father of the 20th Century’ and the master of electricity (more so than Edison). He was inventing things that were light-years ahead of his time; he even foresaw/wanted to make the internet – the man was a genius.

And he died in debt with no money, living with crippling OCD, though he should have been a millionaire.

But I came to realise that for some people, it isn’t about what their knowledge can give them, what monetary rewards, some people are just driven to answer questions and solve problems, because that’s where they get their joy.

Tesla’s business partner George Westinghouse was in financial ruin after a stock market crash, so Tesla dissolved the contract between them that was costing Westinghouse so much. He said;

‘You have been my friend, you believed in me when others had no faith; you were brave enough to go ahead… when others lacked courage; you supported me when even your own engineers lacked vision… you have stood by me as a friend… Here is your contract, and here is my contract. I will tear both of them to pieces, and you will no longer have any troubles from my royalties. Is that sufficient?’

It’s pretty special, and wonderful, that a person, who stood to gain 12 million dollars from those royalties, which would have made him one of the richest men in the world at that time, would do something so noble as to brush it all aside to help a friend.

Imagine that. It makes me feel pretty good about the world; we can be so good to one another sometimes.  

The book also taught me that real genius is a rare and beautiful thing; and if you haven’t shown a spark by the age of 10, kiss the notion goodbye! Ha. Reading the stories, I’d have to pause and stare into the distance thinking; ‘yup, that ship’s sailed!’

Dr John Dee, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s most trusted advisors, would spend 18 hours studying everyday; 4 hours sleeping and 2 hours were set aside for meals. I can’t do that!

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He was the original 007 too. He used to sign his letters to the queen ‘007’; it was a symbol that meant he was the Queen’s eyes, or that the letter was for her eyes only.

That's Dee, Mr Dee... Mystery? Ha.
That’s Dee, Mr Dee… Mystery? Ha.

Dee was known for his mysticism but actually he was a man of science too (though the word ‘science’ didn’t exist at the time and was essentially known as witchcraft). He used geometry to successfully map the globe and was the greatest book-collector of his day (with books on mathematics, earthquakes, dreams, women, Islam, games, botany, pharmacology and veterinary science, to name a few).

By the end of his life, plague had stolen almost all of his family away from him and he lived in desperate poverty (he fell out of favour with the Queen), with his daughter Katherine, having to sell his books one at a time so he could eat (he was 82 years old).

Now that really breaks my heart.

But the beautiful thing is, a girl who lived in the area described him as…

‘He was a great peacemaker; if any of the neighbours fell out, he would never let them alone till he had made them friends. A mighty good man he was.’

Again the survival of a few kind words about a good person, from a good person, it makes you feel pretty good again.

There’s something really up-lifting about this book. It does make you feel like you haven’t had much of an adventure yet, or you’re not very smart and never will be, but it also makes you feel like isn’t it great how many weird and wonderful people there have been in the world?

We’re silly and vain, stupid and clever, wacky and weird, and we always have been, and that’s pretty great 🙂

Game Watchers

Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt... ho-yah!
Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt… ho-yah!

Latimer: I used to be a recreational gamer.

I wouldn’t say I was a real gamer, because I know what it is to be obsessed about stuff and I didn’t qualify for this one!

I do have a bit of a history with gaming though.

We used to have an Amstrad in our house, when I was young. I say we, but that’s a lie, my big brother owned it and it got passed down to us young’ens over time.

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It was a clunky, beautiful beast.

Games came on cassettes and you had to wait for it to ‘load’ whereby the title image would appear on the screen, one painful, pixelated line at a time.

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Games took a very, very, long time to load. I remember we had a game called ‘Run the Gauntlet’ that was a series of different races; boats, cars and a final cross-country level – that was impossible to pass!

I always wondered what came after that, as the computer AI’s whizzed past my character… I would sigh, thinking, ‘I’ll never know’. And I never did. The joy of being denied content because you have no talent for gaming – that was my lot!

I used to beg my parents to buy me a console.

A Sega Mega Drive?

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NO!

A Dreamcast (what happened to them!?)?

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NO!

A Playstation –

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No – look how are you not getting this by now? Stop asking!

Sometimes we would rent consoles from the video shop (I wonder do people do that at all anymore?) – it was about 10 pounds (back before the euro!) a night, and you’d get a game. Usually the console was a Sega. And it would be the best night ever and I’d wake up early the next day to get all the enjoyment I could before the console was pried away from me, never to be touched by my crappy, but loving, gaming hands again.

My brother somehow managed to wrangle a Gameboy out of my parents one year.

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That was brilliant… that’s when I met Kirby, in Kirby’s Dream Land. Oh what a game! The premise – you are Kirby, loveable vacuum-powered ball of joy, protecting his homeland from an evil dragon-creature.

Sssss... POW evil tree!
Sssss… POW evil tree!

This was one of the few I cleared and I still take it as a badge of pride. Ridley has this honour too I believe!

We did have games for the PC though. That’s where I met Lara Croft and I decided I wanted to be an archaeologist – ah, yeah, I was easily swayed!

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When my sister got a real job, she bought herself a Playstation and that was my first look into having a games console on demand. She bought Kingdom Hearts and to this day I will say that it’s my favourite game to play.

I'm a Keyblade Master!! I AM!!!!
I’m a Keyblade Master!! I AM!!!!

Here’s the thing, the ending made me cry and the whole game made me love Disney again. Yup, that’s the power of Kingdom Hearts – I won’t have a bad word said about Sora and the boys (Donald Duck and Goofy)!

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If I still had my young heart today, I would buy a console; a Playstation 3 or 4… or 5,000 – whatever it is now. But, truth is, being denied the content of a story because I couldn’t figure out the puzzle or beat the boss (which would be inevitable) would kill me. I remember telling Ridley once (as I was playing Kingdom Hearts 2) that I got a stabbing pain in my eye and had to lie down, because I couldn’t beat a boss (the one with the water guitar – ARGH!) – I got so frustrated I literately had to go lie down and sleep away the anger.

So I know that I couldn’t handle the stress.

That’s why today, I don’t play games. I’ve moved from recreational gamer, to avid games watcher. You see I love watching games trailers and game cutscenes.

That might seem weird, but computer games combine two of my loves, art and story-telling. Games are beautiful pieces of art and they’re getting smarter and bigger all the time – and this means the stories can get more complex and involved too. Games are like books; they draw you in.

Because I don’t play, I like watching people like Pewdiepie playing for me – because it’s fun to have the shock moments during the game and Pewds is fun!

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The new games today are amazing feats of world-building.

Bioshock Infinite had this massively involved story set in this epic world. It was a stunning place – a city in the clouds.

My ultimate favourite game to watch though is the Uncharted series! Oh how brilliant are they! It’s basically modern-day Indiana Jones treasure hunting.

Damn it's hot out in the desert...
Damn it’s hot out in the desert…

Uncharted 2 is a major reason for me wanting to go visit Nepal! I want to stand on a mountain surrounded by temples and prayer-wheels and flags… one day…one day!

I often wonder if there are other people out there who love to watch games as much as I do – other games watchers.

We should come up with a name for ourselves – unless it exists already, in which case… what are we? 🙂

Worrisome Wasps

'I'll get you Latimer!!'
– ‘I’ll get you Latimer!!’

Latimer: As summer draws to an end (NOO :(!), I’m plagued by the last remaining wasps. And I hate wasps!

I mean I really hate them.

But my hate is based on fear, pure fear. If a wasp is in the area I warn people with; ‘Listen, listen guys, there’s a wasp over there, now I might jump up and run away screaming and kicking at the air, but don’t mind me!’ This warning more often than not becomes reality.

I run based on what might happen to me, because, I have never in my life been stung. Well, up until last weekend that is…

I was moving bags of clothes from downstairs to upstairs and I got a sudden pain in my foot and thought initially – ‘argh a splinter’ but then the pain got worse and I lifted my foot and screamed…

- 'Oh JAYSUS!'
– ‘Oh JAYSUS!’

There was a wasp stuck to my foot! Still I am screaming, because now one part of me is thinking, ‘oh no I have to touch it to get it off! NO! I don’t want to touch it!’ and the other part is just shrieking.

Now, my hatred-fear of wasps is complete. It is warranted. I don’t want to be stung. But wasps are angry, vicious creatures (hence the term ‘waspish’). I don’t bat at them, I just run away, because batting them makes them angrier and they come at you!

Sharing my experience resulted in people telling me all sorts of stories about their experiences of wasps.

First there was the boy…

He told me a story about when he was a young carefree lad, he used to play in the bushes at the back of his house – where randomly, mid-way through this wasp story he drops; ‘the bushes were Ian Paisley told me off for being one time’ ha.

The bushes had been cut and piles of leaves had been left on the ground. The young boy got excited and raced over to the piles and started playing. Then a swarm of wasps crawled up his chest out of the pile of leaves (he’d stood on a hive).

- Poor Boy!!
– Poor Boy!!

Naturally he ran shrieking to his mother (covered in wasps). His clothes were ripped off, and a wasp flew out of his underpants. Yep, the wasps got him everywhere.

- ...everywhere...
– …everywhere…

The boy  then tells us how he was staying with a friend once and one morning the friend decides, ‘today will be the one day of the year I will be a real man and cut the hedges’. The friend was then confronted by…

- 'I'm gonna get you bub!'
– ‘I’m gonna get you bub!’

 

- 'And I got ALOT of friends!!'
– ‘And I got ALOT of friends!!’

And he runs into the house screaming; ‘get me vinegar!’ And in front of everyone in the house, the friend starts ripping off his clothes, getting naked and running into the bathroom, still screaming for vinegar. He got stung a lot.

We then hear how the boy and his friends were outside one day, enjoying the sun and having some drinks, when the sky went black as a swarm of bees descended on them; ‘hundreds of thousands, they eclipsed the sun briefly’ he said. They all ran into the house, screaming; ‘CLOSE THE WINDOWS! CLOSE THE WINDOWS!’

- 'Close the window, the boy's getting flashbacks!!'
– ‘Close the window, the boy’s getting flashbacks!!’

Now my story of being stung is so boring! But give me time, I feel like another story is on the horizon for me! The last few weeks I’ve been plagued by wasps; now I’m even more afraid – I’m under-siege!

Summer is a time of joy… and wasps 😦

What Happened to my Marvelous Heroes?

Latimer: My love of comic book characters comes from the past; the not so, and yet so, distant past. Back in the mid 90s, Saturday mornings were filled with marvel cartoons. Ah yes, despite it being a non-school day I would be up at the crack of dawn to see them, my favourite being X-men (and come on, I can still hum that epic opening tune!).

Sometimes I had to watch Spiderman, or The Incredible Hulk, to get to X-men; now Spiderman I didn’t mind, but God, the Incredible Hulk left me feeling so depressed (even as a child). Nothing ever, ever, went right for Bruce Banner.

I traveled with him, though he didn’t notice, and every episode the promise of a hulk-cure made me feel elated along with Bruce and we’d go together to the place of promised salvation, only to find it wasn’t what we thought and then we’d leave – him with ripped clothes and inevitable fleeing from the army, and me, with a broken heart and dejected for about an hour afterward.

In my reality of Saturday morning cartoons, ‘Earth 90s’, Bruce never found a cure. Also, his cousin became the She-Hulk… Which, by the way, what the hell was the deal there?

How come she became this buxom babe with full control of her powers (remained a practicing lawyer) and Bruce… Bruce was essentially this instinct-driven beast. Well, in the cartoons a least this was never explained (only that she was really, really happy to be the She-Hulk, well in fairness, she looked amazing, of course she didn’t mind!).

Then there was Spiderman, where I left him… let’s see, vaguely I remember he was searching for Mary-Jane (she had gone missing, then he had found her again, for a while, only it turned out she wasn’t really Mary-Jane she was a water clone! Yeeaah…).

A water clone who evaporates and is no more! It was horrific to me at the time, honestly it still kind of is…

He never found the real Mary-Jane in my Earth 90s. Either I stopped watching (that’s unlikely!) or they stopped showing it (more likely!).

The X-men was the same; I remember lots of stories. I remember I really didn’t like boring, boring, Jean Grey (she was always collapsing – always – even though subsequently I found out that she is one of the strongest mutants in Marvel – what the…?!).

Oh my God, and I remember Jubilee… argh, she was so pointless (sparks… seriously? You are lucky Wolverine was your friend, that’s all I’m saying!).

Rogue and Gambit – now this is me all over; perfect couple, I shipped them all the way! I also remember Cyclops and Jean Grey got married (okay I didn’t like her but I shipped them – I still ship them, ships are hard to leave).

fantastic fanart by New Moon Night Mike Choi

Now in Earth 90s, Gambit and Rogue never kissed and couldn’t touch, because of Rogue’s powers, but in comics… love must’a found a way! I’m fan-girl squee-ing even after all these years…

They brought the X-men cartoon back; years and years later and I watched it, but it just wasn’t the same anymore. Spiderman’s not the same, and God, I’m not watching the Hulk. There’s a time for everything and my days of watching them had passed – unless it’s my other thought, that 90s cartoons were just better.

This brings me full circle; recently I’ve being sticking a toe (here and there) back into the Marvel world, via comics. There is some absolutely beautiful, gorgeous artwork in comics too…

Stunning image of Magneto (who survived a concentration camp) by Marko Djurdjevic… Stunning

I’m now skirting around the great cosmic comic-world windows, peaking in and going; ‘ohh, err, can I come in? I think I’m ready!’. This I should warn you, is how obsessions start for me!

In preparation for my skipping into comic books (baring in mind, I know very little and these are just random nuggets I uncovered!) – I have found out some strange things about the heroes I actually never knew at all…

Firstly (and shockingly) Peter Parker… is dead… seriously… You killed Peter Parker…. What…?

There are only like 200 mutants left in the Marvel universe following a big ‘event’ (an epic arc of a story that crosses across lots of titles etc)… WHAT?! NOOO, they are the coolest thing in Marvel!

Jean Grey is dead… Do I care…? Argh, yes, with age I now care, because she married Cyclops and damn it, a ship must not sink while part of me is still on it, or I turn into a pumpkin! Save me Marvel!

Cyclops was unfaithful when married to Jean Grey – okay, hold on a damn minute, I’m not happy about this! He is now, subsequently, having a relationship with the mutant he was having an affair with – a mutant called Emma Frost (who was played by January Jones in X-men: First Class). Main thought here; ‘Oh NO you didn’t…!’ Of course on the other side I wouldn’t be surprised if Jean Grey had a fling with Wolverine… I can tell relationships in comics will hurt me

Jean Grey is not happy when she finds out! In this instance, I am with you Jean, even though I don’t like you really…

Weirder still, Cyclops has turned into like a revolutionary leader for mutants (where Magneto is almost his second in command!) and he’s  – my thought? ‘When did Cyclops get so interesting?’

What the hell… Cyclops has gone mad! MAD!

AND Cyclopes killed Prof X… buh?

Don’t just stand there! This isn’t going to end well Prof!
Hard to know how permanent that is, he’s died ALOT apparently! As has Cyclops!

Cyclops is in jail… look at this. God, what happened to him, what made him turn into this character? I really want to know! What a spiral from the pure boy scout I remember!

Psychologically what the hell happened to you?

Wolverine is on the opposing side to Cyclops. He also runs a school for mutants…

Okay this is weird, but I’m intrigued by this school (there seems to be some interesting characters there)…

There are so many stories that happened before and after my time; the world of the Marvel characters is far bigger than I realised. Earth 90s was an introduction and I thought it was the story. It’s funny really, but I’m starting to wonder again about all those crazy characters. I love a good story and I really did love those characters.

Okay, it may be time to open the door to that comic book world, step in and have a look around 🙂

Dreaming of Disney

Our chance visit to the Tokyo Disney shop in Shibuya reminded us how much we love Disney. Being children of the late-80s, our love is focused on early 90’s ‘renaissance era’ Disney; that’s Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King. So, entering the magical world of Disney always brings us back to our childhood.

Latimer: We blindly walked the busy metropolitan streets of Shibuya and came across the amazing entrance to the Tokyo Disney shop. I have never seen a shop-front like it before! It was great! I was instantly a child again!

Stepping inside was like stepping into a cloud of fairy dust…

We were in heaven (even though we had no intention of buying anything- it’s freaky expensive). It captured the essence of being young, of stepping into a dream. The shop just spoke to your inner-child, completely ignoring boring adult you (perfect!).

It all reminded us that Disney is King of romance and happily ever-after. We were buzzing with happy memories. Our current selves, that aspire to write the perfect romantic adventure, were moulded in our youth by Disney stories. One of the favourites, was Beauty and The Beast.

The story is so perfect- the Prince cursed because of his cruelty, wastes away in his ruin of a castle, while the Beauty, Belle, chooses to save her father’s life by sacrificing her own freedom, becoming the Prince’s prisoner. And of course he is horrible to her (though really he is just misunderstood) but she doesn’t stand for it, a fierce heroine who stands up for herself. In time, they both realise their faults and find love in each other but not before the dramatic fight-scene with the rival man on the roof of the castle (in the middle of a dark storm, beautifully animated).

The story teaches us that cruelty rewards no one and kindness is a virtue that must be nurtured or it will whither. In fact Disney has always taught us valuable lessons through fantastical stories. We grow up and leave it behind one day of course (there’s no point in talking to me about The Princess and the Frog, or whatever else comes along thereafter), but we all have our Disney stories. And they create a little child within us that never really disappears.

A spark of fairy dust in our hearts, it’s why we write and draw and play, even if we grow up. Disney always brings a smile to my face. This shop was like being transported inside my own imagination for just a while. It was pure magic!

Ridley: It’s true, Disney is a master at invoking those warm fuzzy feelings, while always having imparted (unknowingly to our small minds) a valuable lesson at the same time.

My favourite Disney movie of all time is Mulan. A beautifully crafted tale set in China, where the Huns have begun to threaten the Chinese empire and the Emperor has begun to amass a defending army in retaliation. It’s a story filled with love, loyalty, friendship, forgiveness and courage. It also showed us young girls that it didn’t matter who or what you were, if you worked hard enough and believed you could succeed, then you would, even with severe obstacles hindering you.

 Again as with Beauty and the Beast, our heroine enters her current predicament because she wishes to protect her elderly father, Fa Zhou, from conscription into the army. Despite the threat of execution if she is discovered, she masquerades as a man and goes in his place. We follow her attempts at becoming a soldier, beginning as a truly abysmal recruit then progressing to a skilled and competent team member. During this she also gains respect and friendship from her fellow conscriptees and of course, Captain Li…

Even looking back at clips of it, the illustrations are absolutely beautiful, not to mention the music. To this day I still know the words of ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ (mainly because it’s on my ipod!)

This story still stands strong, even up against all the impressive 3D animation and special effects. We become truly immersed in her tale, we celebrate and commiserate as she does and of course, we clasp our hands together as we wait to see how her relationship with Captain Li develops.

As with all of the best Disney films, Mulan brings us on a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, until it culminates into a dramatic ending where our heroine shows what she’s capable of against the Hun leader with the backing of her soldier friends, who have accepted her for who she is despite her previous deception.

When you enter the Disney shop, these are the wonderful happy memories that you instantly recall. All the fantastic relationships, the rollercoaster tales, the warm fuzzy feelings and without a doubt, the beautiful soldiers, princes and beasts, you remember everything. So Latimer and I couldn’t help wander the store with smiles on our faces, exclaiming over well loved characters (and the price tags on them!). 

Disney deals in dreams, possibly unattainable ones, but they’ve also taught us to strive hard for them no matter how difficult. For us, this really is why we write, to re-create these types of relationships, build these magical worlds and hopefully help to continue the dream for others.

While in the fantastic Harry Potter books, Albus Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” I personally believe our dreams make the living part all the sweeter. I think Disney might just have thought this too.