Monday, 22 September 2014

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Starscream


*mutters* fancy a robot... fancy a robot... help... I fancy a robot *rocks back and forth* 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Pride Adventures #2



Hello comics! Comics comics comics. Sincerely, comics.

It's comics crazy all up in here and today is no exception! Whilst attending Melksham Comic Con a couple of weeks ago, I got to catch up with letterer genius and all round brilliant dude, Mike Stock. I realised that as I contributed to Joe Glass' TPA#2, he must have lettered my work! So I did some hunting (it was easy! They're right here!)
Looook! Doesn't Mike Stock make everything better?! Answer: Yes. Yes he does.
This is my page 1 of my story Ladies Night, written by Joe Glass!
I don't wanna freak you out or nothing, but Christian Wildgoose is in it too! AAARGHHHH *buys all the comics*

In other news: I HAVE 8 ISSUES OF WORRY WART LEFT IN STOCK! Almost sold out in under two weeks! That's incredible :D

xxx

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Worry Wart Is Launched!





Woweee you guys! It's done! Worry Wart has had it's launch this weekend at Melksham Comic Con and may I say what a successful launch it was! I am flabbergasted by the response. I sold over half my stock on the weekend and many more through our online shop since. I'm nearly out! That's craaazy! ^_^

I had a wonderful weekend. I was thoroughly looked after by the Brians, I loved the Mental Health and Comic Books panel I talked at and I was even invited onto The PCG's 'Comics In Just A Minute' game show panel! (Which turned out to be hilarious! You'd think I could talk coherently for one minute, no!? Apparently not!)

Thank you to everyone that came out to chat to me, to buy a book and to everyone that has emailed me/got in touch since! You're all splendid human beings and there is many bacon for you in the afterlife!



I haven't stopped for a moment since I got back - I am dyyying to read my con haul. I went a little mental and bought ALL the comics. Sorry everybody! :p Just need chance to sit on my butt and read them!

If you want to read Worry Wart, click here.

The next con we'll be visiting is Nottingham Comic Con ^_^ x

Friday, 29 August 2014

ONE DAY TIL WORRY WART!



Since it's only one more day/sleep/bacon until the launch of Worry Wart (who'm I kidding, there's loads of opportunities for bacon!) I thought I'd share a sneak peak - one of my most favouritest pages! I have included some contributions from some tip-top artists, some really cool pin ups that I can't wait for you to see! But this is something else! I love the humble Haiku. It's so much more hard hitting, a perfect illustration of less is more, don't you think? These contributors all have their own varying experiences of mental health, but one thing links us all together: we ALL make comics. I wanted the pages to be one of hope. An example of how we all carry on regardless!
Please check out the work of these wonderful creators: PJ Montgomery, Rachael Smith, Kris Carter and Vicky Stonebridge! They rank as some of my all time favourites ^_^

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Worry Wart: The Printed Edition


To coincide with appearing on a Mental Health and Comic Books panel at this months Melksham Comic Con, I have been beavering away on a limited print run of my anxiety comic Worry Wart!

For launch at Melksham Comic Con, Worry Wart Vol#1 will collect the current comics as they appear here alongside all the original blog entries, guest art and haikus from some of the heroes of UK indie comics and never before seen pages! It has been brilliant revisiting these pages, sprucing them up for print and reading all the plans I had!

Worry Wart was the making of me.
I found it so difficult to deal with my diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder on my own. Without this comic I would have surely descended into further maddening fright. I found it so helpful to remove myself from the full time fret that is anxiety and focus on making cute little cartoons instead. Drawing them took those thoughts out of my head and stored them on paper for all time. I now have a catalogue of comics proving just how far I have made it!
It is so deeply important to me to share these. I gained so much support simply through the act of 'confessing' through these comics.


Anxiety is a frightening and seriously lonely condition. If this book makes just one person feel less alone then it is truly worth it ^_^

I am so excited to finally print this book and continue working on plans to bring the tale to a close!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

binty loves transformers prime!



Did you know that I am an animator? I don't shout from the rooftops about it nearly enough.
Ian and I been watching some seriously badass cartoons lately and it's really got me thinking about all the series and projects I have contributed to, as well as daydreaming about the future programs that I'd kill to work on.




We've been working our way through Transformers Prime (2011) which especially appeals to me as it is a CG animated version of the popular toy franchise. The characters are so well known worldwide that redesigns are often abhorred or applauded passionately. I truly enjoy the Transformers Prime (TFP) character designs, most especially Starscream and Bumblebee. I like Transformers, it's alright like. I am unclouded by nostalgia however, as I missed the original cartoon series, movie and toy lines in my infancy. I have since caught up (it would be hard not too being the missus of Ian Matthews) but I don't feel as attached to the series as many. The movies did nothing for me, however, the Transformers Animated (2007) charmed me greatly and TFP has supremely caught my attention.




TFP captures the adventures and mishaps of three human children who discover the Autobots presence here on Earth and inevitably become as invested in the war against the Decepticons as Prime himself. Raf (a young computer genius) Miko (a heavy metal loving Japanese gobshite) and Jack (the sensible, hard working teen) befriend Bumblebee, Bulkhead and Arcee respectively.

Each episode is a great example of tight storytelling, action sequences, drama and character building. Ratchet in particular matures throughout series one, from a comedy bit-part mechanic (“Bulkhead, I needed that!”) to genius mainstay. I love his evolution. He even gets a little starring role storyline in Episode 22 'Stronger, Faster' in which he tests Synthetic Energon on himself, becomes addicted to the boosts in his performance and subsequently suffers 'roid rage! He becomes the respected surgeon, operations master, comms expert and champion engineer of the series, literally holding the team together. The majority of the episodes revolve around the 3 main bots (Bumblebee, Bulkhead and Arcee) and their learning to protect their new human partners. The series gently builds drama between the Autobots and Decepticons, culminating in a surprising final battle with a cliff hanging, game changing finale.


Starscream


Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons, suffers through internal uprisings, failing health and thwarted plans in his quest for Dark Energon and the eventual defeat of the Autobots, but it is Starscream that steals the show for me. Now, Megatron is shit scary, but Starscream is so wonderfully, theatrically devious and conniving that I can't help rooting for the little bastard. His design is spindly and pokey, shark-like, full of points and spikes, heels, sharp edges and subtle curves combined. His voice acting is spot on, I adore it, high pitched, nasal, melodramatic and ceremonious. Megatron's animation is predictably powerful, heavy and bold (although, oftentimes I really feel he misses the stress of the situation, especially in dialogue shots) but Starscream is unmistakably camp, informed by his design. There are lots of hip movements, shifting weights, nimble anticipations and uncurling of fingers. He is very comic in his delivery, there is much 'spoiled child' about him. He's quick, pose to pose and has great timing. He also has some of the most exciting transformations, he's as exciting and operatic in vehicle mode as he is robot.


Arcee

As for the animation of the Autobots, my personal favourite is Arcee. She's equal parts feminine and macho and definitely has some of the most exciting fight sequences. Her speed as a motorbike often allows her to be the first in battle, combining her transforming sequence with aerial stunts and gorgeous calculated and precise fight choreography. She's got a great pair of legs too, which make for exciting run cycles, dynamic silhouettes and martial arts kicks and spins. She also has the most rad guns. She gets a lot of airtime in this series with an arc dedicated to her ongoing campaign against Airachnid, as well as her development in her relationship with Jack. Of all the bots, she has my favourite facial animation too. Maybe because her eyes are most visible.

The CGI world that stages the series is massively sparse and almost completely unpopulated. It really stood out at first, the lack of props and scene decorations (Jacks completely empty garage for example) no crowds in town or school sequences and sparse repetitive landscapes and locations make the series seems a tiny bit.. cheap. But as I watched more and more episodes I began to appreciate the densely complex spectacle that is the show as a whole. Many dynamic effects such as sparks, smoke, sand, dust, flames occupy huge fight sequences and action shots, often including multiple fighting giant robots too! There are huge battles involving the landscape too. Tornadoes, exploding rocks and cliffs and humongous spaceships are a few that spring to mind. It forced me to think about all the processes involved in putting out an animated series. And they've nailed it. It's totally slick.



I'd love to know how strong the animation team was or how long a contract they had for the 26 episodes for the series. In my series experiences, we usually get around 14 months to complete 52 x 11 minute episodes over two teams of about 6 animators. This is for pre-school animation however, whereas each episode of TFP clocks in at around 22 mins and is hugely complex. I can totally forgive unpopulated backgrounds in favour of awesome action scenes paired with complex weather and lighting processes, among others.
Think of the scene files, people!

I am really looking forward to making our way through series two. It's such an exciting Saturday morning cartoon.


Toys are pretty cool too :D


Have you seen it? What do you think? Or did you give it a miss because it is CGI? I'd love to know ^-^





Monday, 7 April 2014

Gut Update!



Today is DAY 170 of my sugar free/grain free/dairy free life. 
I have never felt better, the sugar cravings have FINALLY abated! :D
If you have found this journey interesting, I've got an announcement to make when I reach Day 200! A huge, exciting celebrationy announcement! Stay tuned ^-^

Monday, 31 March 2014

binty goes wargaming!

As I was taking my first tentative steps into the world of tabletop wargaming; as I was falling in love with the miniature monsters and warriors and the art of assembly and paint jobs, I remember dreaming of a rough goal to play a stranger, at a proper table, in a proper gaming club by the end of the year. I'd been tinkering around playing duels with Ian on an empty 4x4ft folding table, practising and playing games which involved nothing more than running at each other and getting into combat as soon as we could. I'd started writing blog posts to catalogue my enthusiasm and thus started dreaming of all the different aspects of the hobby I could document, ya know, to help noobs. I thought the notion of playing a stranger to be wild, ridiculous and way, way, waaay distant.

Well FUCK THAT 'cause binty gone joined a LEAGUE.

Bristol Vanguard

With barely any field experience I went off into the wide, wide world and found a club on my doorstep, packed my army and wrecked face. In pigtails.
My first game was at a gaming club called Vanguard Wargaming, a shop in Bristol with a great gaming space. I introduced myself on the forums, asked if anyone wanted to school a noob and the rest is history!
I'd arranged to play a dude called Liam (who I knew as 'Monk' on the forum) who promised to show me the game at a pace that suited me. I nervously laid out my Cryx starter battle group, dice and measuring tape and hoped for the best.
I needn't have worried! The atmosphere was party-like! People were introducing themselves left, right and centre. Watching, chatting, pointing out possible moves I could make, talking me through all the tactics I could employ. Liam was a true gent, talking me through the basic rules, answering all my questions and pronouncing his moves as he made them so I was always following what was happening!

There was such a lot of interest that evening that the Bristol Vanguard club has since started it's own starter league called Escalation, which I am a proud participant of! We have 11 players in all, ranging from uber-n00b (me: no gaming experience whatsoever) Warman00b (experience of gaming, but not of Warmachine) and totes-pro (they've got custom brief cases of soldiers upon units upon warriors!) and a great variety of factions! I've played 6 games in the league in total already and the objective is to grow our armies and play bigger games month on month. I've had some great nights there and learned a lot and made some new friends!  


Bristol Vanguard: Your friendly neighbourhood wargaming club!

I've also been assembling and developing my army! I've been using my Khador battle box for painting practice and cleaning up and gluing my Cryx models. My most favourite thing has been reading the Cryx faction book and choosing who to employ next. I try to work out who might play well with who in terms of abilities but to be honest, I am mostly going off the nicest art work and the bestest back story! For example, I bought a new solo called a Skarlock Thrall, (that gives me the capability to cast spells independent of my warcaster) a Warwitch Siren (because she's hot) and a Bane Lord Tartarus (because he's eeeevil!) and I can not shitting wait to throw them down and do dirty things with them! RAWR!


Some assembly required

I am thrilled to have found out first hand just how social wargaming is. I find myself looking forward to my next game, no matter where it is! I took Ian down to the club at the weekend so we could have our first game on terrain together, and I hope we go back to Firestorm to play there soon too. I also love watching and just hanging out when I'm not playing. My confidence is growing with every game!

Ian (beard) vs Neil ('tache) at Firestorm! GG chaps!

We are currently into our second month of the Escalation League and are due to boost our army to the next level (to a 25 point game!) This means I get the chance to play the new models I have bought and think deeper about tactics and manoeuvres.

I'd better get working on my army list... :p  


Monday, 24 March 2014

Victoria Haley Commission


Another one for the ladies-who-kick-ass pile. This is a commission piece of a warcaster called Victoria Haley in the game Warmachine! 
Warmachine's full of birds, ya know! 
Who next? 
If you'd like a unique fantasy themed pin up of your favourite character, get in touch! ^-^

Monday, 17 March 2014

Trinity


Continuing with the ladies-who-kick-ass theme I seem to have adopted lately: Trinity! I watched The Matrix this weekend and fell in love with her all over again. It feels ... good. 
If I never watch the sequels again my love will never fade away :p *sticks fingers in ears* LALALALAA LA LA LAAAA WHAT SEQUELS LA LA LAAAAA

Monday, 10 March 2014

Denny


Here is another current girl crush: Warwitch Deneghra. What a total cow bag/babe. I loves drawing da ladies. 
This is my warcaster from the game Warmachine that I keep banging on about. SorryNOTSORRY. She is the leader of my Cryx army! I must blog about my recent dabblings with an actual wargaming club soon. I'm sure you're all dying to hear ;D 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Wonder Woman


I have been reading the George Perez Wonder Woman books that Ian bought me for Christmas and I am in luuurve with Princess Diana. I have been dying to draw her ^-^ 

Monday, 3 March 2014

February 2014 11 Second Club Entry!



Here is my February entry into the monthly animation competition, the 11 Second Club!
It was entered unrendered/unfinished due to a malicious computer virus and human food poisoning but hey, dems da breaks!

I have been slowly collecting bits of equipment in anticipation of The Great Switch to Self Employed May 2014 but had yet to acquire a monitor. Luckily, this month I mentioned it to my housemate and he lent me his! I had about a week of February left and I decided to go for the competition! I really want to get more of my own stuff done this year and the 11 Second Club is an awesome way to practice, have something to aim for and keep skills fresh! Every month they release a short clip of audio from a movie or tv show for us animators to go nuts with. I tried to keep this one simple due to time constraints.
I blocked out the movements on a Saturday evening and animated it over approximately 9 hours on the Sunday! I roughed in the assets and had to leave it that way due to the subsequent aforementioned malware disaster! D'oh!

Voting ends soon and I'll find out my fate! Eeek! There were 201 entries last month!
I'd love to know what you think! I am forever learning ^-^

This months clip (March) is a line from Ghostbusters... I don't think I dare tackle it! :p

Monday, 3 February 2014

binty learns magic!

This weekend was so exciting! Ian and I have been so busy lately that we haven't really had time to play much (ahem.. other than Marvel Legendary.. ahem) and so this weekend we managed to get together and devote some real time to the beautiful game.

NO NOT FOOTBALL. Warmachine!

If you remember, we had slowly been implementing different rules in each game played in order to get my thick skull wrapped around them. Since I had been out of action for a while I was getting increasingly apprehensive about playing again. I get all flustered and run away easily if the rules become too overwhelming. Since my last blog, we'd added playing with 'focus' to boost dice rolls, to buy extra attacks and to charge our warjacks instead of walking them. Focus is a points system that warcasters can use for spells and extra abilities. My warcaster Sorscha has a focus stat of 6, which means I get to spend 6 points of focus in each round boosting my army or casting magic attacks. We had to sit down and have a gentle recap game, which turned out to be fantastic as I remembered so much more than I thought I would! Since it was going so well Ian suggested that we could introduce the rules of 'Feat.' A feat is a powerful game changing spell that a warcaster has the ability to use once during a battle.


Dani: Khador vs Ian: Cygnar!


We've been playing on a 4x4 foot table with no terrain as a practice arena and usually our first moves are spent running like hell at eachothers armies. Ian went first, but I managed to draw first blood using focus to boost my Destroyers attacks against his Ironclad warjack! YEEAH!
During the next round however, when we're all in position, Ian brought the pain! He has a Charger warjack in his Cygnar battlebox that has a duel cannon. In his words 'its focus efficient,' and he can use it twice due to a rule called Rate Of Fire. He spends one focus point and the dude can just keep on shooting with boosted damage rolls! He totally mullered my warcaster by 10 damage points! Yeesh! It was only the second turn!

First assault!


This turned out to be a great re-introduction match with Ian finishing it very quickly by going straight for my warcaster Sorscha. The game ends if the warcaster falls.

For the next game, with my whistle well and truly whet, we decided it would be fun to add in the rules of Spells! A warcaster has the ability to use focus to cast magic in battle, either as attacks or as cloaks or beefing up the odds in your favour. Sorscha has some cool magic abilities and I couldn't wait to try them out!

Post tantrum
 

I'll tell you what though, there is no crushing disappointment quite like spending 4 focus to cast a spell, only for the dice to land unhappy side up... I have had many paddywhacks in my time, but I full on double fist slammed and yelled 'WHO THE FUCK ROLLS THREE ONES!?' in the whiniest pitch complete with bottom lip. Sorscha, baby, what's wrong!? What did I do!? Not only did this happen to me once (it was a spell called Tempest I was trying to cast, a nasty little attack that would knock down the target and pummel it with a power 12 damage roll) but I tried casting it again later on and the exact same thing happened, leaving me wide open with no focus and looking like a very sorry army...
I was surrounding one of Ian's warjacks at the time and had a great idea of casting Tempest and then finshing it off with my hand cannon AND my Juggernaut. Waaah.
Ian told me there is a website called Bad Dice... I'd better join. I had the worst rolls for the entire match. Looking back, it was so funny!

The dice favour the brave!

But, it has been enough to get me hooked. I even took my cards to work today to read. Now that I know what all the stats mean, like, actually mean, I can read them and try to come up with scenarios or battle plans! I took my Cryx cards too and have been soaking up the Battle College wiki pages.

Can't believe I have to build my own toy! (ahem, thanks Ian :D)


In the meantime, I have been cleaning up my Cryx battle box and I have currently one completed warwitch! Ian showed me how to clean up a model ready for assembly. As a n00b, I am flummoxed as to why I have to do this myself! *mumbles..paid all that money... it's in bits..grumble...*
However, I am nothing if not a good sport (HAH!) so I'll give it my all! :D
I cleaned up the mould lines on the little pieces of warbastards with a scalpel and then glued them together! Ta-DAAAA: Warwitch Deneghra.



Ain't she a beaut? I've been getting excited reading the stats cards that came with my Cryx battlebox. So far, since my Khador army were already assembled by Ian as my Christmas pressie, I have been playing and training with them exclusively. I can't wait to try out my Cryx army. They have such tricksy abilities! I'd better get them built first! :D

We are going to Firestorm again soon. Ian will be playing someone else and I'll be watching but I am going to take my battlebox with me incase I get the chance to play my first game on actual terrain! I hope so ^-^ 

Over and out, warbitches!



Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Pride Adventures #2

Whilst the writing on the next Razarhawk arc is underway, I have been lending my scrawlings to a rather marvellous comic series called The Pride, created by Joe Glass. The Pride is a fabulous ensemble LGBTQ supergroup led by FabMan.
Have you ever been sick of being misrepresented? Of having no one like you to look up to? Have you ever wanted to change everything?
The Pride is a comic book series created and written by Joe Glass, and featuring art by a host of amazing creative talent from all around the world, including Gavin Mitchell, Kris Carter, Mike Stock, Dan Harris, Kris Anka, Cory Smith and many, many more.
 I was approached by Joe to work on The Pride Adventures #2 on a short featuring all the laydees! He knows me so well! :p

Here is a sneak peak at the first panel that will appear in the short 'Ladies Night.'


Such fun to draw!

You can find out more and buy a copy of The Pride here! Go on! It's got Gail Simone's seal of approval!

Next Phase: ANTI BACTERIAL

I am so excited to be writing this. For those who may require a little bit of background, I have struggled with gastrointestinal issues since 2008. You can read loads of details in my Worry Wart comic if you like that kind of thing! To put it mildly, my bowel and I have not been on the same team. I employed many tactics, the one I used most aggressively was total denial. It became my normal. Everyone told me to 'just eat bread' or 'calm down' and 'stop thinking about it.' It became quite usual for the doctors I saw to treat my mind rather than my body, and so I had been on many an anti-depressant for it because, quite rightly, I was very distressed and it caused my anxiety.

Well, a little over 6 months ago now, when my symptoms where the worst they'd ever been, I declared war. I declared war on my nerves and war on anyone who wouldn't take my health seriously.
I contacted a Nutritional Therapist with a rather sorrowful email. I outlined my 5 year gastro-upset and asked if there was any such thing as a 'stress free diet?' (I still believed at this point that the mind ruled the body, and since I was so anxious, it was driving my symptoms) I started seeing her in July 2013. The first thing she suggested was to get some proper, thorough lab stool tests completed and analysed, as how the hell else will you ever know what's going on inside? There were expensive, and slightly traumatic, but they have since become my greatest weapon. Knowledge is power.
The results were not surprising. What's wrong Doc? Well, everything.
We tried a few different things to begin with. A couple of months introducing supplements and a 'better' western diet, then we tried to flood my system with good guys, stripped my diet back further, found combinations of foods that were giving me hell etc. Eventually, 100 days ago, after my symptoms seemed to persist, she suggested stripping my diet right back to an 'elimination phase.' Essentially a siege tactic, a 'starvation' period. Not to starve myself you understand, but to starve whatever little shit bad guys were swimming around my body having the time of their lives. One of the results of my test proved that I had 'scant growth' of probiotics in my intestines. You're supposed to have BILLIONS. In the time that my bowel has been without these essential good guys, the baddies have run amock, and settled in places they definitely shouldn't have settled. Cutting off their food supply would be a drastic change to my life, but it would eventually starve them into submission. Once they are starved and weak, I could introduce some good guys and hope they find home.
The elimination phase was the hardest thing I have ever done! This handy graphic makes it look all sweetness and light:
Don't be fooled by the cuteness! RAWR!

So I cut out starchy carbohydrates, sugars, fruits, dairy, grains, processed, packaged and prepared foods. The only fats/oil I could have was Coconut Oil for cooking. 99% of the supermarket was irrelevant to me. At first, with the removal of carbs from my diet, my body packed in! I was so weak and lost a stone in weight very quickly, followed by another stone much more slowly. I got a cold pretty early on and it almost wiped me out. I remember finding it physically hard to climb the stairs or get in and out of a chair! Running was out of the question and walking to work and back was such a chore, no matter how slowly I walked! My periods also stopped for a while. As my body got used to my new intake I have slowly put half a stone back on as I had to greatly increase my portion sizes. This diet was giving my system a break, a proper rest. Everything on this list is easy for my body to digest and I was following a strict supplement program to make sure I got everything I needed! 

Writing this, 101 days later, is easy! But the amount of times I nearly gave up are numerous. It was so hard if I had to leave my home/routine. For example, travelling to conventions was a nightmare. I have done 3 conventions on this diet and at each con I lost half a stone over the weekend as taking the right amount of food with me is impossible. Without a fridge to store meat or cooking equipment I could not prepare the meals I had been having. I would take as much frozen meals as I could and hoped they would last! I introduced ground almonds after a month and this really helped, as I was able to make 'baked' products, like the muffins made from almonds and butternut squash I posted on this blog! I also introduced bananas, and this made such a difference. Being able to walk into a shop and grab a banana was a very big help. At the Falmouth Convention we did last October, the organisers kindly let me use their microwave so I could heat my veggie soup! ^-^

In my general day to day life routine, I became even more of a foodie than I was before! Making meals out of these minimal few ingredients became a fun (no, not always fun) challenge and I have managed to make some seriously tasty food! Making a ginger Chicken soup stock and cutting the courgettes into noodle shapes meant that I could fake a 'ramen' dish for example! Or making a batter out of ground almond and an egg meant I could have almost-proper Fish and Chips! I have been converted to celeriac chips for life! I made granolas with chopped baked nuts and cinnamon. I've made almost-a-lasagna, almost-a-shepherds-pie and even, on Christmas day, Ian and I managed to make my dinner look like everyone elses! It became really important for me to feel more like I wasn't missing out by making my meals in familiar ways. 
However, try having a sugar free Christmas before you start thinking this was easy! Go a week without coffee... Man I really miss coffee! I miss an awful lot of things! 

Fish and Chips! Chicken Ginger Ramen!
Pecan 'bread' topped with mushed banana! Granola with Coconut milk!

But now, after 100 days, I am writing this following my latest consultation with my nutritionist and well, I have never felt a bigger pay off! All the paddy whacks and tantrums and going to bed hungry because I was just so angry at my situation have made this feeling all the more worth while. The next phase is introducing a whole new long list of vegetables and making my diet as naturally anti-bacterial as possible! Some strains of bacteria can lie dormant or go into a hibernation mode if they are starved. They've been hiding there, waiting! And a great way to coax them out is to introduce a little of their food source and then KICK THEM IN THE FACE! So I will be introducing small amounts of honey (their food) and eating Garlic (their demise!) GARLIC! After 100 days of no garlic I don't shitting know where to start.. I could weep! 
Of course, I have to monitor everything carefully as any one of the foods I'll be introducing could be problematic. Garlic is a high FODMAP food and sometimes this can give people with troubled digestions ever more trouble! But I'll be taking some natural anti-biotic supplements too! 
What I'm trying to say is, it feels like Christmas to me right now! I can't wait to explore my new list of veg and I can even introduce PEACHES!! 

And, looking back over all my food diaries, this nice long break for my digestion has done me a heap of good! I've never been more normal, regular, and healthy in my whole life! I mean I'm shitting really well people! And my anxiety? Well, I won. I've been off anti-depressants for over a year, I've not taken an Imodium in 6 months, and I have been to conventions, on long car journeys, on flights, new peoples houses, cinemas, new cafes, I bought my first car, the list is endless! I feel like this diet has been my ultimate secret weapon! Knowing exactly what's wrong on the inside gives me the best possible chance to fix it. And it wasn't all in my head. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Portrait Commission

Before Christmas, I was commissioned by a rather fabulous husband to paint an A3 full colour digital family portrait for print as a present to his wife!
Since they are Game Of Thrones nuts ((AND HIS SURNAME IS STARK!)) the portrait was to be Winterfell themed! I had so much fun painting it!
Here it is posted with permission of course:


And here it is all framed! I received this photo on Christmas day along with some rather lovely messages! It made my day!




Thursday, 9 January 2014

binty learns the art of war!

I'm going to use the old verbiage: I remember it like it was yesterday.

One sunny, winter morning in Cardiff, during a particularly honest conversation in the infancy of our relationship, Ian turned to me and said “I have something to tell you.” Since he was following a truth of my own and wore such an apprehensive expression I prepared myself for the worst. I actually thought the words 'Oh god, he's got a kid.'

After some fluff and a few 'out with its!' he finally hurled the words 'I play Warhammer!' at me and flinched in anticipation of my response. Writing this, 2 years later, I do understand his anguish. I think he genuinely thought it was going to be something we couldn't share. However, at the time, I think my heart burst in my chest with pure and utter love.
  1. How could anything that this man enjoys as a hobby bring anything but happiness to me?
  2. OMG you mean the little battle dudes!? That you get to paint and shit and go to war and that?! My brother had some and my friend Dylan brings some into work and I've aaaalwaays wanted to watch a game! Will you show me?!   
Basically, his confession benefited me more than him. I finally had an in.

grrr!

The following Christmas brought my first Battle Box! Ian had chosen the game Warmachine as a starting point for me and my premier army was to be Khador! According to the battle college wiki page:

“Warmachine is a 30mm tabletop wargame from Privateer Press. It is a fantasy wargame with a touch of steampunk set in the Iron Kingdoms, originally created by Privateer Press as a Dungeons & Dragons game world. It is currently in its second edition of the rules.”

Everything I needed to go to war for the first time was included in the battle box. He'd assembled the two heavy 'Warjacks' and the 'Warcaster' that the box provided and added a tape measure, some pebbles, a pen, some card protectors and some laminated rules for my faction! How cool! He chose the army Khador because the battle box came with a female character as the Warcaster (this is like a leader!) She is called Sorscha and she's a mega bitch. Perfect!

That NYE we attempted my first game.

Overwhelming is an understatement.

I tried, I really did, but quickly became fed up and lost confidence fast. We have since come to realise that Ian has been speaking this wargaming language for nearly twenty years... whereas I was trying to relate everything to, say, computer games. I couldn't grasp the basic mechanics, got all tied up in knots thinking about spells and became quite stressed trying to decide what to do and when.

Unfortunately, and quite probably because I didn't take to it quite so well, we sort of gave up. It was something we couldn't find time for in the years since and I felt that Ian had given up trying. He had enough friends to play with and I'd failed dramatically! I mentioned it a few times and even went looking for models (I bought a Spriggan!) but it was relegated whilst real life took over.

This Christmas, however, it seems we've come up with a strategy that feeds my interest and isn't overwhelming! He's been teaching me the basics one step at a time! Sounds simple really... We played one round just making moves using the SPEED stat (a numerical value indicating how many inches a model can advance) Then we played the next round moving and attacking using the MAT stat (Melee attack!) and we've been carrying on like that, adding in the different elements of the game one round at a time.

I can't believe how much fun I am having!

During all the house moves up and down the country (and others!) we've had to endure in our short relationship, it's sad that my battle box has been misplaced somewhere in storage. I couldn't want it more right now! Since Ian has a bigger Khador army already (and others) I've been using his models whilst he uses his Cygnar battle box.

I've been looking at the other factions in the Warmachine universe and have decided on investing in a Cryx army! The Cryx faction has some wicked girlies in it (yes, this is important to me!) The Cryx battle box itself contains one such girlie, the Warwitch Deneghra!

There's a gaming centre and shop in Cardiff called Firestorm and this New Years Eve we travelled there to buy my Cryx battle dudes. I can't wait to play them! This time I will get chance to assemble them myself (with much much guidance) and paint them too!

Ian also took me to have a look around the nearest gaming centre to me in Bristol: Bristol Vanguard! We chatted to the dude and he gave us a tour! We got to see the tables which are all kitted out with terrain and there's a painting room! I am going to join the forum and see if there's any other girls out there that play Warmachine! I sure hope so!

Firestorm Games: the merchants of WAR!

I also hope to blog my progress since it will include so many different steps and skills! I hope these will be interesting from a complete n00bs perspective. Cleaning up models, painting them ready for battle, visiting gaming centres, playing the damn game... phew!

I love writing about what I'm currently enjoying, I hope you will enjoy reading it ^-^




Saturday, 16 November 2013

Cintiq




Oh my gosh people. I am thoroughly in love with my new Cintiq! I have only just this weekend had a chance to use it properly on some digital commissions and it is a pure joy!
I never thought I'd ever own one, but a couple of weeks ago Amazon had a 2 hour flash sale on the Cintiq 12WX. It is an old, simple model, but it is a Cintiq nonetheless! I am useless at making decisions and at first I was cursing the fact that I had no Ian to ask what to do! After about an hour of going bright red and heart palpitations from excitement I thought it best just to buy the damn thing, and cry about the money later. 'It is an investment' I kept telling myself! This year I am saving HARD to buy a new PC so I can go full blown freelance next May! Well, this is my first step towards that goal! I am so proud for making a decision all by myself!
I had to wait hours to tell Ian! I could have burst!
Anyway...

I scribbled this up for fun! A friend of mine recently got a new kitty and called her Squidge Face! Best. Cat. Ever.
For you Sarah Betty! ^-^

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Thought Bubble Commissions and Con Sketches

Hello everyone!
For the first time ever I will be open to A5 commissions for the Thought Bubble festival! At my table you will find a folder full of pieces for sale or you can commission your favourite character or even one of yourself! They are marker and ink sketches on A5 card, with some grey tones and a splash of colour if I feel wild! Please see below for some examples!
Should you wish to order yours before the convention for pick up please get in touch with your ideas! They will be charged at £5 per piece :)

I can't wait for Thought Bubble! Can you?!


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Winter Spiced Butternut Squash Muffins!

As you may or may not have heard (the latter being a bit bloody unlikely!) I am currently on an elimination diet! I won't bore you with the details of what FODMAPs are or what I'm treating here because I do that ALL DAY LONG ON FACEBOOK. I have been challenging ground almonds in the form of a 'bread' type thing and have been loving it because a) It's not meat. b) It's been staying in! Yay! With the addition of ground almonds to my teeny tiny foods list I can make all sorts of weird concoctions! I have really missed baking and I have been craving sweet things! One of the veggies I'm allowed is Butternut Squash. I've been getting a bit sick and tired of it with meals because of it's sweetness. Well, it's this sweetness that I am exploiting now! In the form of my very own Winter Spiced Butternut Squash MUFFINS! Yay! I drew up the recipe for those that asked. It's practically bloody health food because it is Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Sugar Free! All the sweetness comes from the humble Squash and a little natural organic nut butter! (Sorry gang, no Sunpat allowed!) Feast on these!


I should mention that the cup I used for measurements was a quaint china tea cup :D 
I took one out to enjoy at a bonfire this evening and boy did it hit the sweet spot! :D Let me know if you make them! This is the first recipe I've ever thrown together and I've got a feeling it'll stick around for life :) 

yum!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Worry Wart Update



Hi everyone! I get quite a few messages from people who suffer from anxiety. Sometimes they ask 'what worked for you?' 'Are you OK now?' But usually, they are from people who are just happy to have someone to relate to! If I had someone I could message back when I didn't know what all this was about, I sure would have been grateful! I answered a question not too many days ago and I thought it would make a perfect blog post! It details some of the things I have been trying lately, what I think worked the most and also where I got a lot of support from. It is particularly relevant to the people of Bristol because I name some great initiatives, but I do like to share. You never know what might help someone in a similar position.

I always try to answer, please get in touch if you just want to talk to someone! Anyway, here is the question and letter I wrote back, with names and personal details removed of course! I hope it helps :)



I was reading through your Worry Wart blog again last night and wondered if you wouldn't mind if I asked you what out of all of the things you tried has been the most helpful for you?

Also do you have any recommendations for CBT courses/therapists etc?




Hmmm, it is such a tricky one to answer but I am sure happy to try. I feel like I've tried everything. Honestly, the biggest break I had from it was on anti-depressants (Citalopram) If you need even a month or a 3 month break from Anxiety, just so you can experience a lull in your symptoms and a bit of a mental break, it really is no bad thing. If it is driving you insane, please consider it! I had to be on it twice overall, and many others too which I won't mention as some where very strong and mind bending and some did nothing. I think Citalopram is a subtle, easy drug that just takes the edge off and they'll start you on a small dose.

But that's just taking a 'break.' I didn't want to be on them forever.

I think then, in hindsight, the second greatest thing I did for Anxiety was Hypnotherapy. I saw a wonderful man who taught me an awful lot about the human brain and it's processes. Once you recognise the signals and triggers and actually feel the releases of Adrenaline and Cortisol and really *understand* their affects on the body - there is not much more to be scared about. It is chemicals tripping and it is not your fault. He also taught me how to think more clearly and positively in situations that made me panic. It might sound simple, but once you know what's going on, you really can logic your way out of negative thought patterns.

The real, successful step forward I took is regarding very personal circumstances and will or might not apply to you but - well, since I don't know for sure, I'll tell you anyway because you never know what might help! I developed Anxiety very quietly about 5 years ago, infact the same year I had been on antibiotics for over a month. I didn't know this at the time but the antibiotics stripped my body of all good bacteria. My body started to rebel, and with it my mental state. I can understand why so many Doctors chose to treat the anxiety symptoms and give me anti anxiety and anti depressants, because I would often see them at my wits end and absolutely distraught... however one of my main 'anxiety' symptoms was really bad diarrhoea, multiple times a day and in public and often in embarrassing circumstances. At the time, I thought my brain was in the driving seat. It is kind of a chicken and egg scenario.. I can't remember what came first. I saw a Nutrition Therapist when I got back from Ireland because I was so close to a meltdown. It was actually Ian (two years ago) that made me go to a doctor and tell the truth because I'd lied about it the whole damn time. It's so embarrassing right!? Well, seeing the Nutrition Therapist was definitely the BEST thing I have done, because I now have a cause, and a problem and proof and most importantly: something to actually treat. I don't think my Anxiety can ever win again now that I know what's going on inside! I had some amazing tests done that tested the function of every organ and had some horrific results, but I'm working on it! Which is the most amazing step forward I have ever taken!

If you feel there is something else, no matter how embarrassing, please don't lie like I did! Human bodies only have a few outlets from which to scream for help! Listen to it!

I can whole heartedly recommend Lift Psychology at Knowle Health Centre. You can even refer yourself without a GP and it's completely free! They'll invite you to a day group course and then they'll have a talk with you over the phone for a complete assessment. Whatever support you need - they will offer it. They are so SO good!

I couldn't not mention Bristol Mind as I am their social media volunteer! They offer great support and support groups! I go to one, a women only social anxiety group. You can pop in, or ring them! They know aaall about it!

I really want to carry on and finish Worry Wart properly and with all the above information, but I am so focused right now on putting my body back together that I just can't find the time! It's frustrating because in my eyes, it's a happy ending! And WW at the moment is just dangling, neglected! I realise it helps so many people and I just want to do it forever! But (rather fortunately!) I think I am thoroughly done with Anxiety! I know what it is. I see it! And it's just misdirected confusing, exhausting, useless chemicals.

I hope that helps? Thank you so much for asking! I write back to lots of people who ask! If you want to know ANYTHING else just ask. If you want to scream at someone, scream at me! I will always try to help you reason it all out.

There are also two great books that really helped me when I was at crisis point!

This one for mains: Self Help For Your Nerves by Dr Claire Weekes

And this one for pudding: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Absolutely fabulous and so insightful! I have learned SO much! And you know what? I wouldn't wish the last 5 years away for all the chocolate in the world! It's taught me such a great deal about humans!

xxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Weekend Off...

Sometimes you have to recharge your batteries. After a hectic couple of weeks, attending a convention and having Ian visit, I took this weekend to rest, play, read, chat, mooch and draw. I have been experiencing a bit of a 'step backwards' health wise and I have tried really hard not to get too down about it. Doing all my favourite things this weekend has plastered the smile right back across my face. Amongst many things, I started reading some X-Men comics. I've been working my way through all the films I hadn't seen over the last month or so and getting increasingly excited about superheroes. It's amazing that I have been reading and collecting comics all these years and have managed to thus far avoid the 'Big Two.' I don't quite know why, but I am hankering for them now! Just this year, I have been flicking through the classics when in comic shops. Books I'd never dared pick up before now. I had a great time shopping for Ian's birthday pressie. He wanted some Superman comics and I spent ages in FP, sat on the floor, leafing through all the many books they had and chatting to a lovely girl who worked there. It got me so excited! I settled on Red Son (highly recommended) and Birthright (the one I couldn't put back on the shelf)  I had so much fun buying them and spending so much time chatting about them to one of the staff really gave me confidence. I think all this time, it's been a confidence thing. I have just never known where to start. The sheer amount of Superhero comics is overwhelming. And since there is enough good indie stuff out there anyway, it has kept me going, happily, until now. Anyway, long story short, I have picked the X-Men as my starting point. And it doesn't matter if I have many false starts, I have so much to choose from I'm bound to find something I like! I've bought a couple of volumes so far and I'm already eyeing up more!
I spent part of today colouring up a Psylocke sketch. I had so much fun drawing this. It's like having a massage after a sports event! So completely enjoyable and fulfilling and soothing, somehow.



I also wanted to share my love of an artist with you! Just before the Nerdfest con, Heather Sheppard posted a glorious painting on her facebook page. I have never fallen in love with an image so fast! As soon as I saw it, I was immediately piqued! I don't know if it's the colours, the angle, the characters... it's just so thrilling! The composition is gorgeous, the posing is exhilarating and the colours/textures are sumptuous! I took a couple of moments to ponder on it and then set about contacting her 3 DIFFERENT WAYS. I bombarded her facebook, etsy and twitter accounts! I need this Heather, sell it to me! 
Luckily I got to her before anyone else did, and the beautiful piece you see below is lying on my bedroom floor! This iPhone photo does not do it justice. It's big and so inspiring! I think I have been drawing like a loon ever since I saw it. If only I could birth an image as evocative as this one! It makes me feel how Ghibli does, full of imagination and wonder and wide eyed innocence. I will stop gushing now, but only so I can let your eyes sink into the painting itself...

Who is this liddle guy? Is he playing? :D 

Ian and I have also been getting excited about future Razarhawk plans. I can not shitting wait to bring this comic to you! I am absolutely humbled by the response we've been having and so eager to bring you more! My art is getting better and better. I don't mean that to sound big headed, but I am learning new techniques all the time, my colouring is stronger, my line is improving and my joy of it is ten fold! And when you are surrounded by fantastic arty friends like Heather, it's hard not to want to progress, practice and polish as much as you can! GAMBARIMASHO! (I have been reading a lot of Bakuman... basically, you're all my rivals now!) >:P



That's all f'now. I have comics to make and drawings to draw and dreams to dream. Let's all do our best! 
 ^-^ 


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Lara Croft

This blog post is about my greatest love affair. I haven't loved anything for as long as I have loved Lara Croft... aside for maybe blood relatives, but those are a given.

I can hardly remember getting the game for PC way back when I was 9 or maybe 10. The details are so fuzzy. What I do remember is seeing the box art in a big store, probably Currys, and asking my dad to buy it for us! I dressed it up as an educational game that would really, really help me get good scores on my SATs exams. I was being entirely truthful in my claims, or so I thought. I'd gotten the game completely mixed up with one I'd seen advertised on kids TV (I would bloody love to know which one, but after all these years I have completely forgotten all but tiny details.. I have a screen grab in my head but it gets blurrier and blurrier the more I focus on it...) The game (I think) was a problem solving digging game. I saw Tomb Raider and immediately decided it was definitely, definitely that one. Somehow I received parental approval and the game was bought.

"It's puzzles Dad!"

What I do remember is being thoroughly crap at it, as I am with all games. I was slow and clumsy and far too focused on doing things right instead of fast. I always died. I still do. I barely play games these days after more than my fair share of tuts, sighs and digs from reluctant spectators. I enjoy them. I got a rare chance to play TR: Legend at Uni because everyone else in the house was completely occupied with final projects and I maintain it was my best game experience ever. I got left entirely alone to explore bloody everything and collect bloody everything and even go back and do it faster and better AND complete her bloody house! Score. But anyway, that is now and not then. Back then, after my crapness incensed all those around me I eventually got used to watching my little brother play through all the best games. An expert at bosses, navigating his way through the plot at a speed that would fuel my ever increasing impatience. The faster he got, the more story I wanted. Games like MGS and FFVII I would start, but eventually give up and just watch my brother. TR was a little different however. I would snatch what chances I could. And loved it. 

This is my pride and joy: The Art Of Tomb Raider. Two mammoth art books in a hardback sleeve. 

I've grown up with Lara. I remember using my homework diary at High School to catalogue my saved up dinner money with a £29.99 goal: Tomb Raider II. I was a bit of a weirdo and drew her everywhere. I was definitely too young to know she was considered 'sexy.' To me she was the strongest woman I had ever known. She killed bears and sharks and tigers and climbed and back flipped. Also, she ran for like, a million miles. I remember starting cross country in PE and thinking 'fucking hell, how the hell does Lara Croft run fucking everywhere!?' (I really liked the F word when I was a kid) I would then sometimes press shift and let her walk for bit. Just incase I was running her into the ground. Cross country was hard as balls! 

She's been through more than her fair share of criticisms and redesigns. I want to write about how I saw her and how much I needed her as a ten year old girl. I don't remember being aware of the amount of male lead characters in popular cartoons and media, but I do remember unconsciously clinging to the franchises with female leads or favouring the female characters in an ensemble cartoon series. Misty was my favourite in Pokémon, Spinelli was my favourite character in Recess, Aeris and Tifa were my most trained up characters in FFVII, Pepper Ann was my favourite cartoon etc etc. There was nothing about Lara Croft that could put me off. Even the tarty marketing in magazines. I just didn't get it. It didn't cross my mind not to love her just because she was suddenly draped in red silk and semi naked. I don't bloody know why.
I love seeing her in different styles!

She had big boobs. Big deal. So did every grown up woman to me back then and the most beautiful woman of all was me mum. And she had massive norks! I only became aware of the controversy as a teenager and by then it was too bloody late. And also, I didn't agree. It made her no less stronger in my eyes. And I am far from alone. There are as many articles and arguments on Lara Croft being a pro feminist icon as there are on her being anti feminist. 

I can't pick just one!

I have loved every single incarnation of Lara since her first. However, if I hold a candle for her original design then I burn a whole village down for her TR: Legend redesign (Crystal Dynamics represent!) Maybe it's because I had such a good gaming experience with it. TRII is also one of my favourites.

I haven't as yet plugged my PS3 in. But when I do I am all over this Squenix version. I can't wait! And there's no one to tut! :D 

When I was about to take my driving test in 2011, I was so nervous. I was on Diazapam and had been struggling with anxiety for a couple of years. I text my mum the morning of the test to vent some of my nerves and probably came across as a bit neurotic. I was petrified. Mostly of shitting myself, but also because driving is scary and something I never wanted to do. I wish I still had the message that she replied with. It would take me hours to track it down in the memory of my iPhone (unless y'all know a trick?) However, I remember the content of it entirely and it is not the first time she has used this speech on me! It went something like: Don't be daft! Do you think Lara would be shitting it?! No! She'd drive her jeep over whoever got in her way!' There would have been so, so many curse words but you get the point right? It might be ridiculous to you, but Lara Croft has been my invisible guardian since that first game. My mum has cranked that line out for exams, interviews, meetings and god knows what else. Have you ever done a guided visualisation for confidence? Sometimes you are asked to picture the person who you think is the most confident and then imagine you stepping into them and becoming them. Mine is always Lara.
I have also been drawing her likeness for as long as she's been in this world. Thinking back, I probably (OK, totally) looked like a proper nutcase. But I drew her on exercise books, tables, homework diarys, I painted her life size on my bedroom wall when I was 13, cut her pictures out of magazines to make collages. When everyone else fancied Backstreet Boys, I fancied Lara Croft.

Kitty Hawk and Linjin: ma gurls!


And that love continues to this day. I am sure my drive to design my own characters is fuelled by my childish adulation of this fictional woman. It pushes me to put my ideas on paper. She brings out my passion to create. Without Lara Croft, Kitty Hawk (my number one girl!) wouldn't exist as she does. When I met Ian and we started hatching plans to make our own comics, he picked up on my love of Lara pretty immediately. As I'm sure many geeks will agree with me, our passions tend to be forever bubbling just below the surface of our everyday personas and meeting someone who echoes that in you often brings them unwittingly bursting out. Kitty Hawk is my answer to Lara Croft. I recognised a strength in her that took me back to being a 10 year old in love with a video game character. Kitty just does, as does Lara. Flaws or no, they are going to get the job done. And with Linjin, my own personal creation that has been maturing for friggin' years in the demijohn of my imagination, is my desire to create a character for young girls to want to engage with. An endlessly adventurous, boundless spirit. And whether they are small scale or not, it doesn't matter because they exist.

So my unrelenting thanks to Toby Gard, for giving me a hero, and indirectly spawning more.