Archive by Author

I’ve Moved

11 May

This is such a shameful post… My first year of illustration was a heck of a lot crazier than I had thought, so poor bloggie was left to the site. But I have many months free now, and I should get back into rambling mode with the words and such. 

 

Sooooo, if you haven’t lost all faith in me and my ability to blog, follow me over to the new blog for words and pictures and me saying possible silly things until I get back into the hang of writing properly again. And my new URL is way more fun too, but I’m still Bewitched, Bothered & Bespectacled, as always.

 

There’s also my artables on facebook and blogspot, and twitter too… I’m kind of all over the place. 

 

Anyhow, hello and goodbye 

Live Long & Prosper

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Book Review: ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ – Wayne Simmons

21 Jun

 

If you suffered through my long and winding review of Simmons’ other apoc-shocker, Flu, then you’ll surely know that I’ve got nothing but admiration for his work. Although I loved Flu, I think it took out some delayed and uncalled for vengeance on me, halting my reading of Drop Dead Gorgeous with a case of the sniffles. But I wasn’t kept away for long! This book has been on my (unrealistic) reading list for a while now after picking up my copy at P-Con earlier this year. Like with his last offering, it was well worth the wait.

 

 

The plot of Drop Dead Gorgeous is all in the title. One fine and average Sunday morning, all but a small few of the population of Belfast, and possibly further afield, suddenly drop dead. The ‘gorgeous’ part makes more sense a little later. The book opens in a very easy going way, just some people going about their lives. A few pages later comes the crashing down of the world around those who were left standing. We see the world slowly drain of power, life and control. The fact that it’s set in Belfast helps to make it that much more real, despite the fact it’s shelved under ‘Sci-fi’. All those apocalypse and zombie movies and novels set in Anywhere USA seem so far away and very much American. Just one big city, with reference to the rest of the country, brings it a little closer. It can be open for interpretation to any readers’ city, even though the language is distinctly Northern Irish – which is fantastic, might I add. As well as the main characters’ individual stories, I enjoyed the snippets of other survivors. Simmons shows us a few shots of scenarios we may not have thought of; dependant people suddenly alone after the world comes to a stop.

DDG is a little different from your average zombie novel, in that it’s not all about the zombies. I’ve read a review – one in particular that tickled me for many a reason – that called this a major flaw. For me, I would much prefer to spend page after page getting to know and care for characters before the big bang. What’s the point, otherwise? I don’t want a book of limbs being torn off for the sake of gory goodness. That may just be me being a delicate little snowflake or something though… If you think of it more as an apocalyptic story and can patiently wait for your zombies – and they’re unlike most you’ve seen – then you’ll be pleased with this.

There is slicing and dicing a plenty that work the final chapters up into a frenzy but it’s the characters that are the heart of the story – and as a girl raised under the greatness and cruelty of one Joss Whedon, characters are important to me. Simmons knows his characters well and more importantly, they’re real. Throwing a bunch of stereotypes into a post-apocalyptic setting does not a good story make. Pooling together some developed and flawed – some heavily flawed – people and seeing how they react to a world torn asunder does. That’s one of my favourite things about reading Simmons’ books.

Among those left behind are a foul mouthed tattooist, aging radio DJ, two teens, a troubled young man, a former IRA member, an RIR soldier, an elderly acrophobic and the overzealous Preacher Man. There’s also a few others we meet along the way. Although scattered throughout Belfast, there’s a purpose to each group and things tie together to help move the story along. As I said, they are certainly not shining examples of the human race. They all respond in different ways to the crumbling of society and don’t make the best decisions. If they were all Mary Sues and Garry Stus then how exciting would that be to read? People aren’t perfect and everyone is expendable, no matter how attached you may grow.

I found that the human characters were not the only to feature in the story. In a world suddenly devoid of life, Mother Nature takes a step into centre stage. The world around them appears to be a character all on its own. The Rain makes as much a noise as the hedonistic trio in the Europa do, and The Silence is as unnerving as the survivors are unnerved. This gives the book a rich atmosphere. There’s a definite difference between reading this on a busy bus, and later in a silent room.

There’s some awful stuff that happens – which I’m going to be terribly vague about so I don’t ruin it – but it is all ultimately necessary. I’ve read people complaining that it’s something that apoc writers throw in for shock value, and though it is horrific it has its place within the story and needed for character development. There are also some laughs from characters and Simmons’ wonderfully crafted narrative alike. And lest we not forget the refreshingly muted romance from our young lovers, who at one point reminded me of the budding and brutal romance in The Hole (I swear I wasn’t just daydreaming about Desmond Harrington).

On a brighter note, one thing I can always seem to count on Simmons for is a delightful reference or two. In Flu it was Red Sonja and here I do believe I spotted a little Who. The description of one character just screamed David Tennant to me. Please say I am not wrong.

I can’t recommend Drop Dead Gorgeous enough. We see our own fast paced world come skidding to a halt and allowing you to become invested, only to gallop off full speed with all that you thought you knew. The characters grow as close to your heart as they’ll allow and the corpses that litter the streets rival the sheer amount of skeletons that come tumbling from closets. It’s dark, unrestrained, vicious, broken-hearted, dangerously beautiful, and it’s got a foul mouth.

 

You can buy Drop Dead Gorgeous, and his other apoc-shocker Flu, from amazon and Book Depository. You can also follow Wayne or like his fanpage on facebook, or go to the one stop horror shop, his site. And if you really want, check out my interview with Wayne from P-Con over on Geek Girl on the Street here and here (part 1&2).

Win a Kindle with Donna Grant’s Latest Release!

29 Apr

Hey folks, after next Friday le bloggie will have a little more life breathed back into it once again! The next week-ish will be crazy and I’ll soon be bombarding my own site with links to all the shenanigans I’ve been up to!! But for now I have something shiny to share – a *virtual* book launch and giveaway. No, not mine but Donna Grant’s over on Bitten By Books!

So, Donna’s releasing her latest offering from the Dark Swords series, Untamed Highlander!

In celebration of this, Bitten By Books is hosting a giveaway. A Kindle giveaway!

*pause for ooohing*

So, Donna wants to know…

What are your favorite type of heroes to read about?

Answering her that question is only one of the many ways to earn yourself some bonus points and a competition entry!

So, click on the photo in this post to be whisked away to Bitten By Books to support Donna Grant, and full details on how to win this nifty prize!

Donna’s twitter | site | blog | facebook

Artist #13: Ben Templesmith

10 Apr

After a busy and tiring two weeks, I can at last post the remainder of the interviews I have ready and waiting for you all. I feel terrible that these have been in draft hell for weeks but they are most definitely worth the wait! Today, I’m featuring none other than Ben Templesmith, artist extraordinaire! His distinctive style can be seen among the pages of Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, 30 Days of Night, Welcome to Hoxford and Choker, as well as inked onto some folks’ skin!  The fact that he’s also in a relationship with Geek Girl on the Street favourite Molly McIsaac only adds to his abundance of awesome points. I’m a massive fan of his art so getting this interview with him certainly prompted a “jinkies!” or two from me!

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What first interested you in art?
I have no idea. I tend to think art picks you. It’s a sort of compulsion really, to draw, paint, dance, whatever…been drawing since a very young age, couldn’t tell you why, I just always loved it. Art, obviously, is beautiful so it’s easy to be interested in it.

 

Did you get much encouragement to continue or make a career out of it?
Oh, enough I guess. I new I was ok in school and my parents supported my passions.

 

Have you studied art or are you self taught?
Studied design at University, which is sort of related and I got some good things from it, but true drawing wise, no real formal training apart from some life drawing classes really.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
A small boy in Botswana?
No idea. small things, random times. All depends.

Who are some of your favourite artists?
Ralph Steadman, Klimt, Victor Ambrus, Paul Pope, a bunch!

What are your hopes for your career’s future? Any dream projects?
Right now? Just being productive. I haven’t been of late and I’d like to get some new projects out of me if I can.

Which of your pieces or projects are you most proud of?
Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse.

How would you describe your style?
Moody and sketchy… but it’s not up to me. It’s how others see it that matters.

What drew you more to comic book illustration than other areas of art?
Its a visual storytelling medium…and I like to tell stories.

What’s your favourite medium to work in?
Pen and pencil, with a dash of watercolour.

Are you working on anything at the moment?
Too many little things for lots of little projects. And… some Wormwood Gentleman Corpse too.

Can you give me an idea of your creative process?
Not too much. That’s a pretty involved question really. I just plot, draw, then feed it all into the computer to colour.

How did you get your career start?
My work was seen online and a job opening came up that I was asked to try for… and I got it. Hellspawn. After/during that, I did a small book that got a movie deal and sort of blew up, called 30 Days of Night… that sort of gave me the profile that led to a career really.

Ben’s twitter | facebook | tumblr | deviantART | Formspring (art,work) | Formspring (silly)

Oh, the Horror! – Recent & Upcoming Horror Movies

9 Apr

Maybe it was the early morning viewing of Frozen, or the news of Saw creators Leigh Whannell and James Wan visiting Dublin next week, but this afternoon I’m in the mood for some thrills and chills. So, with that in mind, I googled and waded my way through trailers and misleading fan-made videos to put together a list of some new and upcoming horror films. They’re certainly not all gems, very few, in fact, but the rest are good for a chuckle – I definitely had a good laugh watching some. Then there’s also some of that old gory goodness horror folks are mighty keen on. There are plenty others that I’m excited about, like Silent Hill 2, but there’s no trailers available yet. They’re not all my cup of tea, and maybe not yours, but you might spot something good amongst the mess below.

* Warning that nastiness may abound in trailers, as well as spoilers for any that are sequels *

[REC]2
I haven’t yet seen this, or the US remake Quarantine, but it definitely looks worth the watch. I like the use of handheld cameras to tell stories like this. When it’s done well, and with good reason, it can turn out quite well. Or it will just make you a bit dizzy and queasy. Well, in fairness, this may do that with a little help from the zombie creatures though.

Continue reading

Artist #12: Molly Crabapple

26 Mar

After a longer period of inactivity than I would like, bloggie is back. And not with a whimper but an incredible bang! The artist I’m featuring today is truly one of my favourites and an inspiration to keep working hard on my illustration to try reach somewhere near her level. It seems fitting to post this today since I’ll be sitting in my second Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School session in a matter of hours. Molly Crabapple’s work with both illustration and installation is simply brilliant and brings out admiration, fascination and jealousy in those who look upon it. At least to me, it does. She’s collaborated with some of my favourite musicians too, Amanda Palmer and Vermillion Lies. One of her current projects ‘I Have Your Heart’, sees her working with one half of VL again, Kim Boekbinder. The stopmotion short will be nothing short of amazing and they’ve just reached their fundraising goal, so that means we get to see this wonderful movie!!

– – – – –

 

What first interested you in art?
I’ve been drawing since I was 4, and throwing temper tantrums because my drawings didn’t look the way I wanted for about that long.

 

Did you get much encouragement to continue or make a career out of it?
My mother is an illustrator, so I never had the idea that art wasn’t something you could support yourself on.

Have you studied art or are you self taught?
I’m an art school dropout, but I got my real eduction slumming around Europe when I was 17 and filling massive sketchbooks.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
New York, subversive performance, coffee, bestiaries, animals god made wrong.

Who are some of your favourite artists?
Chloe Cruchaudet, Clayton Cubitt, Zoetica Ebb, Travis Louie, Joe Coleman, Aubrey Beardsley, Bosch, Toulouse Lautrec.

What are your hopes for your career’s future?
I want to draw more big things.

 

Which of your pieces are you most proud of?
The 90 feet of murals I just did for The Box Soho, the London branch of a notorious NYC nightclub.

How would you describe your style?
My friend Roger Klein describes it as “Toulouse Lautrec meets Dr. Seuss”.

What’s your favourite medium to work in?
I’m currently trying to make acrylic my bitch. It might be working the other way around.

Are you working on anything at the moment?
A new graphic novel for First Second books with my eternal conspirator John Leavitt. Its about a carnival of immortal outcasts traversing rust belt America.

What drew you to the themes you base a lot of your work on?
A meanspirited streak and a lifelong fascination with the Moulin Rouge.

Can you give me an idea of your creative process?
I usually start with injokey doodles. My actual pieces are pretty freeform- I ink and pencil simultaneously, and a bit stream of conciously.

 

How did you get your career start?
I don’t believe in the idea of a big break, so it was more endless hustling and grabbing every opportunity I could claw for myself.

 

How did the idea for Dr. Sketchys come about?
Worked as a life model. Found the classes sterile. Thought I could do better.

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My Hero Grrrls

9 Mar

I had planned to do this yesterday for International Woman’s Day, but hell, women should be celebrated everyday! There are so many wonderful, kind, generous and strong women out there, all influencing and changing the world little by little. Mothers and other relatives, teachers, writers, artists, actors, directors; these women are everywhere. I decided to put together a top 10 of my favourite influential femmes (in no particular order) – but this may go over ten. Some are real, and some are real enough, heroes to draw power from, or at least for me.  

 

1. Red Sonja
From the time I was just a little strange and freckled child, I was in love with Sonja. I was raised on Conan and his adventures, which of course overlapped with Sonja’s (even though he’s technically not Conan in it, but we know..). I wasn’t introduced to the comics until some years later, but the towering, flame-haired Brigitte Nielsen instilled within me a pride in my natural hair colour – sadly a source of shame for many of my kind – and in being taller, and in some cases stronger, than some boys in school. She’s a sword-wielding heroine any girl can look up to.

2. Lara Croft

Again, Ms. Croft’s been with me for many, many years. I remember countless hours sat infront of the television, watching my dad and brothers play Tomb Raider II over and over. I could only really take care of The Great Wall, and still have trouble handling a lot of the levels, since I would get over-excited and the nerves got the better of me. But that was enough for me. Watching her shoot her way through anything – tigers, Yetis, dinosaurs – while maintaining her femininity and possessing a rather high intellect, just made me want to be her… fall-away floors, spikes and all. She also had a lot to do with my love of history and why I would always answer, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” with “archaeologist or egyptologist”. We could always throw in some danger and intrigue!

3. Tank Girl

I first seen the Tank Girl movie before I really knew what was going on in it, let alone get half of the things she was saying. I remembered bits and pieces, but I always thought she was played by Gwen Stefani and not the equally as shiny Lori Petty! I seen it again a few years later and got a bit obsessed, still not completely aware of everthing. I just thought she was the single most awesome woman ever! She had funky hair (that part of me always wanted to try!), cool clothes and a tank!  By the time the movie and I were eventually on the same wavelength, I was totally hooked. I’ve slowly been building my collection of the comics (I believe there should be 2 in the mail, in fact) and soaking up all the Tankie I can find. And she’s one of the most fun characters to draw, the artists that have worked on it are simply phenomenal! She’s tough as nails, rude, crude, brazen and bazooka-brassiered!

4. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer

She’s just a regular young woman… But, oh wait, she has to save the world! Boy trouble, fitting in, highschool, friends, homework. We shared the same problems, granted mine were less apocalypty, and was a heroine you could relate to. I’ve been watching Buffy for half my life – not without pause – and it’s still held in that same precious spot in my heart where it forced its way in all those years ago. I have to say though, Buffy was not the only great woman in that show; Willow, Joyce, Cordelia, Tara, Anya, and Dawn all taught girls everywhere something about grasping onto the strength we possess and, forgive the pun, living up to our potential. In particular, I was a Willow girl – nerdy, loserish, hopelessly enamoured of someone just as clueless, odd humour, easily excited, loved my library. I could go on. I even have the hair and pale complexion to match.   

5. Amanda Palmer

Fearless. Iconic. Comedian. Opinionated. Lover. Artist. Poet. Hero.

I have mountains of respect and love for Amanda. She’s a true music artist and an even truer person. My path to discovering her was all by chance. First off, I caught The Dresden Dolls late night on Channel 4, or something, performing ‘Coin-Operated Boy’ and another song. Their appearance and the set really grabbed my attention ( it was similar to the Live in Paradise set). I had missed their name but jotted down “Coin-Operated Boy” on a piece of paper. That always stayed in the back of my mind. A year or so later, I found an advertisement for the Live In Paradise DVD in a magazine and loved the photo. That too was saved. It was around then that decided to look them up since we had finally gotten a computer. Again, I was hooked!! I searched Virgin until I found Yes, Virginia, brought it home, listened to it repeatedly, and the rest it happy history. 

As they continued on, then went on hiatus, I followed them together and seperately. The music they were making was just so different to what I had heard and they were doing such interesting things. Then when she went solo…forget about it! I was awe-struck when I first heard ‘Astronaut’. But it’s not just her music and her lyrics, it’s her. She cares for the fans and does all she can to keep in touch. I hadn’t experienced anything like that before, the dialogue between artist and audience. She’s not afraid to try something new, or something no-one has ever tried. Then there’s he whole thing about being half of one of the best power couples, um, ever! I really, really could go on… This went on a bit, but she is one of the only two real people on this list!

6. Zoe Washburne

Ever the feminist, Joss Whedon knows how to write kickass female characters! Zoe, Mal Reynolds’ right hand woman and one half of a most unexpected couple, is an Amazon warrior woman, through and through. She’s more than capable of taking care of herself – trusty gun at the ready – and can crack a joke (many great deadpan moments) and have a laugh with the guys. Yet, when it’s time for the more sentimental stuff, she’s a softy – looking after the poor, defenseless Saffron.  She can be dominating, which is a loved and hated quality to hubby, Wash, but can be a wife just the same. Mmm, wife soup… She’s proof that you can be the hardass leader of men and the lover.

7. Penelope Garcia

My name is Sarah and I am a Criminal Minds addict. One of my favourite characters from the show is Garcia, the uber geeky, super stylish, techie goddess! Yup, that’s her full title. Garcia has to deal with a lot! She didn’t sign up to the BAU to fight crime and investigate murders (in fact, she didn’t sign up at all…), yet she has to bear the weight of some brutal stuff. Researching murders and criminals of every kind, watching videos of killings to find clues within the soundtrack; basically seeing and learning more of the world’s evil than most folk aught to. It’s this very reason that she decorates her office with colourful toys and fluffy and sparkly accessories, and keeps conversation light with her quirky humour and phone answering technique. She finds a way to seperate the two worlds and not become a disturbed shut-in, as some might do in her position. She’s also incredibly independant and has been since a relatively early age. She doesn’t need a man (but she does eventually get a cute’n’geeky one in the form of Nick Brendan!) and is completely comfortable with herself. Just look at her fabulous wardbrobe and her interaction with Derek. Oh, the flirting and the nicknames! I have respect for the character as well as the real women, and men, that old similar jobs.

8. Lisbeth Salander

Lisbeth is a more recent addition to my list of heroines. Ever since I seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – what, last year – I loved her. She’s the outsider, not in the awkward highschool way but in the severely abused way, and just doesn’t take anything lying down. She’s been through hell and made it, and doesn’t show any sign of letting herself get dragged back into that mess again… of course she is, otherwise what would the trilogy be about? She’s pierced, tattooed, almost shaven-headed, dresses in dark colours, and is very beautiful. Lisbeth is as complex a character as they come, and I really have to applaud Noomi Rapace for her performance. Lisbeth may do her best to stay out of trouble, in her painfully introverted and terse way, but doesn’t cower away from a fight. If you’ve seen the movies or read the book, you know what I’m talking about! Yes, she’s rough around the edges but I think she’s one of the finest heroines in modern culture.

9. Frida Kahlo

Okay, I will keep this short since I could literally write over 3,000 words on her! She was an incredibly influential woman and paved the way for many artists, both female and Mexican. Comfortable with her sexuality, unafraid to show the world her inner self and willing to take a stand for her political beliefs.  Her life was hard, and that’s an understatement – countless operations, a result of an accident when she was young, and a passionate turbulent marriage to Diego Rivera. And, of course… her art! It’s just amazing. I knew the bare bones of her history a little over a month ago when I decided to write about her for a college essay, now I am a massive fan and cannot wait for the exhibition of her and Diego’s work here next month!!  

10. Xena, the Warrior Princess

Oh, how I miss the days of watching Xena and Hercules! She was just the coolest. The costume, the weaponry, that war cry – you know you’ve tried to iminate it. I can remember playing Hero Quest with my brother when I was little and my character name on the score sheet would always be ‘Xena‘ (and what a good game!).  She reminded me of Red Sonja, more so with that whole Hercules cross-overy goodness. And then Gabrielle was just awesome too. I always wanted a staff to swing around, hit bad guys with, help me on treks through forests… all of which I do so often.

11. Awesome Gals Everywhere

I’m not forgetting Wonder Woman – how could I? It’s just that I didn’t grow up with her. I knew of her, and the iconography of her as the strong woman, but that was about as far as my knowledge went. My knowledge has grown some over the years, but not by much. The comics are on my to buy list, and season 1 od the tv series and the animated movie (with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion) are sitting on my shelf waiting to be watched. I have to mention Wonder Woman Day, as it’s just a fantastic organisation.

Also, the women behind Geek Girl Con, and all the other geeky girls I follow through blogs, twitter, facebook, harass in person (she’ll get this is her, I hope). There’s too many to name, but they know who they are and must know just how amazing each and every one of them is.

Finally, my fellow Geek Girls (usually found ‘on the street’). I’m forever grateful for having the opportunity to have met all of you, even online, and to get to work with you. You all, quite simply, rock! 

I’m gonna be mushy here and add: My Mam. She ain’t nearly as geeky as the rest of this list, but she’s my hero none the less 🙂

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How about you folk? Care to share yours?

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