My name is Ewen Cluney. (“Ewen” is pronounced like “Aaron” for reasons my parents have never adequately explained to me.) I’m a translator, gamer, and all-around anime fan and geek. When I decided I wanted to write reviews of the strange manga I’ve been reading, Guy and I agreed that Geekorner was a better fit than any of my own blogs, plus I already have too many of those. I’ll be posting up my first manga review pretty soon, but I wanted to start of with a self-introduction and a post about something hardly anyone else really knows about.
Hello gang, Guy here. Ewen will post on this blog now and then (basically when he feels like it, up to an entry a week – the first manga review is already written and waiting for publication!). Ewen and I go back several years, and what he doesn’t tell you is that he translates from Japanese to English, including having translated the Maid RPG, and official anime episodes. Ewen’s posts will also be posted under the “Ewen’s Corner” category. Treat him well!
My vices are frequently anime-related in general, though I don’t own too many figures on account of the ones I already have take up too much space. (Though I do have the sukimizu/nekomimi Nono Nekomiya figure.) Instead I’ve made commissioning art of my mascot character (or OC if you prefer), Kurumi, into a comparable financial sinkhole. I periodically commission artwork online (mainly through DeviantArt), and I usually take reference pictures of her with me to any convention I attend where there are lots of artists. (This year I got four at WonderCon and five at FanimeCon.) It’s probably kind of creepy to some people, but apart from its effect on my bank account I’m quite unrepentant about it.
This time around I want to write a bit about the custom plushies I’ve gotten.
While there are tons of very talented artists who’ll do 2-D artwork (for example, B0RN-T0-DIE and vmat), three-dimensional art is a lot harder to come by. I do in fact have a custom figure of Kurumi, but that was because Suichiro, a longtime friend, made it for me as a birthday present. The result is something I treasure, but the process of making it was so aggravating that he’s vowed never to do anything like that ever again, not even for his own OC.
There are, however, some very talented artists who take commissions for plushies. The three pictured above are various characters of mine rendered in fabric by Squisherific. I originally stumbled across her DA page while searching for Stephen Colbert of all things (yes, really), and she’s been a delight to interact with through four separate commissions (the fourth being a Massacre Melanie plush for Suichiro). Needless to say, all the usual stuff for commissions applies to custom plushies, which is to say you need to carefully check the artist’s guidelines and availability, give them good references to work from, and provide prompt payment when the ask for it. (Plush artists in particular have to gather materials, so they normally charge up front.)
More recently, I’ve commissioned two plushies from Pheleon, another talented plush artist with a very different style. (Neither of these are ready to show off just yet.) Her plushies are more detailed, and she makes hair by gluing together many layers of fabric (where Squisherific creates hair out of simpler shapes and assembles them more with sewing than glue). Her creations also have a distinctly lanky build (where Squish’s designs are more directly based on Japanese UFO catcher plushies). Another notable difference between the two is that Squisherific uses iron-on transfers for the face (and other features where appropriate) not unlike what people use for T-shirts, while Pheleon paints them on. As with 2-D custom art, I think it’s best to look for an artist whose style fits what you want for the character. (Though I have occasionally gotten radically different and outright strange renditions of Kurumi for variety.)
Anyway, both Squisherific and Pheleon also use quality materials, which is important to me. If I’m spending $60 or more on a plushie, I want it to last a long time. That’s why I’m not a big fan of felt. The texture isn’t as nice, even simply to look at, and it just doesn’t stand up to wear. Japanese UFO catcher plushies have skin made from robe velor, which is also what Squish uses. It’s not the easiest fabric to obtain–fabric stores don’t typically carry it, so you have to special order–and it’s not the only good fabric for plushies, but it’s well worth the extra effort to get it, especially compared to felt. Here are the two Kurumi plushies I have, side-by-side. The felt one is admittedly much older (something like 8 years vs. 2 years), and while even now it has some sentimental appeal, the difference in quality is night and day.
Anyway, that’s about all the insights I have to offer on that. Expect my first manga review pretty soon.