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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

STGCC 2014: Spotlight on Daniel Yu

Meeting the man

Daniel Yu calls himself the Resin Slinger. I really did not know why and I did not have the mind to ask when I stepped into his work space, a place where unloved socks go to die, and was awed, partly because I do not work in an office and mostly because if I did, I wanted it filled with toys like this one. He is not a loud man, neither in stature nor mannerism, but I suspect behind the geniality lurks a sinister mind that manifests itself through his works - R. Mortis, Oi! Cthulhu, Gory Bomb, Bronco Buster - they look like nothing of this world.

Tell me about your characters and their world, I prodded. He paused sometimes between resin casting to collect his scattered thoughts. The narratives, the story lines, the universe - all of these comes later. It all starts with a fascination, a muse and it could be anything. For R. Mortis, it was the plague doctor. For Oi! Cthulhu, Lovecraft's evocative prose. For Gory Bomb and Bronco Buster, crazy wrestling moves. 

The floor is as bad as the table

Whatever the starting point, Daniel reimagined them, slinging each creation into an embryonic universe, dormant and waiting. Pointedly, he dropped names: Pirates of the Caribbean, League of the Extraordinary Gentlemen and Hellboy. What do they have in common? Worlds populated with displaced characters, history and legends - Flying Dutchman, The Kraken, Tom Sawyer, Invisible Man, Nazis, Rasputin - and that's what he's doing.
Fun fact: The R stands for Rebecca. It's a girl!

He's remoulding their narratives.

R. Mortis gets swept into mash of post apocalyptic Victorian era. Oi! Cthulhu ditches primordiality and goes left-wing. Gory Bomb and Bronco Buster are just weird. There is no excuse for them.

Daniel stressed that he just wants the collector to have a personal narrative and asked for my take. The Walking Dead, I cited, for its no-holds-barred take on breaching norms, a gritty landscape where morality inflexibility can be a nail in the coffin. That is how I envisioned his characters. They are all survivors. 

Waterboarding in action

He condensed his aesthetic down to 3 (un)holy principles. 
"Sculpt. Detail. Texture."
These are also the reasons he loves the toys from the 90s, with a particular soft spot for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but Daniel, being who he is, does not love conventionally. Excitedly, he Googled for Muckman. 

I played with the word cautiously in my mind. 

It is I, Muckman!
His optimistic vigor was infectious; the incredible number of details was one of those things in life that needs to be pointed out, just like being busy is not being productive or there's never a wrong time to eat ice-cream , and after that, as the meme goes, it cannot be unseen. Despite being a second tier hero, Muckman has come to represent what he loves about toys from that decade. 

It is about nostalgia but it is more than that.

He went on, trying to illuminate the elusive point. The Resin Slinger doesn't do mass appeal. The Resin Slinger doesn't do indie nor hipster either. What the Resin Slinger does is whatever pleases him and I think what he is doing is to flip the big old finger at livelihood, establishments and commercialism. Yes. Muckman, under all the mucous and goo, embodies this profound philosophy.

I can appreciate his candor and his resolve behind his brand and he blasted me with this analogy, handed down by a good mentor. I would love to twiddle with his words but they were succinctly on point: 
"It's like being a musician that starts a band. When you first start a band, you can either write your own music or become a cover band. The former will take a much longer time to develop and establish. The latter opens the door to instant recognition.

When you reach a certain point in a slow-built career, you can insert a cover and people would go, hey, that's cool. If you start off as a cover band, it's very hard to branch out. There will be more options when you start off writing your own songs. I found it to be very insightful and it makes a lot of sense."
And into the cauldron you go

My socks left the studio unsullied and the man who calls him the Resin Slinger? I suppose he's going to stand alone for a while in his own greatness.

Catch Daniel Yu at Booth AA90 and there will be stuff: Crawdad Kid, Bronco Buster, Gory Bomb, Footman, Taupok King and a surprise drop or two! Approach with caution and watch that disarming smile!

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