Diary of Inhuman Species: A Conversation with Stan Manoukian

Manoukian logging his latest discovery

Stan Manoukian saw his first monster at age thirteen. Out for an early morning fishing trip with his father, the fog loomed heavily above the water at the edge of the lake. With his rod in the water, the young Manoukian waited patiently for a tug on his line. But nothing came. And soon, he noticed everything around him had stopped. The sing-song of nearby birds, the rustling of leaves on the breeze; time, he said, seemed suspended.

The boy looked back in search of his father, who was still fussing with his fishing gear at the car. Stan turned his attention back to the dead calm of the water in front of him, and that’s when he saw it. A ripple, a big one, disturbing the glassiness of the water about 10 meters away, where the fog was heaviest. His eyes grew wide. He inched his toes closer to the water, but found he was already at the edge. The ripples approached. Stan could only watch. As they grew closer, the giant head of an unknown aquatic creature broke the surface of the water. Its skin was smooth, the gaze of its one eye arresting.


“Hughmee” 9.6″ x 7.6″ mixed media on lithograph paper

“It wasn’t dangerous looking at all,” Manoukian, now 43, recalls. “It was a mix between a fish and a human, with two big arms and tentacle fingers. We watched each other for probably only a few seconds, but the exchange felt interminable. My father came back from his car and nature returned to life; the creature disappeared in the blink of an eye and suddenly I had a big fish on my fishing rod! I guess it was a present from this creature as proof of our meeting.”

Since then, the Parisian artist sees monsters all the time, and everywhere. Even in the shower. “But you know, they don’t care about nudity,” he laughs, “nudity is liberty!”

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A Critter Invasion in the Monster Dungeon!

Production in Chris Ryniak’s studio is in full swing once again, filling up with piles of bulb-eyed pals for us all to squeal over. Watercolour monsters, gouache critters on cardboard, along with a small congregation of little resin critters are all in the works, and the latter has me particularly curious, indeed. Just look at those little bums!

Question is, what ever is all this for? Well, there are a couple notable events CMR is involved in, namely Circus Annual in December and Migration with Amanda Louise Spayd in March (*wink*), but only time will tell when these guys come out to play. So stick around, for plenty more is sure to emerge from the Monster Dungeon!

The Devilish Monsters & Minions of My Ghoul Friday

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Happy Hallow’s Eve, everyone! In continuing with the coverage of artists who are currently rocking my socks, it is of utmost pleasure to present a special Halloween edition and introduce you all to the quirks and creativity of one of my favourite ladies, Ghoul Friday. I discovered her work on a whim at Toronto’s FanExpo in August and have been hooked ever since. She’s from the city, makes awesome paper clay monsters and has also published her own book: Brains vs. Coffee, which quite hilariously explores the pros and cons of the consuming, enjoying, storing, preparing and disposing of each.

Friday is an ardent follower of Halloweenia, clearly. Most of us are in these parts, but she takes it to a whole ‘nother level, crafting most of the decorations herself and changing it up every year. I mean, seriously, people:

Now that’s a Halloween party we’d all want to go to, amirite? A self-taught sculptor who got her start making large-scale props for Halloween parties for nearly a decade, she took the plunge and started making her own little monsters and minions in 2009, and attended her first convention as a vendor that summer. She’s been at it ever since.

Friday’s creations are a combo of paper clay, paper mache, fabric and polymer clay, and while she’d like to say it’s because she’s a sort of eco-warrior, “a lot of it has to do with habits from being part of the Haunter community, where you build items from scavenged goods,” she explains.

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Dance Sippy, Dance! The Bloody Fun Creatures of Paige Krueger

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Every once in a while you come across an artist who just rocks your socks right off. Their work just clicks with you, you love it the moment you see it, and it’s sort of like reuniting with long-lost kin after thinking you were the only inhabitant on Planet Weird. And for me, that’s Paige Krueger. A few months ago I stumbled across her Etsy shop, Dance Sippy Dance, and was greeted by a number of bloodied and bulgey-eyed monsters who seemed utterly delighted to be covered in someone’s innards. I mean, who wouldn’t be, right?

An artist based out of Calgary, Alberta (proudly waving my red and white), Krueger paints on anything: canvases, wood, dirt, appliances … but it was her work with polymer clay that piqued the interest of my inner sicko. She calls them monsters, plain and simple, and their forms range from boogers to breath mints. I like the pale-looking pylon-types, myself, but her seasonal stuff is also top notch, like the mime, pumpkin thief and suited fellow pictured here.

So what makes this lady tick? “Oh, i wish i had a really interesting answer for this,” she laughs. “I just think it’s funny. Like when you’re in grade school and draw a wiener on the skeleton in the science text book. I would say having a laugh is what makes me tick.”

A self-proclaimed hermit an’ proud, Krueger used to collect corkscrews and yo-yos (’cause those go hand-in-hand). But now that she’s famous, her tastes have evolved to hoarding art supplies and following the works of Yue Minjun, Michael Hussar and Gary Baseman.

If you’re in the mood for some good ol’ fashioned gore this Halloween, be sure to pay this lady a visit. She does the blood thing all year round, too, which is a bonus. She also does E-rated monsters if that’s more your jam.

The snaps here are of my recent acquisitions, but there’s plenty more to see in her shop and via her social media accounts. Check her out!

Etsy | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram: yeahsippy

New Friends from Amanda Louise Spayd for ‘Origins of the Forest’, 9.7

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Amanda Louise Spayd’s Instagram teasers (@amandalouisespayd) continue to trickle out in anticipation of her solo show, Origins of the Forest, opening this Friday at myplasticheart. Faux fur has never looked so good.

The reception will take place this Friday from 6pm to 9pm. Amanda will be there! For those looking to pick up a little guy from this show (who wouldn’t?!), be sure to sign up the for mailing list by emailing: previewme@myplasticheart.comThe critters will have full run of the gallery until October 7th.

Mikee’s Mail Day: Splurrt Usir!

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Hello CP fans! For those who don’t know, my name is Mikee and I work behind the counter at Stranger Factory. It’s an amazing job and to be honest I got it because of my one true love … Toys! Some would say I have a problem, others would exploit that problem for their entertainment! So in honor of the latter, we bring you Mikee’s Mail Day! I get a lot of packages and we are gonna start showing off some of the fun goodies I collect and why I collect them.

This week being the first, I opened a great package. Today I got in my Splurrt Usir. Usir is the third vinyl character release from rebel toy company Splurrt. Following in the footsteps of his prior releases, while still departing for a slightly different tone, the Usir is just plain evil! Not going to lie, Splurrt is one of my all time favorite toy companies and this is a prime piece of Sofubi to use as an example why. The Usir is a new head mold but the body is actually from a previous Splurrt release called the Diggler. This type of adaption through simplicity is why Kaiju and Sofubi are so amazing! Granted Mattel does this with He Man parts but it’s not because they have to and more because they prefer to cut cost. We Toy Rebels live and thrive on a budget, so finding ways to make something new out of something existing is what this is all about.

Until next time, live that 24/7 Toy Life!

Chris Ryniak’s Wonderful Watercolors

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This is easily the coolest thing happening on Instagram right now. A couple weeks ago, Chris Ryniak (@chrisryniak) dusted off his old watercolor kit and took it for a spin with his critters, just for fun. Well ermgahgerd. These things have pretty much set the interwebs ablaze and just when you think they can’t get any better, well, there’s tomorrow’s entry.

“I had been thinking about getting back into it for a few months since I really started ramping up the daily scribbles,” Chris writes. “I haven’t been painting as much these days and wanted to see if I could do something that was a little more immediate than acrylic.”

We’re glad you did. And the plus? Due to the overwhelming response, we WILL see these for sale in the future (unlike his daily scribbles) — so hold tight!

Beware, Kansas City! CMR’s Monsters are Coming for You!

Chris Ryniak‘s pint-sized army of critters for Spectrum is wrapped up and ready for action! The mini Bubbleguts, mini Crumbeaters and regular Crumbeaters are each an edition of six and customized lovingly by CMR. You’ll find them crawling about the CP booth (#919), probably nibbling on the corners of prints or sleeping in a pile of t-shirts. Be early, folks — these are always the first to go!

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live kicks off May 18th through the 20th at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, MO.