Two Fandoms That Changed My Life

One of the Five Fandom Friday prompts from the Female Geek Blogger Groups last week was “Fandoms I Am Grateful For”. I didn’t have five fandoms I could talk about, at least none that impacted me in the way some fandoms have for my friends and fellow bloggers. So, true to Ajah tradition, where I do things out of order and never on time, I decided to write about two of the fandoms that changed my life.

1: The Gorillaz Fandom


I’m not sure how many Gorillaz fans remember the old junk. It was a staple of my teenage years, when we had dial up internet and Hewlett Packard PC’s the size of toddlers.  Back in the day, when MTV actually played music (and the late night TV programs weren’t too bad either), my siblings and I would spend much of our summer afternoons watching music videos and writing down the names of our favorites so that we could buy their CD albums. (Ahhh…remember when CD’s were great stuff?)

As you might have guessed, I was immediately attracted to Gorillaz because of their animated music video, Clint Eastwood. I knew that some bands had some animated videos, but I learned that Gorillaz was, in fact, an animated band with fictional characters and their own backstory.  Their first album, when inserted into the CD drive of your computer, gave you a key to Murdoc’s Winnebago, where you could click around, interact with objects in a mash up of drawn and photo-realistic clutter, get some nifty wallpapers, and listen to interviews with the band.  Of course, one shot at the “hidden lives” of my favorite animated band wasn’t enough. let you explore the band’s studio, where you could take a tour and see their rooms, access their personal computers, and even check out their car park!

That’s when I found the old message board, or, as we liked to call it, the Junk.

There were two ways of talking to the band back then. There was a chat room, which almost never worked on my computer, and the MB, where many of us waited desperately for a sign of the “red pen” which meant the band was checking in, giving us updates, or commenting on our midnight shenanigans of roller skating parties, inside jokes, and the invention of our very own language, G-slang. There were other forums and websites too, which supplemented our use of the MB as the source for our community. There was the Virgin label boards, where many artists and RPers gathered, the Gorillaz fansite, where we got most of our up to date info on the band’s doings,, and the MSN community where hoards of pictures, fan art, and theories were collected. Pretty much everyone who was on the Junk was on one or more of these websites, so we were all connected pretty much all the time.

This fandom is very dear to me because this is the fandom where I gained friends and acquaintances that I’ve known for about 15 years. It goes without saying that individual cliques formed among us, but it was the artists I connected to the most. We watched each other learn and grow through our fan art, fan fiction, and other fandoms. Sometimes we fought and broke up. Sometimes we fought and came back together. Sometimes we just kept respectful distances while acknowledging each other’s existence. Fandoms all come with their share of drama and excitement, but the part I like to remember the most are the relationships I made along the way.

For instance, I met one of my soul sisters (Jade Dragon) in this fandom. I met my future husband (and resident Doctor Who enthusiast, Devillo) in this fandom. I met a lot of cool artists who inspired me, who I also know in other fandoms and have met in real life.  Gorillaz, as a whole, inspired me to take my creative projects to the next level. Or, at the very least, it made me want to aspire to make my work something more than just flat drawings on paper. I may not have the same level of experience as some music fans have when they talk about seeing their favorite bands in concert or meeting them up close and personal, but I still feel like Gorillaz gave me something that no other band did, and it continues to influence me throughout my creative life.

Oh, and, for the record, Noodle was, and still is, my favorite.

2: The Furry Fandom


I know what you’re going to say. “EEEWWW”, right?? Furries! A group of charitable, sweet people who dress up in fursuits, dance, make children smile, and constantly burn with huge amounts of creativity! GROSS!

Okay, okay. I’d be lying if I said Furry didn’t have it’s… “reputation”. I mean, usually when I tell people I’m a furry, I can see the clouds of Furry-nam pass over their eyes over the one time Mickey Mouse gave them a questionable hug, and somehow the haunting memory never left. I feel for you, bro, but trust me. That ain’t me. During many cons I’ve had people ask me and my friends “What’s the point of all this? Why the suits? Why furry?” and luckily my friends have stepped up and made more reasonable explanations before I open my mouth and say something really sarcastic and slightly menacing. The outcome is usually one of understanding and mild confusion, but I think people get it. It’s hard to understand at face value, especially with rumors about the darker side of fandoms as a whole, but it’s nice to educate the few who are genuinely interested in learning what it’s about. My favorite was during FWA, when my friends and I were educating a man in the elevator and I was being slightly stuffy about it since I’m used to being interrogated in a non-friendly sense about my pursuits. After some help from my friends Ker’varkas and Jaroga, the man got it and left the elevator calling to his wife, “Honey!! I figured it out! I know what the furry stuff is about!!”

I’m about 80% sure that guy is a furry now.

I started in the fandom really early on in my life. I mean, all of us did I think. If you really liked Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, and Sonic the Hedgehog, you were probably a furry. If you wore a cat costume for Halloween and you spent your time during class parties meowing and knocking things off of people’s desks when they specifically told you not to, you were probably a furry. I think it’s worth mentioning that I never did that second thing. I was more of a dog, barking at people from my front yard, and a dinosaur when I recited lines from Land Before Time and declared “three horns never play with long necks” whilst charging head first towards other children. Much to my mother’s disappointment, we decided that tap dance lessons were not the way to go. When I was a teenager, I found that drawing furry art really inspired me. My personal character, Ajahli, evolved in this way, and she was always a type of shapeshifter that could easily be a wolf, an anthro wolf, or a human with some slight variances.  I put a lot of work into characters and stories this way and I felt that she embodied the type of person I wanted to be.  The thing about the furry fandom is that every type of creative person finds a home inside of it. Musicians, Authors, Artists, Game devs, Comedians, Event coordinators, Mascot performers…. you name it! Most furries also have a “fursona” which is a character representing themselves, either how they are now or who they want to be, not that every person wants to be a fox with demon eyes and a pair of eagle wings (or maybe they do, but who am I to judge?). Somehow drawing our fursonas or commissioning others to draw them brings us peace, helps us to deal with our feelings, and celebrate who we are.

I stopped drawing furry art in college because of the stigma that if you drew furry art or participated in the fandom, you weren’t a real artist. Being a furry was heavily taboo in a world where the stars of the class were installation artists who nailed a pair of underwear to a wall, threw some broken glass and paint around and called it “Distant Cries of a Harvest Moon” or something. Extra points if you sat in the middle of it and wailed hysterically for an hour.  I rediscovered the fandom about six years after college, after the dust from some drama had blown away, and I went to my very first con with my best friend (Corrilia) in tow. And yes, I’ve even suited just a little bit!

Furries are some of the nicest people I know. A bit weird, yeah, but so am I. Every con I have gone to had a family atmosphere, where everyone knew everyone else, where the most creative fursuits were admired all weekend, and inspiration was palpable and real. I come away from every furry con with post-con depression because it’s a place where I feel like I can be myself and other people get me. I’m not a vocal part of the community, in fact I have distanced myself from the drama heavy corners of the fandom almost completely, and as a long-time fur I know which corners of the internet to stay away from. Still, I think it’s probably the place where myself and the close few of my friends really bonded and where I feel like my creative ambition has a home.

So, really. Why NOT Furry?


Anyway, that’s all from me right now! You can look forward to seeing more of me from here on out! Thanks for reading and see you again soon!

Storenvy Page!


Hey there! I’m updating to say that I recently opened my Storenvy page! There are  few Halloween related things in the shop, but there are also a few other things like Hair Accessories, Miniatures, and some stationary! I plan to add more at some point, but at least it’s no longer a small daydream!

Here’s an example of some of the stuff I’ve got!

Pay it a visit and see if there’s anything you like! 

Art Tumblr and Facebook!

Hey there, kids! I’ve started an art tumblr and I have opened up a new facebook account!



Feel free to follow me there for art updates and figure spams and dailies and all that kinda junk! I still intend to post here, mainly updates and long winded things, but these places will probably be the first updated, along with my twitter page!

Volks/Dollfie Dream Hatsune Miku 初音ミク Unboxing


(Banner image from Volks website)

Hello there! It’s been a while since I shared a doll unboxing! I promised to share my Miku Dollfie unboxing with you all, so here we go!

For those who aren’t aware, I am a huge fan of Hatsune Miku. I was introduced to Vocaloid through a friend. I had always seen the character but not really paid it much attention, even though I really liked the designs. I decided to give it a try and I instantly fell in love. Not only do I adore the character designs of the Vocaloids themselves, the music and the collaborative effort between artists, musicians, producers, animators, and other creative teams just blew me away and inspired me.  I have a growing Miku figure collection and a Pullip, but owning the Dollfie Dream was the ultimate prize. I don’t know a lot about music other than I love it, but can’t create it (in my dreams, maybe) but wanting to add to the throng of creativity that comes from the Vocaloid “genre” I guess you could say, having a beautiful, pose able doll, my very own Miku, was in my top ten list of things I needed to do. Aside from get a drivers license, marry my fiance, and be a full time artist. Whoo!

I’m not a very good fan so far, because I haven’t done anything for Miku’s birthdays or been to a live concert (a con fan-made one, yes! But the big leagues? Whoa!). It’s a small dream of mine to someday create album artwork for Vocaloid producers or create a voice bank for my Vocaloid OC, Skye, and maybe even design a new Vocaloid! It will probably never happen but, a girl can dream, can’t she??

Before I get into it, here’s a peek at some Miku fan art I have done to show my love and appreciation!


Some day I would like to share my figure collection and favorites playlists with you, and I’m sure some of you reading this probably have NO idea whatsoever who Miku even is, but because of time limits, here is the link to her wikipedia entry!

Now, let’s get down to business, shall we?

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Umicorn Sketches



Umicorns are a closed species I’m working on to make adoptables with. Because of the lore I needed a few “Queens” to rule the pods. I’d like for them to be RP-able if possible, but also very ornate and detailed. So I opened up slots for custom Queens for my friends. So far I’m in the sketch phases of them, but these are the first two I have completed. There will be more at some point!corriumicornsmall

Mirai Smart Doll Unboxing


(photo by Danny Choo from the Smart Doll website)

Friends and family of mine will tell you that I have been after a BJD for long while. As someone who grew up without an interest in dolls but a love of miniature pets and houses, I was instantly attracted to the Japanese Ball Jointed Dolls who were poseable, had a lot of personality (well, as much as you want them to anyway) and for whom a lot of creative people found inspiration. We have a tradition here in the Beninati pack, in which my father will buy us girls (there are three of us) a doll every five years for Christmas. I had been asking for a BJD for quite some time, but as you may know, the price for some of these beauties is high up there. I mean, you pay a good chunk of money for the body and makeup itself. Then you pay another chunk of money for clothes which cost as much (or more) as human clothes! I do have a plethora of breakable dolls in my storage unit from my dad over the past years. I think it’s also worth mentioning that my grandmother has a hoard of semi-realistic dolls that would make you shudder, and possibly cry over how adorable they are. It depends on your mood for the day, I suppose.

So, basically, dolls have been in the family for a while. Miniatures, toys, stuffed animals figures. All of those are things I never really grew out of. (You don’t want to see photos of how many stuffed animals I have. It’s unbelievable.) So, naturally, when the opportunity presented itself to get my first ever BJD I jumped on it.

I didn’t start out as a fan of Dollfie Dreams. I like anime and manga, but after a while the big eyes, small mouth syndrome thing started to kinda… freak me out. I am extremely picky.  As an artist with specific tastes, a lot of my choices are determined by aesthetic and function, and when something I have my eyes on brings both of those together, you can bet I’ll probably go after it. On the negative side, I tend to like the things that are really expensive (sobs).  I had stumbled on Danny Choo’s blog several times through the years. I watched the first season of his show and I liked seeing his photos of figure conventions,dolls and locations in Japan. I have the Mirai app on my phone and to be honest, I fell in love with the character and her design. So, naturally, when he announced that he was working on Mirai as a BJD I was instantly excited! I signed up for a slot to get my own Smart Doll and started saving up. This was back before the shop was officially opened, so I got her back in March! Yeah, yeah, this entry is coming pretty late but, in my defense, life has been pretty busy and if you follow me on Instagram you really haven’t had to wait that long to see photo dumps of her.

What is a Smart Doll, you ask? Smart Doll stands for Social Media Art Doll, and Mirai is the first to be created using a 3D printer. Originally, Danny had been developed the Smart Dolls to be robotic, but has since upgraded his plans to make the robotic version a 120cm doll called Smart Doll Plus! Danny has a very extensive explanation of his creations over on his website, which I highly recommend checking out!

Either way, I freaking LOVE her. But there will be more time for my gushing later. Here’s my unboxing, which I’m sure many of you have been waiting to see. If not, well, you’re gunna see it anyway!

You can read the rest below this cut…

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Hey Ajah, How Ya Doin? #1


Why, hello there, weary traveler! Have you found yourself in the middle of the desert dying of thirst? Was your only dying wish to access the internet via your iphone to look at your favorite website? Did you end up on here instead and suddenly regret it? Well, let me ask you something, sir/madam/otherwise!

How did you even get wifi on your phone in the middle of this desert? What service are you with? I need to get me some of that.

My name is Ajahli, and you have somehow stumbled across my personal website, where I post (semi) regular blogs, my artwork, random stuff that I think is worth sharing, and talk about my characters and ideas! I know it’s not the ideal thing to do on your day off or on your deathbed, but if it was, man do I appreciate it! Your contribution will be noted when I take over the universe. You’re welcome.

Anyway, most of my cohorts know me as Meaghan Beninati. Ajahli is my pen name. I’ve been making art and writing my own stories since I was a little kid and ever since then my dreams have taken me from wanting to be a Disney animator (submitting several ideas for movie pitches and contests at the ages of 5-10 and having them politely rejected by courteous Disney staff) to being a writer and comic artist! I grew up drawing storyboards, writing little stories down and creating multitudes of characters until about the age of 15, when I picked up my very first Manga: “Card Captor Sakura”. From then on, I decided I wanted to try drawing comics like I had read in the Sunday paper when I was a kid and like the multitudes of beautifully drawn and genre diverse manga volumes I would save up my pennies to collect every other weekend. I went to art school for four years, where I learned that your ideas aren’t like everybody else’s and that “art” can’t be defined by someone else’s ideals (although in a professional world I guess it could) and that I just wanted to do what I wanted to and that was it. I worked for years on my now-indefinitely-on-hiatus webcomic, Grim Reaper School, self published it and sold it at conventions, built a fan base that I repeatedly disappointed by mini-hiatuses and late updates, and embarked on adventures to promote and sell my work and creations while working a day job to pay my student loans. After that I fell into a bottomless pit of darkness and depression, although I guess it was more like the pit in Gravity Falls, where eventually you kinda…fall out the top after floating around aimlessly for a while wondering if it will ever end and whining to nobody in particular. But I’m back at it again, and this is where I start.

For a long time I have struggled with who I wanted to be as an artist and what I really wanted to do with my life. I’m 28, I still live with my family, and I haven’t been to a con (professionally) for like, two years. I work a day job where most of my time is spent getting second hand birth control from the locals (thanks!) and pretty much failing to meet the expectations of someone in a suit in an office who really doesn’t care about who I am as a person, just that I failed to leave my shell of a human body and become a robust, genetically engineered android with super reflexes and strength, and perhaps a jet pack button. Do I get a jet pack button? Because that would be pretty sweet. Trust me, when I take over, that will be a thing. I mean who even needs that silly human stuff when we can all be like Major Kusanagi??

Okay, I can see that you’re kinda bored. You’re sitting in the sand giving me that look. Oh by the way, you’re sinking. You’re in a sand trap. Move. Okay you’re good. It’s cool, that happened to me the first time I sat there. How long have I been here? Well uh. Have you ever tried piloting a Gundam and watching youtube at the same time? No? Okay let’s change the subject.

So anyway, my goal is to once again climb my ladder and be a professional artist and writer, to make stuff that not only I enjoy but others enjoy as well. I’m inspired by a multitude of things: other artists, music, Japanese culture and fashion, anime and manga, cartoons and comics, and really anything else that could inspire a person to make work. I may go out and hug a tree tomorrow and get ideas for a new comic. Nature is pretty great like that.

I make stuff based on fantasy and cyberpunk, furry art, anime, and even spirituality based things. I dabble in photography, crafting and doll/miniature customizing, and though I love traditional work, I do a lot of digital work too. I even make things for Second Life sometimes! I would eventually like to be able to work on animation, or games, travel around the world, sell my work in other countries (especially Japan!), become a full time creator and live the dream! I mean, that’s really all there is to it!

So, now that I’ve told you a little bit about me, maybe tell me some stuff about you! How did you get here? What do you like to do? Anything you’d like to ask? Come on, don’t be shy. We’re all friends here. You, me, that dune over there, your camel. Even this skull of a sandworm I choked to death because the only thing I could think to do when I saw it was scream and launch my ipod into its mouth. Don’t worry, I got it back. His name is Bob, by the way.

Either way, if you’re leaving, that’s okay too. Thanks for stopping by. Maybe I’ll see you again next time!

~Ajahli ☆