Throughout October, leading up to BlizzCon 2015, one hashtag ruled them all as far as Blizzard games were concerned. The tag #ifoundpepe took off as players tweeted images of their characters with the beloved bird on their head.
When the Blizzard Gear store released a plush Pepe, the frenzy around him reached a fevered pace. But while there were dozens of Pepes to be seen throughout BlizzCon, another character also seemed to have caught the eye of crafters throughout the fandom. So I would like to propose a new hashtag, #ifoundmurky.
Murky is a murloc, a small creature that most World of Warcraft players would recognize as one of the many mobs that characters plow through in their quest for experience and gear. Heroes of the Storm players might recognize him as a niche character that shocks everyone when a player selects him.
No one really gives the poor creature much of a thought, outside of being a humorous addition to any game. But he has found love among a small group of crafters and I caught up with a few of them at BlizzCon.
One group was highly recognizable in the dimly lit convention center. Their crocheted murloc hats were both distinctive and adorable. Each was in its own unique color, including one made to look like the new World of Warcraft pet, Murkidan.
The hats were the work of Amber Breitigan, a graphic designer and visual artist who has been crocheting since elementary school. Working at a video game store, one her coworkers commented on how fun it would be to have hats made to look like the characters of Little Big Planet. She challenged herself to crochet them and in the end they were a huge success. But of all the hats she has made over the years, panda bears and murlocs have been the most popular.
The group at BlizzCon were her parents as well as her brother and his girlfriend. It was her mother wearing the Murkidan hat, something that required more detail than a typical Murky. On top of that, each member of the group had a Pepe plush and each Pepe was wearing his own matching murloc hat. They even captured the attention of Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment. The hats are all single stitch crochet with the various parts sewn on. Amber has many of her hats on display at amethystag.deviantart.com and sells them at AmberBreitigan.com.
Taking wearable murlocs in another direction, Jennifer from Zarai’s Closet on Facebook wore a Steampunk murloc costume she made on Day 2 of the convention. It was a surprise project that no one but her husband had seen and only three people knew about. “I have always loved murlocs. They fall into the ‘so ugly it’s cute’ category for me. (The adults anyway. The babies are adorable.)” And what she did with the murloc made them elegant as well.
From the rainbow hair to the corset and cascading skirt, she managed to make murlocs cute and beautiful. While she sewed the entire costume herself, being a cosplayer for the last eight years, the finishing touch was actually supplied by her husband who painted a murloc bubble gun to give the costume the proper atmosphere as she moved around the convention hall.
Taking the murloc in another direction was Scott Carson, AKA Kwurky on Twitter (who also happens to be my spouse). He spent the convention with a Murkidan puppet on his hand, complete with a Gul’dan skull to gnaw on. With some tips and encouragement from a friend who works for Blizzard helping to design their plush characters, Kwurky designed and created a puppet with no prior experience.
The original plan had been to make a green murloc, known as Kwurky from whom he takes his online name. When Murkidan was announced as the BlizzCon gift pet, he changed his plans from the simple green murloc to the purple demon hunter version. Pleased with the result, it proved to be a huge hit with many con-goers stopping him for pictures. He is already planning for next year’s, which will be bigger and better now that he has a better understanding of what goes into it.
While these were the three groups I had a chance to talk to while at the convention, I know there were many more than I saw from a distance. Even if he isn’t an adorable plump bird who rides on your head, the love for Murky is still strong for Blizzard fans, and judging by the level of talent that I saw in these and the other crafts around BlizzCon, I think he is only getting started.