Every year I produce a poster for my one niece as a combination birthday and Christmas present. Her favourite pop-cultural production this year has been Monster High. I had never heard of them until I got back from the USA, where apparently they are pretty popular. I never saw them, but then again, I didn’t hang around toy shops and box stores. For those of you who don’t know, Monster High is a product of Mattel, so they are fashion dolls. Unlike Barbie, these dolls cannot have their clothes changed, so you have to buy the same character over and again to get it in a new outfit, along with accessories. In short, you collect them as new ranges come out. My niece is steadily draining her mothers purse with them.

Now the dolls are in some ways a bit better than Barbie, being nowhere near as pneumatic, but actually skinnier in some respects. They have a manga/anime influenced body type: large heads, oversized eyes, BIG hair, long, long calves, short thighs, big ‘gap’, tiny waists. They do at least have underwear. Their clothes are the sort any girl who lives in Beverly Hills with USD$2000 per week pocket money can afford. There are guys as well, typically hunky, square-jawed, tall monsters (Henry Hyde, Deuce Gorgon -son of Medusa), tatts, piercings and as smart as jocks. But they are decoration for the ghouls (girls). One thing though, is that girls of any race can play with these dolls as they come in all colours: pink, brown, yellow, green, blue, purple… you’ll see below. Girls of lower socio-economic backgrounds may not be so lucky to collect them though… or look like them. If you’re fat, forget it; there isn’t even a token fat girl. This is Beverly Hill; fat is an illness that can be cured by several trips to the surgeon and his clinics.

Of course, Monster High is a multi-media platform. There are movies and lots of Youboob clips done in a sort of B grade CGI. Lots of books, school bags and desk merchandise, posters, clothing lines, cosplay outfits, video games, books though strangely, not much in the way of comics yet (and I doubt if there’ll be many, even though they are ripe for it). As for story, it is pretty much Beverly Hills 90210 meets the Universal Classic Monsters. Okay, some of you may not be old enough to remember Beverly Hills 90210, but that was a hugely popular Tv show of the early 90’s set in that eponymous H.S. where the primary storyline was who was getting on with who. But you should know the Universal monsters of their classic 1930s movies: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Werewolf, the Mummy etc. Apparently these had sprogs and there are so many of them, they have their own H.S. where they learn how to be monsters, but mostly, they are concerned with who’s getting on with who. No, not who’s up who – this is pre-teen stuff, so there’s no hint of sex (and it is an American show, which as you know, can either be very coy, or full on – no in-between or anything realistic).

I had quite a bit of fun doing this as I love the old monsters. As usual, I’ve tweaked and twisted it through my own sensibility, primarily to the humourous and to pack in as many characters as I could. My niece had a long list of favourites and i still couldn’t get them all in. Yes, there are a few cameos by other ghouls, one from the other Mattel capitalisation – Ever After High, which has the daughters and few sons of fairy tale characters (think how many of them there could be), pop-cultural references, links, puns and the usual sort of rubbish I come up with – hunt hard for them. Yes (snigger), there are even a few ‘adult’ jokes. This thing took waayyy longer than I expected, for each doll has a huge amount of detail; the original no-name artists that Mattel have used a lot of custom brushes and effects I can’t be bothered trying to figure out or construct.

Anyhow, enjoy this for the moment and I’ll post up some more news about 2014 real soon.