Here There Be Monsters!

What do you get when you take a bunch of mega-geeks and mash them together with artistic geniuses?   If you’re picturing a giant tentacular (yes, it’s a word, because I say so) beast with palettes, brushes, sidewalk chalk, joysticks, action figures, and comics clutched in its various scaly appendages, I’m right there with you.  But more importantly, you get the PopCap Games art team!

This year, a number of our artists joined up to take on Emerald City Comicon, and in addition to their own unique wares, they brought a limited edition comic book anthology called Monsterpedia (the arty beast described above was not included, but that’s what sequels are for, right?).

Noah Maas’ charming tale of bonding with a bogeyman over the joys of dental hygiene makes you wonder if monsters might be friends you haven’t made yet.

Karin Madan’s sweet story plays on how we all feel a little monstrous at times… and how we can make peace with that.

The first question may be: Why monsters?  Well, why not?  For one thing, they’re fun to draw.  They allow a creative freedom unique to the fantastical compared to the restraint of depicting the recognizable.  And yet they are recognizable to us, a kind of shorthand for the subconscious, a shortcut to metaphor.

Lynn Hogan tells a tale of a nightmare monster (literally, a monster whose role is to visit sleeping children and inspire their nightmares). If you want to hug these monsters, you’re not alone!

Dev Madan (whom BlogRiders may remember as the designer of the Wolfpack shirt!) has a history in comics and started this monster ball rolling.

Dev brings us an old-school hard-boiled private detective story… starring Frank Neil Stein, PI

Monte Michaelis: I thought to myself, "Monster stories are fun, but what if monsters were REAL? What would you need exactly?" That was the genesis of the "Queasy Street PSA".

Monte: The Monsterpedia was really Dev’s brainchild, and I credit him with really lighting a fire under the rest of us. We all met for lunch to hammer out the theme, and I remember everyone being on board with drawing monsters from the start. The idea of the “Monsterpedia” just evolved naturally from our discussion.

Monte: My photo of the whiteboard notes from this first meeting. And, for the record, I have no idea who "Ashley" is.

Another driving force behind the Monsterpedia is the “all-knowing, all-seeing beard of David Ryan Paul,” known as DRP.

DRP: Everyone was immediately excited about the book, and we all got to work on planning faster than any game production I’ve ever done.  Dev and Steve (Notley, of Bob the Angry Flower fame!) were incredibly helpful on the practical points of the process, both having experience with printing and publishing books. The entire group was helpful during the story creation phase. I remember bringing in different versions of my script for people to read, and got good help hammering out the flow of the story. It was exciting, because everyone had a different approach to creating their comic. Seeing all the stories in various stages of completion was invigorating and inspiring. I think that’s the biggest advantage of doing an anthology… you aren’t alone.

DRP: The inspiration for my story, stylistically, was Creepy, Eerie, and House of Mystery... basically comic book versions of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, of which I’m a huge fan.

Adrien Yorozu had what sounds like an unenviable task at the later stages of the Monsterpedia, but she pulled it all together like a boss!

Adrien: "Monsterpedia" is reference shelves meets shadows in the night and I wanted to convey that on the cover. My favorite is the "O"… she's so sassy. ;)

Adrien: I really wanted to get involved from the start… I don’t draw awesome comics so I thought that I could contribute some of my print background to the cause while hanging around the cool kids.  It was exciting to see everyone’s work come together and nice to be part of making it really look like a collection.

Gene Blakefield’s Monster Pin-Ups are so hot, I can literally only show one panel: The Invisible Woman!

As a comic book fan, great visual storytelling knocks me out, and when there’s a single panel as gorgeous as this one by Misael Armendariz, I can get stuck staring at it for minutes:

(Check that out! You can almost *hear* that bell ring!)

And when I teased the notion of a sequel up top, I wasn’t just toying with your fragile monster-loving hearts!  A second volume of the Monsterpedia is in the works, so keep an eye out for PopCap artists at conventions so you can get a signed copy with nifty little sketches like this:

Emerald City Comicon 2012, here we come!

Of course, if you can’t wait till the next convention to get your mitts on this monster work, you can find it for sale here!  We must caution, however, these comics are not for all ages. As hinted by the “Invisible Woman” photo above, there are definite non G-rated elements to this book, not to mention some scary monsters!

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