Happy Birthday, Bakemono High!
Written by Lio on Thu 3 May 2007 under K-Zone Monthly
K-ZONE: When did you first get the idea for Bakemono High?
Elbert: Oh, I’ve been asked this a number of times, and each time I’ve given a different answer, but essentially, I just wanted to write stories set in a school, and putting in monsters instead of normal human kids just seemed more interesting to me. Plus, you could tell more outrageous and fun and silly stories with monsters as your characters.
Originally, “Bakemono High” was supposed to be called “Halloween High,” but with a quick Google search, I discovered that Disney had something similar planned, called “Halloweentown High.” So I quickly changed the title (and avoided watching or reading any monsters-in-school type stories so I don’t get influenced by them) into Bakemono High — bakemono, for those who don’t know, is the Japanese word for monster. Or at least, so I’m told. Whether it’s true or not, though, I like the sound of it, it sounds cool, so that’s the title I’m sticking with.
KZ: Did you think up of Amy, Max, and Chuck at once, or were there other main characters planned before them?
Elbert: I’ve always been clear that I wanted the monsters at the start to be easily recognizable — a vampire, mummy, and werewolf just seemed like the basic ones for me. From there, I just patterned their personalities after facets of myself. Amy is the one who’s always scared or worried about everything; Max is the cynical one and always has something to complain about; and Chuck is everything about me that’s impulsive. He’s also very much in love with food and girls, which, in a way, is very much like me, too.
Now that I’ve established the “normal”-looking monsters though, except some of the newer ones to get weirder and more “out there” as we go along. :)
KZ: How long does it take you to make an issue of Bakemono High?
Elbert: Drawing and coloring takes just about a couple of days, but it’s the story that takes the longest. I think about stories I can tell all the time — and trust me, I have tons of ideas! — and how I can make them fit into two pages. Sometimes I even have to ask friends of mine (like Andrew Drilon, who’s written a couple of the stories) to flesh them out for me. Two pages is never enough to contain the madness of Bakemono High, though, and I’m promising myself one day I’ll actually take the time to create an entire book-length adventure. :)
KZ: Who’s the hardest character to draw?
Elbert: The hardest character to draw is also my favorite character, Chuck. I can never draw his head quite right, the way I see it in my head.
KZ: Tell us something we don’t know about the world of Bakemono High.
Elbert: Let’s see…um, there aren’t any normal humans in their world (not yet, anyway!), the school is actually alive (which explains why its look keeps changing every so often), and — oh! Something is buried in the playground at the back of the school. And it’s alive!
Oh. And the block-headed monster that hangs out with the bullies? The one with the thick eyebrows and pasty complexion? It’s actually a Tofu monster.
KZ: Which of the supporting cast is your favorite? Why?
Elbert: I like Salem, a witch character who has no control over the spells she casts. She’s one of the characters that just came out fully-formed from my head. There’s a story I’m working in now that shows how Chuck tries to get her to be his girlfriend, which is lots of fun.
I also like Alvin, the mad scientist kid who keeps on trying to rule the world, for reasons that I hope will become more [obvious] in the future, as I give him a more prominent role in the series. Down the line, for instance, you’ll get to meet the Brain Trust, which is a “club” of mad scientists led by Alvin. They meet every month and discuss their plans to conquer the world…or the school, at least. And in another story, you’ll actually get to see one of Alvin’s mad plans succeed…well, sort of. ;)
KZ: What’s up next for the Bakemono High gang?
Elbert: Well, aside from the little peeks into the future that I’ve been sprinkling throughout the interview (haha!), the next episode of Bakemono High will feature, finally, the winner of the Draw-Your-Own-Bakemono Contest from last Halloween. It took a while, but I was working on the Bakemono stories in advance, and it’s only now that I was able to squeeze in the story featuring the winner’s creation.
You’ll also get to meet more new monsters. You get to meet more of Max’s family, like Emo Globin, a goth-punk vampire teen cousin of his. There’s also Alvin’s little club of mad scientists, the Brain Trust, and, for those who were wondering whatever happened to Victor Frankenstein Junior’s sidekick, the zombie hunchback, you’ll finally get to see what he’s all about, and where’s he been all this time.
So, is Amy really a boy or a girl?
Elbert: Everyone in Bakemono High is also asking the same question! He acts like a boy, but his name is Amy? What’s up with that? I guess you’ll have to keep reading to find out! (Though I’m sure the pronouns I use are a dead giveaway!)