Sunday, September 28, 2008

Monster Kids Are Coming!!!

Or so I hope! Noted TV horror host Prof. Anton Griffin, (a/k/a "Joseph Fotinos", the alias the good prof uses when laying low), and Scott Essman at Universal Studios have produced a brief pilot for a proposed cartoon series starring the iconic monsters (as children) from the classic Universal monster movies of the past, with character designs done by noted artist Kerry Gammill. This news was shared at the Classic Horror Film Board not long ago, and as I am excited about this project, I got Prof. Griffin's blessing to run his news here. Below are Griffin's history and "bible" for this project now being pitched. Take it away, Prof.!

"This is a project that I have been involved in for almost two years now. I was first approached by Scott Essman from Visionary Cinema regarding assisting him in a new animated series.

"Mr. Essman is the creative visionary behind the [legendary Hollywood makeup artist] Jack Pierce live show and video, Jack Pierce, the Man Behind the Monsters. Scott was also my main contact with Universal Studios, providing marketing material for Prof. Griffin to promote in my market from their home video releases and specifically, Monsters, Horror and Sci-Fi releases.

"Scott invited me to join him in the creation of an animated series starring our favorite classic monsters, but as children. In this universe, the Monsters all attend school together and interact with each other directly, they're cute, but still retain their accepted attitudes and characters from the classic films…(albeit, not as deadly.)

"Scott then shared with me the character sketches of the Monster Babies (as he was calling them.) They included a little Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, a little Gill-Man, a Bride, Mr. Hyde, an Invisible 'Kid' a Phantom kid, and a Kharis 'Mummy' child.

"The characters were all drawn by the amazing Kerry Gammill and each one captured their character perfectly. Frankenstein's Monster was depicted with a gentle look, holding a small flower. The Phantom Kid was obviously the 'band geek' and the little Hyde was a science nerd…(with pocket protector) and the Invisible Kid even had a science geek T-shirt and books.

"Scott asked me to help him to write a six-minute pilot script, and this would then be produced into a test animation which would then be pitched to animation studios…particularly Universal.

"Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity and immediately got to work.

"I wrote a simple pilot, which features the Monster Babies at Jack P. Pierce Elementary, each one being showcased around a simple pilot plot as the Monster (Frank) tries to meet and give a gift to The Bride. Little Dracula offers to help, but he has his own devious, controlling ideas in mind.

"I filled with script with references to our beloved Universal Classics. The script was approved and then vocal casting took place.

"While that was going on, I began to write the character breakdowns and bits and pieces of the series bible. Here are the character breakdowns for the Monster Babies.

"Kid Frank - (Frank) A gentle soul who has a serious crush on Kid Bride (Elsa). Frank is a kid of many aspects, and parts. He enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, good drink, good food, good music…and is happy just relaxing in a meadow, enjoying a sunset. His character type is best described as a country bumpkin, but obviously NOT a country hick…a hayseed, corn-fed powerhouse who really likes animals and simple toys.

"Of course, Kid Frank is massively powerful and resilient. He lumbers along without grace and dexterity and at times, it appears as if he'll just topple over, however, he is NOT slow…and moves faster than one might expect. Kid Frank generally does not know his own impressive strength. He DOES get angry however…and when these rare occasions happen, he goes on a MONSTER RAMPAGE. All the other Monster Kids know that if Frank blows his stack, it's best to get out of the way. He crushes stone, rips chains out of walls, and roars (RRRRRRRR!) as he rampages and doesn't really care who he hurts or what he does…until he calms back down.Usually, only Kid Bride (Elsa) or Kid Drac can calm him, but the Phantom Kid's Violin can soothe him too.When Kid Frank reaches any emotional extremes - excited, shy, thrilled - sparks of electricity fire off from his bolts.

"Kid Drac - (Vlad) Kid Drac is the smoothest, richest, coolest kid at The Jack P. Pierce Elementary of Vasaria and is at times devious and manipulative. He is arrogant, snobbish, and sure of himself. He is, however, lonely, and really desires the company of the other Monster Kids. He tries too hard to be the best, and to impress, when the other kids generally accept him as he is. Kid Drac likes Kid Bride (Elsa) but not sincerely. In fact, Kid Drac likes ALL girls…and most girls like him…except Elsa, and this bothers him. He accepts his general superiority over the other Monster Kids with a false modesty, and when he does help out or play along with the gang, in his mind, he's a ruler helping the poor peasants.

"He glides with grace and moves fluidly. His eyes and eyebrows are the most ANIMATED thing about him…changing, narrowing, shifting raising etc… to register his emotions. His cape swirls around him and he often appears suddenly from the shadows (because he can). He LOVES to make an entrance. He has hypnotic influence over some of the other kids, and enjoys manipulating Kid Frank. He can change into a bat, a wolf, and mist.

"The teachers and staff of Jack P. Pierce Elementary know that Kid Drac is generally behind any trouble or disturbance, but can hardly ever prove it. His ring is a powerful talisman and can be used in extreme circumstances to extend his influence. Wolf-Kid LOVES to tease him and often annoys him by stepping on his cape or chasing him through the hall.

"Wolf-Kid (Larry) - The Wolf-Kid is a wild child…an athletic, quick, ruffian who excels in ALL sports at Jack P. Pierce Elementary. He is often disheveled and his clothes are torn and in disarray. He loves to roughhouse, and his favorite playmates are Kid Frank and the Gill-Kid (who can match him in resilience and strength). The Wolf-Kid LOVES to annoy Kid Drac…often shredding the end of his cape, or leaping at him all of a sudden out of nowhere. He does not speak…often…but is capable. When he does speak, it's excitable…between growls, throaty and simple. When he gets excited, he HOWLS…and he LOVES likes to perch UP HIGH on desks, tables, walls etc. Generally he walks on two legs, hunched over…but will drop on all fours when he needs speed.

"The girls at Jack P. Pierce Elementary like him, (he's the James Dean wild rebel type…) and he knows this and enjoys being aloof. At times, Wolf-Kid is LESS WOLFY and appears as Larry. Larry is a mournful, nerdy loner who is the polar opposite of Wolf-Kid. When Wolf-Kid, he's athletic, quick and manly…as Larry, he's pale, depressed and moody. Most of the other Monster Kids don't even know they are one and the same and tend to ignore Larry. Only Kid Bride (Elsa) finds it odd that whenever Larry comes to school…the Wolf-Kid is not around. Larry doesn't spend much time with anyone except his best friend Invisible Kid. Often annoying him with his constant complaining and asking for a cure…
"Kid-Mummy (Kharis) Little Kharis is truly lost in time. As the OLDEST Monster Kid, he is also the most out of touch with modern technology and generally the world around him. He is amazed and entranced by the simplest things…vending machines, water fountains, yo-yos, etc. He moves very slowly, dragging one foot, but is tire-less and often seen in the background shuffling to one class or another. He's usually late. Most of the time, the other Monster Kids have to wait for him, but at other times, he suddenly meets them at their destination with no explanation as to how. Kid-Mummy does not speak at all…but communicates with gestures and tilts of the head. He has one eye…and it's also his main source of emotional expression. Widening or narrowing with comic effect, or half-lidded with disdain or boredom.

"Kid-Kharis is the president of the Jack P. Pierce Elementary Chess Club and no one has yet to beat him, both Invisible Kid and Kid Drac often try. Kid-Mummy is also the best Math student in the school, excelling in Geometry. Kid-Mummy is deeply in love with Ananka, a fellow student at Jack P. Pierce Elementary, and has transferred to several schools following her. He only loses his temper when he sees Ananka annoyed or bothered or talking to another boy. Kid-Mummy is very strong but rarely displays his strength. Ananka (who'll we will meet in future episodes of MONSTER KIDS) is seemingly completely oblivious to Little Kharis…or is she?

"Kid Bride - (Elsa) Elsa is a child of nature. She enjoys sports, the outdoors, the sun and pretty things. She is NOT girly and doesn't act like a princess…she is tough.

"BUT deep down inside she wants to be a pretty princess like Ananka…but would never admit it.

"Example: She would ask Frank to not pay so much attention to Luna or one of the other girl monster kids, and when he pays more attention to her, she would ask him what's wrong with him and to just act normal around her.

"She feigns disinterest in romance, and would rather be righting the wrongs at Jack P. Pierce Elementary.

"She often forms social clubs…in fact it's almost always a new club each week. She is a Monster Tree Hugger, loves nature (especially thunderstorms) and always tries to help other kids with their problems…sometimes to the point of being nosy and bossy.She has the potential to be the leader of the gang and often times finds herself organizing the Monster Kids to a cause.

"She moves wispy, and birdlike…her head jerking suddenly from side to side. She fancies herself a good dancer, but her steps are graceless and awkward, and when she is upset, she hisses…like a cat!

"The Invisible Kid - (Griff) The Invisible Kid is the boy genius who is always intellectualizing every situation. He is extremely smart but often doubts himself and if he ever gets anything less than perfection, will chastise himself with cries of "Fool Fool, Fool!". He usually has his face in a book, and KNOWS his mind is his greatest weapon. He has plans to one day be the ruler of school, beating everyone in every activity.

"Griff has the tendency to make grand pronouncements and when he does, he likes to stand, and gesture wildly, wringing his hands, balling them into fists and shouting to the sky (and to whomever bothers to listen). He has a serious persecution complex and always thinks Kid Hyde is out to sabotage his work and experiments. He's right. He has a bit of a cruel streak, and when the mood strikes him, he removes his clothes and bandages and wreaks havoc throughout the school…laughing manically as he does so. Most of his pranks are harmless. His only real friend is band-geek Kid-Phantom (Erik) and he spends most of his time ranting to him. Larry, the strange lonely, nerdy, awkward kid who attends class from time to time, also hangs out with him…much to Griff's annoyance.

"The Phantom Kid (Erik)- The Phantom Kid is the nerd musical prodigy who often spends his time in the band room, deep, deep under Jack P. Pierce Elementary. He plays the organ there, and his music can be heard echoing from deep below from time to time. He also plays the violin and is almost never without his violin case and sheets of music. He is composing a masterpiece, and has been working on it for as long as anyone can remember. He speaks softly with a slight clipped accent, and moves in the shadows and darkness, lurking. His best friend is The Invisible Kid and his music is often the only accompaniment to Griff's rants and raves.

"The Phantom Kid hides a real romantic side, and is capable of composing beautiful love poems to melt a girl's heart. He often helps the other Monster Kids with affairs of the heart. His music is his armor and his shield and without it, he stammers and gulps, and fidgets. As the series progresses, he will meet Little Christine, a young girl who sings in the school choir and she becomes his obsession…and in a future episode, we'll dedicate time to his quest for romance.

"Kid-Creature (The Gill-Kid) - Kid Creature is a Monster. A roaring, lumbering, scaly, slimy monster who is also the captain of the swim team. He is also champion of the water-polo team, water-volleyball team, and the dive-team. Track and Field is not his best sport. On land, he moves with a slight stumbling gait, lifting his massive webbed flipper feet and often stumbles and falls. Stairs are not his favorite thing in the world. When he is in class he wears a diving helmet, but it's filled with water. He can go without it, but when he does, his gills flex and he breathes shallow and labored. The Gill-Kid does not speak at all but roars and gestures. He usually plays rough with The Wolf-Kid and can be often found lurking in the fountain in the Court of Miracles at the center of the school quad. He has a schoolboy crush on Ms. Adams, the school swim teacher.

"Kid Hyde - (Eddie) Kid Hyde is a science nerd just like The Invisible Kid, but pretends he's cool like Kid-Drac. He likes to tell mean jokes and puts down the other kids, especially Griff, as he sees him as an annoyance in the science lab. He cannot be trusted (extremely two-faced) and likes to talk behind other Monster's backs. He laughs loudly at other monster's misfortunes and bullies Kid-Phantom and Invisible Kid. He's usually the one who cheers on any cruelty. He walks slightly hunched and with hurried steps. He's the smallest of the Monster-Kids height-wise and because this, tries to be tougher. Secretly, and unknown to anyone else (perhaps revealed in future episode) but Kid-Hyde is also Little Henry, a dedicated aloof science nerd. But Henry NEVER appears. Hyde keeps a vial of a strange potion with him at all times, and when he feels the need…(if he is nice, or not as cruel) with drink it down with a gulp. He's the messiest kid at school…messy locker, messy desk, messy eater, etc. Eddie usually gets his comeuppance by episode's end, and truth be told he's not evil…there's no real malice in his mischief, he just likes to have bawdy fun. He hangs out with his stoolies, Fritz and Karl…two demented delinquents.

"The cast was cast and a vocal recording session took place for the project.

"From left: Jonathan ten broek (Baby Drac), Jim Linahon (recording engineer), Samantha Ford (Baby Bride), Scott Essman (Baby Phantom), Bob Stilwell (Invisible Baby), Tyler ten broek (Baby Frank), Kevin Myers (assistant engineer/script supervisor/god)

"Missing From Photo: Robert Collins (Baby Hyde)

"A final change was needed.

"Originally, the Wolf-Kid was all sound effects, growls, roars etc…but I KNEW that the role had to be played by an actor who could bring this little wild-child to life.

"A final vocal talent was called upon at zero hour on my recommendation as the Wolf-Kid. Someone I knew had experience with this sort of thing… it's Magoo Gelehrter (Garou Himself) from Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers! (Thanks Magoo! You put the cherry on the vocal cake!)

"There was one LAST thing that was bothering me. The title. Monster Babies. They're not babies…they're kids! And Monster Babies seems too derivative of Muppet Babies. I suggested the genre catch-phrase…Monster Kids, and even contacted the man who introduced the phrase into our popular culture, USA Today writer, David Colton…and he gave his blessing with great joy!

"The new title…Monster Kids.

"So…now, without further ado…travel to the land of Vasaria and visit Jack P. Pierce Elementary school. And let's meet…THE MONSTER KIDS!

"Thanks for watching.

"Prof. Griffin"

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