Ahead of the Monster High animated series that is coming to Nickelodeon on October 28th, we got the opportunity to speak with co-executive producer Shea Fontana about the show.
BSCKids: Shea, tell us a little bit about you got involved with the Monster High animated series project? What was your first reaction to getting to become part of this spook-tacular family? Had you been a fan beforehand, what was your experience with Monster High?
Shea Fontana: I had worked with Mattel on both DC Super Hero Girls and Polly Pocket, which led me to Monster High. I was definitely aware of the brand and the cultural impact of franchise before coming on board and was very excited to be part of such a beloved franchise. You could say, it’s a scream come true.
The world has changed a lot since we last haunted the halls of Monster High, what was the biggest challenge when crafting this world, story and characters for this generation?
A lot has changed, but I think the universal idea of feeling like a monster in high school might always be true! The great thing about Monster High is that it has such a beautiful built-in metaphor – though we feel like monsters, there is a place where we all belong and can be celebrated. While that is the core of the new, reimagined series, we strive to push even further with the inclusivity and representation in our series and make sure that all the kids in this generation can see themselves within our characters.
What sort of character would you be in the Monster High Universe?
I love being in the water, so I’d be a sea monster.
There is a lot to love about Monster High and their complete embrace of diversity. “Be yourself, be unique, be a monster” are a battle cry of strength for so many. What can fans look forward to seeing?
Diversity is always on our mind, from our characters to making sure we assembled a cast and crew who could authentically tell these stories. We’ve reimagined some of the character backstories, like with Draculaura. Her dad is the famous Transylvanian vampire, but for this series, we’ve also thought about her mom, who is a vampire from Taiwan. Frankie Stein is our 15-day old, non-binary, franken-monster who was created by the Doctors Victor and Mary (a nod to Mary Shelley, the writer of Frankenstein and mother of modern monster literature!) Stein. With each character, we have looked to add new multifaceted dimension while remaining true to the reasons why fans loved them in the first place.
The characters are the true (monster) heart of the story; how did you determine their backgrounds and can we look forward to any character arcs?
We started with the core characters, their monster types, and major identifying factors, then looked to expand from there.
Character arcs are intrinsic to all of our storytelling, but I can’t give any spoilers! Let’s just say, there is a whole paw-ful of fun and adventure going on in this series.
Going off the preview Nick offered us and trailers we know that Clawdeen is serving as our protagonist this time around and her being half human and half werewolf are a critical part of her character and arc. Can you explain the inspiration for this and what you want fans to take away from Clawdeen?
With Clawdeen, I wanted to explore the total fantasy of discovering that you’re really something much more incredible than what you – and the people around you – thought you could be. It’s sort of like The Princess Diaries with a monster tilt. So, Clawdeen has grown up with her human dad, believing she was this ordinary human until something big happens in the pilot and she finds that she’s actually so much more. As a kid who grew up in a very small town, with absolutely no connection to the animation or entertainment industry, this idea of breaking out of a box to fulfill your dream really resonated with me.
Clawdeen’s story is all about discovering who she really is and embracing that.
Something that has stood out for us is that this time it really seems that Dracula is rather involved with his daughter’s life. What kind of dynamic do these two have and what lead us to seeing more of him this time around?
Dracula really does love Draculaura, but like any dad, doesn’t always have the right answers or know how to show her he cares. In this series, Dracula is the most famous vampire in the world and also holds a judge-like position. He is the ultimate arbitrator of the rules. Her dad’s public stance on the rules makes it extra hard for Draculaura who has secretly fallen in love with the creative practice of witchcraft, which is verboten for monsters. The father-daughter relationship is complicated, but still based in love.
Jumping off that last one, let’s talk Draculaura. We love that our favorite vampire is so true to herself. In this generation she has her passion for witchcraft, what was the inspiration for that?
In our world, witchcraft is thought of as a human pursuit and a way that humans try to “steal” or “imitate” the powers of monsters, which is why it’s forbidden. We think of it as a creative skill (rather than an innate ability) and in that, Draculaura is attracted to its ability to allow her to create and do beautiful things. There are a lot of rules to being a vampire – No mirrors! No sun! No cheesy garlic bread! Draculaura love witchcraft because it’s freeing and creative.
Last, but absolutely never least, we have to talk Frankie. So much to love about them. But Frankie does give us a unique lens with still being brand-new to, well, everything- among other things as well. What kinds of new revelations can we see from them? And are we still losing limbs?
All the limbs will be lost! The core of the fun with Frankie is how new they are to the world, which is how it can feel when your 15 days – or 15 years – old. They are naïve but not at all unintelligent. In fact, they have brain pieces from multiple certified geniuses. They have a lot to learn about how the world works, but also a lot to teach their peers about questioning “that’s just the way things are.”
Clearly our new generation is its own canon and timeline, but for any of us old school Monster High fans can we maybe hope to see some nods or throwbacks to the first generation?
There are so many Easter Eggs. You gotta find them all!
Again, Monster High has always had such exceptional characters over the years. Is there anyone who doesn’t appear in the first season you are dying to bring in?
No spoilers! What has been really fun is hearing the range of characters who the fans want to see and, knowing for a whole lot of those, it WILL happen.
Tell us why everyone should be tuning in to Monster High on October 28.
The new Monster High series brings a lot of heart in a very funny package. We will be bringing back so many favorite characters and opening the gates of Monster High to a bunch of new students. With every episode, we explore high school hijinks with big monster twists.
Thanks so much Shea Fontana for taking the time to talk about the new Monster High animated series coming to Nickelodeon.