Long ago, when my hair was brown and my age in single digits, I would dress my motley assortment of Barbie dolls in their fanciest gowns, dab some baby powder on their faces and press a pair of painstakingly-handcrafted Plasticine vampire fangs to their lips. They would all take turns playing the roles of Dracula’s murderous brides and Bram Stoker’s human heroines. It should be noted that they did a commendable job.
Ken dolls were in shorter supply, which was bad news for the poor sucker I cast as Jonathan Harker, armed with a vaguely stake-shaped pointy twig and facing the fanged horrors without the benefit of a Malibu Prof Van Helsing (TM) at his side.
In the starring role of the Count himself was Other Ken, an off-brand male doll with angelic features who bore a passing resemblance to Alexander Lucard, the Golden-Haired Tux-Wearing Cellphone-Toting Business-Tycooning Dracula (TM) gifted to the world by Canadian TV sometime in the early 90s.
Too darn pretty to be truly scary; a struggle my 8-year-old self and her dolls could relate to.
(A brief aside: My dark little child-heart was utterly captivated by this one-season-with-tons-of-potential-but-admittedly-not-very-good TV series and its hissing orange-eyed bloodsuckers. It is a complete travesty that nobody has yet seen fit to give it the Gritty Reboot treatment. Someone get on this already please.)
I was going somewhere with this.
Kooky Playthings for Spooky Kids
Fast forward to 2010, and Mattel’s marvelous Monster High collection was suddenly in every toy store. This clique of horror-themed preteen characters sports claws and fangs and tails alongside their designer accessories, and was unlike anything I’d expected to see marketed to kids by a mainstream brand like Mattel. I was enchanted.
These creepy cuties are the embodiment of what I was trying to achieve with my bloodthirsty Barbies, and while I’m very proud of my makeshift playtime spookiness, I seriously wish Monster High had been around when I was a kid. (Draculaura is my *obvious* favourite, but Ghoulia Yelps is a very close second and Elissabat is also high on the list, plus I seriously love Skelita’s aesthetic. In case you were wondering. Of course you were.)
And now as if the concept of Monster High could even get any more fabulous, the brand has collaborated with none other than Mother Monster herself, to create:
When I first heard about this, it took a moment for it to sink in. Lady Gaga, the artist and American Horror Story star who can do no wrong in my eyes, just teamed up with the line of oh-so-spoopy playthings long since coveted by my inner child, to create a zombie-themed monster doll in her image.
I feel like I must have had the “hearts-in-eyes” emoji in place of an actual human face for days after hearing the news.
Actual photo of me taken that week.
Zomby Gaga has just been officially unveiled, and she’s really everything I hoped she would be and more; a chic lilac-haired Gaga effigy with oodles of style. Someday when I am in a position to be exceptionally frivolous with my finances, I will indulge my inner 8-year-old and finally let her take home her very own monster dolly, because after this, how could I possibly not?
I am SLAIN.
Scaring is Caring
Mattel’s terror-themed tweens also have hearts of gold; inclusion and acceptance are a big part of the Monster High ethos. The creation of Zomby Gaga ties in with the #KindMonsters initiative, created by Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to encourage people to act with more kindness and compassion in their day-to-day lives.
You can read more about #KindMonsters here, and even take the Kindness Pledge provided you can handle scrolling way, waaaaaaaaay down to find your year of birth (ugh brutal).
Anne-aesthetic, Anne-achronism, Anne-thology
On a vaguely related note, back when I more closely resembled a living girl/ functional member of society, I created a spooky-cute character of my own, who’s been on my mind a lot lately. Her name is Anne, and she had the dubious honour of starring in a weekly webcomic called Something to Cry About. The currently-out-of-commission comic was a way to poke a little fun at the darker things in life and in my own mind. As the name implies, it was mostly about being sad and crying over proverbial spilled milk. But in a fun, adorable, read-it-every-Friday kinda way!
Below is a panel taken from a strip I did over the Halloween period when I was still making StCA. I’ve been meaning to resurrect this little ragdoll for some time now, and I thought it would be nice to let her and her mopey Jack o’ Lantern see the light of day murk of early evening, seeing as the spooky season is upon us.
Obligatory pun about carving out a niche or something.
A Little More Kindness
There are two parts of my life that are currently lacking in a big way. One is a creative outlet, and the other is treating myself with kindness. I doubt that All Hallows Eve Resolutions are a thing, but honestly all the frantic sparkle of Christmas and New Year fills me with total dread, so maybe I’ll do the resolutions thing a little early.
Firstly I’m resolving to take the #KindMonsters message to heart, and follow gentler, kinder practices by looking after myself – which is something I am terribly bad at, but also something I want (and need) to work on.
Next, I’d like to let that weird daydreaming kid out to play, because she really knew how to enjoy creativity for creativity’s own sake. She created those vampire Barbies for no other reason than they brought her joy; like Anne, she’s someone I want very much to make a part of my life again.
I’d love to see what she comes up with.
Do you have any Halloween-time Resolutions? I’d love to hear them – you can comment, Tweet or spell it out for me on a Ouija board. I’m waiting, always waiting.
The Ghoul Next Door