One of the best things about GeekCraft Expo Seattle's Holiday Market is that you'll truly be able to find geeky gifts for everyone on your list: even the kids! Need some nighttime reading material for your little nerds? Be sure to check out Hazy Dell Press and their line of board books featuring classic monsters like Krampus and Sasquatch!
We chatted with Kyle Sullivan of Hazy Dell Press and asked how they developed their characters and what they're bringing to Hangar 30 November 25 and 26!
GeekCraft Expo: What inspired you to make monster books for kids?
Kyle Sullivan: With our first book, Monster ABC, our intention was to create a children’s alphabet book that wasn’t boring. Most children’s board books, and most alphabet books, are perfunctory and unexciting—A is for Apple, B is for Banana, etc. It didn’t take us long to combine our lifelong love of monsters with our alphabet book project. We decided that Monster ABC would be as much about introducing monsters to young children as it was about teaching them the alphabet. We want them to know that since monsters are imaginary, we don’t have to be afraid of them. We can laugh at them instead. With the success of Monster ABC, it was an easy decision to build our follow-up books—Goodnight Krampus, Get Dressed Sasquatch, and Hush Now Banshee—around similarly friendly monster characters that children can identify with instead of fear.
GCE: How do you create monsters that aren’t going to scare children without losing the essential elements that make them who they are?
KS: The great thing about monsters is that they are whatever we want them to be. In Goodnight Krampus, for instance, our Krampus character takes the form of a mischievous child as opposed to the traditional demonic force. It’s still Krampus, but a more juvenile, harmless version that allows children to have fun with the character without terrifying them. And it’s still fun for adults and older children who are familiar with the scarier versions of the character, because they know the character we’re referencing.
GCE: How did you develop your art style?
KS: Derek’s been drawing and illustrating since day one and has worked professionally as an illustrator for about 11 years now. Each of the Hazy Dell Press books we’ve done so far approaches the story with a slightly different visual style that best suits the story and the overall vibe we’re going for. For instance, while the visual style of Goodnight Krampus is influenced by the Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas specials we loved as children, the visual style of Get Dressed Sasquatch was influenced by, among other things, the Humphrey the Bear Disney cartoons from the 1950s.
GCE: Who are your typical customers?
KS: Our typical customers are people like us who are looking for original and thoughtful books and art prints that don’t feel mass produced or hastily made. Many of our customers are parents who are very mindful of the books and media they give to their children. As opposed to buying boring children’s books that the child will forget after a couple of readings, they want to provide their children with stories and characters that will spark their imaginations and stay with them for a long time.
GCE: Who are your favorite monsters, and why?
KS: There are so many to choose from! Right now, our favorite monster is the Banshee character from our latest book, Hush Now Banshee. There’s something her unbridled (and loud) enthusiasm for making friends, and her willingness to adapt in the face of feedback, that we hope our readers will fall in love with as much as we have.
GCE: You’ve expanded your characters into several other types of products—can you tell us about them?
KS: In addition to our wide range of apparel featuring dozens of our characters, this year, we created two new holiday card designs that we think adults will really respond to. We wanted to give adults who love the traditional, scarier Krampus a holiday card that they can send to their friends and family that embraces the delightfully dark side of the holidays. And the other holiday card features Sasquatch in a Santa outfit with a lush Pacific Northwest woodland setting—which is perfect for families in the Pacific Northwest who would like to share the magic of our region with their friends and family who live elsewhere.
GCE: What are you bringing to GeekCraft Expo Seattle Holiday Market this year?
KS: We’re bringing everything! We’ll have all of our books, holiday cards, prints, and posters, along with a healthy collection of T-shirts, hoodies, and even onesies. This is our first year at GeekCraft Expo Seattle, so we can’t wait to meet everyone and share our products with people looking for something unique.
Our thanks to Kyle for answering all of our questions! Make sure to stock up on books, apparel, and more at GeekCraft Expo Seattle's Holiday Market this weekend!