Abrams, IDW Scare Up New ‘Monster High’ Publishing

There is no better time than Friday the 13th to announce that Abrams and IDW are set to debut new books and comics, respectively, tied to Mattel’s Monster High franchise.

Mattel says the publishing program is being brought back after years of demand from the fan base. “Even when Monster High was on hiatus, we were hearing from fans constantly who, simply put, wanted more Monster High,” said Ryan Ferguson, Mattel’s global head of publishing. “As the desire for more publishing content that expands the Monster High universe has been a common request, we’re particularly excited about today’s news.”

“We’re all huge fans of anything spooky, and several of us read and loved the books when they came out a decade or so ago,” said Anne Heltzel, editorial director, entertainment publishing and content development for Abrams Children’s Books. “The Monster High brand has a rabid fan base made up of both kids who are new to the series and older readers who are nostalgic for those original ghouls. To be able to delve into this rich world and tell all-new stories perfectly tailored to both groups has been a dream.”

The publishing program commences with a middle grade series, Monster High School Spirits, with the first title, A Fright to Remember, launching this Halloween and new stories to follow annually. This series features self-contained original stories inspired by the animated show on Nickelodeon, which features a new generation of characters. “The books will target newly minted fans as well as older fans who want to pass on their passion for the brand to the young people in their lives,” Heltzel said.

In spring 2024, the publisher will release a new young adult novel, Once Bitten, Twice Defeated. The book is by Tiffany Schmidt, author of nine YA novels including the Bookish Boyfriends series. The book, with a very different cover illustration style from the middle-grade series, continues and expands on the narratives of the original characters and stars fan-favorite character Draculaura. The novel is positioned as a standalone, but the conclusion leaves room for a sequel.

Abrams also has a graphic novel in the works.

IDW, meanwhile, will peg its introduction of the brand to Free Comic Book Day on May 4, 2024. The company will offer a gratis 32-page comic including an exclusive new Monster High story and an extended preview of its new comic book series based on the franchise, Monster High: New Scaremester. The monthly series will begin with 10 books and will star Monster High alumni, allowing fans to find out what happened to the characters after high school.

Monster High was first introduced in 2010. Core to the franchise were books penned by Gitty Daneshvari and Lisi Harrison and published by Little, Brown. There were also dolls and online content from Mattel, followed by other entertainment and licensed products. The franchise wound down in 2018 when Mattel retired the doll line.

In early 2021, Mattel announced that it was relaunching and reimagining the franchise. After success with a collectible line called Monster High Skullector Dolls, released through the Mattel Creations platform, Mattel introduced a new range of dolls, clothes, and accessories in May 2022 that reflect more diversity in body types, ethnicities, and gender expression than the first time around. A live-action movie premiered in October of that year, and a sequel debuted this past October 5 on Paramount+. In addition, an animated TV series was introduced in September 2022 on Nickelodeon, with a second season starting this fall.

Other components of the program include a stage show, Monster High Live, which arrived last month; product collaborations, which include a just-released pairing with fashion label Off White; digital gaming; and a social impact platform, Monster High Project Belonging.

“These programs include core characters and themes from the original Monster High but have also greatly expanded the Monster High universe for today’s audiences, including all new toys, characters, and storylines, all still rooted in the values of inclusivity and self-expression,” Ferguson said.

Focusing on the lives of the children of famous monsters, including Clawdeen, a half-human and biracial werewolf; Frankie Stein, who is non-binary and uses a prosthetic leg; and Draculaura, a curvy vampire who is adopted, among others, Monster High is meant to encourage a more accepting world where everyone can be proud to be their authentic self. This is a message the company believes will resonate perhaps even more today than in the 2010s.

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