Excitingly, The Guardian are running a MONSTER & CHIPS competition throughout April where you can win a piece of original art drawn by me!
Get your pencils, pens and crayons together and create your own monster – the winning entry gets their monster drawn into a picture by me, as well as a signed copy of Monster & Chips: Food Fright! There are runners-up prizes of books too. I can’t wait to see what people come up with. All the details can be found over at The Guardian’s website.
For the competition, The Guardian asked me to give my ten top tips for creating monsters. I’ve reproduced them here:
The Monster and Chips series of books have an enormous cast of characters but very few of them are actually human (or “hooman”, as the monsters say). From Fuzzby Bixington, the monster chef, to Uncton Slugglesbutt, his villainous rival, I’ve had to create and draw all kinds of strange and funny creatures to inhabit Monsterworld. The wonderful thing about making monsters is that there are no rules, but here are some things that might help you while working in your own creature laboratory.
- When drawing a monster, start with a simple shape that fits its character: maybe an oval for a fat, blobby monster or a rectangle for tall, strong tree-monster or a triangle for a squat, pointy-headed frog monster. Or combine all three for something really strange… Blobotreefrogasaurus!
- What is the body made of? Is it covered in bright green fur like Fuzzby, the owner of the Monster Diner? Or a hard insect exoskeleton like Gordon, a customer who dissolves his food with acid saliva? Or maybe wobbling blue jelly, like flatulent Mr Jubbins and his see-through tummy?
- How many heads? Just one eye or fifty-three? Four ears or seven antlers? As many legs as a centipede or a one-legged hopping monster? The sky is the limit (especially if the legs are really long). Just remember that drawing twenty-nine tentacles can get boring very quickly if you have to do it over and over again.
- Does your monster wear clothes? Monster apparel is something that is often forgotten. Perhaps King Kong would have been more welcome if he’d worn a smart tie, stripy socks and patent leather shoes. Would people have run screaming from Godzilla if he’d been wearing a woolly cardigan and a bobble hat? Choose your monster’s attire carefully: it’s a fine line between trendy triumph and monster fashion disaster!
- Gross is good: the grosser the better. Everyone likes a fart joke. Even your granny (probably)! Make your monster as disgusting as possible. Sludge-drippingly, mucous-oozingly, slime-burpingly, toilet-stinkingly, cheese-bubblingly, bog-gurglingly, toe-chewingly, bum-scratchingly, tongue-dibblingly disgusting. But make sure you’ve had your dinner first.
- Speaking of dinner, what does your monster like to eat? Everyone loves the monster-sized chips served at Fuzzby’s Diner, but perhaps your monster has a particular favourite food? Stinky Coughy Pudding? Splodgeburgers? CHILDREN ON TOAST? The food it eats can reveal a lot about your monster’s character.
- Where does your monster live? A lovely, tidy monster house with curtains tied back with ribbon? Or a dark, toadstool-infested cave with hot-and-cold running rats? Or maybe UNDER YOUR BED RIGHT NOW? EEEK! In Food Fright, the “hooman” boy Joe discovers a load of monsters are living in the shadowy sewers beneath Fuzzby’s diner. If only he can find his way out…
- Does your monster have a job? All the Bixington family are cooks or chefs. Fuzzby’s cousin Zuffby is an expert monster mega-sandwich maker. Perhaps your monster is a teacher, teaching young monsters rending and writhing? Or a mechanic, like Fuzzby’s friend Petrolla who specialises in machines that explode (sometimes on purpose).
- How does your monster talk? Does it have its own language? Does it roar like a dragon with fiery special effects? Or does it fart Morse code? Does it sound creepy, nice or just plain silly and stupid? In the Monster and Chips books all the monsters sound just like ordinary grown-up humans, as I’ve never heard anything sillier or more stupid than the way ordinary grown-up humans speak.
- Finally, and very importantly, make sure your monster has a name! I like names that tell you something about the monster. Like “Fuzzby” which sounds warm and cuddly. Or “Barry”, which sounds like… um, a cat (luckily there is a cat called Barry in Monster and Chips! Phew!) Alternatively, just throw a load of words together: the audience at a Monster and Chips event at the Edinburgh Book Festival lost year came up with a monster name of Sluggybottom Ninjapants! You can’t get more descriptive than that!
The competition runs until April 29th.