Interview w/ Dani and Nicole Jones, Co-Creators of "Frosty the Gourdman"



We've got a very special treat for you today! In celebration of Halloween Dani and Nicole Jones join us for an exclusive interview to reveal their latest project- Frosty the Gourdman. A tale of a monster who comes alive on Halloween night, Frosty blends to sentimental side of the Christmas classic with a uniquely fun Frankenstein spin.
Thank you both for joining us here at the clubhouse. Can you each tell us a little about yourselves and what you do?

Nicole: I went to school at BYU-Idaho and received a bachelor's degree in art there in 2005. Since then, I've worked full-time as a book compositor, working on both trade and textbooks. I learned a lot about the publishing industry and the technical side of page layout at this job. On the side, I continue to work on various artistic projects, such as Frosty the Gourdman.

Dani: I also went to BYU-Idaho and got an art degree in illustration. I've since been working full-time as a freelance children's illustrator, making images for picture books, magazines, and educational publishing. I like to do lots of side projects and experiments in illustration and on the web and most recently, comics.


Artwork © Dani and Nicole Jones


Have you always been interested in comic books and/or narrative illustration?

N: I took illustration classes at college, where I was mainly leaning towards picture books. I have always been interested in things like books, illustration, animation and film, though I never seriously considered comic books and graphic novels until recently. I guess that's because I didn't read a lot of them when I was younger, so it was never really on my radar. I associated them mainly with the classic superhero comics or violent graphic novels, which aren't really my style. Once I actually started exploring graphic novels and all the different styles there are out there, I think I finally realized what a great mode of storytelling they are, especially if you're a visual person like me.

D: I was never seriously into comics until this past year. I've always loved narrative illlustration, but I am a children's illustrator at heart and have been focused on picture books until recently. However, ever since I've started creating my own comics I've been reading a lot, learning a lot, and exploring a lot of the comic industry. It has been very very inspiring.


Artwork © Dani and Nicole Jones


What can you tell us about your latest project, Frosty the Gourdman?

N: Frosty was a bit of a happy accident. It started out as just a little sketch Dani made one day. She was not trying to create a story or anything. When I saw it, I loved it right away. I instantly wanted Dani to create a story for him, and then we decided to do it together. At first, we were thinking we would make a picture book or illustrated short story. Then Dani started seriously exploring graphic novels that same year. She created a web comic called My Sister the Freak. As we continued with Frosty, that story naturally progressed into a comic as well.

D: Frosty is a short story comic about a monster that rises in the pumpkin patch on Halloween night. Like Nicole mentioned, it started with a simple little sketch I made, and we couldn't help but make a story for it. It was originally envisioned as a light picture book kind of story, but it evolved into something darker and more complex which is why we ended up using the comic/graphic novel form.


Artwork © Dani and Nicole Jones


Who are the main characters?

The main characters are Frosty and an orphan girl named Lily. Frosty comes to life when a scarecrow is struck by lightning in the middle of a pumpkin patch on Halloween night. His instinct is to be a monster and to frighten people, but he then he meets Lily, who does not seem to be scared of him at all. He grows attached to her and they strike up an unlikely friendship.

How did the concept for this story come about?

We wanted this to read like a classic ghost story and monster movie, with an emotional tale of friendship at its heart. We were inspired a lot narratively and visually by the classic horror film Frankenstein. Dani came up with the basic idea, and we both brainstormed different scenes we thought we'd like to see happen. Then we took the best of our ideas and melded them into one story, which became Frosty the Gourdman.


Artwork © Dani and Nicole Jones


As siblings do you find yourselves working together on projects very often or is this your first time collaborating?

We have always advised each other, both giving and asking for opinions, but Frosty is our first true collaboration. We make a good team. We have similar tastes and interests, and we each have different strengths to contribute. Also, we are not just siblings, but two of a set of triplet sisters who have been all but attached to the hip since birth. We are not the kind of siblings that bicker and fight a lot. We know each other better than anyone else and get along very well, which makes working together that much easier.

Are either of you big into Halloween? If so, do you have any special rituals or traditions?

N: I love Halloween, and Autumn is my favorite time of year. Our hometown of Keene, NH hosts a big pumpkin festival every year, which we usually attend. I'm a bit of an artsy crafty person, so I enjoy the whole idea of costumes, pumpkin carving, and spooky decor. I think Halloween inspires creativity. Oh, and the candy. I like that, too.

D: I LOVE Halloween. This time of year is so inspiring creatively and artistically. I love making Halloween themed illustrations and characters. It was a blast to be able to create an entire story this year.


Artwork © Dani and Nicole Jones


Where can readers find out more about this book?

Readers can go to frostythegourdman.com to read the story, buy the book, find bonus materials, and learn more about us and our process.

You also offer a printed version as well, is that correct?

D: Yes, print versions of Frosty are sold through the site IndyPlanet.com. I use Ka-Blam/IndyPlanet to make print versions of my webcomic My Sister, the Freak also.

Without revealing any details, the ending of the book really offers a unique twist in the tradition of a Brothers Grimm fairytale. What made you decide to end the story on such a decidedly macabre manner?

We had always planned for Frosty's story to be a bit tragic, like Frankenstein, but we also wanted a happy ending for him and Lily. The friendship was the emotional core of the story. We thought this conclusion would be sweet and poignant, while keeping with the ghost story theme.


Artwork © Dani and Nicole Jones


Are there any plans for future iterations of Frosty the Gourdman?

We envisioned Frosty be a classic standalone tale, so we have no immediate plans to continue with the Frosty story. But never say never. At the very least, we will definitely continue to update the site with Frosty-related content and bonus material.

What's the strangest thing each of you can remember doing as a kid?

N: We were definitely a bit nerdy growing up. I remember doing things like quizzing each other on state capitals or taking typing tests for fun.

D: Drawing Captain Picard over and over again. To this day, I don't like drawing hair.







2 comments:

  1. Dex1138 said...:

    I got my copy yesterday and I love it! The end was surprising even if it was a bit sad in a way. Totally worth picking up if you're a fan of Halloween and/or monster movies.

  1. Strange Kid said...:

    @Dex: Definitely well worth it, been awhile since I've read a children's book that I enjoyed so much.

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