Monster Elementary was originally created by Nicholas Doan and Caanan Grall together in 2009, back when they both worked for Zuda Comics, DC Comics’ short lived webcomics imprint. Nicholas was a fan of Caanan's Zuda webcomic, Celadore, and wanted to collaborate with him for another submission to Zuda. Once Caanan agreed to a collaboration, Nicholas pitched him Monster Elementary and Caanan responded enthusiastically. After working on the concept for a while, Caanan supposed that Monster Elementary needed to be in print. Caanan and Nicholas both love and believe in the webcomic medium. However, for those who have dreamed of being comic book professionals, having your work in print is a point of pride and rite of passage. It was something both Nicholas and Caanan wanted and they decided Monster Elementary was going to be the horse they bet on.
In 2011, Nicholas and Caanan landed a contract with a major publisher for a 90 page Monster Elementary graphic novel. Shortly after signing the contract, another major publisher made an offer which Nicholas and Caanan had to turn down. After the book had been in production for several months, something out of Nicholas' control caused Monster Elementary to be canceled. Additionally, the publisher they had previously turned down was no longer
Caanan Grall's Original Character Designs
Lee-Roy Lahey's "Demon Boy" Character Line-Up
to give Monster Elementary a chance. Finding artists wanting to work on Monster Elementary was not a challenge. All Nicholas had to do was pitch the concept, show off the art that Caanan had done, and new artists fell in love with these monsters too. After receiving such postitive feedback from so many artists, Nicholas decided to recruit a whole team of artists to offer their own, unique interpretations of these characters on the different short stories within the book. This would also allow for Caanan's work to be published and honor his original contribution to the project.
With a whole team of artists on board, Nicholas set out to find a publisher. Finding a publisher, however, was not as easy as finding new artists. The marketplace had shifted. All ages books were now seen as even more of a financial risk than before. But then, Kickstarter came along and changed the comics industry. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website that allows project creators to ask for donations to fund their project in return for rewards such as physical merchandise, digital goodies, experiences and tokens of appreciation. Thanks to some great advice from comic book industry pros and Kickstarter savants, Nicholas realized he could publish it himself and make sure that Monster Elementary was finally in print.
The Monster Elementary Kickstarter campaign started on July 8, 2013 and
interested. The final page in this chapter of Monster Elementary's history was when, shortly after the book's cancellation, Caanan had to move on from Monster Elementary due to other commitments.
Regardless of all of these setbacks, Nicholas was determined to make Monster Elementary a reality. He had fallen in love with these characters and wanted to share them and their stories with the world. Nicholas set out to find a new artist and a publisher willing
ended on August 7, 2013. Nicholas asked for $19,000 to print the book, pay the artists, and fund the rewards for financial backers. After a white knuckle final few days, the Kickstarter campaign ended up receiving $20,065 with 436 individual financial backers. Nicholas was
overwhelmed with emotion. Four years after the idea for Monster Elementary was born, he was finally going to see it come to fruition.
With funding secured, the artists immediately dove into the already finished scripts. As the art started pouring in, Nicholas recruited his wife, Gwendolyn Dreyer, to step in and lead the charge towards publication as the official Editor and Book Designer for Monster Elementary. And in order to help the book press on towards completion, they picked up some colorists too.
After over seven months since funding was secured, Monster Elementary was officially in print, marked by a pallet of books arriving at Nicholas and Gwendolyn's doorstep on April 15, 2014. Following the shipping of all Kickstarter rewards, Nicholas and Gwendolyn focused on exhibiting at conventions, scheduling signings and distributing to comic book retailers and digital platforms, on a mission to bring the joy of Monster Elementary to as many people as possible.
On July 6, 2015, after enduring the many inquiries of Monster Elementary fans clamoring for a second volume, Nicholas and Gwendolyn launched the second Monster Elementary Kickstarter campaign to fund and continue their fledgling series with their sophomore graphic
novel, Monster Elementary and the Egyptian Curse!, once again asking for $19,000 to cover the bare essentials. After another nail-biter, on August 5, 2015, the Kickstarter campaign ended receiving $19,157 with 311 individual financial backers and was released on October 26, 2016.
Together with their team, Nicholas and Gwendolyn are planning future publications and focused on bringing their monsters to as many people as possible.