How could we have a Kids Comics Month without somehow involving one of the most popular kids shows out there today, Yo Gabba Gabba? Fortunately, we had the chance to speak with Yo Gabba Gabba art director Chris “Elio House” Eliopoulos about his new board book from Oni Press, Yo Gabba Gabba: Gabba Ball! He talks to us about what he thinks makes kids engage in reading and entertainment, as well about his upcoming book from Top Shelf, Okie Dokie Donuts!
TFAW.com: Although Yo Gabba Gabba started out as a kids show, it’s got a huge fan base of parents and teenagers now. What is it about the show that appeals to all ages?
Chris Eliopoulos: Its appeal is it’s a genuinely fun show. It’s also rich with influences that entertained us as kids (and still today!) Japanese monsters, skateboarding, and 8-bit video games just to name a few. It’s fun for nostalgic adults to share these things with kids. Having some of the hottest musical acts drop in to sing songs helps too!
TFAW.com: Yo Gabba Gabba is such an uncynical, innocent, fun show–something that’s rare these days, even among kids shows. What can you tell us about the philosophy behind the show?
CE: The people who make the show have a lot of fun making it. That energy is definitely infectious. A philosophy I’ve noticed is to keep things fresh and don’t worry about being silly.
TFAW.com: Why did Yo Gabba Gabba decide to partner with Oni Press for your board books, instead of a traditional kids’ book publisher?
CE: Oni Press is one of the best games in town. YGG knew Oni wouldn’t have any trouble producing great comics. (They do it year round!) It was a natural fit, like peanut butter and jelly.
TFAW.com: How did you come up with the concept for Yo Gabba Gabba: Gabba Ball?
CE: When I was thinking of a story for the comic book, I wanted to include everyone’s favorite character (so no one would get jealous!) I also wanted to make sure everyone had an equal part. So I thought what better way to do that then have them all play a sharing game!
TFAW.com: Yo Gabba Gabba: Gabba Ball is definitely all about sharing! Do you think it’s important for kids books and shows to feature morals or lessons? Why?
CE: I think kids books should be fun first. Morals and lessons are fine, but they should take the back seat. Children don’t like being preached to. If they enjoy the story, the lessons and all the good stuff will come out naturally.
TFAW.com: Are you a comic book fan? If so, which books do you follow?
CE: I love comic books. I love all sorts of titles and types. I think of the comic book store as one big dessert buffet. I make sure to read a little bit of everything!
TFAW.com: You also have a new kids comics series coming out from Top Shelf: Okie Dokie Donuts. What can you tell us about it?
CE: Okie Dokie Donuts is a brand-new all-ages comic book series from my good friends at Top Shelf. It’s about a great woman named Big Mama. She runs her own donut shop and everyone loves her. Her donuts are the best and the whole town loves to stop by every morning. Of course, being number one isn’t always easy. There are always competitors trying to knock her off and send her out of business! It’s very fun and silly! It’s a comic book that hopefully you’ll get a bite of! (haha, get it?)
TFAW.com: What do you think are the best titles for kids today?
CE: If a book keeps a kid into reading, then I think it’s one of the best.
TFAW.com: What do you think kids best respond to in entertainment?
CE: Kids respond best to anything that has an opportunity to share a sentimental experience. There are a million books out there, but chances are the one they like the best is the one you personally read to them over and over. The TV shows they enjoy the most are probably the ones the whole family laughs at. The video game they like the most is the one they beat you in every night.
TFAW.com: What else do you have coming up?
CE: I have another comic book coming out next May called Monster Party, another all-ages comic book being published by Koyama Press. 2010 was really great and I got a chance to work with a lot of new folks! I’m super excited because I have a feeling [that in] 2011, things will just keep getting better!
Thanks again to Chris for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with us. And thank you, dear readers, for participating in Kids Comics Month! If you haven’t yet, take a peek at our kids comics page–you’ll find hundreds of all-ages comics that are great for the younger readers you know.
Are you a big fan of Yo Gabba Gabba? What do you like best about the show? Post your comments below!