If you have been watching the Disney Channel with your kids, then you probably have an idea who Henry Hugglemonster is. You might know this cute little creature as a five-year-old monster that lives in Roarsville with his sister Summer and brothers Cobby and Ivor, as well as his parents, grandparents, and friends. But what you might don’t know about Henry is that he is the product of an Irish woman’s imagination.
Henry Hugglemonster jumped out from the sketchpad of Niamh Sharkey, an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s picture books. Despite the success and accolades she has been enjoying throughout the years, having won the prestigious Mother Goose Award and The Bisto Book of the Year, Niamh revealed that Henry Hugglemonster’s popularity really caught her off guard. Currently, Henry Hugglemonster is being broadcasted in 150 countries and was just picked up for a second season on the Disney Channel.
And when asked what has inspired her to create Henry? Her family.
“I’ve been writing picture books for the last 15 years. When I was a kid, I loved the Muppet Show and Where the Wild Things Are and I was always mad into monsters and doodling them. When Walker Books asked what my next book would be, I immediately said a family of monsters. I kind of based the Hugglemonsters on my family. Henry is very like my brother,” Niamh said.
According to Niamh, after seeing her book “I’m a Happy Hugglewug,” an executive from Walker Books told her that it would make a great TV show. Afterwards, she met with people from Brown Bag Films and then a test animation was put together and scripts were written. They showed the finished product to Disney and the animation giant loved it.
Despite the presence of so many talented animators and writers managing the show, Niamh is still involved with the several aspects of producing Henry Hugglemonsters. She is involved in the designing of characters and even directed two episodes in season one, the Christmas and Halloween specials.
Meanwhile, Niamh is happy to know that many Irish people are making waves not just in the local animation industry, but in the international scene as well. According to her, perhaps one of the reasons for this is that the Irish are good at storytelling. They are also creative and famous for being hard workers. She’s also happy that there are a growing number of women joining the animation industry.