Another great artist joins us today to chat about Halloween. You may know him from his work on the Hi-C Horror drink boxes he did last year.
Thanks for joining us! Please introduce yourself to the readers.
My name is Cliff Knueppel and while I may not be a household name, you may have seen my work here and there. I'm a graphic designer who's been featured by ESPN, Bleacher Report, WWE, Hot 97, FearNET, and the Brooklyn Nets team and players. In addition, I run "The Holidaze," a site dedicated to pop-culture, food, candy, toys, products and events that put us in a nostalgic "daze" throughout the changing holidays and seasons. It's a passion of mine and has let to amazing interaction with outstanding, like-minded individuals who share a love for what some may call "nerdy." I say, embrace what you love and appreciate what makes you, you!
The coolest thing I've done on The Holidaze is introduce the Hi-C Horror boxes - a collection of designs that pay homage to Ecto-Cooler through the use of classic horror characters and witty flavors. This year, I'm designing the Holidaze Pop! line inspired by Funko Pop! vinyl figures. I simply attempt to make the most out of Halloween (and all holidays) by enhancing the season as much as possible.
What do you remember most about Halloween from childhood?
I grew up in Jersey City, NJ but never actually celebrated there. On Halloween, my family usually met up in either Keansburg or Bayonne, NJ at my Aunt and Uncle's houses. I have a lot of cousins and we all Trick - or - Treated together. As I got older, we started visiting Salem, MA but, no matter where I was, the one aspect that always stands out on Halloween is family. My Parents are huge influence behind my love of Halloween. They always did their best to make the most of the season by taking us on Haunted Hayrides, to Haunted Houses, decorating the house, and taking us out to Pizza Hut after a night of Trick - or - Treating. For as great as Halloween for so many reasons, Family is the one take-away and constant from my childhood.
Any favorite costumes from Halloweens past?
There are a few! As mentioned above, "The Spirit" costumes was great. Another year I wore a "Creature Reacher" Grim Reaper costume that people loved. A Pumpkin Head "Creature Reacher" followed. My girlfriend and I once went as Superman and Superwoman which was fitting for our first year together. Two years ago, I made my own Macho Man Randy Savage costume which was a huge hit in Hoboken, NJ on Halloween night. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard "Ohhhh yeaaaahh." In 2013, my GF and I went as zombies and actually won a Halloween contest. I have so many memories of dressing up through the years and I'll never understand why some people think they're too old for it. What?? Come on!
Do you have a particularly memorable Halloween story?
When I was a kid, my Parents took me and my Cousin to Salem, MA every year for Halloween. For the first few years, we dressed up in silly costumes. One year we were goth zombies, another we were The Rock & Sock Connection. But, in Salem, you go big or go home. So, in 2002 when we were about 15 years old, my Parents bought us oversized costumes that looked awesome. We went as "The Old Man & His Spirit" and, together, we roamed the streets of Salem. After an hour or so, we needed a break so we sat down on a nearby bench. Somebody asked if they could take a photo with us which we thought was great. Then another, then another.. before we knew it, there was a line of people waiting 3 hours to take their photo with us! We couldn't believe it! Little did they know there were two teenagers in those costumes in absolute awe. We felt like rock stars, to the point that we needed to be escorted back to my parent's car. Later that night, we donned the masks again and pretended to stay still as people passed us by. Then, just when they were convinced we were fake.. BOOM! We scared the hell out of them. Great times in Salem and that will always be one of sooo many fond memories.
What do you do to celebrate Halloween today?
In recent years, thanks in part to Matt from X-Entertainment and Dinosaur Dracula, I began celebrating Halloween as early as August through various activities and products. He made it cool to enjoy everything about Halloween and inspired me to share my love for the season through The Holidaze. Now, Halloween has become a full 2-months of fun. Whether it's Halloween candy, horror movies, haunted houses or little art projects, I do whatever I can to get the most out of the season. But on Halloween night, it's an annual tradition that my girlfriend and I go out, in full costume, to Hoboken, NJ with friends and family. If I can't be in Salem, then Hoboken is the next best thing. Last year we won $50, but this year I have no costume ideas, yet. Hopefully something hits me soon!
Do you have any specific yearly rituals?
I guess you can call them rituals. Halloween cereal is a must. Throughout September and October, Frankenberry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Halloween Crunch are the real Breakfasts of Champions. I try to watch as many horror movies as possible, always play the same Halloween music, especially in the car, and get to as many haunted houses as I can. With The Holidaze in mind, I also try to indulge in Halloween products and junk food, too. Most of what I cover is never actually eaten in full and is usually just for review, but it's an important part of the season. My "rituals" tend to change from season to season, but the theme always stays the same. The concept is to milk Halloween for all it's worth and create memories that will last a lifetime. That's the true tradition.
What do you think it is about Halloween that keeps it in our hearts as we get older?
Halloween is not meant to be taken seriously and that's why it's so special. When you compare it to Christmas or Easter, they're polar opposites. Two are about giving, prayer, and reflection while the other focuses on monsters, demons, horror, and candy. There's no true purpose behind Halloween in today's society and it allows us to be selfish. We go out, we buy candy, food, and costumes. We indulge. We watch movies in which we cheer for the murderer to kill his victim in the most gruesome way. It's not serious and that's why it's fun. But, at it's very core, Halloween allows us to remember the old days, remember the nostalgia attached to family and friends, and create new memories with loved ones today. It's a break from the stresses of everyday life and invites us to be a kid again.
Inside the Spooksters' Studio
The worst thing to get while trick or treating were pennies!
My favorite thing to get was Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins
Where can people find you online?
For those interested in reading The Holidaze, they can do so at www.the-holidaze.blogspot.com. They can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @HolidazeBlog. If you want to get personal and interact outside of The Holidaze, I can be reached @CKCash30.
Before I conclude, I'd like to thank you for finding me worthy of an interview. Believe me, I'm just a nobody who happens to love Halloween as much as all of you, but it's always nice to be person of interest. Dex, if you ever Trick-or-Treat at my house, I'll be sure to hook it up with some Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins - the Orange ones!!
And if you ever make it back up Salem-way, any time of the year, let me know!
Before you head off to your next house, swing by Halloween Mixes.
They're posting a themed mix album every day of the month!
And of course, check out all the other folks participating in the Countdown to Halloween!