When Stephen and I started Toxic Coffin we knew one day we would have to do Stranger Things.
The "Friends Don't Lie" design was one of the first design Stephen illustrated when starting Toxic Coffin, but Halloween was fast approaching and we decided to shift gears. It's difficult to know where to begin with this franchise. In many ways it has reinvigorated us both in our love of music, 80's nostalgia, and spooky TV.
We all know how much of a phenomena this whole series is. It's everywhere and it's hard to find a person who hasn't seen at least one season of the show. There is a singular magic to Stranger Things that somehow, the show is just for you. You are on the journey with the whole cast, everything feels personal. We are so invested in the story and the characters. The show has reached the point where we don't want it to end and we don't want it to be ruined in an effort to bleed the story dry. But by golly we will watch every second and have our hearts broken either way.
Now, where to begin in trying to talk about our favorite show of all time? Let's start with the music, written by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. Remember, in 2016 the love for synthwave, Carpenteresque scores was not what it is today. I (Lance) have been a synth head since high school playing synthesizers in bands and writing music in my bedroom. When I heard the Stranger Things theme I was vibrating. It was exactly the kind of music I always wanted to write and Dixon and Stein nailed that sound so perfectly. The filter sweeping heavy Moog bass sounds, glossy pads, and shimmering leads revitalized the 80's synth soundtrack to a modern tour de force. It inspires us to this day in the kind of music Stephen and I write together.
With the waves of sonic euphoria washing over us the next thing to cover has to be the cast. Good Lord is the cast perfection. Take anyone in the whole show, there is not one dud. Our favorites being Dustin, Hopper, Steve, and Eleven, but they're all amazing. Winona Rider is incredible as Joyce Byers and if I was lost in the Upside Down I'd want her to be my mom. Hopper's relationship with Eleven is the "Dad" cornerstone that the show revolves around for us.
The perils of each season are fun and really well done. The combination of MK ULTRA experiments, D&D, and alternate dimensions make for an incredible first season. One of the best aspects of that first season is how Dungeons and Dragons' lore is used to outline and explain what is happening in Hawkins. The Demogorgon and The Veil of Shadows provides a great point of understanding to explain the sensory deprivation-astral travel-interdimensional-whoopsie doodle at Hawkins Lab. It all fits perfectly and opens up this whole world to develop.
When we were developing ideas for what we wanted to do with Stranger Things, Eleven's journey kept coming up. Her story is overwhelmingly tragic but her will and open heart make for a shining character. In our "Rainbow Room" Tee we wanted to show the MK ULTRA scientific coldness of the Lab and the moment when Eleven comes into her own power despite the horrors she's been through. The defiance in her eyes saying she's had enough of this shit. The "Friends Don't Lie" Tee illustrates the next pivotal point for Eleven when she is embraced into the Party and her new family. Combining her rescue of Mike at the reservoir and their chase scene with the agents from Hawkins Lab. The van flip is one of our favorite scenes, with them all on bikes and the fear of being surrounded. Eleven's power is enough to allow the Party to escape.
This first season has given us so much. It's difficult to summarize or articulate. We're so thankful that it was made and we hope you dig what we came up with to pay tribute. The new season can't get here soon enough. Remember, always cast fireball.