Oops, did I publish another Goosebumps-related post on Sammwak? How foolish of me! Well, anyway, since we’re 5,000 hits away from 60 grand, to make the nostalgic gremlin clone inside me happy (and all of the Goosebumps fan[atic]s that read this), I’m going to spin another flax-golden story about Goosebumps, if you don’t mind. Take out your pen[cil]s and notebooks, folks…you’re gonna want to take some notes.

If there’s one series brave enough to alter between good and bad, it’s RL Stine’s Goosebumps. The first book, Welcome to Dead House, was released when RL was 49 years old, and much to his surprise, the book blew up faster than you could “Reader beware, you’re in for a scare.” The dubbed “Stephen King of children’s literature” ended up turning out a new scare once a month for twelve a year, and thus was the formula for the umbrella title of Goosebumps.

RL Stine (born Robert Lawrence Stine) was born a couple weeks before Halloween 1943, which made sense due to the fact that he made such horrific books. And by horrific, I mean, like scary, not bad. He says that nothing can scare him (possibly drawn from the fifteenth book) no matter how creepy, and that whenever he does come across something scary, he just laughs at it. Anyway, RL was born in Columbus, a city near the heart of Ohio, to Anne and Lewis Stine, a homemaking mother and a shipping clerk of a father. His infamous works include a Space Cadets trilogy (Jerks-in-Training, Losers in Space, and Bozos on Patrol), two Hark gamebooks, and dozens of joke books. His passion for writing aroused at the age of 9 when he started typing up stories using a typewriter he found in the attic. Since he was now a true Ohio citizen, he graduated from indeed the Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the mid-60’s. He pursued his career of writing later in the Big Apple, where he pioneered his pen name “Jovial Bob Stine” and used it to write tons of humorous books using that name. But don’t worry—in ’69, he found the love of his life, Jane Stine (nee Waldhorn), who was involved in the creation of Parachute Press itself at the start of April 1983.

Now, when did he start writing horror? In 1986, actually, with Blind Date. The Babysitter, Beach House, Hit and Run, and more naturally came along as well. But did you know that RL was also included in the work of show-biz as well? That’s right, he was the head writer and co-creator of the old Nick show Eureeka’s Castle, which ran from 1989 to 1995, but also came back in 1999-2004 by Noggin/Nick Jr. Three years after his first horror novel, was the debut of his Fear Street series. After the Space Cadets trilogy, he finally went on with Parachute Press and pioneered his Goosebumps saga. Apparently, on Forbes’ list of the top 40 best-paid entertainers from ’96-’97, Stine ranked 36th with an income of $41 million. Stine’s creations have sold 400 million copies as of 2008, making him a bestseller’s list magnet. As soon as the original Goosebumps ended, the next year Series 2000 began (talk about apology) in Jan 1998 (also becoming the first Goosebumps series to publish two books in one month: Invasion of the Body Squeezers, Part 1 and Part 2) and ended in Jan 2000, which doesn’t make sense since the series is called…well, you know. While the original Goosebumps was functioning, the same month Camp Jellyjam released, Give Yourself Goosebumps debuted and at first didn’t stick to releasing books once a month much for a consecutive row, and it wasn’t until Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter that this commenced.

“To the girl who cried monster,

it’s me, the ghost next door,

I think I’m in deep trouble,

you’re the one I’m dying for…”

– Neil Cicierega, founder of Potter Puppet Pals

Now, we all know we came here to learn about Goosebumps. I’ve already taught you enough about its author, now let’s come to the dynamic series. The series kicked off in ’92 with Welcome to Dead House, with the haunting tagline of “It will just kill you.” 61 more books (sixty-one!!! Most authors don’t survive for even ten!) were released, the original series finally ending with the final of the Monster Blood saga, Monster Blood IV, with the tagline “This blood is bad to the bone!” (What.) It also received a very impressive TV show that aired on YTV, The Hub, Jetix, Fox Kids, and Cartoon Network. And to even be airing in Japan is a huge accomplishment.

Goosebumps is full of both impressive and disappointing moments. Here are the top 3 of both natures, described thoroughly. Now let’s start this so I can stop sounding like an Einstein impersonator and start working on my first horror novel under the pen name of “George Stevenson”: Thrills and Chills #1: My Vampire Friend & Me!

THE TOP 3 GOOSEBUMPS BOOKS (NOT LISTED IN ORDER)

Attack of the Mutant (#25, Nov 1994), Tagline: “He’s no superhero. He’s a supervillian/supervillain!”, “Read at your own risk…” (back)

Attack of the Mutant is literally every aspiring renaissance comic writer’s dream: a superhero comic comes alive in a horrifying kind of way. With plenty of the nostalgia from comics mixed with its own surprisingly efficient charms, with detail and description to keep every event real. Here are some of the characters in the Masked Mutant comic series: The Masked Mutant, the namesake most evil supervillain of them all (using the power of changing his molecules into anything solid, making him sort of an Animorph), the Galloping Gazelle, the fastest man in the solar system as well as the leader of the League of Good Guys, and SpongeLife/Sponge of Steel, the best of all the undersea swimmers. But what if you were the Mutant’s new foe, and only you could save the Galloping Gazelle from his deep-fried demise…as well as the rest of the world? You have to read the excellent work of art we call Attack of the Mutant to find out.

Stay Out of the Basement (#2, Jul 1992), Tagline: “Something’s waiting in the dark…” (Stranger danger.), “Live plants…dead people?” (back)

Welcome to Dead House came out just in summer 1992, and it exploded—literally—across the world. Definitely one of the goriest titles RL Stine was responsible for, it made sense that RL was literally fan-forced to write up a sequel by the next month. And so he did, and that is known as Stay Out of the Basement. Still another great entry into Goosebumps full of charm, humor, horror, and cliffhanging drama, it was also another very, very gory entry into Goosebumps. Very descriptive looks at trickling blood and slicing someone clean in half Kung Lao-style. And that’s enough to be literally super gory. Like, Mortal Kombat gory. Like, Bethany-got-her-arm-bit-off-in-Soul Surfer gory. And those are some intense natures of gore. But besides that, very interesting read. Here are some of the characters in the book: Dr. Brewer, the Dr. Brewer human-plant hybrid impostor, Margaret and Casey (the main character siblings of the story). Who is the real Dr. Brewer and who sleeps in the moist worm-residing dirt? Find out when you take a look in the basement, even though you’re not supposed to.

Be Careful What You Wish For… (#12, Oct 1993), Tagline: “It might come true.”, “Make a Wish!” (back)

“If there’s one thing this book teaches you, it’s that you SHOULD be careful what you wish for. This book’s cover used to terrify me for unknown reasons when I was younger, but it only still scares me 10% right now. This book was horribly scary (in a good way!), and it had lots of tense drama that made you reluctant to keep turning pages. But still, what’s good now could become legendary later.” Oh, I’m sorry, that was my Google Books review. Was I supposed to make my own review? Mm, okay. This book was definitely full of dramatic terrors, like being the last living human on Earth (apparently urging the creation of a War of the Worlds movie scene) and totally breaking the three-wish rule and granting a fourth wish. That’s terrifying, right? Some of the characters in this book are: narrator Sam[antha] Byrd, her friend Cory, Sharon (actually a teacher; apparently in this school it’s fine to call teachers their first name), the brown-nosed Judith, and of course, the old crystal lady that makes this book so horrid in the first place. Will Sam find out that you should be careful what you wish for the hard way? Read this book to find out.

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THE BOTTOM 3 GOOSEBUMPS BOOKS (NOT LISTED IN ORDER)

Chicken Chicken (#53, Mar 1997), Tagline: “It’s a finger-lickin’ nightmare!” (Scholastic got lucky they didn’t have to sign KFC a check), “Don’t call them chicken legs!” (Okay, they’re signing that check now) (back)

Words cannot describe the failures of this book, unfortunately. Like how short it is on entertainment, I’m not even going to go any further except keep this description short with the saying that GOOSEBUMPS BOOKS CAN BE THIS BAD. I’m at least telling you that some characters are the two sibling victims of the book, Crystal and Cole, the reason behind this book, Vanessa, and the abandoning friend, Anthony.

Don’t Go to Sleep! (#53, Apr 1997), Tagline: “Rise and shine. Forever.” (What.), “It’s a no-snooze situation!” (back)

What is this? I know, Matt, that your life is horrible waking up as a 16-year old, an only child, a little kid with a circus family, an old man, a lizard monster, a squirrel, and a fat kid, but couldn’t you have at least made it more exciting besides dangling from a gutter? Your story was instead…well, let’s go back to my Google Books review: “An absurd, bland, and just plain awkward entry into RL Stine’s beloved, Don’t Go to Sleep! butchers the classic horror term of “corrupted sleep” in its own new way that not only brings a new shadow onto the series, but also pronounces that Goosebumps books CAN BE THIS BAD.” Now how do you respond to that, Matthew?

The Blob That Ate Everyone (#54, May 1997, three books in a row is just horrible), Tagline: “He’s no picky eater!” (You got that right.), “Read It And Scream!” (take it easy, RL) (back)

How can three Goosebumps books in a blasted, consecutive row all be failures? (Actually, if My Best Friend Is Invisible came after this, it would’ve been four.) Original words can’t describe my disappointment for this bad book, but great comic book idea, so back to Google Books we go: “What kind of an opus is this? It has a bad name (The Blob That Ate Everyone), a bad tagline (He’s no picky eater!), a bad story (everything he writes comes true), and a bad outcome (can’t tell ya that). This would be successful placed into a comic book, not into a HORROR book. Ruining its chances of pride and destroying the substance inside, The Blob That Ate Everyone isn’t the invigorating entry—it’s a waste of time.”

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So, what do you say? Is Goosebumps more of red-hot horror or just plain silly scares? (At least I didn’t use the word “sordid.” Do you know what that means…exactly.) You could comment (“the non-fun way”), or you could just use this poll (“the fun way”).

Comment, rate, subscribe, like, blah blah blah. Also visit 2Sam2Mwak and stay tuned for another dose of Sammwak goodness on Monday? But until then, Wizards of Waverly Place is going to end in its fourth season, and our beloved Russo siblings have gone through trials, tribulations, and just…those times. And the only way a show about a couple of youthful wizards can end is with a bang. And WOWP is going to end with the decision of who is going to be the Family Wizard and keep their powers. It’s not until tomorrow at 8/7c, but let’s just be ready ahead of time and vote again!

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