11 bizarre facts about RL Stine’s Goosebumps series

It’s been three decades since RL Stine first scared children with his delightfully spooky Goosebumps series, now one of the best-selling children’s series of all time with more than 400 million internationally printed books. July 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the first book in the series, welcome to the dead house; here are 11 facts to help you celebrate.

And at first they weren’t very successful, largely because there was no advertising or marketing. A new book came out every two months, and after the first ones, word of mouth among the children made it a success. “It was children who discovered the books and children who told the children. It was entirely the children’s secret network,” Stine said The Boston Globe in 2015. It wasn’t long before a Goosebumps book was released every month.

With Welcome to Dead House, a tale of undead children trying to recruit more to their ranks, Stine didn’t have his now-famous macabre humor quite nailed. “I didn’t have the right combination yet – it doesn’t have the humor,” he recently said Time magazine. “But from the second book, Stay out of the basement, I understood. I just realized that I don’t really want frighten these children. So whenever a scene gets really intense, I add something funny. And of course there is a punchline at the end of each chapter.

R. L. Stine

Get the goosebumps! Scholastic’s 20th anniversary celebration / Slaven Vlasic/GettyImages

Stine wasn’t always scary: before hitting hard with horror, he dabbled in comedy, wrote for a comedy magazine at Ohio State University and published more than 100 joke books under the pen name “Jovial Bob”. But the first horror book he wrote, blind date, was a bestsellerwhich led him to change gender.

Stine found inspiration for her scary stories in her own childhood. “I was always scared of a lot of things, which later came in handy, of course, because I remembered that feeling of panic, of what it felt like to be a scared kid,” the author said TODAY. “And I could bring that to my books.”

Stine’s wife, Jane, is the editor of the Goosebumps series – and she and her business partner, Joan Waricha, were the ones who convinced him to do it in the first place. “My editors, my wife and her partner, said, ‘No one has ever done a series for 7 to 11 year old scary books. We have to try. And I didn’t want to do that,'” he said. said TODAY. “That’s the kind of businessman I am. Then, finally, I said ‘OK.’ (Jane and Waricha founds Parachute Publishingwho also published the Goose bumps and street of fear series for a while.)

Having your partner as an editor sometimes means no punches are pulled when it comes to comments. “I retrieved a manuscript once and at the top there were two words,” he told The Verge. “He said, ‘psychotic ramblings.’ That was it. Psychotic rides. … She’s a very tough editor. She’s really smart and she’s just too good, too good of a writer. You don’t want an editor that good. I can’t get away with it. nothing. I always say she’s like a hockey goalie. Nothing gets past her.”


Pinocchio / Fototeca Storica Nazionale./GettyImages

One of the most famous Goose bumps characters is Slappy, an evil ventriloquist dummy who appears in a number of books. Stine says part of the inspiration for Slappy came from a story his mother used to read to him: Pinochio. “There is a chapter that I have never forgotten where Pinocchio falls asleep with his feet on the stove and he burns his feet” he once said. “There’s a reason I write horror.” He has also assigned 1940s horror movie idea death of nightan episode of the Blurred area, and William Goldman’s book Magic.

The 11th book in the series, haunted mask, was inspired by Stine’s own son, who struggled to pull off her Halloween costume for a year. Unlike Stine’s son, however, the character in the book is not able to remove his mask at all and it begins to change his personality. Stine considers it his best Halloween-themed book, and says it’s the only one he wrote which was inspired by real events.

Back to its 90s heyday, the Goosebumps series landed near the top from the American Library Association’s list of disputed books. No. 15 was more contested than Madonna’s Sex, The Anarchist Cookbook, and Private parts by Howard Stern.

With over 50 million Goosebumps books in print worldwide, it’s not just American kids who love this particular brand of horror humor. Fun fact: in Italy the series is called Piccoli Brividiwhich means “little chills”.

He sketched out three 8-by-10-inch options for each cover before using acrylics and an airbrush on the final version. The work was so regular and so fast, he said, that there wasn’t time for a lot of creative interchange, which meant the editor usually went along with what they provided. Jacobus also received less and less information about the books as Stine produced them, sometimes working from a short plot summary.

After imagining all the creepy, yet child-friendly plots known to mankind – from haunted cameras to deadly lawn gnomes – the author stopped trying to come up with plots. “It’s too hard,” said Stine TIME. Instead, he thinks of compelling headlines (his example was Fifth grade zombies) and then build a story around it.

For about a year, the Goosebumps HorrorLand Fright Show and Funhouse took place at what was then Disney-MGM Studios. The live show took place on a stage that resembled a warehouse loading dock, where creatures from the books appeared. After each show, the public was invited to a funhouse where the monsters were hiding. Having her own experience at Disney was a highlight of Stine’s career. “I’m a big Disney person,” he told The Verge. “Having my own land was amazing.”

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