Goosebumps Graphix: Slappy’s Tales of Horror
Goosebumps Graphix: Slappy’s Tales of Horror is a repackaging of previous comic stories, now in full color. Graphix has had good luck with their Baby-Sitters Club color reprints, and I imagine that adding color (by Jose Garibaldi) to this volume will similarly bring in new readers.
The stories come from Goosebumps maestro R.L Stine, of course. There were three previous comic adaptations, each with three stories adapted from various novels in the series. Only one from each previous collection is included here. “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp”, by Gabriel Hernandez, was in Creepy Creatures. “A Shocker on Shock Street”, by Jamie Tolagson, was in Terror Trips. “Ghost Beach”, by Ted Naifeh, was in Scary Summer.
New to this book is “Night of the Living Dummy” by Dave Roman (X-Men: Misfits, Astronaut Academy). He also provides one-page intros to the stories featuring the evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy, serving as the book’s host.
I don’t normally read horror, but I figured, with the Graphix books being aimed at kids, this couldn’t be too scary, and I was interested to sample some Goosebumps, what with the movie coming in October. That I enjoy the work of two of the contributors was a plus. (No slam on the other two — I’m just more familiar with Naifeh and Roman than I am Hernandez and Tolagson.)
These comics succeed at being creepy and surprising. The first, “A Shocker on Shock Street”, felt familiar in its tale of two horror-movie-loving kids sent to try a new amusement park ride, but I came nowhere near guessing the final twist. Tolagson draws both exaggerated kids’ expressions and creepy monsters of various kinds well. Fans of the series may get more out of this chapter than I did, since there are an awful lot of monsters thrown at us throughout. (I’m assuming some have been referenced elsewhere.)
“The Werewolf of Fever Swamp” features a brother and sister who have just moved to Florida, where their house backs onto a swamp. The boy adopts a mysterious dog he calls Wolf. Is his pet a monster? What about the hermit who lives in the swamp? The pacing is much more leisurely than in the previous story, building mood slowly, as we know something spooky is going to happen but have no idea what or when. The hand lettering has character but I missed the professional look of typeset text and well-balanced ballooning.
“Ghost Beach” stars another pair of siblings, this time visiting older cousins by the shore. Warned away from a cave, of course they intend to explore it. A nearby family cemetary provides more clues to the mystery. This one I had better luck guessing the ending, but the exploration of family and friendship was still entertaining. I like Naifeh’s noseless faces, but they do make the characters resemble Lego figures or other toys at times.
“Night of the Living Dummy” concludes the volume with the classic tale of a possessed dummy. Events are complicated when the puppet comes between competitive twin sisters. I felt this story was missing something, that it needed more of a connection between most of the contents and the “surprise” ending. Plus, the book’s title is likely to mislead the reader in this chapter, who keeps waiting for events to get around to the narrator they’ve seen so far.
Overall, I was entertained, but the tales weren’t particularly memorable, and I feel no need to reread them in the future. For me, this makes a better library read than a purchase, but I appreciated the chance to try something outside my usual reading. (The publisher provided an advance review copy.)