Summary: Thirty spine-chilling stories from around the world provide plenty of shivers in this spooky collection. Curl up with old friends like Washington Irving’s “Guests from Gibbet Island” or Charles Dickens’s “Chips.” Or make the acquaintance of “The Skull That Spoke” and “The Monster of Baylock” – but beware of spectral visitors like “The Blood Drawing Ghost.” This exciting mixture of classic and contemporary tales from Mexico, China, Poland, Nigeria, and other lands near and far is perfect for hair-raising reading!
Okay so I skipped the second book, sue me!
Ever since the pandemic started and shit’s been going on, my focus on the recaps and my writing’s been all over the place. I discussed it with Wing and maybe my first book theme would be better suited for 2021. I’m having an easier time putting my energy into discussing my faves over following a theme.
Now keep in mind I do intend to recap the second Short & Shivery collection as well, but I went for the third collection because I’m really fond of Jacqueline Roberts’s art AND I’ll get to discuss a short story I’ve been dying to review.
Instead of splitting the recaps into three parts with ten short stories each, I’ve decided to break it down further into six parts with five stories each. Less for me and Wing to take care, and at least one for each month.
[Wing: I love story collections, but there’s always the potential in collections like this for the stories to spin toward racism and/or culture appropriation.]
Title: Goosebumps #1 – “Welcome to Dead House” a.k.a. “They’re Coming To Get You, Amanda!”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: It will just kill you.
Summary: Look Alive!
Amanda and Josh think they old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too.
But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends.
So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind.
Because they want to be friends…
This is one recap I definitely have the energy for, because this is where it all began. The very first Goosebumps book by R.L. Stine, commissioned back when Scholastic didn’t believe the series would sell enough. Boy were they wrong! [Wing: Stine did an excellent job of creating stories people love even now and reaching kids with horror, and I love that, no matter how strong our feud.]
As the beginning of the franchise, “Welcome to Dead House” gives us a look at how Stine originally established many of the tropes he’s run into the ground over the last three decades, but before he exaggerated the shit out of them. Our main character and narrator, Amanda Benson, is a girl dealing with her bratty brother Josh and her parents not believing them about the weird shit going on in their new home.
Title: Fear Street #44 – The Rich Girl, a.k.a. “Capitalism Stinks!”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt
Tagline: Would you kill to be rich?
Summary: Whom can you trust?
Emma Naylor and her best friend Sydney Shue always share their secrets. And now they have a big one. They found a duffel bag stuffed with money.
They swore never to tell anyone. But Sydney broke her promise. She told her boyfriend, Jason, about the money.
Now Emma is terrified. She doesn’t trust Jason – and she thinks he would do anything to get the money for himself. Even kill…
It’s finally spring, which means it’s time to think green. And what could be greener than money!
Money, the root of all evil and the root of this later entry Fear Street book. “The Rich Girl” was one of the earliest Fear Street books I can remember purchasing and a point of small interest for me over the years. As of this recap, it’s the first time I’ve re-read the book from beginning to end since middle school.
Despite what the summary says, Emma’s best friend Sydney is technically the main character since most of the action is happening from her point-of-view. The implications of this book are definitely rather uncomfortable to think about and there’s a lot of ableism going on near the end. Sorry, Wing.
[Wing: Eh, I’m never surprised by that around here. Also, no matter how many times I see that tagline, I first read it as “Would it kill you to be rich?”]
Title: Black Orchid #14 – “Glamour’s End” a.k.a. “Annis Get Your Gun!”
Writer: Dick Foreman
Penciller: Rebecca Guay
Inker: Stan Woch
Colorist: Digital Chameleon
Letterer: Clem Robbins
Editor: Lou Stathis
Assistant Editor: Alex Alonso
Cover Artist: Dave McKean
Summary: In England, Black Orchid encounters a formidable foe who ensares her with a powerful “glamour” spell.
So it feels like I’ve been on creative burnout for I don’t know how long and I’m freaking sick of it. It took me forever to finish a couple of other non-Point Horror related projects, and with this ear infection thing I’ve been dealing with I haven’t had any energy to do anything. I think I’m having a depressive episode and have to get in touch with my therapist.
I’m starting to believe my problem is I’m still expecting too much of myself with this website and am forcing obligation on myself to have stuff prepared for holidays and shit, even if I don’t have the energy or particularly care about a certain book.
That out of the way, I found it’s been easier to focus on minor stuff so I’m doing a recap of one of my favorite issues from one of my favorite titles about one of my favorite heroines.
Summary: A young girl has recurring nightmares about a castle and a woman who tries to kill her. She is sent to stay with relatives in the country for a change of scenery. En route she glimpses a mysterious but vaguely familiar castle surrounded by fog on the other side of the lake. What dark secrets does the castle possess and who was that woman in her nightmares?
I didn’t discuss this one with Wing ahead of time, but I haven’t done a manga recap in a while and this creator’s been a low-key interest for me for a couple of years.
Yoko Matsumoto’s a lesser known creator of horror manga to the point I do not believe any of her works have been officially distributed by English publishers. That’s sad, because she offers something different from the majority of Japanese horror creators I’ve come across. Matsumoto’s stories are rather deceptive for a horror writer. The art style is very shoujo and doesn’t utilize typically exaggerated horror imagery, things such as bulging eyes and grotesque body horror, like what can be found from creators Kanako Inuki, Junji Ito, or Kazuo Umezu.
From what I’ve read of Matsumoto, her stories rely on tragic/cruel irony, sometimes with no real explanation behind the cause of the horrific phenomena. Or maybe I haven’t read enough of her works to properly explain what she’s about.
This was the first tale I’d ever read by her, and it’s initially part of a collection called “Constellations That Sing Of Death.” However, several of the stories printed in her anthology collections have been put online as separate entries. The two translations online refer to this story by different titles.
I decided to do this spur-of-the-moment recap because in a couple of months I’ll be starting a Census job, and with that plus Yankee Stadium and my comic job I have no clue how much time I’ll have for writing. I’ve gotta do what I can while I have the time, space and energy.
Title: Goosebumps Glow & Tell Story Cards, a.k.a. “‘BUMPS IN DA HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT!”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: N/A
Tagline: Get Goosebumps At Pizza Hut
Summary: Collect All Three Sets!
Keep your friends spellbound! Read them the terrifying tales on every creepy card – even make up your own endings! Project scary shapes on any dark wall! Then play the Goosebumps Bone Yard Board Game!
One available every other week with the purchase of a kids’ Pack! Includes personal pan pizza and 16oz soft drink. Get your Glow & Tell cards while supplies last between April 28 and June 22.
SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY WING! I found this (near) complete set of Goosebumps memorabilia on eBay and thought it’d make an excellent gift recap for the site for Wing’s January birthday.
(Wing, there are mentions of spiders.)
I completely forgot about this but back in the 1990s, when Pizza Hut apparently still did those “Pizza Head Show” commercials (which I also forgot about) and gave away stuff like McDonald’s and Burger King, they partnered with Scholastic to do shit with Goosebumps. Actually they also partnered with Taco Bell, of all places, which are the giveaways I really remember. I think I did own the Goosebumps cup from Pizza Hut.
Wait does Burger King still do toys? Anyway, the Glow & Tell collection includes twelve bones with a short story printed on them and holes you can illuminate to cast scary shapes on the walls.
The stories are about Curly the Skeleton, the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, and the Scarecrow from “The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight.” The stories are structured so you can come up with the endings.
I’m gonna structure this recap by quoting each of the twelve stories and providing my own ending plus space for Wing to provide her own endings too if they want.
The pieces are also designed to function as a make-shift board game, the “Goosebumps Bone Yard Board Game.”
[Wing: This is an adorable campaign. I’m delighted by it.]
Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #20 – Be Afraid – Be Very Afraid! a.k.a. “YOU FINISH THE RECAP”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: There’s a new beast on the block…
Summary: The dragon’s wings stretched… stretched like a ship’s sail unfurling… and cut through power lines over the side of the street. Electricity crackled and sparks flew as the lines came down.
I watched, frozen in terror, as the dragon turned its massive body toward my house. It pulled back its head in an angry roar of attack.
“It’s – it’s coming here!” I choked out. “It’s coming after us!”
It’s the beginning of the year and it’s wintertime, which means I’m stepping into the role of recapping another Goosebumps 2000 book thanks to my zeal for seasonal nostalgia.
This is one of the 2000 entries that’s been especially prominent in my thoughts since “Return to Ghost Camp” had a preview for it at its end. The title and summary don’t allude much to the actual plot besides the prominence of dragons, so I’ll explain it’s about a card game that seemingly comes to life as three kids play it. However, the story bizarrely gets rather… meta, near the end, and I can’t tell if Stine is mocking his own writing style or what.
Title: Choose Your Own Nightmare #1 – Night of the Werewolf, a.k.a. “The Wacky Witchy Werewolf War”
Author: Edward Packard
Illustrator: Bill Schmidt
Tagline: It’s a full moon… beware of howling beasts!
Summary: Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?
Your vacation at your cousins’ house is off to a creepy start. A body – with deep bite marks all over it – has just been found at the local pond.
Is there a werewolf in town?
Even though you’ve been warned to stay away, you and your cousins want to check out the crime scene. Things seem pretty normal. Until you hear branches crashing… and a throaty howl…
What happens next in this bone-chilling story? It all depends on the choices you make. How will your nightmare end? Only you can find out! And the best part is that you can keep reading and rereading, getting new chills and thrills – until not one but all of your worst nightmares have come true!
Give yourself goosebumps… choose your own NIGHTMARE…
It’s the first month of the first year of a new decade, and we’re now forced to admit the 1990s were officially thirty years ago. And I’ll be turning 30 next December…
[Wing: *raises eyebrow* You are the youngest of the regular recappers across Devil’s Elbow and Sweet Valley Online, and possibly all of the Nostalgic Bookshelf collection. Best watch where you step, youngin’.]
To start off the 2020s here at Point Horror, for this first year I want to make it a year of firsts. Each month will feature at least one #1 book from a 90s horror series. I’ll be making an attempt to look at the firsts of series I’ve already offered glimpses into, such as Bone Chillers and Ghosts of Fear Street, and touch on series I’ve never looked at on here such as Choose Your Own Nightmare, Doomsday Mall, P.C. Hawke, and Christopher Pike’s Spooksville. You guys’ll be lucky, because a few of these books I’ve never read until now so it’ll be a learning experience for everyone.
[Wing: I love this book, I love werewolves, I love January’s full moon (it’s my favourite full moon), and I love recapping, and January is my birthday month, so this is a wonderful combination of things. Roll on Wolf Moon.]
My original plan to cover the second half of this book was to have the recap finished during the summer, preferably August to go alongside “Escape from Vampire Park,” and yet again I was delayed. I’m trying to use November as a catch-up month to finish a few things before December so I can focus on more holiday related recaps.
Looking back I have to say I’m more fond of the stories in the book’s first half, and the only story in this section I favor is “Phobia.” Amusingly, the last tale sets up an ongoing theme Stamper reused for the next three collections featuring the same cast of campers even though the stories aren’t connected by anything else. [Wing: Okay, using the same cast is interesting. I look forward to seeing those stories if we can track down copies.]
Title: Nightmare Hall 14: The Initiation by Diane Hoh
Summary: Joining the Others, a group of outcasts whom she thinks are just lonely students like herself, Salem University freshman Molly Keene realizes that there is something very wrong about the group, but finds there is only one way to leave it.
I’m excited to pick up recapping Nightmare Hall, though I’m not nearly as informed about the history of the books, ghost writers, etc., as Dade was, alas. The Initiation is not one of the Nightmare Hall books I read growing up, and in retrospect, that’s a very good thing, because I hated it, thanks, good times.
Read on to see why, I guess. Or save yourself. Whichever you prefer. Insert evil cackle here.
Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #10 – Headless Halloween, a.k.a. “Brandon Did A Bad, Bad Thing”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: Talk about getting ahead!
Summary: Frozen in silence, I squinted into the eerie, pale light. Hands popped up from beneath the ground. They shook off dirt and stretched. A dozen hands poked up, shimmering yellow and green in the moonlight.
And then heads. Human heads. Hair caked with dirt. Skin loose, hanging from their skulls. They stared at me with pleading eyes, faces twisted, mouths hanging open in pain.
“Take me with you,” one of them called in a dry whisper.
Wow it took me like two years to finally finish this recap I suck.
I started this some time in December 2017 before I figured out a routine for my Goosebumps recaps. I was still excited about recapping for Devil’s Elbow and this was one of the books I wanted to cover first as it’s one of my favorites. Admittedly it’s one of my favorites because that has to be one of the best covers Jacobus ever did for the franchise and I’m a sucker for Halloween stories.
So, you know how Stine has this uncanny ability to create protagonists who turn out to be exceedingly selfish and petty and they’re supposed to be the GOOD guys? Yeah, now imagine what happens when Stine creates a character who’s horrible on PURPOSE and you get our protagonist Brandon. However, because Brandon’s a dipshit it means the book is about him getting put through the wringer for being an unholy little fucker.
Stine also crafts a very suitable environment for Halloween and has one of my favorite settings in the entirety of the Goosebumps 2000 books.
Title: All Hallow’s Eve a.k.a. “Mighty Morphin’ Pumpkin Rangers”
Writer: Mitchell Perkins
Artist: John B. Lang
Letterer: Vickie Williams (R.I.P.)
Nesbitt’s Abbey towered over the tiny village of Wicklow, Ireland. Isolated, the abbey was occupied by a group of farming monks.
For years the villagers of Wicklow felt safe as they slumbered off to sleep — watching the monks’ late-night candles as they kept their nocturnal vigil over their precious books and scrolls.
Then, on a fog-shrouded night, something foul and nasty entered the abbey. One by one the old monks were driven from Nesbitt’s Abbey.
Now Nesbitt’s Abbey is haunted by Sam O’Hain and his evil hobgoblins. Will the evil goblins ever be driven from the old abbey?
John the McCormley children: Lauren, Trey, Ashley, and Rachel as they are told the story of the very first Jack O’lantern.
It’s a tale for…
All hallow’s eve.
Mainstream comics have been pretty awful lately. I still haven’t been able to reach my therapist to discuss how badly I reacted to DC’s “Heroes in Crisis” and Marvel’s currently a bunch of assholes for firing Chuck Wendig because he wasn’t “Civil” to those Comicsgate morons. So I felt like focusing on some obscure and independent stuff to try and take my mind off things.
The above was written last year when I started this draft and, honestly, things haven’t changed that much so I stand by my previous statements.
“All Hallow’s Eve” is another obscure gem I discovered back in the 2000s, created by Forest Light Productions through Innovation Comics. Innovation was a company that did a lot of interesting stuff like adaptations of Anne Rice’s books, the Child’s Play movies, comic tie-ins for Quantum Leap and Lost in Space, and they even did the phenomenal “Nightmares on Elm Street” miniseries. It was a six issue comic that bridged the gap between “The Dream Child” and “Freddy’s Dead.” That’s not even mentioning the gorgeous graphic novel they did of “Phantom of the Opera.”
When I purchased this, I had no idea what it was going to be about. I couldn’t find any information about the plot or any scans of the interior pages. Nothing! All I had to go on was the name and cover. This has a very 1980s animated movie vibe to it and offers a rather unique take on the jack o’lantern myth. It feels like the sort of thing Don Bluth would’ve worked on, of course I’m not an expert on his work.
I’ve tried to find out more about this graphic novel, but there’s virtually no information anywhere. I got in contact with former Innovation president, David Campiti, to see if he could direct me to the creative team. Unfortunately he said he lost touch with Mitchell Perkins and John Lang, and poor Vickie Williams died a few years ago. So once again it’s down to me to tell the world about stories like this, because God knows no one else will.
Summary: Vampirita, a series of novels about an astronaut vampire, has attracted a huge following at X – and none more so that Torrey and Terri. The next installment of the series will be released in a fortnight, and until then, fans can audition to star in the next book! Terri and Torrey start to build projects to win the auditions, but every time one is finished, it gets sabotaged. Naturally, the main suspects are two members of a rival novel’s fanclub – TQ, a mysterious and riddle-talking guy with an affinity for multicultural cuisine, and Trace, a girl who never seems to be happy with the color of her hair. But evidence points to neither… so just who could have enough knowledge about the projects to find the perfect way to sabotage them?
Now it’s time for a very special recap on Devil’s Elbow, featuring that cult classic Disney show “Fillmore!”
Airing in the early 2000s, “Fillmore!” was an animated series done in the style of 1970s crime and detective shows set within a middle school. Specifically it was set within X Middle School, one of the biggest middle schools in America. That’s not even hyperbole because X Middle School is fucking HUGE. It’s practically a city. To put this in perspective, they have clubs for everything including a field for bocce ball, a corn maze so large they had to send a rescue team to save some poor kid who came out screaming “IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME!!!!”, an expo center for science fairs, and a fucking JAI ALAI STADIUM. An entire stadium SOLELY for jai alai.
The main characters are Cornelius C. Fillmore (Orlando Brown) and Ingrid Third (Tara Strong). Fillmore was once the worst juvenile delinquent to ever attend X Middle School until he turned over a new leaf and joined the Safety Patrol. Ingrid, a goth girl with a photographic memory making her the smartest kid in school, was another former delinquent who transferred to X from a school in Nepal following a prank with a stink bomb and a pinata.
As partners in the Safety Patrol, Fillmore and Ingrid have gone around solving a number of bizarre crimes, including:
The destruction of an entire model train expo
The kidnapping of X Middle School’s beloved mascot, Lobsty the Lobster, during Spirit Week
A serial shredder going around destroying school projects with a handheld paper shredder
The tagging of a graffiti artist going by the handle “Stainless,” whose antics lead Fillmore and Ingrid to seek the aid of another tagger put in permanent detention ala Hannibal Lector for something unspeakable he drew with only a mini golf pencil
The theft of EVERY SINGLE BOOK in the school’s massive library
A group of students forming a vigilante squad to get revenge on the school’s bullies by traumatizing them for life
A counterfeit baseball card ring organized by a visiting Canadian diplomat’s son who has “Diplomatic immunity” and thus can’t be touched by the Safety Patrol
Threats made against the school’s star chess player, Checkmatey, who’s inexplicably a white gangsta kid who churns out cringeworthy raps
Every single crime in the series is treated with the same amount of ridiculous seriousness, the exact way shows like “Starsky & Hutch,” would handle them. It’s got chase sequences up the ying-yang, interrogations, and Fillmore and Ingrid getting chewed out by their superior officer, Chief Vallejo.
So yeah, the “X” probably stands for “Xtra” because everyone in this show is operating at 75 out of 10. The best is probably the school’s principal, Dawn S. Folsom, voiced by Wendie Malick giving a delightfully hammy performance. She spends most of her time either sweetly complimenting the Safety Patrol when she’s not threatening to have them all shipped to Kazakhstan, or she’ll turn their HQ into her own personal sauna. She’s such an egotist the school’s drama club did a musical about her life story. My favorite scene involves her ranting about making sure Checkmatey brings glory to the school while she’s vocally changing the settings on her massage chair.
“And then the void in our trophy case, and the VOID in my HEART, WILL BE FILLED! DEEP TISSUE!!!“
Unfortunately, she’s not in this episode.
No I picked this episode to review on Devil’s Elbow because the conflict involves sabotage being inflicted against members of a fan club for a book series about a vampire astronaut. The main suspects are members of a rival fan club for a different franchise. The episode offers a look into fandom wars, toxic fandoms, and what happens when creators stop giving a shit. [Wing: Well this should be interesting.]
As luck would have it, back when the show was still on Toon Disney (or Disney XD, at the time) they once did a marathon of all the episodes that hadn’t yet aired on this channel. I recorded all of them on a video tape I still own and still works. This episode’s the last one on the tape, so I’ve known about it for years.
Title: Goosebumps #16 – “One Day at HorrorLand,” a.k.a “TW: Pinching”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: Enter, if you dare…
Summary: The Next Ride Might Be Their Last…
Lizzy’s family got lost trying to find Zoo Gardens Theme Park. But that’s okay. They found another theme park instead.
In HorrorLand there are no crowds. No lines. And the admission is free. It seems like a pretty cool place.
But there was before Lizzy’s heart-stopping ride on the deadly Doom Slide. And that terrifying experience in the House of Mirrors.
Because there’s something weird about the rides in HorrorLand.
Something a little too creepy.
A little too real…
I started the draft for this recap TWO YEARS AGO when I first began writing for Point Horror. I never finished it because there never seemed to be an appropriate time for it, until now with the amusement park and vampire theme I tried to set up for August.
Wing because I know you better now I have to warn you there’s mention of spiders near the end of the book.
This has been one of my favorite books in the original series for as long as I can remember, because I love the concept of HorrorLand. I love it when Stine tries to establish there’s an entire world in his books even though it’s unlikely they’ll be visited again, because it leaves me wanting more. Surprisingly, this book has received a lot of attention over the years. It got a sequel in the 2000 series, a two-episode TV adaption, a board game, a computer game sequel, a graphic novel adaption by JILL FREAKING THOMPSON, a video game adaptation for the PS2 and the Nintendo Wii, AND an entire spin-off series (which was admittedly lackluster). [Wing: Well damn, that’s a lot! I don’t think I’ve read/seen/played this one before, so this should be fun.]
Title: Graveyard School #25 – Escape from Vampire Park, a.k.a. “#judedelucalovesjordieflandersSHUTUP”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Mark Nagata
Summary: Take A Ride In The Tunnel Of Blood…
Cover your eyes. Scream your brains out. It’s the scariest ride in the whole amusement park. But brave Nathan isn’t afraid. He knows the ride is one big fake. Except now he’s about to find out how the Tunnel of Blood got its name. He’s about to stop laughing and start screaming. Too late, Nate.
The worst ride of your life has just begun.
We’re down to three and the last summer book before we return to the hallowed halls of Graveyard School. But returning after such a long absence is none other than my favorite, Jordie “The Human Computer” Flanders.
Interestingly, as you could tell from the summary Jordie is not the main character. That role’s taken by newbie Nathan, who had never been mentioned as a member of the sixth grade class until now. Yet Jordie is still the one who does most of the investigating into the creepy things at Vampire Park, and Nathan’s targeted mainly because people think he and Jordie are friends. It works in a way because, since Jordie’s the co-protagonist, we get to see someone else react to her Jordie-isms.
Along the way, we also realize (for those of us who know what happened in “Camp Dracula“) that Jeep Holmes and his family are apparently REALLY bad at their jobs.
So join me as we say goodbye to Jordie.
[Wing: I’m not ready for this series to end. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not. But I am excited to see Jordie again.]
Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #8 – “Fright Camp,” a.k.a. “Return of the Go-carts from the Evil Kingdom!”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Cover Tagline: Where the wild things are… out of control!
Ad Tagline: You’re not going to play baseball.
You’re not going to go swimming.
You’re going to get scared!
I lowered my head and started to swim slowly, steadily out to the white, floating platform. I was four or five strokes away from it when I felt something wrap around my ankle.
At first, I thought it was a piece of seaweed.
But then I felt it grip me. I thrashed the water with both hands.
But the hard, bony hand held on, tugging me, tugging me underwater.
So for this summer I picked one GYG book, a G2000 book, and an original Goosebumps book to review alongside the Graveyard School recaps.
I wouldn’t say “Fright Camp” is one of my favorites but I’m definitely fond of it. It’s one of the oldest of the 2000 books I own, which I acquired from a friend of my brother’s way back when we still lived in the basement apartment of the house.
I enjoy “Fright Camp” for the same reason I enjoy “Shocker on Shock Street” and “One Day at Horrorland,” the world building. There are a number of horror movies mentioned in this book and they’re all fucking ridiculous and I love them all.
Title: Graveyard School #24 – Scream Around The Campfire, a.k.a. “I Heard The Bigfoot Call My Name”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Mark Nagata
Summary: Who Is The Happy Camper From The Dark Side?
Alex wishes he had stayed home this summer. He hates camp. He hates the goofy songs. He hates the gross food. But most of all, he hates the creepy campfire stories. Is he the only one who notices that they’ve been coming true? And will he be able to stop whoever it is before he becomes just another marshmallow on the campfire of life?
Four, repeat, we are down to FOUR books left before the series is over and we are once again leaving the confines of Grove Hill. This is the second of the two summer camp books and Thacker manages to avoid doing a total retread of “Camp Dracula.”
When I first heard of this particular entry back in 2004, my interest got peaked at the discovery the main character was none other than Alex Lee. Alex being the protagonist of the first “Graveyard School” book I read, I was eager to see what he would do in his next protagonist role. However, upon reading said book for the first time…
Guys I gotta level with you, this book is rather strange. Mainly, it’s the reveal behind what is causing the different campfire stories to come to life. But Thacker also includes a couple of unique ghost stories shared by the campers, although we see a retread of the infamous “Hook” urban legend.
At the very least, one thing to enjoy is the return of Alex’s pragmatic moral backbone and how he doesn’t strive to be some perfect angel yet is openly disgusted when other people are being hurt.
Also, the supporting character is named Garth which I fucking love because one of my favorite comic characters of all time is named Garth.
[Wing: No idea how the book is going to come across, but I love that book blurb up there. It sounds GREAT and makes me want to go to summer camp again.]
Title: Campfire Stories #1 – “An Evening With Ranger Bill,” a.k.a. “Ranger Bill Says ‘No Means No Or He’s Gonna FUCKING KILL YOU'”
Writer: Don Oriolo
Artist: Vincent Scarpelli
Get ready guys, because this introduction is gonna be a doozy. This comic has got to have the weirdest history of any individual comic I can think of.
It was supposedly published in 1992 by a company called “Global Comics,” yet seems to be the only title the company released besides an adaption of “Thirteen Something” which included early artwork by famed “Archie” artist Dan Parent. The next time I see Dan I need to ask him about all this.
Yet the reason I ever heard of this comic was a low budget, direct to video horror movie from the early 2000s called “Campfire Stories.” Made about a decade after the comic was released, the plot involved two teenage boys, a female hitchhiker, and the creepy Forest Ranger Bill. Ranger Bill tells them three stories:
An escaped mental patient who found work as a school janitor, and then kills the group of boys who humiliate him
Three bikers who rob an elderly Native American man and are turned into old people because of his stash of weed
Two roommates who decide to pull a prank on their boyfriends that ends with one of the roommates possessed by her grandmother’s spirit
The movie ends with the three escaping from Ranger Bill and making their way to a nightclub, only to realize the people in said nightclub are the characters from the stories. The boys are murdered while the hitchhiker escapes and flags down another car asking for a ride the exact same way she approached the boys…
The third story’s the only one I ever held an interest in, but once I was able to watch the entire movie I saw the opening credits mention a “Campfire Stories” comic book. However, said comic that I’ll be reviewing has little to do with the movie. The setting’s totally different, it doesn’t feature the same stories, and instead of being a forest ranger, Ranger Bill is a camp counselor. Yet the end credits of the movie feature pages from the ACTUAL comic.
As a side note, there was a different movie called “Campfire Stories” that came out in 1991, a year before the comic was published. They don’t seem to be connected although except they both tell a standard urban legend (the same one in fact).
Compounding all this weirdness, the comic AND the movie were co-created by Don Oriolo. Don’s a writer and musician and apparently worked with both Bon Jovi AND discovered Meat Loaf. He’s also the son of Joe Oriolo, the creator of the “Felix the Cat” TV show and co-creator of “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” Don’s well known for producing the “Felix the Cat” movie of the 1980s, one of the most infamously bizarre animated films in existence. Of course it’s also got a great soundtrack.
Weird, right??? So much packed into one comic.
Because I’ll be reviewing “Scream Around the Campfire” this month I chose to do a recap on this title to go with the camp theme.
Title: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #8 – Weekend at Poison Lake, a.k.a. “Aliens and Jewel Thieves and Moss-Men OH MY!”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Craig White
Summary: Come On In – The Water’s Slime!
It’s the weekend and your family’s vacationing at an awesome lake. The water’s cool, clear and downright deadly!
Rumor has it this lake is filled with poison! Or are those aliens? And what’s that nasty smell? Better pick a lucky number to help you out, or this nature trip could really go wild! If you pick the right number you’ll be chillin’ on the beach without a care. But if your number’s unlucky, you’ll come face-to-face with evil jewel hunters, ice-cream-craving aliens, and all sorts of freaky wildlife!
The choice is yours in this scary GOOSEBUMPS adventure that’s packed with over 20 super-spooky endings!
Since “Chicken Chicken” hasn’t been finished yet that means two Goosebumps recaps as well as two Graveyard School recaps this month. This is going with June’s water theme.
“Poison Lake” was the last of the GYG Special Edition books and from what I’ve read it’s one of the most loathed. I can sort of understand why yet I do love this one.
THE BAD: The whole “Lucky Number” shtick this book employs is extremely frustrating in figuring out a proper path to take. See, the numbers aren’t really “Lucky” because you’re just as likely to die from using the number to determine a choice than if you’d voted not to use it at all. And yet when you get the bad endings from not using the number, the book mocks you for it. Hell, it’ll mock you even if it doesn’t immediately lead to death by asking why you don’t want to utilize it.
THE GOOD: The four stories Stine’s crafted are incredibly endearing, and are totally independent of one another. Once you pick a path, you’re stuck on it. Which actually made recapping this much easier. My favorites are “The Missing Jewels” story and “The Moss-Man” story, the former because of the presence of competent adults and the latter because Stine’s able to create real tension and a dreamy atmosphere similar to “The Ghost Next Door.”
Also I love the monster on the cover despite its lack of appearance in the actual stories.
THE OTHER BAD: We get a return performance of, UGH, Jude as the main character. God he sucks.