Adapted by Jill Thompson, Jamie Tolagson & Amy Kim Ganter (Graphix/Scholastic)
How to get children reading has been a desperate quest of educators and parents for decades and the role of comics in that drive has long been a controversial one. Excluding all the arguments over whether sequential narrative hinders, harms or perhaps helps, the only other option was to produce material youngsters might actually want to read.
Enter R.L. Stine in 1992, who wrote sixty-two light-hearted, child-friendly supernatural horror thrillers over the next five years that took the world by storm, spawning movies, TV shows, games and a host of imitators, reconfiguring the iconography of the classic tales of mystery and imagination into modern romps to engage youngsters in the greatest thrill of all – total absorption in the magic of stories. In its various incarnations and reboots Goosebumps has sold more than 300 million copies.
In 2006 Scholastic began a series of themed graphic novel adaptations, using top comicbook and manga talent to convert three books per volume into hip and striking cartoon yarns. I’ve picked the second “Goosebumps Graphix” edition for no other reason than my complete devotion to the work of one of the artists involved (eventually I’m sure I’ll get around to the others…)
Terror Trips leads off with ‘One Day at Horrorland’ (the sixteenth novel in the prose series) adapted and illustrated by the utterly superb Jill Thompson, who despite her incredible body of work, ranging from Sandman to Wonder Woman and her fabulous Scary Godmother books and films is some how still not a household name.
When a day-trip to Zoo Gardens with their parents goes awry, Lizzy, brother Luke and their friend Clay find themselves lost and alone in the best – or perhaps worst – scary theme park ever. If she wasn’t such a big girl now and didn’t know better, Lizzy might almost believe all those monsters and death-traps were real…
Multi-media artist Jamie Tolagson (The Crow, The Dreaming, Books of Magic) translated the truly creepy ‘A Shocker on Shock Street’ (novel #35) with stunning effect. Under-aged horror movie mavens Erin and Josh think they’ve seen everything, but when Erin’s movie director and FX designer dad invites the pair to the studio to see the new “Shock Street” theme park they’re in for the most startling surprise of their young lives – and so is the reader…
The third and final jaunt into jeopardy is ‘Deep Trouble’ (novel #19) adapted by Amy Kim Ganter, manga and webcomic artist (see Sorcerers & Secretaries for a delightful example of her firm grip on fantasy). Here she relates the time William Deep Jr. accompanied his marine biologist father on an expedition to discover if mermaids actually existed. Unfortunately, the worst beasts in the oceans are usually greedy humans, but the sea still had a few undiscovered horrors of its own lying hidden beneath the surface…
This splendid selection is delivered in a variety of black and white styles, and each tale is augmented by a feature explaining the working process of the artists as they translated the story into comics form. Both the novels and comic books are readily available so why not save yourself the cost of outrageous dental bills this Halloween by stocking up on comic chillers such as this and handing out stuff to chew over rather than simply swallow – and remember, if used correctly books are not fattening…?
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