Over on Facebook, a post just reminded me all over again about the tragedy that is the new editions of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Remember these? It wasn’t the stories that made the book - though they were certainly great horror stories, and sincere thanks to Alvin Schwartz for that. It was the terrifying, fuzzy, bloody, baggy, twisted, skin-sack, otherworldly illustrations of Stephen Gammel that made the books so memorable. You can’t mention Scary Stories to adults of a certain age (mine) without evoking a whole flood of deliciously horrifying memories.
That’s why it’s such a bummer that the new editions took the old artwork out and replaced it with something so banal and harmless and frankly, CUTE. It’s not bad art - but it’s not Gammell’s art, and there’s something about Gammell’s art that make us feel like we’ve descended into true madness - stark, dead-faced evil - into a demon realm of hell. Which, you know, is pretty cool.
So, just in time for Halloween, and in honor of the original, bone-chilling artwork, I’ve picked some of my favorites to share with you all. (The first pic illustrates the contrast between new/old art.) Happy nightmares!