Goosebumps

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Goosebumps
Logo of Goosebumps
Logo of Goosebumps
Author R. L. Stine
Cover artist Tim Jacobus
Mark Nagata
Brandon Dorman[1]
Country United States
Language English
Genre Horror, thriller, children's literature
Publisher Scholastic Publishing
Published Original series: July 1992 – December 1997
Spin-off series: October 1994 – present
Media type Print
No. of books 177[nb 1] (List of books)

Goosebumps is a series of children's horror fiction novels by American author R. L. Stine, initially published by Scholastic Publishing. The stories follow child characters, who find themselves in scary situations.

From 1992 to 1997, 62 books were published under the Goosebumps umbrella title. Various spin-off series were written by Stine: Goosebumps Series 2000, Give Yourself Goosebumps, Tales to Give You Goosebumps, Goosebumps Triple Header, Goosebumps HorrorLand, and Goosebumps Most Wanted. Another series, Goosebumps Gold, was never released. Goosebumps has spawned a television series and merchandise.

Since the release of its first novel, Welcome to Dead House, in July 1992, the books have gained immense popularity and commercial success worldwide. As of 2012, the series has sold over 300 million books worldwide in 32 languages, and individual books in the series have been listed in many bestseller lists, including the New York Times Best Seller list for children. Two reviewers of the series thought the quality of the Goosebumps literature was not good, but others were happy the books encouraged children to read.

Structure and genre[edit]

An illustration of R. L. Stine with some of his creations. This illustration was from the cover of Stine's autobiography, It Came from Ohio!: My Life as a Writer.

The Goosebumps series falls under the children's fiction, horror and thriller genres, although Stine characterizes the series as "scary books that are also funny."[2] Each book features different child characters[3] and settings.[4] The primary protagonists are middle class and can be either male or female.[5]

The primary protagonists of a Goosebumps story are often situated in a remote location or somehow isolated from typical societal conventions. This can range anywhere from comfortable suburban areas to boarding schools, foreign villages or campsites.[6] Books typically feature characters who either recently moved to a new neighborhood or are sent to stay with relatives.[5]

The books in the Goosebumps series feature similar plot structures[7] with fictional children being involved in scary situations.[8] The books are mostly written in first person narrative, often concluding with twist endings.[9] They contain surreal horror,[5] with characters encountering the strange and supernatural.[10]

The author has plot devices that he follows throughout his Goosebumps books. He does not have any death in his stories, and the children in his novels are never put into situations that would be considered too serious.[11] Stine attributed the success of his books by their absence of drugs, depravity and violence.[12]

Inspiration and themes[edit]

Books and characters in the series were inspired by books and films. For example, the character Slappy the Dummy was inspired by the literary classic The Adventures of Pinocchio.[13] Some of Stine's ideas for the books also came from real life; Stine got the idea for the book The Haunted Mask after his son, Matt, had a Halloween mask that he had trouble getting off.[14]

Stine uses his childhood fears to help him write his books. The author said, "Luckily, I have a great memory. As I write a story, I can remember what it feels like to be afraid and panicky".[15] Stine states that he often thinks of a title to a novel first, then lets the title lead him to a story.[16]

Two common themes in the series are children triumphing over evil and children facing horrid or frightening situations and using their own wit and imagination to escape them.[17] Stine does not attempt to incorporate moral lessons into his novels, and says his books are "strictly reading motivation".[18]

R. L. Stine, the author of the Goosebumps series

Original Goosebumps series[edit]

Following the success of Stine's young adult horror novels, the co-founder of Parachute Press (the company that developed the series),[19] Joan Waricha, persuaded him to write scary books for younger children.[20] Stine says the name for the book series came to him after he saw a TV station's ad in TV Guide that stated "It’s goosebumps week on Channel 11."[21][22] He originally signed a six-book deal with the publisher Scholastic,[23] but went on to write 62 books in the original series, the first book being Welcome to Dead House, released in July 1992. The series was originally aimed at girls, but both boys and girls enjoyed the series equally with half of Stine's fan mail being sent from boys.[11]

The Goosebumps books in this series featured one main story in every book. The cover illustrations for this series were first done by Tim Jacobus.[24]

Spin-off series[edit]

The books in the Tales to Give You Goosebumps and Goosebumps Triple Header series were written as short story anthologies, featuring a collection of stories in each book.[25] From 1994 to 1997, six Tales to Give You Goosebumps books were published. Two Goosebumps Triple Header books were released from 1997 to 1998, beginning with Three Shocking Tales of Terror: Book 1.[26]

Fifty Give Yourself Goosebumps books were published from 1995 to 2000, starting with Escape from the Carnival of Horrors. The books in this series were written as gamebooks, featuring multiple endings.[27] Many of the cover illustrations for this series were done by Mark Nagata.[28]

Due to declining Goosebumps sales and increasing competition, Scholastic and Stine decided to create Goosebumps Series 2000.[29] From 1998 to 2000, 25 books in the series published, beginning with Cry of the Cat. The books in this series were written in a similar format and featured similar content to the original series,[30] but Stine classified them as being "much scarier."[23] The covers in this series were illustrated by Tim Jacobus.[24]

The books in the Goosebumps Gold series appeared on illustrator Tim Jacobus's website[31] and marketing sites but were never released. In this series, Stine intended to write a sequel to The Haunted Mask II (The Haunted Mask Lives!), and a sequel to Welcome to Dead House (Happy Holidays from Dead House). It was one of the two book series by Stine that was planned to be released in 2000 (the other was The Nightmare Room).[32]

The series was renewed in 2008 following the release of the first book in the Goosebumps HorrorLand series, Revenge of the Living Dummy, that was published on April 1, 2008.[33] Before the 2008 release of Revenge of the Living Dummy, there had not been a Goosebumps book published in almost 10 years.[34] Nineteen Goosebumps HorrorLand books were published,[35] and books in the series mainly featured two stories.[17] The series continued in 2012 with new stories featuring some of the series' most memorable villains, including Slappy the Dummy, the Lawn Gnomes and others. The first book of the spin-off series series Goosebumps Most Wanted, Planet of the Lawn Gnomes, was released in October 2012.[36]

Achievements, reception and controversy[edit]

Achievements[edit]

"The first 27 paperback backlist titles on our list are all Goosebumps. The phenomenon is even more astounding when the sales figures are added up. Scholastic sold 19,125,700 copies of Goosebumps frontlist titles in 1995, and 12,906,800 backlist titles, for a grand total of 32,032,500 copies sold."

—Diane Roback, an editor for Publishers Weekly[37]

Following the release of the first novel in the series, the books quickly became popular, selling a million copies a month soon after they first appeared,[3] and four million copies a month by the mid-1990s.[38] Individual Goosebumps books appeared in the New York Times Best Seller list for children[39] and the USA Today bestseller list.[40][41] In 2001, Publishers Weekly listed 46 books in the series in its list of bestselling children's paperback books of all-time.[42] Goosebumps was a bestseller in many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.[43]

In 1996, the book series accounted for almost 15% of Scholastic's annual revenue. Following the decline of Goosebumps sales in 1997, Scholastic's sales had dropped 40%.[44] The decline in Goosebumps book sales had made front page news of most newspaper business sections, which Patrick Jones stated "demonstrates the impact and importance of R. L. Stine. One writer, it seems, influences the fate of an entire company."[45]

As of 2008, the Goosebumps series maintains an 82% brand awareness among children 7–12.[46] It is listed as the number two bestselling children's book series of all time[47] and as Scholastic's bestselling children's book series of all time.[48] By 2012, according to Scholastic, there were 300 million copies of Goosebumps books sold in 32 languages,[49][50] including Japanese, Chinese, Czech, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew.[43] As of 2008, the book series sells about two million copies annually.[20]

Three books from the Goosebumps series have won the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Book; Deep Trouble in 1995 (the award category's first year),[51] the book Tales to Give You Goosebumps in 1996,[52] and Deep Trouble II in 1998.[53] In 2000, the series was ranked as the number two children's books by the National Education Association, as chosen by children.[54]

Reception[edit]

Slate's Katy Waldman classified a classic Goosebumps story as "funny, icky, and just a bit menacing".[55] Following the release of the first Goosebumps HorrorLand book, Publishers Weekly stated in a starred review that the new Goosebumps series was "deliciously chilling."[56]

Two reviewers of the Goosebumps books did not feel that the books were high quality literature. U.S. News & World Report's Marc Silver thought the series was "quite tame". He called the Goosebumps books "subliterature", stating the plotting in the books was careless and that characters in the stories rarely grew.[57] Roderick McGillis, from the academic journal Bookbird, described the books as camp, writing the books "are so artificial, so formulaic, so predictable, so repetitive". McGillis also felt that the content of the Goosebumps series is "thin in the extreme".[58]

Stine's books have a reputation for getting children excited about reading, which the writer is very proud of.[16] James Carter, writing in Talking Books: Children's Authors Talk About the Craft, Creativity and Process of Writing, stated "regarding Point Horrors and Goosebumps, I feel that anything that children read avidly is a good thing."[59] Librarian and writer Patrick Jones commented that "[t]he real horror is a culture where kids, especially boys, don‘t read—and Stine has done his best to stop that turn of the screw from happening in his lifetime."[60]

Book challenges[edit]

Goosebumps was listed 15th in the list of most frequently challenged books during 1990–1999[61] and 94th in the list of top banned/challenged books during 2000–2009[62] by the American Library Association (ALA). According to the ALA, a challenge is an attempt by a person or group to remove or restrict materials from a library or school curriculum.[63] The series was challenged for being too frightening for young people and depicting occult or satanic themes.[64] By 1997, the ALA was informed of 46 challenges, over 75% of which occurred in school libraries. The rest of the challenges were held in public libraries or the location of the challenges were unknown.[65] In 1997, a hearing by the Anoka-Hennepin School District to ban the books was broadcast by C-SPAN. In the hearing, most of the parents and children felt the books should not be banned,[66] and the school district's book review committee decided to keep the books.[67]

Adaptations and merchandise[edit]

Television adaptation[edit]

In the 1990s, Goosebumps was adapted for television. Produced in Canada by Protocol Entertainment in association with Scholastic Productions,[68] the TV anthology series ran for four seasons from 1995 to 1998,[48] beginning on October 27, 1995.[69] The series mainly featured plots based on the Goosebumps books, among them The Haunted Mask and Cuckoo Clock of Doom. The TV series was very popular; it aired in over 100 countries[70] and it was the number one rated children's TV show for three years in the United States.[71] A book series, titled Goosebumps Presents, was based on the TV series.[72]

Film adaptation[edit]

The first attempt at a Goosebumps film was in 1998, which Tim Burton was going to produce. Chris Meledandri, the president of Fox Family Films, said, "I think you'll see us tackling a scale of story that would be prohibitive to do on the small screen".[73] The film did not materialize.

In 2008, Columbia Pictures acquired rights to create a Goosebumps film.[74] Carl Ellsworth was chosen to write the screenplay, while Neal Moritz and Deborah Forte, the latter of whom developed the TV series, will produce the film.[75] On January 14, 2012, it was reported that a new draft of the screenplay will be written by Darren Lemke; Lemke co-wrote the screenplays for Shrek Forever After and Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer.[76] Stine expressed in November 2012 a pessimism about the prospect of the film, saying that he will believe that a film can be based on his Goosebumps series when he sees it. He mentioned Where the Wild Things Are being adapted into a film almost 50 years after publication.[77] In September 2013, it was reported that Jack Black was in talks to "play a Stine-like author whose scary characters literally leap off the page, forcing him to hide from his own creepy creations." Rob Letterman was also confirmed as the director, which would reunite him with Black, after working together on Shark Tale and Gulliver's Travels.[78]

It was announced in February 2014 that Dylan Minnette was cast as Zach Cooper,[79] and Odeya Rush was cast as the Stine-like author's niece, Hannah. In the film, which is set to be released on March 23, 2016, Zach and Hannah team up after Slappy the Dummy sets free the fictional writer's malevolent creations.[80][81]

Games[edit]

There are three Goosebumps video games, two of which have been created for the PC by DreamWorks Interactive.[82][83] A 1996 game entitled Escape from HorrorLand is an interactive sequel to the book One Day at HorrorLand,[84] and a 1997 game entitled Attack of the Mutant was based on the book of the same name. Scholastic released a Goosebumps video game in October 2008 entitled Goosebumps HorrorLand, based on the series of the same name.[85]

The books One Day at HorrorLand and A Night in Terror Tower were adapted into two separate board games in 1996. Both games were published by Milton Bradley and designed by Craig Van Ness.[86][87]

Other media[edit]

Goosebumps has spawned merchandise, including T-shirts, board games, puzzles,[2] hats, fake skulls, dolls,[88] bike helmets, fake blood and boxer shorts.[89] Goosebumps was also adapted into a stage play by Rupert Holmes in 1998.[90] Goosebumps has an official website, which garners 1.5 million page views each month as of 2008.[91]

An attraction based on the series, the Goosebumps HorrorLand Fright Show and FunHouse, opened in October 1997 at Disney-MGM Studios's New York Street.[92] Before it closed, the attraction consisted of a stage play which featured characters from the series; this show played five times a day. The attraction also featured a funhouse, called the Goosebumps HorrorLand Hall of Mirrors, which contained a maze of mirrors along with other props and gags from the series.[93] In 2008, it was announced that Sally Corporation would market Goosebumps rides.[94]

A comic book series, titled Goosebumps Graphix, was written based on books from the original series. There were three books published in the series; the first one, Creepy Creatures, was published on September 1, 2006.[95]

Legal dispute[edit]

In November 1996, Scholastic, the publisher of the series,[96] and Parachute Press, the developer of the series,[19] agreed to a new contract. Scholastic retained control of book publishing and the TV series, but gave Parachute Press merchandising rights to the series. In September 1997, following a dispute between Scholastic and Parachute Press, Scholastic accused Parachute Press of breaching the contract. Scholastic claimed that Parachute Press had been making merchandising deals and issuing press releases without Scholastic's required consent, and had begun withholding payments from them. In November 1997, Parachute responded by alleging Scholastic had repudiated its financial obligations, claiming Scholastic had voided its rights to publish 54 books. Parachute Press filed a lawsuit, which followed with numerous other suits and counter lawsuits[97] over who controls certain rights to the series. In 2003, the two sides reached an agreement, with Scholastic receiving the Goosebumps trademark and all other rights to the series for US$9.65 million.[19]

See also[edit]

Note[edit]

  1. ^ Consists of 62 books in the original Goosebumps series, 25 Goosebumps Series 2000 books, 50 Give Yourself Goosebumps books, 6 Tales to Give You Goosebumps books, 2 Goosebumps Triple Header books, 19 Goosebumps HorrorLand books, 6 Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors books, 6 published Goosebumps Most Wanted books, and Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask.

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]