Haunted houses, monster masks, living dummies - the Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine helped scare a generation of young readers. Already adapted into a live-action movie, IDW is taking the series to comic book form, with Jeremy Lambert and artist Chris Fenogli, just in time for Halloween.
Newsarama had the opportunity to talk to both Lambert and Fengolio about the new series, which hits stores this week, and what makes them truly scared.
Newsarama: Jeremy, Chris, obviously Goosebumps was this huge thing for a generation of young readers. Did they have an influence on you growing up?
Jeremy Lambert:They did! I got every Goosebumps book I could get my hands on at Scholastic Book Fairs and used bookstores when I was a kid. I went back through them all when I first started writing and even just looking over all the covers brought back a ton of memories. I stayed up way too late reading them all the time.
I read a bunch of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and stuff like that but I always came back to Goosebumps more than anything. Well, Goosebumps and the Gotrek & Felix books. I was an asthmatic kid who was scared all the time of pretty much everything. I had pretty bad night terrors and I saw monsters in the shadows just like all the kids did in those books. I saw them way past the age where it was "appropriate" to see or be afraid of monsters. I'm just happy that I wasn't eaten, I guess.
Chris Fenoglio: I read a bunch of them growing up (Why I’m Afraid of Bees was the first chapter book I finished in a single day! I’m very proud), but I was really into R.L. Stine’s young adult series, Fear Street. I read a ton of those books.
Nrama: There's a lot of Goosebumps easter eggs being thrown in here. Not just the appearance of Slappy, but the books and even Camp Jelly Jam. Was it difficult trying to connect it all?
Fenoglio: Wait, Camp Jelly Jam was an easter egg?
Lambert: It's not difficult, it's an insane amount of fun! There are even more easter eggs that we wanted to put in but we just didn't have the room, which is fine. Gotta keep my personal Goosebumps fandom in check. But thanks to R.L. Stine, there's such a huge well to draw from. Shame that it's covered in monster blood, though.
Nrama: Tell us about Mia and Ginny and their relationship, not just as sisters but characters who are on this adventure.
Lambert: I wanted Mia and Ginny to feel like real kids, and when our amazing artist Chris Fenoglio here brought them to life, he brought that element as well, in addition to so many things I hadn’t thought of, or articulated. These sisters vie over the same stuff, make deals to get out of chores, get into fights over the smallest things, etc. I based them off two friends, as well as my brother and I.
And yeah, the sisters are scared of monsters, sure, but we're going to see the other things that Horrorland brings out that really affect them. About their family, letting their moms down, or letting each other down. The possibilities of not being everything that they want to be. And hey, kids are the walking wounded too, so Mia became my brother (with a different leg injury from soccer every weekend) and Ginny became me (keeping her inhaler, nebulizer, and a book close at all times.)
Nrama: What was one thing you really you really wanted to put in this, but couldn't find the right room for?
Lambert: The sisters and Irk trying on Horrorland monster costumes. I wanted that in there so badly, but couldn't make it work in the space. Like a behind-the-scenes look at Disneyland. Slappy had other ideas!
Fenoglio: Batman. No! Kidding!
I also drew X-Files: Origins for IDW, and I’d love to find way to squeeze an X-Files easter egg in there somehow - I just haven’t found the right spot yet. But I may have snuck Slappy into one of the backgrounds of X-Files: Origins. [Laughs]
Nrama: Chris, I did notice a certain "evil" book in the library.
Fengolio: “Evil” book?… HAHA! Whatever could you be talking about?… heh… um… my lawyer has advised me to not answer this question.
Lambert: What Chris isn’t telling you is that his lawyer is a certain foul-mouthed dummy.
Nrama: So who are Mia and Ginny going up against here?
Lambert: Mia and Ginny are going up against a demonic shopkeeper, a certain nefarious Slappy, and all the Horrors that Horrorland has to offer! Including a miniature one named Irk. Not to mention scary things under the water, as well as Mia and Ginny’s own manifesting nightmares. Even scarier than that, believe it or not, is… well if I answer this I’m giving away Issue #3…
Nrama: Okay, I have to know, have either of you met or talked to R.L. Stine when working on this?
Lambert: One tweet! I got one awesome tweet! He posted about the book and I told him we’ll make him proud and he responded, saying that he’s looking forward to it. Then I fainted.
Fengolio: I’m not allowed within 500 feet of Mr. Stine as per court order… but I do stalk…er…follow him on Twitter.
Nrama: It's Halloween season so I'm curious what are you guys truly afraid of?
Fengolio: That someone’s going to make me eat vegetables…
Lambert: The Tuxedo Man. One of those night terrors of mine that I was telling you about earlier. I’ll go no further so everyone can actually sleep tonight.