by R. L. Stine
Slappy the Ventriloquist’s Dummy introduces four creepy stories, based on four previously published Goosebumps books. In “A Shocker on Shock Street”, two children are given a chance to test a new theme park attraction that utilizes ultra-realistic special effects. Jamie Tolagson's graphic style recalls old EC horror comics (but child-safe, of course) and the traditional comic book style.
Gabriel Hernandez's sketchier illustrations for “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp” are in line with more contemporary horror comics. This story calls to mind works like The Walking Dead. It's set in a spooky swamp. A boy and his family have recently moved there, and the boy has adopted a large, wolf-like dog. When a rabbit is found brutally mutilated, his new pet is accused, but the boy is determined to prove Wolf's innocence, and discovers something far scarier haunting the swamp.
“Ghost Beach” is illustrated in a Japanese manga style. While the story can be chilling, the cartoon characters don't always convey it authentically. Two girls are staying with cousins for the summer, and befriend some of the local children. The locals tell the girls about a ghost haunting the nearby beach, and ask for their help in permanently ridding the town of the spirit.
I was going to describe the style of the final comic, “Night of the Living Dummy”, as Telgemeier-esque. It seemed all the more apt when I realized that the artist, Dave Roman, is married to Raina Telgemeier. Characters are rounded and cute, almost bouncing from one panel to the next – which suits the story, which revolves around two sisters feuding with ventriloquist dummies. It's Slappy's origin story, and it's an entertaining one.
I remember reading most of these stories in their original book form when I was a kid. I enjoyed them back in the mid-90s and I had fun revisiting them in this new, graphic form. I've always liked the Goosebumps franchise for its ability to introduce something unsettling into a very real-world setting and slowly build on events in a way that ratchets up the tension while remaining gentle enough that the stories don't give kids nightmares. A cartoonish sense of humor pervades all of Goosebumps, and in the four selected stories it doesn't overwhelm the spookiness. I don't know if this is meant to be the first of many graphic adaptations or just a one-off event, but it's a great way to introduce the stories to a new generation of readers.
3.5 out of 5 stars
To read more about Goosebumps: Slappy's Tales of Horror, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: Fashionista Piranha will be on break for the holidays
2014: Movie: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
2013: Fashionista Piranha Book Blog in 2013
2012: The Most Anticipated Reads of 2012
2011: Closing down for end of year Festivus…
2010: Summary of Book Reviews from June-December 2009
2009: The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell