From my childhood, I remember EC Comics, Night Gallery and reruns of The Twilight Zone – all indulged behind my mom’s back, of course. Then there were Tales From the Crypt, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Goosebumps. It’s a weird revelation as a kid: being scared is fun. It’s a two-edged sword, of course – the only kind of storytelling that gives you a hangover. You hated afterwards, when you lay in bed terrified that something was watching you from the closet – “I will never look at anything scary again, never ever” – but you inevitably did go back and probably still indulge and probably still regret it every time. I know I do. Part of the reason those stories stay with us is that there is a visual element. There is the story itself, but then there is an image you cannot get out of your head. Ever. Your brain gets walled up with a terrifying visual, and there is nothing you can do about it. Not only that, but the stories themselves were relatively short, with some simple, clear twistedness. Again, this doomed you to remembrance.
Into this great tradition comes Ghost from Illustratus. (They’re visiting us Friday night 4/14 – here is our interview.) This group of writers and illustrators (veterans of Disney and Pixar) present 13 original scary tales in a thick, storybook-size volume. The only negative about this attractive packaging is that it is white with no book jacket – so whatever blood and viscera splashes on there – you won’t get it off. But maybe it’s worth it, because it looks great. The style of illustration is perfect: warm and atmospheric, like “Billy’s First Home Run” and “Sally Wins the Science Fair” kinda feel – but that’s a real counterpoint to the uncanny content: the ghost of a fisherman looming in the fog, the dead thing grinning up at you from the bottom of the stairs, the elevator with no buttons. It’s a set-up. Though there is a lot of doom, there are also a few narrow escapes. Not every creature is a ghost – there are a few monsters, a few Twilight Zone-style episodes. There are dark forests, sunken submarines, graveyards, playgrounds, and of course libraries. I’m sorry to say, this book will keep your kid wide awake at night, but when they eventually have to crawl out of bed to venture down the dark hall for a pee, maybe it will teach them how to be brave. Failing that, it will at least keep them out of the basement…
… and they’ll never find Uncle George, whom you keep chained up down there.
Buy it from us HERE – if you’re not too chicken.