Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 8 - Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

     Speaking of collections of scary stories.

     Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (from this point on, ScaStoTellDar) is like an analog Creepypasta. This would be the definitive aforementioned "sleepover book". Freaky little yarns that stuck in your brain and would make you want to leave all your lights on. There's a generation or two that this book had an enduring impact. I'd like to think it wasn't just being exposed at a young age that made it so memorable(though that certainly helped), I want to believe it was really something a bit more disturbing than teachers and parents were expecting and it slipped under the radar and was popular in elementary schools when maybe it shouldn't have been quite as readily available to kids that young.

     The stories in ScaStoTellDar aren't really all that bone-chilling...there's a whole chapter of "stories", imperative that they in particular are read aloud, that are just loose premises that meander and build up a modicum of dread and finish with instructions for the reader to simply scream at listeners...though there a few gems in there. Like Creepypasta in it's early state, this book is largely an aggregate of campfire stories and urban legends and serves as the introduction of them for many kids.

    So the stories themselves weren't particularly special, what was it that really made ScaStoTellDar and its sequels stand the test of time and keep people mentioning it decades later?

    The illustrations.

 The book was filled with these absurdly creepy drawings by Stephen Gammell. And it's not just that he was illustrating terrifying subject matter...

 These two are perfectly normal, non-mutant humans. They're the victims in the story, you shouldn't be horrified to look at them.

 This image was sitting mere inches away from "Where's Waldo?" and multiple Dr. Seuss books. 

It's like your nightmare had a nightmare.

1 comment:

  1. Never read the books, but I'm a huge fan of Gammell's work.