I spent a good portion of my childhood being frightened by, what are in retrospect, really odd things. The weird cyborg creature from the end of Superman 3 comes to mind, but that wasn’t the number one thing that freaked me out as a kid. That honor would have to go to Stephen Gammell‘s illustrations for Alvin Schwartz‘s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I had nightmares for weeks after I stumbled across that book. I went so far as to demand that my mother put it in the sewer–where I, obviously, couldn’t find it. (Keep in mind I was also 5 or 6 at the time.)
Looking back, those illustrations are still really creepy. You see some of those drawings now and go, “Wow, that was for a children’s book?” Gammell‘s artwork is masterful. I feel privileged to have been scarred by that and not, say, Troll 2.
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When they released those new editions of the three books with different artwork, it felt like a betrayal…I immediately bought a brand-new copy of the complete treasury with Gammell’s original artwork, to hang on to in case it’s no longer available if and when I have kids of my own one day.
Oh man, that painting is horrifying. It reminds me of the creepy artwork in the old Twilight Zone magazines that used to keep me up at night.
I’ve got that book from an old book store some years ago. I like to collect books in English which keeps me practicing the language. One day during errands, this book caught my eye. Especially the illustrations. If you are into horror hobbies, you can’t take your eyes away from those pictures. One of my favorite stories is “The Thing”.
good grief, Gammell’s art is just horrifying, to this day it scares me. It’s perfectly suggestive and explicit at the same time.
Ralph Steadman is of the same cloth, art-wise.