READER BEWARE: This is my blog, so everything I say here is my opinion. I'm not going to end every sentence "in my opinion" or anything like that. If you have your own thoughts on these covers, please leave them in the comments below.
In this series of blogs, I'll be reviewing each Goosebumps series' cover art. For this one, I will be taking a look at the Classic Goosebumps series. Classic Goosebumps is a book series that re-releases older Goosebumps books with brand new artwork. The art is done by an artist named Brandon Dorman. He usually does fantasy-type artwork, which range from cartoony, to detailed and realistic. I must say, he's a very good artist. He's done a lot of book covers, but none of them were really horror based. So Goosebumps is a bit different for him. So how does is fantasy style transition to Goosebumps? I think it's time we find now.
But before I get started, I must explain how I critique the artwork. I'm going to compare them to the original Goosebumps series artwork, which were mainly done by Tim Jacobus. The original series artwork were charming, creepy, eerie, cool, and scary. They have this realistic, dream-like flare, the colors are really saturated, and some of the artwork has the floor or ceiling warping. The original series artwork is timeless, and will creep anyone out at any age. For example, I have this Night of the Living Dummy cardboard stand with the original artwork, which I had sitting up on my bookshelf. One day, my dad walked in my room and saw it. He said to me, "That is the creepiest I have ever seen." So I'll be judging these covers based on how creepy or scary they are, and how they stack up to the original covers. So, let's begin...
(Classic editions are displayed on the left, original artwork is displayed on the right.)
#1: Night of the Living Dummy
This is the first cover in the Classic Goosebumps series. The first nine covers didn't mimic the original series' artwork, and are completely unique. Which, I think is a good thing. This cover is very different compared to the original. Instead of a close-up of Slappy's face, it's a shot of him slumped up against a wall. And here we see our first problem with the series; Dorman seems to think giving the main villain on the cover angry eyes makes it scary. It... really doesn't. Just look at the original artwork. Is Slappy angry in it? No. In fact, his eye brows are raised up. What made that artwork creepy was his smile, his yellow eyes staring intently at you, and the lighting. He didn't need to look angry. In fact, if he did, it would probably ruin the cover. All there Living Dummy covers in the original series didn't have Slappy, or any other dummy look angry, and yet, they were still creepy.
That all being said, I don't hate this cover. But I honestly think if he didn't look angry, and all he had was a creepy smile, this would have been really creepy. I also don't like how Slappy doesn't have that much detail going on. He appears a bit too plastic-like. Although, I do like innocent kids drawings on the wall. Despite my criticisms, I think this cover is good in its own right.
#2: Deep Trouble
The original artwork gave you a great sense of danger. You have some kid floating in the water, completely unaware of this hammer-head shark that's about to attack him. It's terrifying. So how does this new version by Brandon Dorman stack up compared to it? Not much. That sense of danger you got from the original is not present here. Instead, you have the hammer-head shark just casually swimming through the water, with some skull structure behind him. Since there is no kid or anything like that in the water, there's no reason to be scared by this. It's just a shark swimming around.
#3: Monster Blood
The artwork here more resembles a scene from the book (although, I don't remember the Monster Blood being described as a giant blob with arms and an angry face). There's some nice attention to detail going on, which is always a plus. However, this cover isn't subtle at all. The original cover is probably one of the most creepiest in the original series. The lighting, the way the monster blood flows and drips down the stairs, and the glasses being caught up it in gives the cover a very eerie feel. The Classic version does not capture the same vibe. Maybe if the two bullies from the book were caught inside the Monster Blood, then maybe it would have been scarier. But overall, it's not bad. It's fun to look for all the objects inside the Monster Blood.
#4: The Haunted Mask
I like how this one takes place at night, and I dig the red color scheme. The atmosphere for this cover is pretty good. However, my main problem with the cover is The Haunted Mask itself. It's not the highlight of the cover like the original. It's just kind of... there. The kids aren't even scared by it. They're just walking away. Also, is the kid wearing The Haunted Mask supposed to be Carly Beth? Because it doesn't look like her, nor does it look a girl. While the artwork taking place on Halloween is cool, it makes the mask appear less effective. Speaking of which, the mask itself looks okay. I like the glowing eyes.
#5: One Day at HorrorLand
The original artwork took place by the welcome sign, but this one actually takes place in HorrorLand itself. Compared to the original, this is cover really isn't good at all. The Horror at the ice cream stand doesn't even look threatening. In fact, I don't like this shot at all. Why does this cover even take place at the ice cream stand? Out of all the locations in HorrorLand, Dorman chose this? In fact, this is very similar to the location used for the Series 2000 cover, Return to HorrorLand. I think the cover would've been better if we got a shot of a Horror (that looks creepy and/or threatening) standing behind something, and you see the family walking by. That would've been cool. But no. Ice cream. Actually, the ice cream is the scariest part of the cover.
#6: The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
I don't have much to say about this cover (same with the original). There's nothing I really like or dislike about it. I guess I just don't find it interesting.
#7: Be Careful What You Wish For
Another cover I don't find all that interesting. You have Clarissa in this psychic ball... and that's really all there is to it. The color scheme is dreary, but I guess it fits. Looking at this cover from a distance makes it appear like Clarissa doesn't have pupils. It looks kinda cool. Too bad it's not actually like that on the cover. Overall, I prefer the darker, more ominous tone of the original.
#8 Say Cheese and Die!
This is the first cover so far that I actually consider to be scary and not seriously flawed in some way. We have this camera in a lifeless person's hand (presumably someone who just died), and in the reflection of the camera lens, we see a skull (which is a callback to the original art). This is pretty dark for a Goosebumps cover, and I love it. In fact, I like it almost as much as the original. It's creepy, eerie, and kinda disturbing. I also dig the red color scheme. Although, if there's one complaint I have with it, it's that the sky is a bit too bright.
#9: The Horror at Camp Jellyjam
Oh boy. Let's talk about the original artwork first. It's just this one creepy guy standing in front of the shot giving this very creepy smile, and he's staring into your soul. There's an empty camp ground with no kids in sight behind him, with some dark, evil looking clouds in the sky. The cover as a whole is very off-putting, and gives me goosebumps. So how does the Classic version stack up? Take everything good and creepy about the original, and throw it out the window. Seriously, this cover isn't creepy in the slightest. It takes place in front of a cave, with a bright light shining in. This cover honestly looks more peaceful than scary, which, does not give me goosebumps.
#10: How I Got My Shrunken Head
In the original cover, the Shrunken Head was staring off, giving it a feeling that it has a mind of its own. But the Classic version looks more like a toy. I don't like how it doesn't have the metal stitches on its mouth. And the color scheme is just blah to me. This is also when the Classic series started borrowing heavily from Jacobus' original covers, which is kind of lame.
#11: The Werewolf of Fever Swamp
This one is very similar to the original, except the wolf is a werewolf this time. The design of the werewolf is pretty standard and basic. Not much to say about it other than I like the pupil-less eyes. What was great about the original were the contrasting colors. The lime swamp waters and blue night sky gave the cover a very vibrant appearance... which the Classic cover lacks. It features a standard swamp and a standard werewolf. It's simply just not as interesting as the original.
#12: A Night in Terror Tower
The original art features the Lord High Executioner coming after you down a narrow stairway while wielding an axe. He's got those creepy eyes too. It's threatening and scary. In the Classic version, there's fire, pointy gates, the Executioner is wearing spiky bracelets on his arms and legs, and he's wielding an axe on top of that. Even with all of that, this cover isn't scary or threatening. Instead of giving off the "chasing you down" vibe of the original, it looks like he's welcoming you or something. Also in the original art, the Executioner has darkness behind him. Here, he has light behind him. I feel like this cover removes everything good about the original. It's honestly one of my least favorite covers.
#13: Welcome to Dead House
This looks way too similar to the original art. It even has a very similar color scheme, and the same figure looking out the window, but the only difference here is that it's a kid instead of a man. And like with Say Cheese And Die!, I think the sky is a bit too bright. This cover is extremely lazy doesn't add anything new at all.
#14: Welcome to Camp Nightmare
Yikes. Let's go over the positives first. The scenery is nice. I like the dead trees, and the murky color scheme. I think it's all great... until you get to the monster. The original art was smart. Instead of showing you the monster, it's hidden away. The only thing you can see are its creepy eyes, and its weird looking, human-like hand. It's very eerie. The Classic cover, however, is not. Not even in the slightest. The monster here is actually shown, and it honestly looks terrible. The design is generic and uninspired (kind of like the whole cover), and looks like something you'd see on the cover of a nursery rhymes book. To make matters worse, the artwork in general is just another blatant (and inferior) copy of the original.
Despite some nice detail, it's yet another cheap imitation of the original cover. It's not creepy, eerie, or subtle at all, and the monster design is horribly generic. I seriously do not like this cover.
#15: Ghost Beach
...and unfortunately it doesn't stop. The design of the ghost is absolutely ridiculous and tries way too hard. The eyes, the mouth, the hands... they're so exaggerated looking it makes me not take the cover seriously. There's also a huge wave hitting the hill of the graveyard. There is not subtlety on this cover, which is the complete opposite of the original. While this cover doesn't mimic the original as blatantly as the last three covers, the inspiration is still clearly there. I also don't care for the scenery, and the color scheme is total blah.
#16: The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight
Finally, a cover that doesn't totally suck. I like how this one takes place in a windy cornfield, and I dig the way the sky looks. The design of the scarecrow's face looks like a jack-o'-lantern, so this one's got some Halloween vibes going on. While it's very similar to the original, I still think it's quite a nice cover.
#17: You Can't Scare Me!
Annnd we're back to the crap. The title is right. This cover can't scare me! While the original was nice and subtle (and actually terrifying), the Classic version goes the Ghost Beach route, and tries way too hard. The Mud Monsters here have have teeth and eyes -- which makes them look completely un-scary. The Mud Monsters are also aggressively rising from the swamp, unlike the original, where they rose from the swamp subtly (which also made it all the more scary). And the Mud Monsters here are flinging lots of mud into the air, and the main one appears to be creating some sort of shock wave in the mud. Seriously, it's like Dorman thought to himself, "How can I make this as over the top and as exaggerated as possible?" I also think the bright, yellow color scheme is a bit much.
#18: Return of the Mummy
The design of the casket (is that what you call it?) and the walls are a lot more detailed than the one from the original, which I like. I also dig the lighting. This cover doesn't do too much wrong. However, once again, it's a blatant imitation of Jacobus' original artwork. I don't know why Dorman did this. The first nine or so covers were completely original. But now he's just looking off of Tim Jacobus' artwork, and drawing it at a different angle. I seriously rather him make his own art instead of mimicking others. It's just unnecessary and kind of lazy. Also, why does the mummy here have claws?
#19: Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes
This... doesn't look or resemble a Goosebumps cover at all. Dorman usually likes drawing mythical creatures such as goblins and trolls, so I think he got a little carried away with the designs of the Lawn Gnomes here. They just don't have that Goosebumps feel to them. Also, the scenery is just too bright.
#20: Phantom of the Auditorium
Like with the previous cover, this doesn't feel like Goosebumps at all. Seriously, what is up with the lighting on this cover? It's way too bright. The original cover took place in front of some really dark drapes, and the phantom's face and body was shadowy looking, giving him him a mysterious appearance. This one takes place in a well-lit room, and the phantom's clothing is bright and vibrant. I'm not sure what was Dorman thinking with this one. This is probably the *only* cover in the Classic series that doesn't even make an attempt at being creepy, scary, threatening, or mysterious. I feel like he was being lazy with this one.
#21: Vampire Breath
You got Count Nightwing opening up his coffin from the inside, and staring at you with some fierce looking eyes. I like Nightwing's design, and the color scheme is alright. However, there are way too many cobwebs. It's way over done here. I would also prefer if the lighting were darker.
#22: Stay Out of the Basement
The original by Jim Theisn was brilliant. You have this green, plant-like hand emerging from the darkness of the basement, holding onto the door. It's simple, yet extremely eerie and creepy. It actually gives me goosebumps. This Classic version however, offers neither of those things. This is so painfully unoriginal. Dorman just took the original, changed the angle, and added a bunch of vines to it. And by "a bunch", I mean way too many. I also don't like how vibrant the door looks.
When Tim Jacobus did the art for the 2003 reprint of Stay Out of the Basement', he didn't copy the original. He made his own art. Why didn't Dorman do the same?
#23: A Shocker on Shock Street
This cover marks the return of the Classic series after 4 year hiatus. This one is, once again, very similar to the original, even down to the same color scheme. However, I really dig the sky. It's got that surreal Jacobus flare to it. The overall detail on the cover is nice too. The design of the mantis is alright, but its pose isn't all that subtle. But overall I think this one is good for the sky alone.
#24: Let's Get Invisible!
This cover doesn't do too much wrong, but it's whatever to me. I'm not really a fan of the kid's green arm, and I guess the lighting could be a bit darker. One thing I really like about the cover are the rats in the top left corner. That's cute. But the cover isn't exactly subtle like the original... it's kinda there. I'm giving this one a yellow.
#25: Night of the Living Dummy 2
The original art was subtle brilliant. You have Slappy slumped up on a pink bed in a very girly room, giving you a subtle creepy smile. That alone makes it great. But what makes it even better, is the stuffed animals on the bed. They look terrified of Slappy. The cover overall is creepy, charming, and a classic for sure. So what about the Classic cover? Surprisingly, it's pretty good! The lighting is very menacing. Slappy is poking out this closet, with his hand sticking out the blinds of it. There's red paint on his hand, and on the wall, and Slappy also looks really angry. The cover gives off a menacing vibe. Not only that, you have this smiling pink teddy bear on the side. It's great.
My only complaint is, if Slappy didn't look angry, and looked how he did in the original, not only would this be very creepy, but it would probably be just as good as the original. This cover is very good. Dorman should have done all the covers like this. It's kind of scary, and pays homage to the original without blatantly ripping it off.
#26: Night of the Living Dummy 3
This one is really over the top. Not a single dummy in the original art looked angry. Yeah, you had some that were frowning, but they didn't look super ticked-off. Here, every dummy looks unnecessarily angry. Seriously, why are they so mad? It's like Dorman thought making everything angry would make it scary. No. I've proven that you don't need to have your villain or whoever it is on the cover to appear angry for them to look scary. When you have everyone on the cover look super angry, it just comes across as forced. If there's one thing I do like about the cover though, is the scenery. It's not too bright, but not too dark, and there's some nice detail. But overall, I'm not a fan of this cover.
#27: The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena
The Abominable Snowman's design here is... odd. He has some balding spots, has sharp teeth, claws on his feet, has white fur instead of brown fur. This is a problem, because it makes him blend into the background too much. It also makes it hard to tell what's going on in this cover. Seriously, when I first saw this cover, I had no idea what I was looking at. The overly bright scenery seems to be a running problem with this series, but I think it's at its worst here..
#28: The Blob That Ate Everyone
In the original, the "joke" was that you got this destructive Blob Monster in a peaceful neighborhood. The Classic version more resembles a scene in the book, which I believe took place in or outside a video store. This cover is fantastic, and one of my favorites in the Classic series. The design of the Blob Monster is actually scary and the scenery and detail is great. The sky is actually dark for once, and there's intense lightning going on. It's beautiful. There's honestly not a single flaw I have with this cover.
Oh, but it doesn't stop there...
#29: The Ghost Next Door
A-am I seeing things? A Classic cover that's actually subtle for once? I have officially entered the Twilight Zone. No, but seriously, this one is great. So great, I prefer it to the original. Yeah, I'm serious. You have this ghostly hand reaching for this creepy looking door knocker. That's it. Nothing over the top, nothing over done, nothing crazy, nothing overly exaggerated, just creepy subtlety. I also love the colors and the ghostly mist at the bottom.
What makes me upset though, is that this proves Dorman can make subtle and creepy covers, and ones that can top the originals. Sadly, he chooses not to, and instead goes for this very forced and over the top "angry eyes" style. But overall, I think this is one of the best covers in the series. And yes, a scary cover is directly followed by a creepy cover. I'm shocked!
Also, I think I noticed something. The Classic and original versions connect. Hannah knocks on the door with the door knocker (Classic version), then Danny answers the door (original version).
#30: The Haunted Car
Annnd we're back to the over the top style. Bummer. What's interesting about this one though, is that it takes place in the woods at night. The forest scenery, background, and lighting all look nice. However, it's when we take a look at the car is when we start running in to issues. The design of it is, you guessed it, over the top and over done. Its "mouth" is open, showing razor sharp fangs, and its exhaust pipes are releasing fire. Geez. Honestly, if the fire weren't there, I would probably like this cover a lot more.
Also, this one isn't that un-scary. The car's headlights, and the forest and lighting look a little creepy. If the car wasn't so exaggerated looking, this one would have been pretty good.
#31: Attack of the Graveyard Ghouls
The original cover was great. It's very dark and cool looking, and looks like something you'd see to the cover of a Metal album. The Classic version however, is terrible by comparison. The design of the Graveyard Ghouls look horrendous. They don't even look like zombies. They look like green colored ghosts. Seriously, what is this?
Despite my harsh criticisms, I don't think it's bad. The designs of the Graveyard Ghouls are fine... as long as you don't compare them to the original. The graveyard, color scheme, and color of the sky look very cool. I also like the rat on the tombstone. And I don't know why, but I sorta get a Halloween vibe from this. Compared to the original, this sucks. But on its own... it's actually pretty good.
#32: Please Don't Feed the Vampire
This is the last cover of the Goosebumps movie tie-in books. Is it any good? Do we go off on a high note? Short answer: no. Here, we got an angry poodle. On the floor is her food bowl, and a chew toy (which is shaped like a bat, which is pretty cute). There's not much to say about this one. There's an angry poodle, and that's all there is too it. Too be fair, the original by Mark Nagata was like that too, but I didn't care for that version either.
#33: The Headless Ghost
The next wave of Classic Goosebumps books is set to release soon, and with that comes new covers. This is one of them. Is it any good?
This one doesn't really try to be creepy. Instead, it tries to be goofy. Instead of The Headless Ghost walking down the stairs... he's sliding down the banister. With no head. I don't know about you, but I find that funny. The artwork is also more detailed compared to the original. But like with Vampire Breath, I think the cobwebs are overdone. The cover also has a seriously lack of color, with almost everything being purple. But overall, I say this is a good cover.
#34: The Haunted Mask 2
Even though the cover heavily mimics Jacobu's original artwork, I find that there is a lot to like here. The problem with the those covers is that they didn't offer anything new, and just ended up looking inferior to the originals. This one on the other hand, offers a new realistic art style we haven't seen in the Classic series before. The lighting, shadows, and overall detail are outstanding. The lack of one major color scheme also makes everything look more natural and real. And the mask looks evil, menacing, and actually scary. Speaking of which, I always found Dorman's design of The Haunted Mask odd. The design usually came across as forced, and it always looked more like a plastic toy rather than a mask to me. But that's fixed on this cover thanks to the excellent detail.
Overall, I say this is a phenomenal cover. I honestly think this is the most evil looking cover in the Goosebumps franchise, and the best in the Classic series.
#35: Bride of the Living Dummy
This one is not scary good. The dummies on here just look weird. Mary-Ellen looks like an egg wearing a wig, and Slappy... is just there. There's nothing going on in the background, but I like the colors of it. Um... the cake looks fine, I guess. And uh... yeah. There's not really much else to say about this. It's just blah.
#37: Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns
And now we've come to the end. This is the only cover in the new wave that takes almost no inspiration from Jacobus' cover, so that's a plus. This cover has a lot of jack-o'-lanterns, and the Pumpkinhead is breathing fire. Like with The Haunted Mask 2, I think the realistic art style helps things look and feel less forced and over the top. The jack-o'-lanterns looks seriously cool, and so does the Pumpkinhead. I like the way its hand looks, and the weeds growing over the fence. Overall, a pretty solid cover.
There were 14 covers I thought were good, 8 covers I was mixed on, and 14 covers I didn't like. So it's 50/50 in terms of covers I like and dislike.
In closing, the Classic series' artwork is a mixed bag. It first started off completely original, then later down the line started blatantly mimicking the original series artwork. I think Brand Dorman is a great artist, but I definitely don't think this is his best work. He tried way too hard to make the artwork scary, by over doing a lot of things. However, there were some good artwork here. But those were few and far between. However, I do think the series is getting better, thanks to the new realistic art style. Hopefully it won't be long until the next wave of Classic GB books comes around.
These covers are actually creepy/scary, and don't mimic the original art (except for The Haunted Mask 2). Pretty much what a majority of the Classic series should have been.
These covers are not creepy, scary, and mimic the original art. Pretty much what a majority of the Classic series was, unfortunately.
- Coming soon.