Since I began to write a lot of 80s and 90s nostalgia posts on the blog I knew there was one subject that I could not skip while I'm still in my "Blasts From The Pasts" mindset. That subject is none other than one of the biggest book crazes of all time...R.L. Stine's Goosebumps!
A couple of times a year my grade school would host a book fair down in the school's gymnasium. One was held at the start of the school year and the other was towards the end. My Mom would always give me about ten dollars and insist that I don'tt come home with any more dragon book markers!
I bought the book and since we were allowed to read what we bought for the rest of the school day I was almost finished by the time I got home. My Mom wasn't totally pleased about my book choice, but the fact that I was reading and excited about a book counted for something. I remember finishing the book by the end of the next day and wanted to read more.
During that summer I asked my Dad to take me to Waldenbooks (remember that place?) every couple of weeks. It was there that I would always find a few more books by this R.L. Stine guy. Books about plant monsters, a cursed mummy, and a living dummy accompanied me on my family road trip to Florida. I also remember getting books from his Fear Street line, but didn't I really care for them except for the book "Sun Burn".
After that summer I began the 6th grade and had a pretty strict English teacher. She wasn't just a teacher, she was also a NUN! Her name was Sister Michelle and she didn't take too kindly to me or any of the other students in her class reading the books that were quickly gaining popularity in her class!
Sister Michelle on the Top Left Row, Ok now see if you can spot me . . . .
Give up? I am in the second row and the second from the right. I was a Student Council Officer that year so hence the badge on my tie, lol
Anyway, Sister BitchFace wanted us to read "Maniac Magee" not something called "Monster Blood". She even forbade us from ordering Goosebumps directly from the Scholastic Book Club Forum that the school would provide us each month But it was all good because by that time I found out that for a mere $2.63 every month I could head to Kmart and get the new books much faster and get issues that I missed out on (from their first printing).
I haven't even gotten to the worse of it! Our local Pizza Hut ran a reading program that rewarded you a free pizza at the end of every month if you read up to four books. Of course GooseBumps didn't count as a book in Sister Michelle's eyes and it was up to her to give us the reward coupons. Many times me and my fellow students would miss out on a FREE PIZZA! What A Total BitchFace! Where was I? Oh, after thAT year of Hell I made into the 7th grade, by that time the popularity of the books were on the decline, but it was then that I found somebody who cared about the books just as much as I did; my good friend still to this day Louanne!
Me, Lou, and Bam in LA (2010)
Lou and I would trade the books back and forth, discuss at long lengths our favorite stories, and anticipated the upcoming TV show that was coming to FOX!
That was a fun time to be a fan of the series! By the 8th grade we both kind of stopped caring. I didn't worry if I missed a new book. By the time you read about 50 of them the twist endings were almost never a surprise and the ideas were getting shitter and shitter. I would only get the current one if I really thought it would be enjoyable, I had every book from #1 to 50 then called it quits, no longer was I card carrying member of the Goosebumps Fan Club or would use my official Goosebumps flashlight to read at night. But hey, it was a good run!
I knew I wanted do a Goosebumps post sometime this week and I knew I still had the books in a box in the basement. And against Mr. Stine's better wishes I went down the basement and got that box!
Look even my cat Dexter is now a fan.
The fact that I still had these books at all put a huge smile on my face to say the least. I can't tell you how fun it is to page through them. This was my tweens in a nutshell. The covers still get a chuckle out of me, with their band puns. The artwork still holds up thankfully since they were part of the reason I bought them in the first place.
In the box with the 50 or so regular books I found a couple "Give Yourself Goosebumps" books that were pretty much a spin on those "choose your own adventure" games.
But the oddest thing I found was without a doubt these two books (below). I remember a lot of Mad Magazine and Cracked parodies back in the 90s but for the life of me I can not remember buying "Gooflumps" by "R.U. Slime"! I have two of these books and both are spoofs on real titles, "Eat Cheese And Barf" being a take on "Say Cheese And Die" and "Stay Out of The Bathroom" Being a match for "Stay Out Of The Basement!
Both covers go out of their way to make sure they are not affiliated with Stine, but both look 100% like the real deal!
Now those are two books I can agree with Sister Michelle on banning!
Well there you have it. I hope you liked reading this retrospective on Gooflumps . . . I mean Goosebumps as much as I had writing it. This really did bring back so many fond childhood memories and I think a rereading of some of these classics is long over due!
- Tom Bryce