Nothing says Halloween quite like a good Goosebumps book!
Growing up, I absolutely loved R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, and I credit those books, in no small part, for walking me hand-and-hand into the horror genre at a young age. As fun as they are spooky, Stine’s books have introduced several generations to the wonderful world of horror, and over 20 years after the very first Goosebumps book was published, he’s still pumping them out fast and furious. Now that the feature film is finally out there, one could say the franchise is as relevant now as it’s ever been.
Stories like The Haunted Mask and Night of the Living Dummy are some of the most iconic on the horror fiction scene, but equally memorable were the original covers that dared us to snatch those books off the shelves and take them home with us. Like horror movies during the VHS boom of the ’80s, the Goosebumps covers were always vivid and attention-grabbing in the best of ways, and we have artist Tim Jacobus to thank for all the original art that we hold so near and dear.
Whether he was drawing grotesque blob monsters or killer dummies, Jacobus’ Goosebumps art never failed to be the coolest thing on the book shelf, and without him, one could argue that the series would never have become as popular as it did. It was a combination of Stine’s writing and Jacobus’ art that won me over as a kid, and it’s impossible to imagine one without the other.
In his 1998 book It Came from New Jersey!, Jacobus detailed his process:
To get started, I use a pencil to scribble as many ideas as I can think of that show what the cover could look like. These are called “thumbnail” sketches. I may draw as many as 30 of them. I don’t worry about detail yet. Then I pick the three or four that best match the description my editor and art director sent. After I pick the four I like best, I refine them and add more detail. Even though I’m only using a pencil, I can show where shadows will be, and which parts of the painting will be dark and light. When I’m done, I fax them all to the editor and art director. They’ll pick the one they think will make the best painting.
Now comes my favorite part – the paint! I use acrylic paint. First, I choose the colors that are best for the painting. I use the colors to do a small version of the painting called a color comp. This shows me what the colors will look like in the final painting. Once I’ve done the color comp, it’s time to do the real thing. From start to finish, it takes about 4 or 5 days to paint a Goosebumps cover.
The bad news? Tim Jacobus has never publicly released any of those sketches or color comps.
The good news? He sent us a handful of them to show off here on Bloody Disgusting!
Below you’ll find original sketches and color comps for Welcome to Dead House, Monster Blood, and The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, along with unused alternate art for both Welcome to Dead House and Monster Blood. Enjoy this fun exclusive!