Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark… Can the Movie Capture the Horror of Stephen Gammell’s Illustrations?

One of the most cherished memories I have from my childhood was when the Scholastic Book Fair would come to my middle school! Oh, they would set up a whole storage room with wall to wall books and we were all allowed DURING school to go and paw each and every book.




My palms would get clammy. I would move slowly around the room, eyeing with trepidation which books I should add to the order form. Would mom let me get this one? Should I go with a shit ton of books and see what sticks? Or not come off as too greedy and pick the most precious few books I yearned for and just hope those got the green light?




It was at one of these book fairs that I remember seeing the cover of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. My little brain just knew that it was something different, haunting, this was something that was beyond my years. It was challenging me, “are you brave enough to crack open this book?”. Turns out, I was brave enough, and all of those books made it onto my Scholastic order form. Mine, mine, mine.




Years later, I still have my original copies of all three of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. They are weathered, the binding is loose, but those illustrations are still so horrifying and beautiful even after all of this time. I think that those illustrations are one of the reasons I really got into art and became a graphic designer. Not the only inspiration of course. I was a sponge and these illustrations were more raw and unique than anything else I had seen growing up.



I even framed one of the loose pages that came out of my old book. It’s one of my favorite illustrations. The wedding dress.




Today, the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Movie comes out, and I am going to see it at some point this weekend. I haven’t watched the previews or looked into it, because I don’t want to spoil it too much for myself. But, I know that the thing that made these books soooo iconic and memorable was Stephen Gammell’s drawings! The stories were great, but I read the books for the art.




How can a movie capture the wispy, drippy, nightmarish look of these illustrations? I don’t know if they can, but I am so freaking excited to get to have another little piece added into this collection of scary stories, even if it’s not 100% true to the books. I guess this post is just a love letter to the books, to the illustrations, to the Scholastic Book Fair, and hopefully a wish that the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie does the source material justice. I have high hopes!










Do you remember the Scholastic Book Fair at your school? Were you a fan of these frightening books? What were your favorite stories from the anthology? The Viper, Harold, or the Big Toe? There are so many good ones! Let us know in the comments section below!





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