Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark gets neutered

Do you remember the scariest books in the library? The ones with the mediocre folklore stories, but the ridiculously disturbing illustrations? I remember in my school library, Alvin Scwartz's collection of Scary Stories didn't even have a cover anymore, because it had been checked out so often.
"Mom, I swear, it was a clownhead smoking a
corncob pipe, growing out of a cemetary."
Well, if you don't remember, it won't really matter anymore, because those iconic images are getting whitewashed out right out of Alvin Schwartz's books. In celebration of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark's 30th anniversary, publisher HarperCollins will replace Stephen Gammell’s artwork with the artwork of Brett Helquist, the illustrator for the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Can't be that bad right? Wrong.

Take a look at this example:

The original:
The new edition:
"Oh, is there a little spider walking on my face?"
*brushes it away with hand*

The difference is not just noticeable, it's considerable. How many kids do you think will want to read Alvin Schwartz's collection of scary stories now that they have taken all of the danger out of the book? Sure, the stories are still scary, but the illustrations were really what made this book desirable in comparison to all the other collections of spooky stories in the school library. It felt like you were looking at something, you weren't supposed to and yet the librarian would hand it to you freely. I believe, when books have to compete with television for kids attention, I don't find anything wrong with a little shock value.

These kids should obviously read more books
Plus, Gammell's illustrations aren't even half as obscene as anything kids can watch on television. If anything, they provoke kids imaginations to grow, pushing them beyond the boundaries of their wildest dreams or in this case, nightmares. I can understand why a parent would want to protect their child from nightmares, no one wants to comfort a crying child in the middle of the night, but on the other hand, why not? Especially when it can be used as a learning opportunity.

Why not teach your child, that as a parent, you are going to be there for them in the middle of the night when they are scared, and that for their wild imagination spinning horrific images that go bump in the night, you can buy a nightlight. For that creaking sound of the door closing slowly in the middle of the night, WD40. That strange sound before they go to bed? It's actually your father's GI problems.

Little by little, your (future imaginary) children will learn how to filter out the real from the unreal and overcome their fears. Let's teach them to be rational, because won't that better serve them in their future lives, rather than trying to sanitize everything before it reaches them?    

Maybe your kid won't grow up to be a jerk if you did

For more original to new comparisons of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, please visit: Buzzfeed.


  1. This can't be real... Nooooo! Those books were my first love in horror. I didn't think there could be anything worse than modern horror remakes..

  2. Oh I know, nothing is sacred anymore. :(

  3. That's really sad. I remember the covers of the books were the things that drew me to them in the first place. When other books had hot colors and a glossy sheen, I would immediately run away from them to find the Scary Stories books.

  4. It's true. I think the books will sell a lot less now that they are going to look boring. The covers and artwork were the whole selling point for most kids.

  5. "Mildly Spooky Stories to Tell in a Well Lit Area with Your Parents' Supervision."

    1. Exactly. They should be renamed appropriately to go along with their new artwork.