There was much consternation on Twitter yesterday when news came that a much-revered and influential work was going to be re-examined in a way that made its fans distraught. I speak of course, of the decision to re-issue Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark without its famed horrific artwork by Steven Gammell.
The truth is, I know about this book and its artwork only second-hand. For some reason, I never read these, which is probably good, because I was a bok-bok-chicken when I was a kid, especially afraid of the supernatural (though I naturally was drawn to such stories.)
However, I got a similar dosage from a different book, one I often checked out and pored over, and which also terrified me with its frightening artwork (done in a similar style). It was called Monster Tales: Vampires, Werewolves, and Things, and it was an anthology edited by Roger Elwood.
All the talk of SStTitD reminded me of this book and I did a Google search. It wasn’t easy, since all I remembered about it was the title of one story, “Precious Bodily Fluids”, and that’s a phrase with a bit of other history. Still, with a bit of Google-fu I was able to locate someone else’s blog post about it, complete with scans of the artwork that gave me dozens of heebies interspersed with jeebies.
Turns out to be a pretty good testament to what a scaredy-cat I was, because Franz Altschuler’s pictures aren’t that scary (certainly not as bad as the Gammell ones I’ve seen, although the style is similar). The stories I remember spooking me the most were the aforementioned “Precious Bodily Fluids” and “The Vrkolak”. The images, courtesy of that blog, that got to me the most are this one from “The Vrkolak”:
and this one from “Wendigo’s Child”:
Mild stuff. Now I want to track down a copy of Scary Stories!