Happy 70th Birthday to R.L. Stine—-Thanks for the Goosebumps

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We saw R.L. Stine the other day. We see him a lot around Lincoln Center, but tourists don’t bother him. They don’t recognize the Man Who Scared A Million Kids–and still does as the man behind the Goosebumps empire. We’ll say this for Stine, though. He doesn’t look his age. The guy is turning 70 years old, but seems a lot younger, We think he’s got some kind of immortality going from drinking the tears of frightened children.

But maybe your parents didn’t allow Goosebumps books in the house. That would be sad, but we have to assume there are a few young folks out there whose blood doesn’t congeal at the name of R.L. Stine. His Goosebumps series–along with offshoots like Fear Street and The Nightmare Room books–have sold over 400 million copies. His books keep selling, too. The classics include Night of the Living Dummy, Stay Out of the Basement, The Haunted Mask, and Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes.

Today’s kids get new Goosebumps books, though–including the current Goosebumps: Most Wanted series, which has brought back Slappy the Living Dummy and that haunted mask for a new generation. Stile also published the adult horror novel Red Rain last year. It was pretty great, and still had echoes of the Goosebumps style.

We’re pretty sure that R.L. Stine still writes his books, too. A lesser man (like Tom Clancy) would have farmed out the Goosebumps books to ghost writers. Stine seems to always be busy plotting up more horrific stories to keep kids under the covers. (You can keep up with that via Stine’s Twitter account.) We think he likes scaring children–which is pretty cool, since he started  out fancying himself as a kiddie humorist. That explains the humor that makes the Goosebump books work. We also admire how the series has always thrown in plenty of dark endings to prepare kids for the grim realities of life.

There’s been some recent talk of a Goosebumps feature film. We’re betting that would be a big hit. The old Goosebumps television show on Nickelodeon is still discussed in hushed tones–and grown kids might still enjoy checking out the R.L. Stine-produced Haunting Hour show that currently airs on the kiddie network The Hub. They’ve had some damn scary episodes. For now, though, let’s enjoy a thrill of nostalgia as we look back at the Goosebumps heyday–from the original marketing to the scary hold that R.L. Stine keeps on his original fans. Reader beware, you’re in for a scare….

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