Monster Maker: Stephen Gammell

Being a kid is generally scary enough. Mix in a heavy brew of hormones and horror and the landscape of their adolescent minds quickly begin to blur the distinction between dreams and reality. So as a child who loved to be scared my subconscious mind tended to develop a thicker skin than most, that is until I read a simple book called, Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. Written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gamble, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer level of fear the filled those pages. For a child of the early 90s, Scwartz and Gammell's terror tome was the closest thing I can imagine to Tom Savini's first issue of Tale from the Crypt.

Full of dark-themed fables, myths and urban legends (including one horridly memorable tale about a girl with spiders living in here cheeks), the stories themselves were scary enough. However, it was Gammell's signature style of illustration (incorporating water color, sketching and ink wash) that took things to an unimaginably new level of dread. At the time, my appreciation for art wasn't quite as sophisticated as it is today, but with Gammell's eerily, amorphous illustrations it didn't need to be. In fact, Gammell's work has stood the test of time quite well as it sill gives me the creepy cruds.

If you haven't read the books in awhile, or worse yet if you've never read them period, I highly suggest you look them up on Amazon or a local book store. They are each a wonderfully woeful reminder that the boogeyman still exists... he just needs you to open the door.


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