A BIRTHDAY SALUTE: The celebrated Mr. K on meeting the horror master…
Welcome to columnist Paul Kupperberg’s recurring feature A COMIC MOMENT WITH… Having worked decades in the biz, Paul has so many great, humorous stories to tell, this seemed like a really groovy way to share some of them. This time out, it’s R.L. STINE. — Dan
By PAUL KUPPERBERG
R.L. Stine (October 8, 1943) is the prolific author of hundreds of IA and YA novels of horror and suspense, as well as an editor, television writer and producer, best known for his Goosebumps (and Fear Street and Rotten School and Mostly Ghostly and Nightmare Room) book series.
The “Stephen King of Middle Schoolers” has already penned dozens of books for numerous franchises, including G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, and Indiana Jones, and created Bananas, a magazine for teens published by Scholastic Books that ran for 11 years, before he launched the Fear Street series in 1989. Stine’s also the recipient of (among many honors) a 2017 Inkpot Award from San Diego Comic-Con.
In September 2019, I was a guest at the Saugatuck StoryFest at the Westport (Connecticut) Library where Stine was the guest of honor and keynote speaker. I was no stranger to his books; my son was born in 1996 and had gone through his Goosebumps phase, beginning with the audiobook version of 1995’s Goosebumps #27: A Night in Terror Tower in 2000, acquired on a visit to Florida along with a Chick•Fil•A kid’s meal.
After his charming keynote address, I made my way to the small crowd that had gathered around him and waited for an opportunity to introduce myself. We shared at least one mutual friend in publishing—an editorial colleague of mine from DC Comics and of his from his years at Scholastic—and his assessment of Bob Stine as “the nicest guy you’ll ever meet” proved pretty much dead on. I told him how much I enjoyed his talk, and then said, “I’ve wanted to meet you for a long time so I could thank you for one of your books.”
“You sure you have the right writer? You’re too old to have been influenced by anything I wrote,” he said, looking skeptical.
“That’s not true,” I said. “When I was hired to write my first YA novel, I didn’t really know quite how to structure the story, but then I remembered A Night in Terror Tower. We had the audiobook, on cassette, and it was my then 4-year-old son’s absolute favorite thing to listen to in the car. I must have heard it two or three hundred times all the way through and had it practically memorized before he moved on to something else. But as soon as I started plotting my own YA, Terror Tower came back to me, not the actual plot obviously but the structure, pacing, all the beats, the age-appropriate tone. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Lucky for me you got one of the good ones,” the author said with a smile, “otherwise you would have come over here today to punch me out.”
— PAUL KUPPERBERG: A Comic Moment With… EARTHA KITT. Click here.
— PAUL KUPPERBERG: A Comic Moment With… LEN WEIN. Click here.
Hey, you! Go check out the Kickstarter for Paul’s Direct Conversations: Talks With Fellow DC Comics Bronze Age Creators. It’s a great project and you can click here to learn more about it.