Goosebumps is a children's horror book franchise published by Scholastic Corporation. The books are written by author and creator R.L. Stine. It is currently the second best selling book series of all time, selling 400 million books worldwide in over thirty-two languages. The franchise was at point the #1 best selling book series of all time, selling over 4 million books a month during its prime.
Beginning with the eponymous Goosebumps series in 1992, the Goosebumps franchise has spawned numerous followup and spin-off series. The franchise's other forms of media include a television series and feature films.
The series is named after R.L. Stine had seen an ad for "Goose Bumps Week," a television horror event. The name is also based on the skin condition goose bumps, which is a common symptom of fright.
The first three books in the Goosebumps franchise, Welcome to Dead House, Stay Out of the Basement, and Monster Blood were published in July 1992 as part of the original Goosebumps series. Sales for the books were initially slow but eventually increased, leading to the books being released bi-monthly starting with book nine, Welcome to Camp Nightmare. By 1996 the series was wildly popular and in high demand, with Scholastic shipping 4 million books to retailers each month. Sixty-two books in total would be published in the original series, ending with Monster Blood IV in December 1997. Due to declining sales, a new series would be created to keep interest in the franchise going.
Goosebumps Series 2000 debuted the month after the original series had ended, with the book Cry of the Cat in January 1998. The series followed the same format as the original series, but it was marketed as being scarier than the original series. The book covers also changed, such as the removal of the slime borders, artwork being darker in tone, and the entire covers being raised rather than only the logo like the original series. By 2000, Goosebumps franchise books were selling 200,000 copies a month, a far cry from the 4 million monthly sales just a few years prior.
Series 2000 and all other spin-off series would come to a halt in early 2000 due to R.L. Stine's contract with Scholastic ending. Several books that were planned to be released were subsequently canceled, such as the twenty-sixth book in the Series 2000 series, The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader, along with the planned Goosebumps Gold series, which would've been a twelve book series that followed Series 2000. The franchise wouldn't see any new mainline books until eight years later.
After receiving requests from fans for the Goosebumps series to return, R.L. Stine and Scholastic launched the Goosebumps HorrorLand series in April 2008, with the books Revenge of the Living Dummy and Creep from the Deep. Unlike the previous Goosebumps series, HorrorLand featured an overarching story, which lasted 19 books. Scholastic launched the Classic Goosebumps series around the same time, which is a series of Goosebumps reprints that included bonus materials and new cover art by Brandon Dorman. HorrorLand was followed-up by a mini series titled Goosebumps Hall of Horrors in 2011, which was subsequently followed by Goosebumps Most Wanted in 2012.
Due to the success of first Goosebumps movie, which heavily featured Slappy the Dummy, the Goosebumps SlappyWorld series was created and debuted in February 2017 with Slappy Birthday to You. The series is still ongoing, with an overall total of fourteen books planned.
Scholastic launched the Tales to Give You Goosebumps series in September 1994 with the book of the same name. The series would consist of six books that contained ten short stories each, making a grand total of sixty tales altogether. Every book in the series came packaged with Goosebumps themed merchandise, which ranged from booklights to even undergarments. The first three books would later be reprinted with no merchandise attached. Some books were based around certain themes, such as Halloween and Christmas.
Another series containing a collection of short stories, Goosebumps Triple Header, was launched in November 1997. Unlike Tales to Give You Goosebumps, the series only contained three stories per book, and were hosted by a three-headed monster, Lefty, Righty, and Slim. The series only received two entries, making it the shortest Goosebumps book series in the franchise. Though a third entry was planned, it was never released.
A "choose your own adventurer" gamebook series titled Give Yourself Goosebumps launched in July 1995 with the book Escape from the Carnival of Horrors. Forty-two books and eight special editions would be published until the series's end in February 2000 with All-Day Nightmare, making it the second longest running series in the franchise.
One of the symbols most associated with the Goosebumps franchise is its logo. The logo was designed in 1991 by Hollie Tommasino, known at the time as Hollie Rubin. She was "one of three or four graphic designers in the Young Adult Department" for Scholastic.
The logo became a source of contention for Scholastic and Parachute Press. Scholastic claimed ownership of the logo, but Parachute Press continued to use a logo featuring a "G" inside a spatter of goo. This was one of the exacerbating factors in R.L. Stine's fallout with Scholastic.
Most books released after 2008 feature a new logo for the franchise, while films video games, and comics still seem to use the original logo.
The first season of the Goosebumps TV series debuted on October 27, 1995, with the two-part episode "The Haunted Mask". The episode was a ratings success, receiving over 14.1 million viewers during its original airing. The series received three more seasons, with the show ending on November 16, 1998, with "Deep Trouble". There were seventy-four episodes in total (fifty-eight if multi-part episodes are counted as one), with most of them being adapted from the original series. Other Goosebumps books series were adapted as the series progressed, such as the Tales to Give You Goosebumps series and Goosebumps Series 2000. A three-part episode titled "Chillogy" aired during the third season, which featured a completely original story.
Graphic novels and comics
In September 2006, the first new Goosebumps novel since the year 2000 would be released. Titled Creepy Creatures, the novel was part of a new graphic novel series called Goosebumps Graphix. The novels adapt stories from the original Goosebumps series, which are illustrated by various artists. The series would receive two new books in 2007, followed by eight years without a new entry, until the release of Slappy's Tales of Horror in August 2015, which acted as a tie-in to the film Goosebumps. The book contains colorized versions of previous Goosebumps Graphix stories, and a new story in the form of an adaptation of Night of the Living Dummy.
In July 2017 it was announced that IDW Publishing would be creating comic books based on the Goosebumps franchise. The first comic series to launch was Monsters at Midnight in October 2017, followed by Download and Die! in March 2018, Horrors of the Witch House in May 2019 and Secrets of the Swamp in September of 2020. Each series so far has been three issues long and feature original stories and characters, with monsters and villains from the Goosebumps series often appearing.
Plans for a feature-length film based on the Goosebumps franchise were as early as 1998. However, plans for the film initially fell through. Columbus Pictures would later acquire the rights to create a Goosebumps film in 2008, and on October 16, 2015 would finally release the film as Goosebumps, starring Jack Black as R.L. Stine and the voice of Slappy the Dummy. The film features an original story, where monsters and villains from the Goosebumps books are unleashed upon the real world. The film spawned a sequel titled Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (simply known as Goosebumps 2 in home media releases), which released on October 12, 2018.
- Main article: Goosebumps (franchise)/Merchandise
One of the first instances of merchandising for the franchise was the Goosebumps Fan Club, which began in 1995. Goosebumps books often contained ads for the fan club on the last few pages. Signing up for the fan club would grant you Goosebumps newsletters and merch, such as membership cards and hats.
Goosebumps would be licensed to dozens of companies in 1996 for various products, such as toys, figures, masks, party accessories, staplers, pens, stamps, bed comforting, bike equipment, and much more.
In July 1996, Scholastic and PepsioCo struck a $40 million dollar deal to attach three short Goosebumps stories to various products. It was called "one of the most aggressive campaigns ever to use children's books". The three books, "Bad Dog", "Halloween Game", and "Don't Make Me Laugh" were dubbed "the Goosebumps Thrillogy" and could be found in various Frito Lay chip bags or obtained by sending in coupons found on Pepsi products. Over 40 million coupons, 30 million printed stories, and 52 million newspaper coupon clippings were reportedly produced. The stories would also be released as part of the Goosebumps Haunted Library, which was promoted by Hershey Foods.
It was also reported that the marketing team for Goosebumps had their limits for what could be merchandised. Parachute co-owner Ms. Waricha used "Goosebumps cereal" as an example of a product that would never happen. Despite this claim, Scholastic would later team up with General Mills for Goosebumps Series 2000 branded Count Chocula cereal in 1998.
In recent years Scholastic has licensed Goosebumps to a variety of online retailers and companies for merchandise, such as Creepy Co., Fright-Rags, Kreepsville 666, and Cakeworthy, and Trick or Treat Studios.
- Newsweek: More (Kidproof) Tales Of Terror
- Goosebumps SlappyWorld #14 or TBD by R.L. Stine | Scholastic
- "The Bumps" — "Ask R.L. Stine!" September 15 (archived)
- Scholastic Inc. v. Speirs, 28 F. Supp. 2d 862 (S.D.N.Y. 1998)
- Scripts of Girlhood: An Interview with Hollie Tommasino
- USA Today - October 1995 Nielsen ratings (PDF)
- The Wall Street Journal - 'Goosebumps' Marketing Deal Is in the Bag -- of Doritos Chips