Posted in Christopher Pike

Magic Fire by Christopher Pike

Christopher Pike - Magic Fire
Christopher Pike – Magic Fire

Title: Magic Fire

Author: Christopher Pike

Cover Artist: Franco Accornero

Tagline: He loved to burn.

Summary: He just had a thing about fire.

Mark Charm is a pyromaniac. Since the time he was a child, he loved to watch fires. But it is only in his senior year at high school that he takes his personal obsession citywide. It is a dry autumn in Southern California and the desert winds are blowing. Mark has a box of matches, and it is late at night. Would it be so bad, he thinks, if the whole state burned?

Initial Thoughts

My first Christopher Pike recap! I ran it by Wing and made sure this wasn’t one of the books she plans to recap for the website. [Wing: I’ve never actually read this one before! Excited to see what it’s like.]

[Wing: We encourage recappers to tie the personal to their recaps if they’re comfortable doing so, because, as you may have noticed, we bring different perspectives and experiences to the table, and that’s a part of what I cherish about this site and this community, recappers and readers and podcast listeners. Jude talks about quite a personal story in this recap, and he wrote an introduction to why. For length and site design purposes, I have moved that to the end of the recap, where the bulk of the discussion takes place.]

This book is strange, because the online summaries didn’t do it nearly enough justice. This is one of those books like “Fear Hall” which I tend to cling to. A lot of you may feel the twist at the end comes from out of nowhere, but as I’ll discuss in the final thoughts, I believe there were clues from the beginning.

Also, I’m not sure how to feel about usage of the term “Pyromaniac,” if that falls under ableism or not. That type of thing’s never really been something I’ve thought about in regards to mental illness, so if anyone wants to start a discussion I wouldn’t argue against it. [Wing: That is an interesting point. It is an actual diagnosis, and I don’t think “pyromaniac” and “pyromania” themselves as words are ableist, no more than “mania” or “manic” is. To me, ableism comes in how the word is used, particularly whether it is being used pejoratively, whether it is being used in a way that causes harm to or others the people to whom it is applicable.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Goosebumps

Goosebumps Live On Stage: Screams in the Night by R. L. Stine

R L Stine - Goosebumps Live on Stage Screams in the NightTitle: Goosebumps Live On Stage – Screams In The Night, a.k.a. “Hello, Slappy!”

Author: R.L. Stine (Based on stage play by Rupert Holmes)

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

Time for another long lost Goosebumps treasure, though this one’s slightly better known than “Haunted Library” and “Surprise on the 13th Floor.”

In the late 90s there was briefly a Goosebumps stage show, though I was barely aware of this since I was like 8 or 9 at the time. I’ve never seen a performance, and I don’t know how long the show ran. Hell, I’m not even sure how I got this book. I think it originally belonged to my sibling back in elementary school, but like so much of their shit, it ended up in my possession because they stopped caring about it.

There are four stories in this book, a wraparound tale and three short stories that feature the same cast of characters. The first and third stories are weird, the first coming across like a rehash of “Stay Out of the Basement” and the third some prototype for the “Goosebumps Horrorland” series. I prefer the second story out of the bunch.

The book came with some illustrations by Tim Jacobus. Unfortunately, due to the size and spine of the book I’m unable to make scans without doing serious damage.

[Wing: I’m still boggling over it getting a stage show. What I wouldn’t give to see it today!]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Mermaid Saga

Mermaid Saga #3-4: The Village of the Fighting Fish by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Part 3-4 – The Village of the Fighting Fish

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Initial Thoughts

This immediately isn’t one of my favorites stories in the series. While two of the characters are pretty cool, it doesn’t really have the same horror feel as the other tales. The tone and setting comes across similar to Takahashi’s other series, “Inuyasha.”

It also seems weird she’d do a story about Yuta’s past, long before Mana was in the picture, as the immediate second tale after the opening two parts.

I’m not sure how you’re gonna feel about this one, Wing. I don’t think you’ll like the ending, but I do think you’ll like the bad guy.

[Wing: It does seem like a strange choice to do a backstory so soon after the series begins.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in American Girls

Molly Book #2: Molly Learns A Lesson – A School Story by Valerie Tripp

Image result for molly learns a lesson

Title: Molly Learns A Lesson, a.k.a. “A Lesson In Te-Am Work”

Author: Valerie Tripp

Illustrator: Nick Backes

Summary: Molly is determined that the third-grade girls will win her school’s Lend-A-Hand Contest to help the war effort. Instead, they choose an idea that Molly knows will never work out. So she talks two friends into planning their own project and keeping it a secret from the rest of the girls in the class. But the secret project turns out to be harder than Molly thought it would be. She begins to worry that it might not win after all and decides to spy on the other girls to see how they are doing. When Molly and her friends get caught peeking in a window, they learn some important lessons.

Initial Thoughts

Here’s our second foray into the world of Molly. I can safely say there’s no underwear or cultural appropriation in this one, but it’s probably gonna leave you craving bread.

[Wing: There’s something off about her face on that cover, but I’m not sure what. Proportions? Location of eyes? If you figure it out, dear readers, let me know.]

(more…)

Posted in Graveyard School

Graveyard School #7: Slime Lake by Tom B. Stone

Title: Graveyard School #7 – Slime Lake, a.k.a. “Protect The Environment! Or I’ll FUCKING KILL YOU!”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: U.S. – Cam DeLeon, U.K. – ??? [Wing: That UK cover is something else!]

Tagline: “You’ve Been Slimed!” (U.K. Version)

Summary: Don’t Go In The Water!

Marc and his twin sister, Terri, are excited about spending the summer at their uncle Nicholas’s lake house. Even though their uncle is an old grouch, Marc and Terri enjoy the lake and their summer friends in Grove Hill.

But this summer is different. Suddenly the once placid lake has motorboats, fishermen, and crowds. Even worse is the gross green slime that’s been popping up on boats and docks and swimmers. When Terri goes for a swim and doesn’t return, Marc wonders what exactly is lurking under the water…

Initial Thoughts

Hey Wing, so a little good news/bad news for you. The bad news is this book doesn’t have werewolves. The good news is it’s got your other favorite thing, twins!

(Terri and Marc by zackdoesalotofstuff)

[Wing: I think you may be overestimating my excitement for twins at this point, thanks to Sweet Valley, but Terri and Marc are super cute!]

This is the first and only book in the series to have twins as the main characters, and it’s also one of the books that heavily feature a message about environmentalism.

Slime Lake was previously referred to in the last book, “Camp Dracula,” but now we’re gonna find out just how gross it really is!

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Goosebumps

Goosebumps Bonus: The Surprise On The 13th Floor by R. L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss

Disney Adventures Goosebumps contest
Disney Adventures Goosebumps contest

Title: Goosebumps – The Surprise On The 13th Floor, a.k.a. “Walt Disney’s Goosebumps” (Plus Bonus Story)

Author: R.L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss

Artist: Michael Graeney

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

And now it’s time for something very special, possibly even rarer than “Goosebumps Haunted Library.”

Disney Adventures magazine held a contest in the 1990s. In their November 1996 issue, they included the opening segment to a Goosebumps short story called “Surprise On The 13th Floor,” written by R.L. Stine. Contestants were to compose a 1200 word middle and ending for the story. The winner, Cheryl Hotchkiss, got a bunch of cool Goosebumps swag and their entry published in the March 1997 issue.

I purchased the March ’97 issue for the sake of reading and recapping the completed story for Point Horror. The magazine included three illustrations by Michael Graeney, but unfortunately due to the size and the spine of the magazine I wasn’t able to include all of them in the post out of fear of ruining my copy. As a consultation prize, I will include a recap of  a short story published in the November ’96 issue, “Made In Transylvania.”

[Wing: I had no idea this contest existed, despite liking both Goosebumps and Disney Adventures well into the 90s.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Bone Chillers

Bone Chillers #23: Romeo and Ghouliette by Betsy Haynes

Title: Bone Chillers #23 – Romeo and Ghouliette a.k.a. “Hail, Hail Sirbania, A Land I Didn’t Make Up”

Author: Betsy Haynes (Ryan Chipman (Based on the script by Regge Bulman and Clay Eide))

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: What fright through yonder window breaks? [Wing: Okay, that’s kind of delightful.]

Summary: Cooking up trouble…

Lexi knows there’s something weird about Julie, the new girl at Edgar Allen Poe High School. [Wing: I want to go to school there.] Julie was practically drooling over a worm in biology lab. Then Lexi swears she saw Julie snatch a fly out of the air in homeroom – and eat it!

Now Julie is after Lexi’s best friend, Fitz. And Fitz is totally falling for her. He loves everything about Julie – especially the cookies and candies she brings him. Lexi suspects Julie is fattening Fitz up for a feast – and that he’s going to be the main course!

Initial Thoughts

February is the month of LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUV, and even though I’d already done “The Abandoned” for Valentine’s Day I felt for the extra recap this would be an appropriate addition.

Bone Chillers was another Goosebumps knock-off series from the 90s, one of the few that stuck to the formula of a brand new cast and universe in each book. But what set the series apart is it was the only series besides Goosebumps to get a TV show during its time of publication. With a single season of 13 episodes, the show took place at Edgar Allen Poe High School and focused on the horrifying misadventures of four friends.

The artistic Fitz Crump, gothic Sarah Moss, brainy wannabee casanova Brian Hoseapple, and sunny Lexi Orwell, got into all sorts of terrifying shenanigans at school, alongside the downright evil Principal Pussman, ditzy Ms. Dewberry, and their ally Arnie, the creepy school janitor who knew about all sorts of weird shit. Only three of the episodes (Back to School, Creature Teacher, and Frankenturkey) were based on the books written by Betsy Haynes, while all of them featured educational segments at the end that were narrated by Miss Haynes. Whereas the cheesiness of the Goosebumps TV show was mostly unintentional, Bone Chillers deliberately played up the comedy angle alongside the horror. You’d be amazed at how much the kids scream.

“Romeo and Ghouliette” is special, because in its case, the BOOK was based on the EPISODE. Two years after the show ended, the screenplay was adapted and expanded into an addition of the book series, and was the last entry published. The cover sort of reflects that, featuring a broken TV, and the male character is obviously modeled after Fitz. What also makes this special is that book is fucking expensive (I was lucky to find a cheap copy) and much sought after by fans because there exists no DVD set of the entire show and absolutely NO videos anywhere for sale or online of the episode.

Well, at least until a brave American hero uploaded videos of every episode that hadn’t been put on VHS to Youtube.

Being able to watch the episode made me realize a lot of changes were put in the book adaption. Such as:

  • Part of the plot involves the school’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” so the name isn’t just a joke. That wasn’t in the TV show.
  • Lexi was the one worried about Fitz in the TV show. Despite what the summary said, in the book it’s Sarah who’s the main character.
  • Ms. Dewberry isn’t ditzy or lovey dovey in the book, instead she looks like someone’s grandmother.
  • While the school appears creepy in the TV show, it retains the Edgar Allen Poe name but feels like a regular school in the book.
  • The antagonists aren’t from “Sirbania” in the TV show.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Fear Street

Fear Street #45: Cat by R. L. Stine

Fear Street 45 Cat by R. L. StineTitle: Fear Street: Cat, a.k.a. “I Really, Really, REALLY Hate Barry Allen

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: C-A-T- spells murder.

Summary: The cat came back… [Wing: Damn it, I have been earwormed.]

Marty never liked the cat – it always got in the way at basketball practice. But he never meant to kill it.

Now Marty thinks he’s going crazy. He sees cats wherever he goes. He has nightmares about them. He knows they want revenge.

Too bad Marty doesn’t have nine lives. Because his first one is almost over.

Initial Thoughts

So, sorry there wasn’t a Fear Street recap in January. I realized too late I was a bit burned out from everything I worked on in December, and asked to put the Fear Street recap off til February.

Cat is another of those entries that sort of lurked in the background for me for a long time. I’ve only read it a couple of times but thought this one would peak Wing’s interest after reading some of her comments on my Goosebumps recaps. Although I was originally planning on doing a different book for her birthday with a similar concept, this one grabbed my attention for a reason I will get into during the recap.

This one was sort of weird for me, because I think the main character might seem the most human of the protagonists I’ve read in these books. He’s not entirely likable, but he’s not someone you hate with every fiber of your being.

And as always, watch out for some ableism.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but based on that cover, I’m going to assume it involves cat shapeshifters, which is something I love. Shocking, I’m sure.]

Content: Obviously, some animal harm.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Comics

The Abandoned by Sophie Campbell

The Abandoned by Sophie CampbellTitle: The Abandoned aka “Howard, They’re Zombies”

Creator: Sophie Campbell

Summary: Big-hearted volunteer worker by day, unruly rocker by night, Rylie is one of the most-liked residents of the small island-town of Buffalora. When she sets her sights on Naomi, the new girl in town, love is definitely in the air. Unfortunately for Rylie, so is a storm. The kind in which nothing good ever happens… suddenly all the adults die and quickly rise from the dead! These flesh-craving zombies seek out the last remnants of youth and hope for society. With death in the air and love on their minds, Rylie and Naomi must make their way through the vast swamplands to salvation.

Initial Thoughts

For Valentine’s Day I’ve given you all two things – lesbians and zombies, the gifts that keep on giving.

Seriously though, “The Abandoned” was one of many OEL manga comics published by Tokyopop in the 2000s. This was written and illustrated by Sophie Campbell back when she was still going by the name “Ross” and it’s been out of print for a while. It’s a very gory but not too explicit zombie horror tale, one full of genuine despair and apathy. Sophie colors the pages in very drab tones of grey, white, black, and what might be puce or mauve, with the use of red a shocking apparition throughout the landscape.

It features some of the stuff Sophie does very well, gore and plus-sized women. You guys really need to check out her work on IDW’s “Jem and the Holograms” series with Kelly Thompson, it saved comics. She’s exceptional when it comes to variety in body types and sizes. Although since this IS one of her earliest works her some of the characters appear a bit off-model in some panels.  There’s also this one sequence in the beginning that has not aged well at all.

Also, I want to ask everyone NOT to tag or send a link for this to Sophie. I think she’d prefer not to look back on this because it’s so old and was made when she was still using her old name. And from what I’ve read, she does NOT have fond things to say about Tokyopop, which is something of a shared sentiment with a lot of people.

Content Note: References to abuse and sexual assault.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Graveyard School

Graveyard School #6: Camp Dracula by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School 6 Camp Dracula by Tom B. Stone
Graveyard School 6 Camp Dracula by Tom B. Stone

Title: Graveyard School #6 – Camp Dracula a.k.a. “The Purple Bear Jamboree”

Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Summary: Camp At Your Own Risk!

Welcome to camp – Camp Dracula, as Jeep Holmes jokingly calls it. [Wing: JEEP.] Jeep may be joking, but he isn’t laughing. He can’t take this weird new summer place! Never mind that the counselors always wear dark glasses and the activities are all at night. What bothers him most are the other campers, a bunch of sickly-looking creeps who like to keep bats in the bunks! Why did his parents send him to this horrific place? Will Jeep make it through the summer without going batty?

Initial Thoughts

And now we get back into the chronological order of things (at least for a little bit), but hey, this is a vampire book, and what goes better with February than vampires?

This is the first book in the series to take place outside of the school and Grove Hill, and the first summer-themed story. I mentioned there were only two camp-related books, and it’s interesting it would involve vampires since they’re nocturnal by nature and camp tales take place mostly during the day. This is also the first to have a protagonist who can be genuinely grating on the reader. It’s admittedly one of the few books I haven’t reread as much.

But you’d be surprised at the use of Dracula references.

[Wing: I love summer camp stories and vampire stories and Dracula references, and that cover is adorable. I’m excited.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW