Dear R.L. Stine
What’s up, you sick fuck?I just read all your books, and they are fucked up beyond compare. Don’t worry, my fellow brother in arms-of-darkness — this isn’t hate mail — I’m a fan. I love your shit.
All of my life I’ve always felt like a “freak.” I could never relate to other kids. I was always an outcast in that way. I remember in art class, while all the other kids were drawing faces or houses or whatever, I used to just draw the most twisted stuff. Mummies, skeletons, scarecrows, ghosts, really big animals — just the darkest shit imaginable. Everyone at school, all my teachers and classmates and even my own family tried to make me feel weird for liking that stuff.
Not until I discovered your sprawling “Goosebumps” collection did I know there was someone else out there who existed on a similar plain of darkness — someone who isn’t afraid to explore the darkest, most nightmarish corners of his brain. Your work with “Goosebumps” might be too gruesome and obscene for the commercial mind, but for all the fucked up kids like me out there — society’s rejects who have been resigned to the darkness, your twisted tales are a godsend. I for one am happy to follow you down the apocalyptic backroads of your warped mind and explore horrors that the average sheep-person dares not to.
Other kids my age (25 years) are reading things like “The Lord of the Rings,” “Gone Girl,” Thomas Pynchon. No thanks, not my speed. You can keep that cutesy, life-is-all-daisies-and-sugarplums shit to yourself. Give me “Goosebumps: One Day At HorrorLand,” the perverted and macabre tale of a theme park run by monsters, written by the puppeteer of all that is ghastly and chaotic — R.L. Stine.
Give me the devilishly grim “Goosebumps: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb”, about a young boy who goes to Egypt with his parents and is tormented by mummies. Give me the relentless plunge into terror that is “Goosebumps: It Came from Beneath the Sink!” about a young girl and her brother who discover a sponge under their sink that’s actually a MONSTER. Give me the debaucherously twisted tragedy that is “Goosebumps: Why I’m Afraid of Bees,” about a young boy who volunteers for a body-swap experiment and finds himself in the body of a bee. A BEE!
If liking this stuff makes me fucked up, then lock me up and throw away the key. I guess I’ll always be a freak in society’s eyes because I like dark shit, but at least now that I’ve discovered your work with Goosebumps, I finally feel understood. Thank you for being a hero to kids like me. Kids who, from a young age, felt compelled to explore the inherent horror of being alive on this bubbling shit-swamp Earth, compelled to poke-and-prod at the hideous, most bone-chilling things imaginable: snow monsters, a camera that makes bad things happen to the people it takes pictures of, finding an egg in your backyard during an Easter egg hunt that turns out to be an alien egg.
These are the glimpses into hell that the average person — the average braindead jerk-off drone in a tie with a 9–5 job at the shit factory — wouldn’t dare face, but you welcome these nightmares in, stare them down and say, “Let’s explore this.”
I’m getting my first tattoo next month. It’s gonna say “0545828856” across my forearm. That’s the ISBN number for your book “The Haunted Car,” your scariest work and my personal favorite. No one will get it, but no one ever gets anything I’m about, so I don’t care.
I just wanted to say thank you for everything you have done. I don’t care if the rest of society is scared of you and your work, and thinks you’re some kind of sick, deranged maniac. They’re just afraid of having the balance of their precious, cozy little lives threatened by your hair-raising tales. But you know what? They’re right — you are some kind of sick, deranged maniac, just like me. I’m right here with you, in the darkest of shadows.
Lucas Michael Gardner