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How The Goosebumps Novels Got Their Trippy Style

Whether you read it or not, Goosebumps, the children’s horror book series by R.L. Stine, was everywhere in the ’90s. The books’ textured lettering, garish colors and over the top cover illustrations have been permanently etched into the minds of anyone who grew up with them. With this in mind, Vice tracked down Tim Jacobus, the man who created every Goosebumps cover, and asked him how he made the iconic artworks for titles such as Say Cheese and Die and The Haunted Mask.

Egg Monsters from Mars, 1995

Most notably, Jacobus tells Vice that the perspective-warping, trippy style that became the books signature was invented on accident, in order to accommodate one specific cover’s needs:

Tell me about the style. They illustrations were all really slick; everything was glistening and warped.

For Goosebumps I used a mixture of paint and airbrushing, which provided that sleek, finished look. Then the distorted perspective thing really started with the Goosebumps book Egg Monsters from Mars. It was a kitchen scene, which was going to be hard to make interesting, so I warped the cabinets and the tiles. Then that sort of became the look.

Unfortunately for Jacobus, he wasn’t paid a cut of the books proceeds–but he says he’s visited Stine’s New York home, and is happy to report that it’s very nice. For more nostalgia, read the rest of Vice‘s interview here.