If you were a kid growing up in the ’80s or ’90s and you read Alvin Schwartz
’ 1981 spook-tale collection “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
”, you may have felt like the stories added up to your own private “Twilight Zone,” to be consumed with a flashlight under the covers. They had a subversive wonderstruck creepiness intertwined with a weirdly comforting morality. Of course, much of the impact came from Stephen Gammell
’s drawings, which were jaw-droppingly horrific for the illustrations in a book aimed at children. His melty black-and-white images of skeletons and corpses and rats and scarecrows and wounded bodies were at once fleshy and ghostly, like dreams with a quality of decay. You could call his style pop-art Francis Bacon, but it also owed something to the children’s-book illustrator Garth Williams
(of “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little
” fame). His drawings were over-the-top EC Comics
visions given an elegant Victorian timelessness.