Photo credit: NCPR
While doing research for this month’s Goosebumps celebration, I came across a small book titled IT CAME FROM OHIO! My Life as a Writer. Subtitled “By R.L. Stine (as told to Joe Author), this simple 140+ page book is was first published in 1997 and is the only known (auto)biography on the author that I could find. Written for the same audience as his Goosebumps and Fear Street book series (pre-teen and teens), the language is kept simple and the narrative rather short, but it’s still chock full of fun facts about the author—many of which are actually pretty fascinating. The following are five of the most interesting (and perhaps less known) fun facts:
R.L. Stine…Young Entrepreneur
As a kid, Stine (whose full name is Robert Lawrence Stine) printed and sold his series of magazines inspired by publications like EC Comics and MAD Magazine. The various titles he used over time included “The All New Bob Stine Giggle Book,” “HAH,” “For Maniacs Only!!,” “Ming,” “Whammy,” “Stine’s Line” and “BARF” (a fumetto).
R.L. Stine…College Prankster
While attending Ohio State University Stine created his first pen name, “Jovial Bob.” Originally intended as a running joke for the Sundial Magazine where he worked, Jovial Bob eventually ran for President of the Student Senate! …he didn’t win, but he did manage to make his point: all political candidates are clowns.
R.L. Stine…Magazine Publisher
After a string of crappy jobs, Stine landed his dream gig at Scholastic Inc., writing news and history articles for magazines like Junior Scholastic and Search. It was also during this time that he—along with Art Director Bob Feldgus—started a humor magazine for teenagers entitled BANANAS which included articles like “How to Turn Your Uncle into a Coffee Table” and “Phil Fly, America’s Most Beloved Fly.” Unfortunately, it went out of business during the mid-80s.
R.L. Stine…Writing Dynamo
While Bananas may have gone belly up, Stine worked on a wide variety of projects in the 80s including Zero Heroes, a funny trading card series; “Find-Your-Fate” books for Indiana Jones, G.I. Joe and James Bond; coloring books (Mighty Mouse, Bullwinkle); storybooks for Ghostbusters II and Spaceball; PLUS a series of Madballs books (Madballs Handbook Madballs Almanac, Madballs History of the World, et al).
R.L. Stine…Gets GOOSEBUMPS
No doubt, one of the most common questions Stine gets asked is what scares him. Turns out, the films that frighten him most may not be what you’d expect. Here is the author’s response from IT CAME FROM OHIO!: “I’m not really scared of spiders, but the movie Arachnophobia made me scream. I also found Jurassic Park really scary. The scariest book I ever read was Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.
Also worth mentioning…if you’re looking for even more Goosebumps nostalgia reads there’s IT CAME FROM NEW JERSEY!, a complimentary autobiography of cover artist Tim Jacobus.