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An Interview with the Artist Behind the Covers for Goosebumps

As you might recall, Goosebumps was a phenomenally successful 1990s book series about preteens finding soft-core terror in the suburbs. The characters had names like Lucy/Lizzy/Billy/Andy and the author, R. L. Stine, had an unusual commitment to describing outfits. To be honest, it was hard to know what made Goosebumps so popular, except that they had mind-blowing covers.

Tim Jacobus was the New Jersey native behind those covers. In 1991 the children’s book publisher Scholastic asked him to tender for a new series of horror books. He got the job, and over the next decade Jacobus illustrated the full series of nearly 100 books.

Also over that decade, a nine year-old version of myself tried to copy his style. There was something so cool about those candy-colored, fish-eyed depictions of American horror. And ever since, I’ve wanted to talk to the guy. How did he and R. L. Stine get the formula so right? I called him up to ask him exactly that.

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