Terrified in my younger years, I would crawl up in bed, under a tent made of blankets and would try to go to bed reading the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, like I said try is best word. Reading by the glowing light from my small lamp, I would always be afraid to reach over and turn out the light, terrified of a slimy skeleton hand reaching from under my bed and dragging me into the nether realm. The frightening folklore ghost stories by Alvin Schwartz never failed, and none without the companion hand drawings of Stephen Gammel.
The real truth of the matter is that I've been haunted ever since but in a good way, I cannot forget the awful tragic revenge and the dripping flesh decay inspiring my madness for the macabre. As I look back now, no wonder children were so afraid, the monsters always kept me intrigued even though I would be afraid to turn the page. Stephen Gammel is my all time favorite illustrator, I am in awe of his skills and the fine details of his pencil drawings; I admire cracks in the skull, stringy hair, mist with lurking shadows and who cannot forget the goo, there is always strands of it everywhere. His work is of gory organic forms nestled with foggy dark backgrounds, never knowing what will be at the next turn. I was always chilled to the bone with screaming faces and odd lumpy creatures, the splendid drawings perfect the mood of every scary story, many of which I take inspiration. Some of my favorites are The Haunted House, High Beams, The Big Toe, and Room for One More. Last year I created a painting called The Bride for my Skeleton Krew Collection, inspired by the story about a bride who falls into the childhood fun of hide and seek, never being found until months later after getting locked inside of an old wooden chest. The painting features cob webs, a wedding ring and Victorian two faced bride starring out at the viewer; this painting will be featured in my upcoming show in January.
At a ripe age of 27, I still bust out the old tattered books looking for a few scares and a rattle of my bones. Check out some other children's books that feature the art of Stephen Gammel, not all are so scary:
Monster Mama, Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust, Twig Boy, Halloween Poems, and Where the Buffaloes Begin.