We’re getting into a subjective and passionate topic here. The illustrations! The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark art work has become iconic and engrained in people’s psyche for years. I daresay it has become one of the most beloved children’s illustrations amongst a large population of people who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. This artwork is so visceral and memorable. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark art has become something people have been known to frame, put on shirts, and even have tattooed on themselves, living with them for the rest of their lives.
So which are the best? Well, I have my rankings, based on personal reasons and reasons that I outline. Because the illustrations are based on reactions that are so primal and personal, there are bound to be some disagreements. But in all my research, here is the list I have come up with.
6. The Dream. This gal has a reputation around the internet. To be honest, she isn’t one of the most memorable for me, but after hearing so many people go on and on about it on websites, she had to find a place on the list. Make sure you look for the animated version of it. Someone did a great job with it.
5. Harold. I really like this one, but this is an example of the story I think having a relationship with the illustration so that both are made better by the other. The story is one of my favorites of the book, and this story is talked about almost more than any other story. Because of that, the illustration I think has become one of the most talked about and most well-known.
4. Wonderful Sausage. Why? More than any other Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark art work, I think this is an example of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark art that touches on the humor and sense of play that many of the stories conveyed. There is a sense of cheekiness that I love. And it touches on one of the most prominent themes that is seen often throughout the stories, which are body parts. Severed heads sitting on their own, random hands reaching out to get you. A long paper could be written (and probably has been written) about the various ways body parts are used in scary folklore and urban legends. I think this illustration captures it beautifully.
3. No Thanks. (In case you want to teach it in class). I love this one. This illustration is one that also captures a little bit of the playfulness of the books, with the creepy guy dressed all up in his spiffiest outfit. The shading and depth of the artwork adds to a sense that he truly is peering right back at you.
2. Oh Susannah. If I were to make the list entirely on my personal preference and not partially based on what I percieve as public opinion, I think this illustration would be my #1. More than any of the others, it is just beautiful. As someone I interviewed once said, it’s like it’s from another plane of existence.
1. The Haunted House. Yep, here it is. Not only does the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark art knock you over with its sheer elegance, but it creates a guttural reaction. And no illustration seems to be as iconic as this one. It is so in-your-face and memorable, it isn’t a wonder that he has become known as the “picture that shat a million pants” or something to that effect. That said, although it is quite bold, it is also haunting and well-executed in so many ways.
Last Updated on April 12, 2021.