‘Just Beyond: The Scare School’ - Graphic Novel Review

As long as there are kids who love to be scared, R.L. Stine will be there, lurking in the shadows with his latest creations. Though I was just a few years older than his intended audience, I devoured his Fear Street books and later Goosebumps, all while wishing he’d published them several years earlier to scare me to sleep alongside my Stephen King novels.

Fast-forward to today, when Goosebumps is a household name. It seems children who gravitate toward horror finds themselves lured by Stine’s ability to weave a scary (albeit sometimes humorous) tale. Yet, his frights were always limited to books… until now.

Just Beyond: The Scare School is the first in what I’m sure will be a long line of graphic novels by the boogeyman whisperer. And, it’s about time. Like his books, the first installment of the Just Beyond series is intended for middle school kids, but now Stine can reach a whole new demographic of comic book lovers. The graphic novel format provides a different level of scary for the stories he conjures, placing them alongside gorgeous artwork to accentuate the terror.

The Scare School starts out at full speed, with a cyborg creature chasing three oddly dressed kids through a middle school. It’s easy to see the kids don’t belong, and neither does the Drogg, but Stine leaves it a mystery as to why. Before the reader can breathe, betrayal leads to more fear, and then we are introduced to three new kids (the main characters) who are from a different time/world. Stine’s imagination and writing are on point, as they always are. There’s nothing lacking in the graphic novel. The combination of sci-fi, horror, and perfectly timed humor works well for the story, scaring new readers while providing a warm nostalgia for older readers.

Artists Kelly and Nichole Matthews lay down a beautiful template of art to complement Stine’s storytelling. It’s as if his biggest fans answered the call to illustrate his first graphic novel outing. The flawless character design mixes with action-packed panels to provide readers with an exciting exhibit of Stine’s work come to life. The kids have realistic quirks and smirks, while the Drogg creature is wonderfully terrifying.

Fans of and newcomers to R.L. Stine will be pleasantly creeped out by Just Beyond: The Scare School, and this new way to experience his work will definitely be cherished by all ages. Just remember, kids: It’s better to read it late at night with the lights out, under the cover with a flashlight. You won’t regret it.



Creative Team: Writer – R.L. Stine; Artists: Kelly and Nichole Matthews; Lettering: Mike Fiorentino; Cover – Julian Totino Tedesco
Publisher: KaBOOM! (BOOM! Studios imprint)
Click here to purchase.



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