Last year, I reached out and interviewed Jim Smylie about his participation in a Goosebumps title contest held in 1994. Jim won with his title “Slime Doesn’t Pay,” and was told it would be used for a new Goosebumps book written by R.L. Stine. For some reason, this never happened.
I talked to Jim about the contest and how he felt about his title never being used. I also reached out to R.L. Stine on instagram and asked why he never used “Slime Doesn’t Pay.” Stine replied that he barely remembered a contest from so long ago, but admitted that was a good title and didn’t know why he hadn’t used it already.
Well, after nearly 30-years, it looks like Jim Smylie and his title are finally receiving their validation. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Blackstone Publishing are all soliciting the release of Slime Doesn’t Pay by R.L. Stine on October 3rd 2023. No cover art has been shown, but a full synopsis of the book is available.
While it’s being released as its own book and not an entry in the Goosebumps franchise, this is still a huge breakthrough for the Goosebumps fandom. If I’m free to brag, I can’t help but feel a little pride at the idea I may have helped make this happen.
This isn’t the first time R.L. Stine has reused a previously scrapped Goosebumps concept, so let’s discuss those other moments and look at all the other unused Goosebumps titles.
The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader
Goosebumps Series 2000 was notoriously cancelled after its 25th book, “The Ghost In The Mirror,” due to legal disputes between Parachute Press and Scholastic. It’s become common knowledge in the Goosebumps fandom that there were plans to release a 26th book, “The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader.” Tim Jacobus even had the cover artwork completed in full, and shared it with the fandom a few years ago.
R.L. Stine confirmed that this book was retitled and released as a standalone novella called The Adventures Of Shrinkman.
The story told of a fifth grader who suddenly finds himself shrinking at an alarming rate. While the kid initially thinks it’s because he was exposed to a movie projector’s light, later evidence indicates it was because of a strange substance he unwittingly drank.
Years later, a book with a similar premise called “Night of the Giant Everything” was released under Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors.
Shrinkman was one of several novellas R.L. Stine released in the interim between the end of Goosebumps Series 2000 and Goosebumps HorrorLand. Others include The 13th Warning, Zombie Town, My Alien Parents, The Three Faces Of Me, The Creatures From Beyond Beyond, and It’s The First Day of School… Forever!
As a side note, Zombie Town is currently being adapted into a film.
It’s become a serious point of discussion and investigation in the Goosebumps fandom that maybe Stine’s standalone novellas in the 2000s were all scrapped Goosebumps stories. In fact, a few were released internationally under a foreign Goosebumps banner.
Whether they were meant for Series 2000 and the possible third Triple Header collection remains unknown. Since Stine’s admitted Shrinkman started as “The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader,” it’s not a farfetched idea. My Alien Parents is also speculated to be a rereleased version of You’re Not My Parents, which Stine released in 1991 as simply “Bob Stine.”
“The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader’s” inclusion in The Art Of Goosebumps had a surprising bite, I mean, bit of info. Stine managed to think up the title for the 27th 2000 book, “When The Snake Bites,” but apparently never went beyond the title nor was any cover artwork created for it.
What’s also commonly known in the Goosebumps fandom is the scrapped spin-off series Goosebumps Gold. Advertised but never released, Goosebumps Gold haunted the fandom for years thanks to a section of Tim Jacobus’ website and perpetually out-of-stock listings on book websites. Only three books are known to have been conceived for Gold. “The Haunted Mask Lives,” “Happy Holidays From Dead House,” and “Slappy New Year.”
“The Haunted Mask Lives” would’ve been the third Haunted Mask book. Jacobus’s cover art featured Carly-Beth Caldwell screaming as she rips the Haunted Mask off of her head. Amazon listed a summary about Carly-Beth being hunted after for unknown reasons by the Shopkeeper who created the Haunted Mask. The Art of Goosebumps featured concept art from Jacobus for this book, including an image of Carly-Beth pulling off her own face to reveal her skull.
“Happy Holidays From Dead House” appeared to be a follow-up to the very first Goosebumps book, “Welcome To Dead House.” Yet no context or summary was ever given beyond the cover art and title clearly showing this would’ve taken place during Christmas. Fans have wondered if this would’ve been a prequel to the original, a direct sequel, or a completely unrelated story about the ghastly town of Dark Falls.
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“Slappy New Year” had almost no context or information beyond a black-and-white image of Slappy the Dummy’s face. Years later, Stine eventually used this title for Goosebumps HorrorLand. There’s been no indication if the story released for HorrorLand was the same one conceptualized for Gold.
Give Yourself Goosebumps #43
There’s currently only one book in the Give Yourself Goosebumps series which was scrapped before publication. Cover artist Craig White shared with the fandom his artwork of what would’ve been the 43rd book. There’s no known title, just art of evil-looking penguins in an Arctic setting. Craig says he was given the working title, but he unfortunately doesn’t remember it anymore nor does he believe the book had a synopsis. Fans have taken to simply calling this one “Attack of the Killer Penguins.”
Aside from “Slime Doesn’t Pay,” there are more than a few titles R.L. Stine has shared with the fandom that he hasn’t been able to use. In 1997, he shared with the now archived fan website The Bumps that he had three titles not attached to any books. “Feeding Frenzy,” “43 Freakout Street,” and “The Good, The Bad, and the Very Itchy.” The following year he dropped the title “Dimwits of Doom” in another interview.
Why, even in 2022 Stine suggested the title “Morons from Mars” but his editor said “It would offend the morons.”
Rather bizarrely, the first three unused titles mentioned above have been used by an author named “Ilyan Daffar” over on Amazon. Daffar has self-published eight kindle stories titled Chills, with three of the books titled “Feeding Frenzy,” 43 Freakout Street,” and “The Good, The Bad, and the Very Itchy.” All eight of Daffar’s books have protagonists whose names are just rearrangements of “Ilyan.” I admit I was rather weirded out when I found these on Amazon.
On that note, I’m glad Jim Smylie’s finally getting his promised book and that once again the power of a fandom was used for good instead of evil.