Goosebumps is back with a chilling tale in Goosebumps: Download and Die #1. We follow a young girl named Mitra as she deals with the start of a new school year and an arrival of a rival for her friend’s attention. Through an accident, Mitra damages her phone and receives a mysterious phone in the mail. Being a teenager, Mitra doesn’t really question the device’s origin or function. Being a Goosebumps story, things obviously are not what they seem as Mitra begins to feel the repercussions of this strange and haunting device.
Goosebumps is a great concept for a comic mini-series. This is the second mini-series from IDW and I must say I am impressed. As a product of the 90’s, I have read a lot of Goosebumps as a kid. They were quick reads that were easy to plow through. Now, not all of the books are great, but there is a charm about them. They are very much campy horror and that’s perfectly fine. There are a lot of elements of prior Goosebumps mythos here, such as Slappy the Dummy, the Say Cheese and Die camera, and the Creeps. .
Goosebumps: Download and Die #1 was written by Jen Vaughn and she does a fantastic job setting up the world of the characters and capturing the feel of those scholastic books. Goosebumps often focused on the character and their mundane day to day. The main draw of these books was that they often focused on realistic kids with homework, chores, and mean siblings. It connected to the target audience in a way that couldn’t be matched. That and the masterful use of chapter cliffhangers.
The world built around Mitra is rich and full of characters. She feels like a fully fleshed-out character complete with motivations, jealousy, love interest, and flaws. She feels very much like a real teenage girl. Vaughn’s dialogue provides so much to Download and Die #1. It not only serves to move the plot but helps develop the characters while not becoming overt exposition. It is well used and natural. Nothing feels like an adult trying to sound like teens. It is earnest. The world is built through the dialogue and that is impressive considering what all is accomplished in a short number of pages. The characters are fully realized and diverse. No two character feels the same, and I welcome that.
Download and Die #1 is pleasantly paced, evenly throughout, with no parts dragging for far too long. Everything, no matter how inconsequential it seems, has a real purpose. Vaughn has an eye for hitting the correct beats on each page and even used a classic cliffhanger to get the reader wanting more. It feels like a true Goosebumps book.
The art of Michelle Wong is a cute style that fits the book perfectly. Each character design is distinct, diverse, and reminiscent of actual teenagers. The emotions Wong brings out of the characters is superb. The jealously of Mitra oozes off the page at times. It is a beautifully illustrated style that will appeal to both casual fans and hardcore comic fans.
The colors from Triona Tree Farrell, like in any horror film, sets the tones for the scenes. Most of the pages are presented with a nice palette of vibrant colors. The real money is in the supernatural scenes. A purple/pink saturation covers the panel to let the reader know that they are about to witness something not of this world whenever the mysterious phone is used. This carries over to the eyes of Mitra, as whenever she is seemingly possessed by her phone ,she has the same tone of purple on her pupils. These visual cues are brilliant subtle methods of conveying something is going on. Most horror medium uses music to complement the color changes but with comics being strictly a visual medium the color changes do a superb job of translating this shift.
Goosebumps: Download and Die #1 is a fantastic light horror comic. There are legitimate creepy vibes that run throughout that captures the spirit of the books down to the cover. Vaughn, Wong, and Farrell deliver a beautifully diverse school experience with these three girls. It is a complete package of writing and art. I highly recommend this comic not only to fans of the book series or tv shows, but to anyone looking for a good all-ages horror comic.
Goosebumps: Download and Die #1 is available at your local comic shop from IDW and on comiXology.