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  • Kraig Brachman

90s Halloween Stories That Are Still Radical

H-A-double L-O-W-double E-N spells Halloween!

Welcome boils and ghouls, happy Halloween. Since we started doing the FESA Blog, we have yet to land on the date, but this year changes that! For this spooky blog post, we wanted to go back to the way cool era of the 1990s; where Halloween was as important as Pokémon, Pogs, and Alf.

Okay, off the bat not all of these were published in the 90s, but, thanks to cable TV replaying these classic every year, Garfield’s Halloween Adventure and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown were as a regular of a Halloween tradition as mini-Snickers bars and pumpkin carving.

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

Garfield, a Sunday morning comic strip about a fat orange cat and his cartoonist owner John, was created in 1976 by Jim Davis. Before the 90s mainstay Garfield and Friends which featured the tubby tabby and the cast of Orson’s Farm, Garfield starred in a series of Prime time specials – prime-time specials were kind of like one-off TV episodes to be shown periodically, Garfield’s Halloween Adventure was produced in 1985 and won an Emmy. The following year, the special was adapted into book form.

Garfield's Halloween Adventure follows Garfield and his follow house pet Odie as they go out for trick or treating. On their quest, they discover a terrible secret about pirates from the 100 years ago. The comic adaptation follows the Sunday comic’s four panel look, but isn’t of being a gag every four panels, it tells a longer story.

Unfortunately, the Garfield’s Halloween Adventure comic isn’t available to borrow from the Calgary Public Library, and seems like it is out of print. If this write-up piqued your interest, I would recommend shopping around on used book sites or even checking out the quality used book stores in Calgary, like Fair’s Fare here in Calgary.

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

The flood of holiday themed primetime TV specials can be traced directly to A Charlie Brown Christmas, the jazz infused holiday special that still hits very hard almost 60 years later. We aren’t focusing on that this season as there is an equally entertaining special that birthed a book adaptation: It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Much like Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was a regular staple of my childhood, constantly being aired during the Halloween season. Once the special and the other specials stopped airing on TV, it became a minor story as it was the end of an era of linear television.

Taking the structure that was created by the Christmas Special, in 1966, an original TV special was created based off Charles M. Schultz syndicated comic strip “Peanuts.” The Halloween themed special follows the adventures of the Charlie Brown gang as they go for “tricks and treats” while Linus and Charlie Browns’ little sister Sally wait in the pumpkin patch for The Great Pumpkin.

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Franklin's Halloween

Franklin the Turtle is a Canadian children's book franchise. The original series of books were written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark. Franklin was a staple in Scholastic Book fairs in the 90s. I remember coming into my school’s library, seeing all the books displayed on their wire stands in place of the brand-new iMac G3 computer area.

For me, Franklin was a more relatable talking turtle than the teenage ninja variety – though I liked those too. Franklin’s Halloween always stuck with me, as it captured much of the anticipation waiting for Halloween night and getting ready by picking out your costume and decorating.

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree

The Calgary Public Library is one of my favourite resources in Calgary. My mom would take us there every weekend, and we could take out stocks of books for FREE! It was way Radical! I used to visit the Village Square Leisure Centre’s public library branch back in the day – I remember going to a story time or two as well. One of the books I discovered at the CPL, The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree.

The Spooky Old Tree is a bit of a departure for the series, and as a result it’s one of the most memorable in the series. It captures the sense of adventure, exploration, and creepy vibes you experience as a child venturing out into the world on your own.

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Arthur’s Halloween

Before the TV series went on a 26-year run on the American TV channel PBS (the Public Broadcasting Service), Arthur was a children's book series! Featuring a less well-known design of the titular Arthur the aardvark, Arthur's Halloween is about overcoming your fears and venturing into the unknown, and that our expectations can be wildly out of proportion to reality, and it might even be a good thing even though we expect a bad outcome.

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:


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