For decades, fans have been aware of a failed attempt to create an American version of the popular anime Sailor Moon. All that existed was a pilot, blending animation and live-action, created by a group called Toon Makers. Even then, the only footage of Toon Makers Sailor Moon (or “Saban Moon” as the fandom calls it) was found in a grainy recording from a convention in the ’90s. Cel art and character designs were posted on eBay a few years ago, but to this day, only bootleg of pilot footage remains available.
An investigative journey to find the fabled Toon Makers Sailor Moon pilot in its official form yielded unexpected results in the form of Team Angel, a live action promo which hadn’t seen the light of day in years. In this scenario, no one in the Sailor Moon fandom had any clue Team Angel existed until it was found by accident.
1998 must’ve been the year for Goosebumps contests. Braden Thomas Gardner won the “Brain Juice Terrifying Title” Contest and created “Dead Dogs Still Fetch” with Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine and the students of Southeast Warren Intermediate School. At the same time, Scholastic ran another short story contest titled Goosebumps Creepstakes.
Goosebumps Creepstakes was promoted in entries 6 to 9 of Goosebumps Series 2000. Each book featured the story starter and methodically released eight key words needed to complete the ending. Similar to “Dead Dogs Still Fetch,” the completed form of the Goosebumps Creepstakes story was thought to exist by the fandom but wasn’t publicly known. And because Creepstakes had multiple winners, this meant multiple versions of the same story.
Scholastic ran another Goosebumps contest in partnership with Oscar-Meyer and promoted through Lunchables. Only this contest promised an exclusive short story by R.L. Stine as a prize. Reportedly, there were 2.000 first place winners of the Goosebumps/Lunchables contest. Meaning 2000 Goosebumps fans may have, in their possession, a Goosebumps short story not available anywhere else.
These are the known unknowns:
In the journey of finding a written record of the completed Goosebumps Creepstakes story and a means to find the prize Goosebumps story, three more Goosebumps contests were discovered for the very first time. Alongside the existence of at least four short stories lost since 1998.
Newspapers in Ohio promoted a contest for the Goosebumps Live on Stage show, directed by Rupert Holmes. Kids could win passes to see the performance by submitting a 2-3 paragraph short story to news outlets. Throughout various Ohio-based newspapers, at least four children won passes. The three winning stories were published in their entirety.
“The Haunted Refrigerator” by Eric Sargent, submitted to The Times Recorder in Zanesville, Ohio.
“The Dolls” by Renee Schnabel, submitted to Telegraph-Forum in Bucryus, Ohio.
“Game Over” by Derek Stein, submitted to The Newark Advocate in Newark, Ohio.
Ohio wasn’t the only state to run a Goosebumps Live On Stage contest. In Pensacola, Florida, the Saenger Theatre promoted a local contest for kids to win passes. Similar to Creepstakes, this contest provided its participants with a story starter.
While Ohio and Florida promoted Goosebumps Live On Stage, the Detroit Free Press in Michigan ran its own contest. Yak’s Corner, a section of the Detroit Free Press focusing on news for children, held a Goosebumps contest for kids to meet R.L. Stine.
Rebecca Marshall won with her short story, “The Haunting Of Whisper Elm Lane.” An excerpt of the story was published in the Yak’s Corner.
The full version, alongside several other winners, were posted on the Yak’s Corner website. At this moment, the complete version of Rebecca’s story hasn’t been found due to the story not being archived online.
This makes a total of four known Goosebumps short stories, created by readers. For 22-years, their existence was all but forgotten. Considering these were local contests not promoted directly by Scholastic, it’s no wonder they fell through the cracks.
Which other forgotten Goosebumps tales could be out there and how long will it take to find them all?