GOOSEBUMPS: SECRETS OF THE SWAMP Team Break Down Their Creative Process

Goosebumps has been delighting and terrifying kids for decades. Now, a new multi-issue comic adventure from Marieke Nijkamp, Yasmín Flores Montañez, Rebecca Nalty, and Danny Djeljosevic will allow another generation to continue enjoying the chilling thrills of kid-friendly horror.

To prepare for IDW Publishing’s Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp, we spoke to Nijkamp and Montañez, who gave us an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the new book. Not only is it a rare glimpse into how a comic gets made, but it’s also an exciting tease for fans who can’t wait to get their hands on this spooky title. Check out how this creepy new story came to life, from its scripts to its layouts, linework, and colors.

The cover for Goosebumps Secrets of the Swamp shows two girls in the shadow of a werewolves jaw looking scared!

IDW Publishing

The Heroine and a Classic Villain

Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp follows Blake, a girl who’s sent to stay with her strange aunt in Fever Swamp. When Blake arrives, she finds herself smack bang in the middle of a turf war between werewolves and the men who hunt them.

For Nijkamp, lycanthropes were the obvious option for this tale. “This whole story is about monsters,” the writer told us. “Who the real monsters are. What monstrosity looks like, especially contrasted to humanity. And werewolves historically straddle the line between humans and beasts, between the known world and the world of legends and stories, so it felt like a perfect choice.”

A colored page from Goosebumps: secrets of the swamp shows two kids exploring a swamp

Yasmín Flores Montañez/Rebecca Nalty/IDW 

Blake’s prosthetic arm is a key part of her story and a rare (and exciting!) bit of disabled representation in kids’ comics. Nijkamp goes into further detail about how and why they built this into the storyline.

“I love the idea that every kid gets to be the hero of a Goosebumps story,” Nijkamp affirmed. “Blake’s prosthetic hand is just a cool part of who she is. I worked with an expert reader to make sure I got the details and the experience right, and Yasmín and I went back and forth quite a bit on design choices too. It’s been really fun looking into different 3D-printed models, for example. And accessible controllers for Blake’s gameplay!”

A script page from Goosebumps Secrets of the Swamp reads: Lily takes a step closer to Blake, who doesn’t seem particularly convinced by the idea of wolves. She takes her flashlight and shines it around. 1. BLAKE: I don’t think wolves live in swamps. 2. LILY: Me neither, so we need to figure out what’s really going on in here. Panel 2 They sneak in further. 3. LILY: It’ll be an adventure! Don’t you think this is fun? 4. BLAKE: I think it’s ridiculous. Panel 3 Against all her better judgment, Blake grins a hesitant grin. She may not have known how to explain this to Eden (and here’s hoping her aunt will never find out), but she likes how brash and commanding Lily is. She likes being taken seriously by this girl. 5. BLAKE: I also think it’s fun. Panel 4 Lily elbows her gently. 6. LILY: You’re ridiculous. Panel 4 When weird sounds happen though, they’re still very jumpy. 7. SFX: *crunch* 8. BLAKE: What was that?

Marieke Nijkamp/IDW

A Step-by-Step Look at the Creative Chain

The collaborative aspect of comics is one of the most exciting parts of the medium. Montañez reveals that there was a lot of anxiety prior to this collaboration; however, that soon faded because the process was a total joy.

“I was a little nervous because I was not only going to be illustrating a Goosebumps book, but also working with Marieke who is a New York Times Best-Seller,” the artist admitted. “But it was really fun! Marieke writes very exciting and emotive moments that were very easy for me to picture and transfer to the page. I sent weekly updates to Marieke, Elizabeth, and Chase (our editors) so they could give me any notes they had on the pages. Once approved, Rebecca and Danny tackled the pages with the colors and letters. Everyone just put a little of themselves in the book and we had great communication as a creative team.”

A layout page from Goosebumps Secrets of the Swamp shows panels of two kids exploring a swamp

Yasmín Flores Montañez/ IDW

Nijkamp was just as effusive about her experience. “I loved working with Yasmín on this book! From the very first sketches, she made the characters come to life and look even more awesome than I could’ve imagined. And those werewolves! I love that all the werewolves have their own unique personalities. It’s everything I could’ve hoped for! And I think I speak for the both of us when I say the entire creative team was amazing to work with. Rebecca Nalty’s colors are fantastic, and Danny Djeljosevic’s werewolf howls and letters are great!”

What Goosebumps Means to Them
An inked page from Goosebumps Secrets of the Swamp shows two kids exploring a swamp

Yasmín Flores Montañez/ IDW

Just like anyone who’s been a kid since R.L. Stine first unleashed Goosebumps, both Nijkamp and Montañez have distinct memories of the spooky series.

“I remember the Dutch translations of Goosebumps, which had amazing illustrated covers and the titles printed in shiny red (or green) foil,” Nijkamp shared. “They terrified me as a kid. And while that obviously didn’t stop me from reading them, I definitely made sure to keep the lights on.”

Montañez also shared a childhood anecdote and what it meant to her. “The first thing that comes to mind for me is reading the Goosebumps books at my school library when I was a kid. It is one of the book series that got me into reading more. That’s why for me, and I know this sounds cheesy, but being a part of the creative team for this book has a special place in my heart. I just think about my younger self and it would have definitely been a book I would have loved to have in my hands as a Goosebumps reader.”

You can check out more of the process pages in our gallery below!

The trade paperback collection of Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp hits shelves on May 4, 2021.

Featured Image: IDW

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