Writer Allan Zullo and cartoonist Dick Kulpa made a bid for starting a tweener sensation with Ghost Story Club. The strip featured a group of kids who are constantly being haunted by ghosts, ghouls and other assorted creepy-types. Kulpa freely admits that the strip was designed to ride on the coattails of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, but blends in a group of savvy kids as the heroes. While this makes it somewhat reminiscent of the Scooby-Doo TV series in tone, Ghost Story Club‘s ghosts and goblins didn’t turn out to be natural phenomena at the conclusion of the stories.
The strip not only offered daily thrills and chills but also a club with a monthly newsletter, and an interactive website. Comic strip websites are ho-hum common today but it was a real innovation in the mid-90s. Kulpa also cites his strip as the first to extensively use Photoshop techniques (see panel 5 above) and scanned photos.
Unfortunately the strip never caught on nearly to the extent envisioned by its creators. Was it that kids were no longer willing to follow a story even for a mere week, or that newspapers didn’t give the strip much of a chance? Some of both, surely. There’s also the factor that the creators were self-consciously hip. The strip constantly referred to current teenybopper fads and fashions, and kids can smell adults trying to be cool from a mile away and roll their eyes in exasperation.
Ghost Story Club was distributed by Tribune Media Services. It seems to have begun on August 20 1995 (a date I arrived at based on numbered Sunday strips), and ended on April 12 1998.
On Kulpa’s Captain Comics website he mentions that three weeks of the strip were drawn by substitute artists. I haven’t had any luck tracking these down. Anyone know the dates and the subs?