Back to the Future

What goes around comes around in fashion and pop culture, but a few rare names endure through the decades—and we’re
proud to say Earnshaw’s is one.

When I was little, I couldn’t get enough spine-tingling chills and thrills: Witness my love for the Goosebumps novels by R.L. Stine. So I was pretty excited to learn that Scholastic is reviving the franchise this fall, with a feature film slated for October and an array of licensed merchandise to match. (To learn more, check out p. 8.)

Coincidentally, I was recently flipping through a copy of Earnshaw’s from January 1996 when I stumbled across an article about the power of the Goosebumps brand. “Goosebumps is phenomenal. Not only have 80 million books been sold, but it’s now a hit series on Fox, and a movie is coming out in the fall,” said Morris Hidary, vice president of sales at M Hidary & Co.  back in ’96. Unfortunately that movie—rumored to be produced by Tim Burton—never made its way to the big screen. But nearly 20 years later, a love for R.L. Stine’s delightfully campy, creepy tales lives on.

What’s funny is that very same article implied the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Smurfs had already enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame. But as any parent knows, both franchises were recently turned into multi-million-dollar blockbusters.

The lesson here? If you’re looking for the next hot property, check out what kids loved 20 years ago. It kind of makes perfect sense: Two or three decades after a hit show or book’s debut is about the time when its fans have started having kids of their own. And what better way to get parents to the box office than to base your film on beloved characters from their own childhood? And I’m sure it makes it much easier for moms and dads to pick up an extra toy or pair of pajamas when the item triggers a treasured memory. (Based on this formula, I predict that Nickelodeon shows Rugrats, Doug and Are You Afraid of the Dark? are ripe for a revival, as well as MTV’s Daria and Beavis and Butt-head.)

Of course, some classics never need a revival—that same 1996 article pointed to the staying power of properties owned by Disney and Warner Bros., a fact that’s still true today. Just look at the success of Disney’s latest version of Cinderella. Just as some fashions invariably prevail through the decades—a Chanel suit, for one—so do our most cherished stories and characters. And just as some styles seem to peak every 20 years or so—bellbottoms, anyone?—so do The Smurfs.

Over the years, the pages of Earnshaw’s have borne witness to it all, from the timeless to the ephemeral. If I seem a touch nostalgic, it’s for a good reason: We’re gearing up to celebrate our 100th anniversary in April of next year. I feel very honored to be part of that legacy, helming a magazine that’s made such a big impact on the childrens’ market and the professionals who make it such a vibrant, enduring industry. Over the next year, we will be taking a look back at some of those people, as well as the brands and trends that made their mark on our pages, and the pages of history.

Those are the kinds of thrills and chills I enjoy today, and I hope you will too.


Leave a Comment: