[Interview] R.L. Stine & Seth Grahame-Smith for JUST BEYOND
Courtesy Disney+
In the thrilling eight-episode anthology series, JUST BEYOND, comes the astonishing and thought-provoking stories of a reality just beyond the one we know. Each episode of JUST BEYOND introduces viewers to a new cast of characters who must go on a surprising journey of self-discovery in a supernatural world of witches, aliens, ghosts and parallel universes.

Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings had the chance to speak with JUST BEYOND‘s writer and showrunner, Seth Grahame-Smith, as well as the iconic YA horror author, R.L. Stine, who wrote the JUST BEYOND graphic novels that the series is based on. During our chat, we discussed everything from adapting the comics for TV and making sure to capture the spirit of Stine’s writing.

R.L., you were such an integral part of my upbringing in terms of my love for horror. Can you both talk about the process of adapting this graphic novel as a TV series?

R.L. Stine: I’d never done graphic novels before and when they came to me from Boom! Studios and said, would you like to try some? I said, yeah, let’s try but it has to be for my middle-grade audience, 7-12. Those are my kids, and they said fine. And we came up with JUST BEYOND,┬ájust beyond the real world, just beyond reality, and I’ve had a great time. I’ve written four of them, my first comic books, and now here it is coming to television.

Seth Grahame-Smith: As for me, when Boom! Studios brought me a copy of the first issues and said, “Hey, we’re doing this run with R.L. Stine. What do you think about this as a TV show?” It was great because you get to work with R.L. Stine. That’s first and foremost, but also the idea of creating a genre anthology series was just really exciting. I think probably like a lot of us, I grew up obsessed with the Twilight Zone and Amazing Stories, and then when we ended up partnering with Disney Plus, the added benefit was you can make a show like those that the family would watch together. The opening of Amazing Stories was a family around the TV. That was a really exciting challenge for me because I knew that I wasn’t going to get to necessarily do something traumatizing or Rated-R or bloody. I had to kind of reign it in and go back to doing really great, scary, spooky genre stories that exist in the R.L. Stine universe. And that ended up being a ton of fun.

JUST BEYOND – “Leave Them Kids Alone” (Disney/Fernando Decillis) | McKenna Grace

The series was filmed during COVID. What was that experience like for everyone?

Seth Grahame-Smith: Not ideal. The Disney people do a tremendous job of keeping everybody safe. And part of that is when you’re shooting, you’re constantly getting tested many times a week and you have to wear a mask and a face shield at all times. And when you’re sitting there talking to a director or an actor, or just trying to chit-chat, it’s not the most conducive. But I will say, we didn’t have a single positive [case] the entire season.

For you R.L., were you able to go to visit the set, or were you more behind-the-scenes?

R.L. Stine: I actually didn’t go down to Atlanta to the set this time. But I had all the scripts and I got to comment on the scripts and read it and tell them how great they were [Laughs].

Seth, when it came to the graphic novels, what was important for you to capture in terms of the spirit of the stories?

Seth Grahame-Smith: Tonally, you know what the R.L. Stine tone is, especially when he’s doing it aged up, in this case for JUST BEYOND. And I think we just took that and ran with it and said, we’re even gonna push it maybe just a degree farther and really make sure this is a family show. Sometimes there’s a joke in there or a moment in there that will fly right over the kid’s head but the adults will go, I know what you’re doing! I know what that reference is! [Laughs]. That’s kind of the fun of it, making sure there’s something for everybody.

Lastly, for the R.L. Stine fans out there, are there any Goosebumps or Fear Street Easter eggs we should be on the lookout for?

Seth Grahame-Smith: In terms of just the continuity between the R.L. Stine universe… Bob, you aren’t into the shared universe…

R.L. Stine: No, I didn’t see a ventriloquist dummy in any of these shows. We don’t need Slappy, the evil dummy [Laughs].

And this critic agrees, we definitely don’t need any more scary ventriloquist dummies. All episodes of JUST BEYOND are now available to stream, exclusively on Disney+.

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