The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner
Season 4, Episode 8
Air date November 12, 1994
Written by Ron Oliver
Directed by Ron Oliver
Episode guide
The Tale of the Silent Servant
The Tale of the Fire Ghost
The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner is the Eighth episode of the Fourth season of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, as well as the Forty-Seventh episode in total.


Midnight Society Cast

Story Cast


The night begins with Frank walking into the circle asking Gary why it's taking so long to light the campfire while shining a flashlight. Gary exasperated and annoyed says the logs won't light because the logs are wet and frustrated he tells Frank to keep the flashlight still so he can see what he is doing. Kiki tries to get the fire going the old fashioned way by rubbing two stick together, she gets frustrated and says she needs more paper.

This, gives Frank an idea. He swipes a comic book out from Tucker's back pants pocket. He sets it down saying it could be perfect, Tucker mad and upset says no way! and tries to get it back and argues with Frank who tells him it's nothing but firewood. Then just as Betty Ann comes in she takes it and says she could us this, much to Tucker's chagrin and annoyance. As she goes to sit down on then storyteller's chair next to Sam.

Betty Ann, then asks them what if comic books weren't made up? What if they were like guidebooks to another dimension.( also we now see that finally Kiki has gotten the campfire going and it's burning very intensely). Betty Ann also says that comic books take people into a world of fantasy and adventure. But is it a place that comes from someone's imagination? or from someone's experience?

Betty Ann, throws in the campfire dust to make the fire more intense while she submits her story for approval of The Midnight Society. She calls her story "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner"


Betty Ann, tells the story. The story is about a teenager named Ethan Wood. Ethan, is a very talented young artist who dreams of becoming a real comic book artist. Too bad that every publishing company he mails samples of his artwork too rejects and turns him down. One night, as Ethan reads through his mail, he finds out that once again the publishing companies he's mailed his samples too has turned down and rejected him. He gets so upset and disappointed that he rips and tears up many of his amazing drawing off his walls.

Until Ethan finds a blue envelope containing an invitation to come to the grand opening of a new comic shop called "Comic Books Ink" and to come early to avoid the crowd. The next day he arrives to the comic shop and it's an amazing shop, filled with many awesome and amazing superhero comic books. Also there are many posters and cardboard cutouts around the store of such things like monsters and various superheros (including cutouts of the watcher and the crimson clown). Ethan is very surprised to see that as amazing a store it is that no one else is there yet.

A blond woman in a leather jacket sees him and politely addresses him as cakes and asks him if he wants anything? She tries to offers him some unpopular and unheard of comics such as Dustboy and Fishman at very low prices in attempt to just get rid of them. He shows her his invitation and she is shocked and surprised to find out he is the one she invited to come to the grand opening.

She tells him the reason she invited him is because word travels around, and she's heard that he is a pretty good artist and requests to see some of his drawings. He tells her he's feels that he is not very good and he's been rejected by just about every publishing company there is. She comforts him by telling him that some people just don't know good talent when they see it. Ethan reluctantly lets her looks at his drawings. After looking at them she is just amazed by how good they are and she tells them that even though he is a little rough around the edges, he draws like one of the greats. She mentions that one of the greats was a comic book artist named Sylvester Uncas, Ethan is clueless and asks who?

She asks him if he's ever heard of The Ghastly Grinner? she takes him over to the counter and takes out a thick leather case. She unlocks the case and reveals it to have a comic book inside. The comic book is about jester clown like villain so evil and powerful that just hearing him simply laugh could turn his victims into uncontrollable laughing, drooling idiots. The comic is issue #1: Volume 1 created by Sylvester Uncas. Uncas was a genius comic book creator but he didn't have the guts to handle the Grinner, it was so frightening that he only draw one issue then he disappeared. She tells him that the copy is the only copy left and as grand opening special and he gets to have it for free which he happily accepts.

The next day, during science class at Ethan's school there is a giant microwave oven on display in a glass case that bursts a giant sausage to bits. The teacher Mr. Wrightson asks the class if anyone, besides the class brainiac nerd Hooper Picalarro knows how a microwave works. Ethan holding his science textbook upside down, conceals his comic book inside it and is having a fun time reading it. In the story every victim The Ghastly Grinner encounters becomes an uncontrollable, laughing, drooling idiot. Mr. Wrightson comes up to him from behind and confiscates the comic book as punishment for him not paying attention to his priorities of paying attention in school. As Mr. Wrightson walks to the front of the class he nears the fish tank. Ethan cries out to him "No! It's one of a kind!" Mr. Wrightson in a nasty and mean tone tells him "Correction it's none of a kind!" and drops the comic into the fish tank, much to Ethan's dismay. Hooper looks over to him and feels bad about it.

After school, Ethan comes home to find his parents sitting together on the sofa eating junk food and watching t.v. His dad tells him they're not happy that they got a call from school today and that he was acting up in science class. Ethan's excuse is that Mr. Wrightson hates him. His mom nicely tells him that he doesn't hate him, he just doesn't want him to waste his time on comic book and focus on important priorities. His dad warns him that this is the last warning, and if they got one more call from school like that one. He'll get no more comic books until he finishes college. Ethan is really mad to hear his dad say that, his mom tells him it's for his own good because comic books are an addiction (just like his parents addiction of junk food and watching television).

Afterwards Ethan, goes into the kitchen and he tries to read through his now soaked comic book. He looks at the microwave and decides to try drying the comic book inside the microwave. He puts the comic into the microwave and sets the time. Then his mom tells him he has a phone call, at first Ethan isn't too excited and asks her to take a message for him. Until his mom says that it's a girl he is more than eager to answer the phone.

The girl on the phone happens to be Hooper Picalarro. The girl who sits across the room from him in science class (who has glasses, braces and braided pigtails). She has called him to tell her how sorry she was to see Mr. Wrightson wrecked his comic book, and that she thinks he's a really good artist he really appreciates it. Meanwhile, downstairs his mom is cooking pizza waffles and has overloaded the electrical outlet with far too many machines and devices plugged in at a time. This causes a little explosion and the microwave slowly opens in a yellow flash. Ethan, scared from the sound heads downstairs to see what happened.

He comes down coughing through the smoke and calling for his mom and dad to see if they're okay. His mom calls out that she is okay and says that everything is fine, much to his current confusion. Ethan finds his comic book dried like new with a big hole punched through the middle, and on the wall is a whole in the shape of cut out of a jester like clown. As Ethan walks closer to see it in the background laughing can be heard. He looks through the cutout opening and finds a slight bit a blue slime.

His mom comes in and says get rid of this... oh too late! and smiles and begins laughing uncontrollably as blue slime drips out of her mouth. Ethan terrified screams and goes over to ask his dad for help. His dad quickly turns his head around and smiles a wide smile with his eyes wide open and says "Heard any good jokes lately, Ethan?" Ethan screams and runs away again as his dad also begins laughing uncontrollably as blue slime drips from his mouth.

Ethan runs outside and hides near the bushes and looks inside the comic book and can see that everything bad recently happening in his life is also happening in the comic book too. Suddenly he startled and turns around to see Hooper there, she tells him she heard the explosion over the phone and came over to see if he was okay. After she asks him what's going on? he tells her that he's not sure how but he think he brought a comic book character to life and shows her the burnt comic. He explains the comic book character to her and how he thinks it got his parents, Hooper says they should call for help. Suddenly we can see Hooper's parents, coming over to visit and Mr and Mrs. Wood happily invite them inside to meet "Uncle Bob" afterwards very loud and insane laughter can be heard coming from the inside of the house.

Ethan and Hooper get onto the city bus, they head over to the comic book shop to meet the shop owner to find a way to stop The Grinner. On the way as they read the comic it reveals that The Grinner has now also victimized Hooper's parents as well. They realize they're in the comic book too, indicating that someone is about to him to them on the bus. Suddenly the bus driver's head twist completely backwards and blue oozing slime drips out as he laughs uncontrollably. This terrifies the both of them screaming, as the bus driver begins to reckless drive the city bus completely out of control. Their ride is very dangerous as the bus driver keeps trying to crash the bus. Ethan, finally is able to catch the emergency break and pull it stopping the bus. This happens so fast the bus driver bumps his head and passes out.

At the comic shop, Ethan asks the shop owner how it can be real when it's just a comic book? She explains to him that Sylvester Uncas was such a good artist, that he wasn't just making comic books, he was also creating guidebooks to other worlds so people in other worlds could protect themselves. However, everyone thought he was crazy and didn't believe him until he created The Ghastly Grinner. Turns out he mistakenly created something so evil that he immediately needed to put a stop to it. Therefore he tried to quickly wrap it up and end the comic book series by making the final issue "The Death of the Ghastly Grinner. However before he could finish the comic book the Grinner found out and captured him and hasn't been seen ever since. She reveals she knows all of this because Sylvester Uncas was her father.

She tells him, that the reason why she gave him the invitation to the shop in the first place was so that he could to finish the comic book, and stop the Ghastly Grinner once and for all. This is because she believe he has the right potential to do so. Hooper suggests an idea, the idea is to use giant microwaves and have the emitting rays destroy him. Because if the rays from a microwave can bring him to their world. then possibly it could send him back too believing that was how the comic was supposed to end. Suddenly The Grinner appears in the shop and closes in on them and makes Ms. Uncas disappear.

Back at school, Ethan and Hooper head to Mr. Wrightson's science class. There, they set up the giant microwave machine, as they prepare this and set this up, Mr. Wrightson comes in and tries to stop them messing with the equipment. Because he says it's no laughing matter. Suddenly The Ghastly Grinner appears and grabs Mr. Wrightson and stares at him in the face and laughs at him until he becomes a laughing and drooling idiot too. As this happened they turned on the microwave machine and blinding flashes blinked all throughout the classroom. This didn't harm or hurt the Grinner at all or in any way. The Ghastly Grinner picks up Ethan and asks him how he can ever repay him for bringing him to the world? Maybe a smile? He begins to laugh at Ethan. Then Hooper runs in the way and they break free and make a run for it.

Hooper leads them back to the comic book shop, where they find and retrieve the unfinished comic panels for the final issue. She tells him she believes in him and so did Ms. Uncas and that she just knows he can finish the comic book. Ethan with much more encouragement now, carefully and quickly gets to work. Ethan works fast but seems to do a very good job, Hooper mentions that it is sure is quiet now. She wonders where The Grinner might be? Suddenly we see a cardboard Cutout of the Grinner come to life as he insanely laughs. He tells her "Know what happened to the last guy who tried to stop me? let's just say his subscription was cancelled! " He picks up Hooper by the pigtails and attempts to victimize her. However much to his disgust and surprise it's doesn't work. This is because Hooper reveals that she doesn't have very much of a sense of humor and so therefore he has no affect on her.

Ethan has finished the comic book and presents it to him with him as the main superhero character. He calls out "Hey smiley! who's laughing now?" Seeing the comic book The Grinner instantly let's Hooper go and runs over to Ethan. The Grinner runs over to Ethan as Ethan runs over to him holding the comic book. They bump right into each other and disappear in a yellow flash with a laugh heard in the background. As Ethan and The Ghastly Grinner enter the comic book world for a showdown.

The comic book pages are on the floor, Hooper scared and worried reads through them. The comic shows Ethan hero punching The Grinner out. Then it shows Ethan rescuing Ms, Uncas and her father Sylvester Uncas. While the Ghastly Grinner calls for them to come back and they can't escape. The Ethan Hero exposes the Grinner to rays of a microwave and tells them it might now have worked in Ethan's world, but it will work in his world. As it's turned on, The Grinner is zapped by a rap from the microwave and screams "Microwaves no!" Then afterwards Ethan Hero is victorious, but suddenly asks "Now how do I get out of here?

Hooper says I thought you knew, suddenly inside the comic it shows that The Ghastly Grinner is back and sneaks up on Ethan hero from behind. The pages shows The Ghastly Grinner staring right at Ethan heroes face laughing ha ha ha and Ethan screams out Hooper! Not know what else to do, Hooper takes the page and takes out her gigantic eraser and erases The Grinner's face away. Then suddenly a little flash of light appears with a slight explosion and her eraser is on fire. Ethan is free and the Grinner is trapped in the comic defeated. Hooper is so happy that Ethan is all right they hug. Ms. Uncas comes forward and and happily introduces him and Hopper to her father Sylvester Uncas. Ethan is amazed to meet him. Ms. Uncas is so proud and happy telling Ethan that she knew he could do it. On his way out Sylvester gives him his drawing saying I believe these are yours as if to say don't stop now.


As the story ends, Betty Ann tells the viewers that there is a comic convention. Many customers are lined up at a table in Comic Books Ink. But they're not here to see Sylvester Uncas. Turns out that Sylvester Uncas retired and never drew another comic book again, because he had enough excitement for the rest of his life. The comic book convention is for Ethan and everyone is gladly buying his new Ethan super hero comics and he is happily autographing them for everyone. Some people are interviewing Ethan's parent's who are both really happy saying that they always encouraged Ethan's talent and always knew from the beginning he would be a star. Ethan finally made it into the comics literally. As Betty Ann, ends the story she says continued next issue. Her friends are all impressed with the story with Gary saying it was very Ghastly. Gary declares their meeting closed and puts out the campfire and everyone heads for home.

  • When Ethan Wood lifts up the comic with a hole burned into it, you can see advertisements for "Are You Afraid of the Dark?", as well as another Nickelodeon series, The Ren & Stimpy Show.
  • A cardboard cutout of The Crimson Clown with it's gleaming gold eyes was seen in the comic shop.
  • Turns out the comic was continued after all, because In the episode "The Tale of C7", Lisa is seen reading a Ghastly Grinner comic book. In "The Tale of the Manaha", Steve shown he had one too.
  • Numerous superheroes' and villains' pictures are seen in the background of the comic-book store, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, Venom, Batman, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, The Joker, and Daredevil. Four other posters are photos from elsewhere in the series - The Crimson Clown from "The Tale of the Crimson Clown", The Watcher from "The Tale of Watcher's Woods", and a transformed Keith from "The Tale of the Dark Dragon".
  • Terrence Labrosse who portrayed Mr. Wrightson. quickly reappeared in the series again in the next season in the episode "The Tale of the Jagged Sign" as Duncan.
  • Heidi Burbela who portrayed Hooper, later reappeared in the series again in the series revivals season 6 episode "The Tale of the Walking Shadow" as Kim.
  • Penny Mancuso, who portrayed Mrs. Wood later reappeared in the series again as a woman in the series revival's episode "The Tale of the Time Trap".
  • Amos Crawley and Daniel DeSanto, also worked together on the animated children show The Magic School Bus, as the voices of Arnold Perlstein and Carlos Ramon.
  • In the ending credits, the editors misspelled the last name "Uncas" as "Uncan".