Halloween Stories - Noah Scalin: Best Costume / Worst Costume

I love and have always loved Halloween. This year, I thought it might be fun to collect some Halloween stories from some of the coolest artists and craftspeople on the web. I'm happy to report that there was no shortage of enthusiasm behind the idea and in the days leading up to All Hallows Eve, I'll be posting one or two stories per week. Feel free to post your own in the comments section! This should be fun.

Getting the ball rolling is the multi-talented artist/designer/author, Noah Scalin, who is probably best known for the fantastic Skull-A-Day project. Here's his story:

Best and Worst Childhood Halloween Costumes

BEST: Dracula – 1978
My parents were college art professors when I was a kid, so for several years in a row they got students to hand make these incredible costumes for me. It’s actually a tough call which was really the best: The Super Friends’ style Batman & Superman costumes made with dyed long underwear and felt logos were fantastic; but the Dracula (based on an illustrated jigsaw puzzle I owned) had the greatest longevity. Not only did I wear the dapper outfit and pancake makeup to school, a Halloween party, and for trick-or-treating, but the cape became a staple of my wardrobe for years afterwards. Indeed many an afternoon was spent playing Dracula and Dracula Boy with my best friend Benjy (yes cape ownership does confer certain rights). Poor guy he was also relegated to playing Batman Boy periodically as well (since no one ever wanted to play Robin). Of course I still lusted after the crappy plastic smock & mask costumes, that featured the character’s face & name on your chest (in case you weren’t clear on who it was), that everyone else got at the drugstore.

WORST: Toilet Paper Mummy – 198?

Somewhere around the time when you probably should stop trick-or-treating anyway, but you still want the free candy, I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to costumes. There were at least three years in a row where I repurposed an old brown hooded hippie cloak that belonged to my mother. Add chains to be a ghost, take off your shoes to be a Hobbit, and spray your hair white to be an albino Druid (Don’t ask, I don’t know what that was about either). One year I got a book on DIY makeup for kids from the library. The projects mostly seemed to involve sticking colored oatmeal to your face to create “creepy” effects. I diligently followed the directions on Halloween night, yet even vigorous use of a hairdryer never got any of the concoctions to congeal on my face. Not one to let drippy oatmeal face deter my candy requisitioning activities I promptly wrapped my head in toilet paper and despite my embarrassment still headed out as a “mummy”. That was the last year I dressed up for Halloween for a long, long time.

Not only do I still own my original Dracula cape (it’s more of a Dracula shrug now), but a hand-painted jacket I made for a Beetlejuice costume a few years ago has made it into my wardrobe as the go to outfit for art openings (and only a handful of people ever call me out on it).

*Noah Scalin is the author of the book Skulls. He also runs his own socially conscious design studio in Richmond, VA and is the man behind the Skull-A-Day project. Thanks Noah!


  1. That is rad! A Beetlejuice jacket in regular wardrobe rotation? Love.It.

    Fun series, Paul! :)

  2. AJC - Yeah! And his Dad just sent me a rad 1970 shot of he and his wife in costume. As soon as I get the okay, I'll post it. Thanks for the comment! You're next!

  3. I would hope that you at least used more than one roll forproper effect, Noah. Great stories. This will be a great series to keep reading. Thanks, Dude!

  4. This is a fun idea! I hope you don't mind, but i'm going to post some of my costumes on my blog, with a link bqack to you!

  5. Tatman - Thanks for the comment!

    Connie - Love it! Can't wait to see your costumes!