Skeleton Crew

Skeleton Crew is a collection of short fiction by American writer Stephen King, published by Putnam in June 1985. A limited edition of a thousand copies was published by Scream/Press in October 1985 (ISBN 978-0910489126), illustrated by J. K. Potter, containing an additional short story, "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson", which had originally appeared in Rolling Stone magazine (July 19 – August 2, 1984), and was later incorporated into King's 1987 novel The Tommyknockers.[1] The original title of this book was Night Moves.[2]

Skeleton Crew
First edition cover
AuthorStephen King
CountryUnited States
GenreHorror, science fiction, poetry, short story
Publication date
June 21, 1985
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Preceded byDifferent Seasons 
Followed byFour Past Midnight 

Stories collectedEdit

# Title Originally published in
1 The Mist Dark Forces (1980)
2 "Here There Be Tygers" Spring 1968 issue of Ubris
3 "The Monkey" November 1980 issue of Gallery
4 "Cain Rose Up" Spring 1968 issue of Ubris
5 "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" May 1984 issue of Redbook
6 "The Jaunt" June 1981 issue of The Twilight Zone Magazine
7 "The Wedding Gig" December 1980 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
8 "Paranoid: A Chant" Previously unpublished
9 "The Raft" November 1982 issue of Gallery
10 "Word Processor of the Gods" January 1983 issue of Playboy
11 "The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands" Shadows 4 (1981)
12 "Beachworld" Fall 1984 issue of Weird Tales
13 "The Reaper's Image" Spring 1969 issue of Startling Mystery Stories
14 "Nona" Shadows (1978)
15 "For Owen" Previously unpublished
16 "Survivor Type" Terrors (1982)
17 "Uncle Otto's Truck" October 1983 issue of Yankee
18 "Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1)" Previously unpublished
19 "Big Wheels: A Tale of the Laundry Game (Milkman #2)" New Terrors (1980)
20 "Gramma" Spring 1984 issue of Weirdbook
21 The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet June 1984 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
22 "The Reach" November 1981 issue of Yankee


The collection features 22 works, which includes eighteen short stories, two novellas (The Mist and The Ballad of The Flexible Bullet), and two poems ("Paranoid: A Chant" and "For Owen"). In addition to the introduction, in which King directly addresses his readers in his signature conversational style, Skeleton Crew features an epilogue of sorts entitled "Notes" wherein King discusses the origins of several stories in the collection. The stories are collected from science-fiction and horror anthologies (Dark Forces, Shadows, Terrors, and New Terrors), genre magazine publications (Twilight Zone, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Startling Mystery Stories, Weirdbook and Fantasy and Science Fiction), and popular magazines (Redbook, Gallery, Yankee and Playboy).

Although published in 1985, the stories collected in Skeleton Crew span seventeen years from "The Reaper's Image" (King's second professional sale when he was just eighteen years old) to The Ballad of The Flexible Bullet which was completed in 1983.[3]

The collection also features some more personal works, including "For Owen", the poem he wrote for his son, and "Gramma" a horrific tale from an eleven-year-old boy's perspective that seems to recall King's own horrors living with his invalid grandmother.[4]

Of one of the stories in the collection, King says: "As far as short stories are concerned, I like the grisly ones the best. However the story "Survivor Type" goes a little bit too far, even for me."[5]


Film and televisionEdit

"The Raft" was adapted as a segment of the 1987 New World Pictures anthology film Creepshow 2, with a script by George A. Romero, and directed by Michael Gornic.

"Word Processor of the Gods" (1984 Laurel TV, directed by Michael Gornic) was a 22-minute episode of Tales from the Darkside.

"Gramma" was adapted into an episode of the 1985 iteration of The Twilight Zone, written by Harlan Ellison. In 2014, it was loosely adapted into a film called Mercy, starring Chandler Riggs and Dylan McDermott.[6]

The Mist was adapted into the film The Mist (2007 The Weinstein Company, written and directed by Frank Darabont), which was released on November 21, 2007; it was later adapted as a 2017 Spike TV series.

"Survivor Type" was adapted as an animated segment for a special episode of the 2019 Creepshow TV series.

"The Jaunt" will be made into a feature film by production company Plan B Entertainment, with Andy Muschietti set to direct.[7]

Dollar Baby adaptationsEdit

The following stories have been adapted as Dollar Baby short films:

  • Here There Be Tygers (1988), by Guy Maddin
  • Cain Rose Up (1989), by David C. Spillers
  • Paranoid (2000), by Jay Holben
  • Here There Be Tygers (2003), by James Cochrane
  • The Jaunt (2007), by Todd Gorman
  • Survivor Type (2011), by Chris Ethridge and Jayson Palmer
  • The Reaper's Image (2013) by Sammy Bates
  • The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands (2022) by Nicholas Bromund

Other media adaptationsEdit

The Mist was adapted as a 90-minute full-cast audio recording in 1986 in "3-D Sound" from ZBS Productions, released by Simon & Schuster, Inc.

In 1985, the American Library Association issued a series of posters that featured celebrities encouraging Americans to patronize their local libraries. In one of these, Michael J. Fox holds a copy of Skeleton Crew while a skeletal hand rests on his shoulder.


Neil Gaiman reviewed Skeleton Crew for Imagine magazine, and described it as "500 pages of gorious goodies."[8]

Skeleton Crew is critically held as showing King as a maturing writer[9] with greater breadth and depth than his previous short works.[10]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Locus Index to Science Fiction: 1984-1998". Locus. Retrieved 2014-10-11. This special edition has one extra story, “Becka Paulson,” not found in the trade edition wowza.
  2. ^
  3. ^ King, Stephen, "Introduction" to Skeleton Crew, Putnam Press 1985 pp. 13
  4. ^ Spignesi, Stephen J. The Essential Stephen King, New Page Books, 2001, pp. 232
  5. ^ Grant, Charles L. "Interview with Stephen King " Monsterland Magazine, May/June, 1985.
  6. ^ "Dylan McDermott Joins Stephen King's 'Mercy'". The Hollywood Reporter. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 2021-10-14.
  7. ^ "Stephen King's Teleportation Tale "The Jaunt" Will Be A Feature Film". Retrieved 2021-10-14.
  8. ^ Gaiman, Neil (August 1985). "Fantasy Media". Imagine (review). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd. (29): 45.
  9. ^ Beahm, George, The Stephen King Companion, Andrews and McNeel, 1989, pp. 271
  10. ^ Collings, Michael R., The Annotated Guide to Stephen King, Starmount Press, 1986, pp. 25
  11. ^ "Title: Skeleton Crew".