August 2011 | Nate Pedersen

Monster Books

Abebooks has a cool feature up on their website displaying twenty-five of their favorite retro monster covers.  As a confirmed lover of pulp covers, I enjoyed browsing through the lurid illustrations and sensational titles.  It got me thinking about my own childhood and some of my favorite monster illustrations from children's books; in particular the ones that stuck in my head and crept back in the nighttime to haunt my dreams.

One such illustration, which seems a bit tame now, but had a powerful impact on my young imagination, is this battling squid from a children's version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea:

Another favorite horrific illustration from my youth comes from the ubiqutious Childcraft books, which now haunt the dusty, basement shelves of many baby-boomer parents.  One entry in the series, Mathemagic, presented an eerie lesson in multiplication by demonstrating how quickly vampires could take over the earth.  Under the logic that a vampire must bite one person a week in order to stay alive, (and that all bitten people become vampires), it would only take 32 weeks to go from one solitary vampire to a complete Vampire-Apocalypse.  As if their logic wasn't horrifying enough, they brought in a devilish illustrator to drive the point home:


Finally, I loved the John Bellairs books while I was growing up, all of which were illustrated in that particularly eerie way by the great Edward Gorey.  After John Bellairs died, Brad Strickland continued writing the series into the present day.  Gorey also continued illustrating until his own death in 2000.  Here is one of the more monsterly of his covers:

Any other favorite monster books out there from your youth?