There are (or were) two great, long-lost books from my childhood that I’d always wanted to track down. The first was Dennis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies, which I managed to track down a couple of years ago. The second is a more recent acquisition: The Hamlyn Book of Horror by Daniel Farson (grand-nephew of Bram Stoker). While the former was a library book (that spent almost as much time in my house as it did in the library) the latter was a Christmas present and lived with me on a full-time basis. That is until I leant it to a school chum and never saw it again.
I won’t kid anyone though, it was the illustrations that really hooked me. While it told the stories of vampires, werewolves, ghouls and ghosts, it was the Oliver Frey artwork that really captured my imagination. People of a certain age and geography may remember him as the guy who did all those great covers for the CRASH and Zzap!64 computer gaming magazines, as well as a huge range of comics and fantasy publications. It’s that great airbrushed artwork that you really don’t seem to see very much anymore now that everything is done digitally.
I spent hours and days thumbing through that book and was gutted when I changed schools and never saw it again. Now it’s back on my shelf (with a pleasing musty smell that my original copy never attained) and I’m going to make time to lose myself in it again this weekend.
(Thumbnail image shamelessly pinched from The Cobwebbed Room which I suggest that you visit forthwith!)