As I scale the glassy heights of Sheffield's Velocity Tower, in protest at inappropriate drilling for oil, people often lean out of the windows and say to me, "Steve, with what do you associate Christmas 1974?"
And I tell them, "With what? I'll tell you with what I associate it. I associate it with toffee. I associate it with Quatermass and the Pit - which may or may not have been on TV that Christmas. And I associate it with The Horrific World of Monsters."
Yes, it's true. For Christmas 1974, I was given that self-same book.
And what a magnificent tome it was, giving information about virtually every monster you could ever hope to encounter.
It had such Hammer and Universal standbys as Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula and the Wolfman.
It had dinosaurs.
It had Kong.
It had monsters from ancient mythology.
It had Japanese monsters.
It had British monsters.
It had real-life monsters like the Yeti and Nessie.
It even had Marvel super-heroes.
Granted, even at the time, it seemed a little strange to see the likes of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four labelled as monsters but I didn't care. The inclusion of such characters meant we got reproductions of pages of artwork and pin-ups from said comics. How we thrilled as the Human Torch encountered Annihilus, and the Hulk met the Bi-Beast.
It was from that book that I learned of the dread Anthropophagi, those mystery cannibals whose mouths are in their chests
For a Dr Who fan like me, it was a treat, as it featured old stills of such Dr Who monsters as the Daleks, Cybermen and Ice Warriors at a time when we had access to neither repeats of the show nor recordings.
All in all, I do believe it may qualify as the greatest book ever written.
A bit of Googling tells me it was written by someone called Dulan Barber, of whom I know nothing. But I do recall the book was often advertised in American comics at the time, where it was re-titled The Monsters' Who's Who. But, whatever name it went by, it was thoroughly and totally monsterific.
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