Usborne Publishing: Supernatural Guides: Vampires, Werewolves & Demons (1979)

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UK publisher Usborne released a number of memorable books in the late ’70s, starting with the World of the Unknown series in 1977. The Supernatural Guides followed in 1979 and covered the same territory.

In the most matter-of-fact, dispassionate tone, the authors discuss all manner of gruesome scenarios and happenings. The accompanying illustrations, on the other hand, are incredibly graphic, disturbing, and over-the-top. That irony is what makes the books so brilliant. Take this:

Ghosts became more unpleasant and dangerous the longer they were dead and it was important not to offend them. Sometimes the spirit returned as a ferocious man-eating animal.

What kind of ferocious man-eating animal, you ask? How about an African elephant spirit that will eat your heart and liver?

How does one become a werewolf? Well, he or she  puts “wolfsbane, opium, foxgloves, bat blood and fat of a murdered child into a pot” and boils them. Let me repeat that last ingredient, in case you missed it: the fat of a murdered child.

Usborne also released a World of the Future series around the same time that’s as fascinating, though not as insane. The World of the Unknown books were re-released in the late ’90s with different covers. The interiors are identical to the originals.

(Images via Found Objects and Horrorpedia)

8 Responses to “Usborne Publishing: <em>Supernatural Guides: Vampires, Werewolves & Demons</em> (1979)”


  1. 1 His friend J February 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    You know how many werewolves we could make these days with all these fat little kids running (waddling, actually) around?

  2. 5 J February 25, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Everytime I think of the books in my school library back in the 80’s, stocked with unexpected gems like these, I can’t believe how far behind we’ve fallen. I mean, I discovered Fritz Lieber, Moebius, Tin Tin, and even Fighting Fantasy books at my school, all mixed in with the typical stacks of The Outsiders, Maurice Sendak, and Omni magazines (pretty sure I first heard about Syd Mead and Chesley Bonestell in these).

    Also, the process to creating werewolves seems similar to what you need to do to become The Party God. You just need a boombox, some Run-DMC tapes, eleventy-million D batteries and the dead fat kids baseball cap (worn backwards, homeslice). I love this blog.

    • 6 2W2N February 25, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Yeah. We had a dedicated pool of unconventional literature at our disposal. Adults once believed that kids were adults in training, and treated us as such. Now adults believe that kids should never grow up. Enter shitty books, shitty movies, and shitty toys.

      Thanks for the compliment.


  1. 1 When the Future Was Full of Stars: An Interview with David Jefferis | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on January 16, 2015 at 7:36 pm
  2. 2 The Hamlyn Book of Ghosts in Fact and Fiction by Daniel Farson (Hamlyn, 1978) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on February 2, 2016 at 3:45 pm

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