Sadly this is one of those posts I make after reading about someone dying. Norman Bridwell was known to many of us as that guy who writes/draws the Clifford the Big Red Dog children's books. His sense of humor in the art (and the little details in it) and writing was always there, and often mild. But many people don't realize he wrote a couple of weirder books.
Yes, I know - The Witch Next Door, you could have seen that. That's not the one, though that one was also fun.
I'm talking about the monster books:
Until I wrote this I always thought the caring for your monster one was the first - guess not. Anyway the premise is that monsters aren't out to kill you - they're actually rather shy and misunderstood, but when approached in a friendly way they're happy to be sociable. I think there was something in the caring book about getting a family member to allow Drac to have a nip or two of blood, but otherwise it was along the lines of protecting Frankenstein monster from fire (he scared easily), problems with keeping the Wolfman suitably groomed (he was often unkempt) - that sort of thing. Where did you find a pet monster? At "a neighborhood Monster Store." As a kid I loved this.
In fact, I still love them as an adult. But if you look up the books on Amazon (or elsewhere) you'll find they're kinda pricey, even for beaten up copies. Because these books never made it back into print. I'm wondering if it has anything to do with weirdness, or wording, or copyright issues on the monsters (which I think were all public domain). I'm fuzzy on the exact details because it has been since the 1970s since I last read them. I have had both books on an Amazon wish list for years though, hoping I'd find out they'd released them digitally. But not yet. (This is where you chime in and correct me if I'm wrong and someone's selling reprints.)
Thanks to the internet being the internet (when it's wonderful), other folk who blog also love this idea and thus there are images of some of the book pages online:
(Confession, I have read this blog many times before and love it. Also links to a post on Bridwell's Witches Catalog, which I never read. Sadly.)
(Blog I hadn't read before but am now enjoying. Also has the image of Drac having a bit of the family blood at the dinner table that I thought was funny. Note how mom and sis aren't at all phased but dad is nervous because it's his turn.)
Both of those links show different images, so take a look at both. Simple art, as usual for Bridwell, and not much color. But oh how I loved them. Especially since I started watching classic monster movies early, having been broken in on Scooby Doo (pop music playing during the monster chases still influences my love for bubblegum music), The Monster Squad, The Groovie Goolies - you get the idea.
Bridwell had a great sense of humor, and will be missed.