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To finish out October, here’s an extra special Halloween edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Special Collections.  Today’s featured beast is the demon, which is usually defined as an evil spirit or fiend.  Nearly every religion has a form of demons that populate whatever version of Hell that particular religion believes in, often trying to influence the people of our world into committing evil acts and causing general chaos.  Mephistopheles (pictured above) is one of the more well-known demons and is the one that Faust sells his soul to in the legend of Faustus, recorded most famously by Goethe.

Dante's Inferno Dante's Inferno 2

In other classic literature, this edition of Dante’s Inferno illustrated by Gustave Dore beautifully shows some of the residents of Hell that Dante and Virgil encounter on their journey through the nine circles of Hell.

Midnight Watch

This image depicts a scene from the Russian folk tale The Soldier’s Midnight Watch, in which a soldier hides on top of the stove while an undead witch summons a crowd of small demons to search him out.


In more modern media, demons have taken on other roles as well, such as in the comic Fray by Joss Whedon, in which the demon Urkonn plays trainer to a futuristic vampire slayer named Melaka Fray.

Demon of the Eiffel Tower

A more light-hearted take on a demon occurs in The Demon of the Eiffel Tower, an English translation of a French comic in which Adele Blanc-Sec solves mysteries and has grand adventures in a fantasy version of the 1900s.  (Spoiler Alert:  in true Scooby-Doo style, the demon is eventually revealed to be a woman with a nefarious plot in a costume.)

A Season in Hell


Switching from comics to poetry, the above image is from Arthur Rimbaud’s collection of poems entitled A Season in Hell.  With several photographs like this by Robert Mapplethorpe, this edition of Rimbaud’s poetry certainly takes an added turn for the creepy.


Demons, imps, & fiends Demons, imps, & fiends

Speaking of creepy, these terrifying creatures are from Leonard Baskin’s work Demons, Imps, and Fiends.  The rest of the book is filled with drawings of demons you definitely wouldn’t want to meet on the street at night, much less enter into any form of agreement with.

Happy Halloween everyone!  If you need help getting into the spirit of the holiday, come see us in Special Collections.  Our stacks are haunted by books with all kinds of creatures guaranteed to help.

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Posted in Special Collections

Vampires Suck

Stoker's Dracula

(Your blood, that is.)  How does one even begin to write about vampires with any sort of completeness?  Every culture’s got one – some version of a creature that rises from the dead and preys on the life force of the living (either the blood or something more abstract, such as energy or the soul) to sustain itself.  Reflecting this, Dracula and his brethren abound on the shelves of Special Collections – particularly our comics collection where the dramatic nature of the vampire lends itself perfectly to a graphic medium.

While vampires have been around for ages, it was Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula that made them much more prevalent in literature and popular culture.  In more modern times, vampires’ popularity has spiked again with television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and bestselling book series like Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, and the Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlene Harris.

Let’s start with Dracula then, shall we?

Stoker's DraculaStoker's Dracula Stoker's Dracula

This 2004 adaption of Stoker’s Dracula presents the comic in a dramatic black and white contrast that plays up the drama of the story.

Blood of Dracula

Another series featuring the Count is Apple Comics’s Blood of Dracula, where each issue contains an installment of three different stories featuring Dracula in his own time, in the future, and anywhere in between.  This issue even comes with a record of songs composed to supplement the stories!Blood of Dracula RecordNot to be outdone, Warp Graphics (which later turned over most of its titles to Apple Comics) pitted Dracula against Jack the Ripper in its 1986 mini-series Blood of the Innocent.

Blood of the Innocent

In addition to its large spread in comics, the story of Dracula has also been taken to the stage over the years, as seen in these scenes from a 1978 production of Dracula starring Frank Langella as the titular feind and famous illustrator Edward Gorey designing the scenery and costumes. Dracula

Stoker wasn’t the only one to write about vampires, though.  Folk stories teemed with different versions of the vampire.  This image from a book of Russian folk tales shows the warlock from the tale “The Soldier and The Vampire” who comes back from the dead each night to terrorize a town by cursing a newlywed couple and drawing their blood until he is outwitted and killed by a clever soldier.

The Soldier and The Vampire

In modern vampire culture, many vampires choose to live among us and forgo the drinking of human blood for that of animals.  Two such “vegetarian” vampires are main characters in Vertigo’s series Blood + Water.  Adam Heller, a man slowly dying of AIDS finds out his friends are actually vampires when they turn him into one to cure him and save his life.

Blood + Water

Men aren’t the only ones to play large roles in vampire stories.  Vampirella, the vampire superheroine from the planet Drakulon, fights evil vampires on our world in an effort to save her own.  She appears in a number of comic series and a direct to video movie.
Vampirella Classic #1

Vampirella Classic #3

Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series was adapted by Marvel in 2006.  The leading lady, Anita Blake, lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri as a professional zombie raiser, vampire hunter, and consultant for the police’s supernatural department.

Anita Blake #3 Anita Blake Anita Blake #1

Including the scores of other stories both modern and old as Dracula himself, it’s clear that no matter what way you slice it, vampires have a powerful prescence in cultures throughout the world.  So this Halloween if you’re finding yourself going batty for vampires, come see us at Special Collections.  We’ve got plenty of vampire stories you can really sink your teeth into.

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Posted in Comic Collection

Ghosts, Friendly and Otherwise


While sometimes our stacks can certainly feel like they're haunted, the only ghosts we know live here are the ones in our books!  From Casper the Friendly Ghost to the Headless Horseman, our shelves are inhabited by a large variety of spirits.  We even have books claiming to be written by ghosts, such as the Ghost Epigrams of Oscar Wilde, and collections of ghost stories spanning the years.



Automatic writing allows a person to channel the supernatural to produce written words without consciously writing.  In this case, allowing the figure of Lazar to write pages worth of witty epigrams from the spirit of Oscar Wilde.


In this pamphlet, a speech is recorded from the ghost of Lord Haversham, who was so disturbed by some of the carrying-ons of the Parliment that he returned as a ghost after his death to give this speech to the House of Lords in 1710.

ghosts0008 Even Holmes and Watson join the fray in the fight against evil spirits in these crossover comics that pit the famous consulting detective and his biographer against the opera ghost, or the Phantom of the Opera.


One of the more well-known ghosts in American literature is that of the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  Also a terrifying figure in other European folktales, a common theme among all depictions is that, where this spirit shows up, death usually follows.

So if these books make you want to take up ghosthunting this October, you know who to call.  (Hint: it's us, Special Collections!)

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Posted in Comic Collection, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections

Bats, Rats, and Spiders


Oh my!

Throughout October the Fantastic Beasts series will be taking a turn for the creepy as each week in October we feature spooky creatures and things that go bump in the night.  For the first week we'll start with some of the tamer creepy-crawlies that lots of us see on a daily basis: bats, rats, and spiders.  Each of these are commonly featured in tales of terror, and are associated with death, disease, or mystery, among other things.  They can also serve as familiars to witches and sorcerors, which is where they picked up a lot of their negative associations.  Truth is, many of these fears are largely unfounded, as bats, rats, and spiders are important parts of any ecosystem and for the most part are either scared of or not a threat to humans.  Giant versions of any of these (such as those pictured below) are, of course, another matter entirely.



bats3  rats1rats2rats3spiders1spiders2

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Posted in Special Collections

Halloween Hoodoo

"To catch a spirit, or to protect your spirit against catching, or to release you caught spirit – this is the complete theory and practice of hoodoo."

The above quote opens the five volume set of books entitled Hoodoo–conjuration–witchcraft–rootwork : beliefs accepted by many Negroes and white persons, these being orally recorded among Blacks and whites by Harry M. Hyatt that can be found in Special Collections.  Published in 1970, these books represent the culmination of years of interviews conducted by the author over a large portion of the Southern United States.

Not to be confused (as it commonly is), with voodoo or vodou, which are both religions derived from West African religions with a dash of Christianity thrown in, hoodoo is often classified as folk magic and is practiced mainly in the Southern United States.  The difference between hoodoo and voodoo and vodou is similar to the distinction between Wicca and witchcraft.  Also similar to Wicca and witchcraft is the fact that people often use all these terms interchangeably, though they have different meanings. Thus, one can belong to the voodoo religion and practice hoodoo, but they don't have to, and vice versa.

In hoodoo, a practitioner draws upon the spiritual power residing within them to perform a ritual to bring about power or success.  Today's mainstream culture often portrays hoodoo as a negative thing because of the common misconception that all who practice it are greedy or corrupt.

Hoodoo–conjuration–witchcraft–rootwork is a record of people's interactions with hoodoo, containing many accounts about how the interviewee was affected by a conjure or how someone they knew was affected.  One woman relates the experience she had when her neighbor put a conjure on her by burying a bottle containing  sulfur, hair, a bluestone, and roots of some sort.  According to her, this was the reason she was unable to stay up past ten o'clock each night.  She proceeds to relate how she destroyed the bottle and its contents and was able to stay up much later the following night while the next day the woman next door had to go to the hospital due to a major problem with her leg.  Another interviewee tells the author about a common practice of putting sulfur and ashes from the fireplace in a bag and keeping it in your pocket to ward off those that would do you harm.

Whether or not you believe that hoodoo works, these books make for interesting reading and are a comprehensive relation of a common practice here in the United States that most of us are largely unfamiliar with.  So if you get a chance between your Halloween celebrations, come see us at Special Collections where you can find the books mentioned here along with many others!


"Difference Between Hoodoo and Voodoo | Difference Between | Hoodoo vs Voodoo." Difference Between Hoodoo and Voodoo | Difference Between | Hoodoo vs Voodoo. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.
"Haitian_Vodou." N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.
"Louisiana_Voodoo." N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.


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Posted in Closed Collection, Special Collections
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