Monster by Barry Windsor-Smith and Joy in Stumbling

One of the best feelings is stumbling into worlds and things you didn’t know existed and finding out that you love them. These can be anything from places, films, people, even 1980s Bob Dylan music videos. These moments can open yourself up to new worlds of interests and quite literally change who you are as a person. When put like that it seems odd that people don’t seek these moments out. 

Monster Hardback Barry Windsor-Smith


I’d imagine part of the reason we don’t is because it's natural to try and fill your life with things that past experience has shown that you know you already like. For that reason I would never seek out the book ‘Monsters’. Having close to zero interest in superhero culture, I had never heard of Barry Windsor-Smith (famous Marvel illustrator)  and received his book ‘Monsters’ as a present. 

Barry Windsor-Smith Monster book

The book is about a government experiment gone wrong and the events leading up to and after that. According to its press release it took Barry Windsor-Smith 35 years to finish and at 368 pages you can see that. Despite its size I managed to finish it in a few days as it has a real ‘Crime Fiction’ section feel - repeatedly hooking you in to read far beyond what you planned on, in the hope of finding out what happens next. 

Monster by Barry Windsor-Smith book review

As someone who grow up reading Tintin and usborne ‘how to’ books, the Marvel style doesn't particularly appeal to me, however this is much looser and unpolished and a few pages in my preconceived ideas fell aside and I was totally engrossed in it. There was a slightly dated feel to it all and I mean this in a positive sense. It kind of felt like I was reading a storyboard for a 90s film. Even the bits that are set in the 1940s and 50s feel like they are being looked back on from a  world where Bill Clinton is president and Heat is showing at the cinemas. I’m still not sure how it was achieved, though I suppose if he did start writing it in 1985 that may be part of it. Could also be aspects such as the black police man who, although I don't think it was said, had big ‘last day on the job’ energy to say the least. 

Cop cliches aside, the world created in this 368 page book was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Dark, mystical, weird, 90s cop film, time capsule - Not what I thought it would be and again not something I’d have chosen myself. In a world of algorithms where films, books and music are often suggested to us based on previous choices, our interests have the potential to be narrow and narrowing. In addition to being very enjoyable escapism, this book has reminded me of the importance of not wallowing in the relative dullness of things you know you already like and seeking out new experiences.