The Middle Atlantic Press – 1989
This cool little book was first published in 1976. The Jersey Devil, if you were wondering, is a weird monster that has haunted the Pine Barrens of New Jersey since the 1730s. What makes the Devil a little different to other cryptids like Bigfoot or Nessie is the fact that he caused quite a hubbub in 1909 by appearing to hundreds of different people over the course of a single week. This book is largely made up of the accounts of those people who claimed to have seen the monster. The authors never really try to convince the reader of anything, and I found this rather refreshing (the last three books I’ve read were written by evangelical christians with an agenda, ughhhhhhhh). I never felt like McCloy and Miller were trying to make me believe that the Jersey Devil was real, and this enabled me to forgo the critical assessment of the accounts herein and to get lost in the sense of terror that caused the mass hysteria.
Look at this lad! Those hind legs don’t look the sturdiest, and he looks a bit too top heavy to fly. If I met him in a dark alley, I’d kick him to death!
The coolest part of the book is the insight into the mass hysteria. Some of the sightings were definitely hoaxes or idiots, but I don’t think that all of the people who claimed to have seen this thing were lying. Once people start to believe in something, they’ll start to see evidence for it; mass hysteria has caused humans to do far sillier things than seeing monsters or ‘jabberwocks’. It’s also very easy to be smug about these things and to act like these people were all stupid and naive, but it is possible that there was something creeping around the woods of New Jersey at that time. Who knows? Maybe it’s still there.
So, what is the Jersey Devil supposed to be? Well, some claim he was the mutant thirteenth son of a weird old woman from the woods. Others claim he was a dinosaur. He is described by one person as having the head of a dog, the face of a horse, the wings of a bat and the feet of a pig. Whilst these accounts may differ in their details, they certainly agree in their conclusion; this lad was wrecked.
Apparently this painting was stolen from a tavern in New Gretna in the 70s. I think it’s pretty cool. He looks a bit like a floaty cow.
This book is deadly anyways. It’s fun without being bullshitty, and it’s objective without being boring. There was clearly a lot of research put into it, and it looks great; it’s full of awesome pictures and photos. My favourite part was an account of some lads trying to make a bit of cash by painting a kangaroo green and passing him off as JD. Fair play lads. Definitely worth picking this one up if you see it for cheap. There’s also an early episode of the X-Files about the Jersey Devil. I might re-watch that one when I get some free time.
J-Dizzy looking sharp.