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BRATTLEBORO -- Dummerston’s Vampire Vine! Bighead! Pmola! The Woodman! Fanny’s Fiend!

If these names don’t ring a bell, prior to your next hiking or boating trip in Windham County, you might want to pick up "The Vermont Monster Guide" and try to be prepared for the unexpected.

Or if you just want to snuggle up under a quilt and give yourself the willies, the book is a good place to start.

On Sunday at 1 p.m., at the Mystery on Main Street bookstore, the author of the monster guide, Joseph Citro, and the illustrator, Seven Bissette, will be talking about and signing the book.

Citro is the author of "Green Mountains’ Ghosts, Ghouls, and Unsolved Mysteries," "Passing Strange: True Tales of New England Hauntings and Horrors," "Damned Yankees: Cursed in New England," "Weird New England" and "Vermont Ghost Stories."

Citro said he has been collecting monster stories from around Vermont since 1994.

He decided it was about time to compile them into a book and called up long-time friend and artistic collaborator Steven Bissette to illustrate the book for him.

Bissette is well-known for his work on "Saga of the Swamp Thing," a cult favorite of comic-book fanatics, and for co-creating John Constantine, AKA Hellblazer.

Both Citro and Bissette are Vermont natives.

"It took us about a year to complete the artwork and find the stories I hadn’t already discovered," said Citro.

A new one for Citro was the Vampire Vine, a story that harks back to the 18th century and the family of Lt. Leonard Spaulding.

In 16 years, nine members of the Spaulding family died.

Someone noticed that a particularly "gnarly" root was growing from coffin to coffin. When the root was severed, it "twitched, screamed and bled."

"Even today, some Dummerston residents fear a remnant of the vine might have survived," wrote Citro.

"Discovering that we had a kind of man-eating monster plant in the state was somewhat delightful," he told the Reformer on Friday.

Citro also learned about Bighead, a sighting on I-91 near Brattleboro of what appeared to be an alien in a private vehicle. He learned about that story from the New Hampshire-Vermont branch of the Mutual UFO Network.

The creature that freaks Citro out the most though is Bigfoot, who has been sighted around the Green Mountain State.

"The Bigfoot stories give me the willies," he said. "He could be out there just beyond the treeline."

He is also fascinated by stories about catamounts, mainly because he said he’s seen one himself.

"The catamount is real," he said. "I made a perfectly good observation of one."

Citro met Bissette in the late 1980s, introduced by a mutual friend, and they hit it off right away.

"I felt like I had grown up with him," said Citro.

Bissette, who once lived in Marlboro, now lives in Windsor.

"We’ve been friends for more than two decades," said Bissette.

While they have done a fair amount of work together, he said, "We wish it was more."

In addition to "Vermont Ghost Stories" and "The Vermont Monster Guide," Bissette also illustrated a map called the Vermont Ghost Guide with Citro and created art work for Citro’s first novel, "Deus-X."

"I’ve grown up loving this stuff," said Bissette. "My first love was drawing monsters. That hasn’t changed."

The first comic book he ever drew was made in the basement of his friend’s home in Duxbury in 1961. He and Mitch Casey created "Attack of the Giant Tse-Tse Flies."

"We used to hand write and draw monster magazines and sell them to kids in school," said Bissette.

In the mid-1970s, while attending Johnson State College, he and friend Kim Viereck created "Abyss" and sold 200 copies on campus. That was his first professional gig.

Shortly thereafter, Bissette entered the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, a member of the institution’s first graduating class.

At the school he met Rick Veitch, who he eventually worked with on "Swamp Thing," "Shiny Beasts" and "1941: The Illustrated Story."

Bissette has also contributed art to "Heavy Metal" and the "Sgt. Rock" comic books.

For a while he worked with Bob and Jane Stine producing horror magazines for Scholastic. Yes, that Bob Stein who now publishes under the name RL Stine, the author of the "Goosebumps" series.

Most recently, Bissette illustrated "Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman."

"I’m going to have it with us on Sunday," he said.

Mystery on Main Street will have a number of Citro’s and Bissette’s books on hand, which will be available for purchase and autographs.

More important than getting a new book with an autograph though, said Bissette, is supporting one of the town’s local book stores.

Citro said if you know of a monster that wasn’t included in the book, feel free to contact him via his Web site at www.josephacitro.com.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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