I love this filthy, disease-carrying bastard and his vermin brethren.
I've loved him for decades.
When I was thirteen, I took a macro photograph of his yellow-toothed mug and spent a fortune of my parents' money blowing it up to poster size so I could hang it above my bed.
Every time my mother came into my horror-filled bedroom, she'd be confronted by this snarling, plague-ridden poster boy for London vermin.
After a while, she stopped coming.
Where did they find this handsome beast? Did he audition for The Rats cover? Did James Herbert have to approve him? He was an advertising guy, afterall. Those ad guys are real big on approvals and sign-offs.
Who signed off on Mr. Filthy?
This sharp looking prick personified vermin. Perched on the edge of The Thames like the King of England with London right behind him, he was ready to take on all comers and spread his genetic filth far and bloody wide.
That why I loved him.
There was no bullshit about him.
I AM ENGLAND, he seemed to say, AND YOU'RE FUCKED, SUNSHINE.
I wonder how he got those yellow teeth. Did he smoke? Did he have a two pack a day habit?
When he wasn't ripping babies apart or lurking in abandoned houses, he was partying with his filthy mates. Bunch of bloody hoodlums if you ask me. But well groomed hoodlums. Not the riff-raff you get around here.
He stayed on my wall for three or four years. King of All That Was Filthy and Wrong. Arrogant. Cocky. Perverse.
Mr. Herbert owes this furry fuck a case of beer or a bucket of aborted babies, at least, for what he's done to boost his career, not to mention his bank balance. A smashing cover is key to a successful marketing campaign. A good cover will have those books jumping off the shelves like... well, like vermin.
I always appreciated Herbert's use of the word "vermin". It was a prejudicial term, no doubt about that, and it did reduce rats to the status of cancer or foot rot; but I don't think Mr. Filthy and his black-haired hoons would have given a flying fuck about that.
If nothing, they were an honest bunch of bastards. They were riddled with every strain of bacteria you could imagine, they got less respect than child molesters, and there were people out there who were dedicating their lives to their annihilation, but they went about their furry, putrid ways like tomorrow didn't matter and today could take a hike. And let's not forget that it will be their kind who'll still be standing (and smiling) when the bombs rain down and the mushrooms bloom.
Perhaps they wouldn't actually smile. No, they'd pull their lips back and show off their nicotine-stained chompers in a collective demonstration of victory.
In 1979, the New English Library (NEL) management invited Mr. Filthy back to their studios for another cover shot. This time he was promoting Lair, Mr. Herbert's excellent sequel to The Rats. The disease-carrying pop star burst through the red lettering and declared: HERE I AM AGAIN, YOU ROTTEN, MISERABLE SODS. LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS, BABIES, AND LESBIAN GIRLFRIENDS.
This was a public acknowledgment from the NEL team that Mr. Filthy was Herbert's secret weapon.
God bless the lousy bum.