Friday, June 23, 2017

1954 UFO Whistleblower: Frank E Keely

From Kenneth Arnold to UFO crashes, Keely tells all.


Publisher Bill Gaines' EC Comics produced a number of comic book series, best-loved for their anthologies of science fiction and horror stories, the most (in)famous of which was Tales from the Crypt. EC is remembered for their outstandingly sophisticated stories and art, and for their O. Henry-type surprise endings, similar to what Rod Serling would later do on television in the Twilight Zone.

Weird Science-Fantasy #25, Sept. 1954

Not Keel, It's Keely

Weird Science-Fantasy #25, (EC, Sept. 1954) featured "Flying Saucer Report" written by Al Feldstein and illustrated by Wally Wood. It's a fictional story, but cites quite a bit of genuine UFO history through the eyes of "Frank E. Keely," a composite character based on Major Donald E. Keyhoe and Frank Scully, the best-selling authors of The Flying Saucers are Real and Behind the Flying Saucers.


A non-believing skeptic confronts Keely

The story must may have been a practice run. The following issue, EC tried something even more ambitious. Bruce Lanier Wright in Strange Magazine said: 
"The most memorable UFO comic ever, though, has to be EC's Weird Science-Fantasy #26 of December 1954. In contrast to the light-hearted, sardonic tone of the earlier saucer stories, this issue was a serious treatment of actual UFO sightings based on the writings of Donald Keyhoe, a respected investigator of the era. Keyhoe spent an entire day with the EC staff, who constructed a series of accounts featuring actual names, dates and quotes from Keyhoe's files. The book received a good deal of national publicity and became a sellout." 
Weird Science-Fantasy #26, Dec. 1954
More about the special non-fiction Weird Science-Fantasy issue in a later BBL posting.

Keely's Flying Saucer Report

Getting back to Feldstein and Wood's "Flying Saucer Report," it's interesting not only for covering UFO cases like Kenneth Arnold and Thomas Mantell, it also provides an interesting cultural perspective on the "UFO cover-up," how the military denials and skeptical scientific explanations were perceived by the public circa 1954. Roswell, of course, was not mentioned, but Silas Newton's Aztec saucer crash story (made famous by Frank Scully) was. There's even what may be the first visual depiction of a secret military recovery of an ET body from a UFO crash for an alien autopsy.

Many of the details in the story seem to have been pulled from Donald Keyhoe's then-current book, Flying Saucers from Outer Space:
"... Scully reported that two flying discs from Venus had crashed in the Southwest. In the wreckage, according to Scully's informants, investigators found the bodies of several little men. The Air Force, said Scully, had spirited the bodies and the discs away for secret analysis."
Keely published the first crash retrieval story.

The Original Art for the Story

Jim Halperin is an active collector of rare comic books and original comic art. His site presents scans of the original artwork for "Flying Saucer Report," the 8-page story, reproduced large enough for it to be read in its entirety online.


Visit this link, click on the story page, then click on the art again to move on to the next page.


Friday, June 16, 2017

John Keel, Witness to the Birth of the UFO Subculture


In the UFO and paranormal field, we'd have nothing without the witness. No matter what you think of the work of John A. Keel, he was there to witness to the birth of the UFO phenomenon, including the subculture that sprung up around it. In a 1992 interview with Andy Roberts, Keel said, 
I read Charles Fort when I was very young, when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I was reading Amazing Stories in those days too, and they were getting letters to Amazing Stories about thing people had seen in the sky – this is before 1947 – and I was writing a newspaper column at that time for my home town newspaper and I did a couple of columns on that kind of thing, lights in the sky and people who saw contrails high over head and thought that that was some kind of spaceship or something... Anyway, I was around when the whole UFO thing broke...
Doug Skinner has a great site, "a tribute to that unique writer and character, " John Keel, Not An Authority On Anything. He talks about Keel's early work: 
John published a science fiction fanzine, The Lunarite, in 1946...  The first issue appeared on a postcard; the second was a single sheet on light pink paper... Keel fans may be intrigued by his early mention of the “Shaver Mystery”  in that first issue.  A BEM was a “Bug Eyed Monster,” a cliche scorned by true stfans.
Keel pans the Shaver Mystery in 1946



John Keel was aware of how the pages of Amazing Stories discussed things like mysticism, psychic phenomena, Forteana and science fiction notions of extraterrestrial space visitors as both fiction and fact. Amazing's editor Ray Palmer went on to co-found Fate Magazine in 1948, taking those concepts and presenting them exclusively as fact. The cover story for the famous first issue was Kenneth Arnold's "The Truth About The Flying Saucers." Ray Palmer had been an active part of the subculture of science fiction fandom, and developed similar, overlapping subcultures for the Shaver Mystery and later, UFOs. 




John Keel saw this all develop, and in 1973, he wrote an article, "The Flying Saucer Subculture." Doug Skinner described it at the site, John Keel, Not An Authority On Anything:
John Keel published several booklets in the ’90s, under the imprint of the New York Fortean Society...One of these was The Flying Saucer Subculture, from 1994.  It contained an article John had written in 1973 for The Journal of Popular Culture (published in 1975)... a thorough history of ufology, detailing its literature, personalities, and theories.  John took delight in adding 105 footnotes, as well as a three-page bibliography.  His assessment was, as is to be expected, negative: he dismissed most of the literature as “almost totally paranoid and insane,” and a “sea of trash.”  He did, however, single out many researchers for approval...I drew the cover for this booklet; John and I had great fun with all the ufological in-jokes."
It's a great piece, and it documents some pivotal moments of history willfully ignored by other UFO authors. The original article: The Flying Saucer Subculture - John Keel on Scribd



A related piece was written by Keel in 1983, an article on Ray Palmer, “The Man Who Invented Flying Saucers,” originally published in the Fortean Times. Although Keel's ideas, observations and opinions were controversial, his role as a witness to the birth of the UFO phenomenon should be recognized and remembered.

Monday, June 12, 2017

UFOs: Reframing the Roswell Slides Fiasco




UFOs: Reframing the Debate is the new book edited by Robbie Graham. It's a collection of essays, sort of an estimate of the situation from many voices. "Critical but constructive, this challenging volume represents a range of differing (even conflicting) alternative viewpoints on UFOs and related phenomena." More details on the contributing authors and content can be found at 


Robbie Graham asked me to contribute by sharing the story of the Roswell Slides Research Group's work. I was reluctant to revisit the episode, but was persuaded by the value of putting it under the microscope as a case study. Robbie recently posted on Facebook about the essay and the illustration that introduces it:



This original artwork from 'UFOs: Reframing the Debate' was created by the brilliant Red Pill Junkie (aka Miguel Romero). It illustrates a tremendously valuable essay in the book, titled 'What's Wrong with This Picture?', written by Curt Collins.



Collins was one of several members of the Roswell Slides Research Group (RSRG), which, in 2015, successfully debunked those now infamous slides which purported to show the image of a deceased alien entity. Collins' essay in the book is the definitive accounting of how the RSRG operated in tackling one of the greatest ufological blunders (or hoaxes, depending on your perspective) of the 21st Century.
The essay is intricate in its detail and reads like a true-life detective story of how a handful of researchers, separated in some cases by thousands of miles but united in cyberspace, took it upon themselves to expose as fraudulent the claims of dubious UFO personalities screaming from the hilltops that they had found the smoking-gun for Roswell, and that UFO Disclosure was now just a step away.
The reader can make up their own mind as to what motivated the Slides’ promoters, but, for me, this was less a conscious hoax, and more a case of blind belief. The promoters wanted so desperately for the “evidence” to fit their firmly-established perspective on Roswell and UFOs more broadly, that they fooled themselves completely, seeing only what they wanted to see. And they fooled a great many UFO enthusiasts and researchers in the process. When the truth was exposed—that the Slides showed not an alien body, but something entirely down to Earth—it felt to many like the final nail in the coffin for popular ufology. Certainly, it can be said that the Slides debacle represents everything that’s wrong with “ufology” today.
In 'UFOs: Reframing the Debate,' Collins presents the RSRG investigation as a potential model for future UFO research and investigation—an example of how researchers can work together to solve definitively certain cases and prevent the spread of misinformation in the field. Collins reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of his group’s methodology and observes:
“Groups can be great tools, but they have their limitations. Each of us must remain objective, seek the best evidence and ask challenging questions, whether as part of a team or as individuals."
OWN THE BOOK: http://amzn.to/2siXeZp

I'm honored to be included, and thank Robbie for the nice introduction, and Miguel for the great illustration. I would like to add that my goal in writing it was to reveal previously unknown details, both about the events and the investigation. Even those already familiar with the Slides saga will learn something new things about how and why the events unfolded and the aftermath. As part of the Reframing book, I hope it will help inspire readers to think about ways to bring about some positive changes in the collective efforts to understand the phenomenon of UFOs.


What's Wrong with This Picture? Bonus Features

The book did not allow for the inclusion of case photographs, but the key images related to the slides can be shown here.


The leaked slide from the Kodachrome trailer.


The image was adjusted into proportion by Narrenschiffer.

Carey showed this "forensic drawing" by Schmitt during
BeWitness, saying it was a close match for the body in the Slides.


Slide 11


Slide 9

Nablator used SmartDeblur to reveal the placard text.


Photo from National Park Service documents.


Jorge Peredo located a 1956 photo taken by Frank Hadl.


The show goes on: Jaime Maussan lecture from 
March 15, 2017 at the University of Colorado.



Endnotes for What's Wrong with This Picture?


Here are the sources cited in the essay, saving the effort of typing those many long URLs:

1. Michelle Basch, "UFO experts say ‘we are not alone’," WTOP, Nov. 13, 2014

2. Jaime Maussan, BeWitness Press Conference, Conferencia de Prensa Jaime Maussan beWITNESS / Sé Testigo Auditorio Nacional, February 4, 2015

3. Narrenschiffer, Der Ufo-Absturz bei Roswell, 08.02.2015 at 21:30, Allmystery, Feb. 8, 2015

4. “Roswell Slides Today's Update,” A Different Perspective, Feb. 10, 2015

5. David Hunt, “A Child’s Mummy,” AnthroNotes Volume 33, No. Spring 2012.

6. WGN News, “Vivian Maier Meets the X-Files: Has Chicago Man Uncovered Secret Alien Pics?” Feb. 18, 2015

7. Paul Kimball,  “The ‘Roswell Slides’ Witness,” The Other Side of Truth, Feb. 27, 2015

8. Rich Reynolds, “The [New] Roswell Slides Group,” UFO Conjecture(s), March 2, 2015

9. José Antonio Caravaca, “¿Es Esta la Momia, El Famoso 'Extraterrestre’ de las Diapositivas de Roswell?¿,” Esos Misteriosos Objetos Celestes y sus Tripulantes, March 25, 2015

10. Gilles Fernandez, “The Roswell Slides Saga: Some Claims vs. Facts,” Sceptiques vs. les Soucoupes Volantes, March 25, 2015

11. “12am Roswell Slides” The Conspiracy Show with Richard Syrett, April 12, 2015

12. Tim Printy, SUNlite, Vol. 7, no. 3, May/June 2015

13. BeWitness Part 1 and 2, The Face of Roswell, May 19, 2015

14. Curt Collins, “The Placard of the Roswell Slides: The Final Curtain,” Blue Blurry Lines, May 8, 2015

15. Slidebox Media, “Real Placard,” Kodachrome: Documentary about the Roswell Slides 1947, May 9, 2015 (original screenshot archived at)

16. Rich Reynolds, “The Roswell Team's placard scans and the new Anti-Slider's placard scan,” UFO Conjecture(s), May 8, 2015 (archived at)

17. Press Release, The ‘Roswell Slides’ Research Group, May 8, 2015

18. Isaac Koi,”Roswell Slides Solve the mystery in 1.5 minutes,” Above Top Secret

19. Nab Lator, “Analysis of the ‘Roswell Slides’ (FAQ),” Nabbed, May 18, 2015

20. Anthony Bragalia, “The ‘Roswell Alien Slides’ and My apology to a Dead Child of the Mesa Verde,” A Different Perspective, May 10, 2015

21. Tom Carey and Don Schmitt, “Statement,” Blue Blurry Lines, May 12, 2015

22. Curt Collins, “Shepherd Johnson finds documents that finish the Roswell Slides,” Blue Blurry Lines, June 13, 2015

23. Jorge Peredo, post on Facebook, June 9, 2015

24. “Jaime Maussan Video Evidence That UFOs are real,” (at 57m,23s) YouTube channel, Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), Aug. 27, 2015, published, Jan. 6, 2016

25. “Interview with Tom Carey & Don Schmitt,” Podcast UFO, July 20, 2016


Further Resources

BeWitness, May 5, 2015
Red Pill Junkie's article, "The Roswell Slides: Chronicle of a Mummy Foretold" is perhaps the only piece by a member of the audience, and describes the experience of being there in Mexico City to see "the changing of history," 
http://www.dailygrail.com/Essays/2015/5/The-Roswell-Slides-Chronicle-Mummy-Foretold

S. Miles Lewis' "The (NOT) Roswell Slides Saga…" at the Anomaly Archives prompted to write, 
"When the history of the Roswell Slides is written, this page will be a primary resource.”
http://www.anomalyarchives.org/public-hall/collections/files/roswell-slides/



Monday, June 5, 2017

The Flying Saucers Are Real(ly Profitable)




This is a fragment of an unfinished piece (one of many) on UFOs, and the focus is on how Kenneth Arnold's 1947 report of flying saucers became the inspiration for industry, from advertising stunts to motion pictures.


Flying Saucer Merchandise


The first to benefit from flying saucers was newspapers and radio networks, and they built the interest up in the public, and then capitalized on satisfying the demand by keeping saucer stories in the news. Other businesses wanted a piece of the action and soon there were flying saucer-themed hamburgers, sundaes, cocktails hats, and more. See UFOPOP's UFO/Flying Saucer Merchandising Gallery.

One of the first commercial stunts was for radio stations to have planes drop paper or foil disks with slogans advertising their station. This started as early as July of 1947, and the photo seen below is from 1951.  
From the Yvan Defoy collection.


The fastest way to cash in was to rename an old or recycle existing products, such as Republic did in 1950, taking leftovers from The Purple Monster Strikes to make Flying Disc Man from Mars.



It took longer to get original products manufactured, but in time those appeared with and there were flying saucer kites, toys, arcade games and amusement park rides. Billboard magazine announced  a debut: November 20, 1948. "The Flying Disc is a brand new ride being put out by Bisch-Rocco... a spinning ride and will carry 32 passengers at one time.”  They later renamed it the Flying Saucer. 
There were also coin operated rides for kids that were placed in the front of stores.

Through one of these coin operated models, many years later, novelist Stephen King indirectly received inspiration from Kenneth Arnold:

"I took a trip to the shopping mall. I watched one of those machines that you plug a quarter into and this thing goes around and around. It's a flying-saucer ride made for kids. And I thought, Suppose the kid disappeared. Just disappeared in front of his mother and the people walking around. What would that be like? Now, that interested me very much." Magistrale, Tony. Stephen King, The Second Decade. 1992.

The Flying Saucers Business Today

 The first and most famous non-fiction book on UFOs by Donald Keyhoe was a paperback best-seller titled, The Flying Saucers Are Real. Keyhoe was able to persuade a good many people of that possibility, and gave the topic a big boost incredibility, helping keep it alive into the 1960s when mainstream media discussed the investigation of UFOs seriously. Since then, the scientific side of things has withered, while the fictional and entertainment merchandising of UFOs has thrived, continuing to do big business.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Flying Saucer Musings


What gives? Both these guys seem to need more information.

There have not been a lot of new entries here lately, but it's not all due to inactivity on my part. Although I've used the blog format for convenience, the intent has been to present some content of substance. There's a place where I do share some trivia and topical thoughts on a more regular basis,
Blue Blurry Lines on Facebook (and far less often on Twitter.)


There are a number of unfinished projects in the works, including the Cash-Landrum UFO case, a look at the relationship between Science Fiction and Flying Saucers, an examination on real-world secret projects versus to the legend of the "Cosmic Watergate" UFO cover-up, and several UFO history pieces. The problem I have is that it's more fun for me to gather the research than it is to do the work of getting it written. Besides, in UFO matters, there's usually no clear place to stop, no convenient "ending."

 Reframing the Debate

"What's Wrong with this Picture?" is one piece I managed to actually complete, an essay to published in Robbie Graham's UFOs: Reframing the Debate. His Silver Screen Saucers is a fascinating look at the feedback loop between flying saucers and commercial entertainment.
UFOs: Reframing the Debate
This new book is described as "a collection of original essays exploring alternative perspectives on UFOs and how we might more usefully study the phenomenon in the 21st Century." My chapter, "What's Wrong With This Picture?" deals with UFO investigation methods, using the fiasco of the Roswell Slides as a case study, and it focuses on the inside story of the Roswell Slides Research Group, how the team worked, and almost didn't.
UFOs: Reframing the Debate is available from the publisher  White Crow Books and online retailer, Amazon .


Cinema: Flying Saucer Musings

Claude Falkstrom (purportedly)
Norio Hayakawa recommends this new YouTube clip:
"Another great work by UFO Culture Satirist, Claude Falkstrom. I nominate this for an Academy Award for editing...LOL!!"
The Curse of Roswell

Claude Falkstrom's got a few other his clips collected in the playlist, Flying Saucer Musings, skewering ufology, Disclosure, skeptics, believers, hoaxers, MUFON, Project Blue Book and UFOtainers.