Monday, July 17, 2017

UFOs, Sea Serpents, Ridicule and Disinformation

Ridicule... it wasn't invented for flying saucer witnesses.

Neither were little green men. That was an old phrase used to describe the wee folk way before saucers, and if someone was seeing the LGM, chances were good they had a screw loose.
The Song of the Little Green Men 
from "The Christian Advocate" magazine, Dec. 1, 1910


These little men were not necessarily green, but these tales started circulating thanks to Silas Newton's Aztec saucer crash story in 1949. This cartoon is by John Carlton from April 2, 1950 and was syndicated nationally by the Associated Press. A good look at how the public felt about the AF's handling of the saucer situation, and how the whole topic was silly.

Long before 1947, people tended to doubt the word of witnesses reporting weird things, and ridicule was a frequent response. Here are some examples from the heyday of the Sea Serpent era.
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The Broadford Courier, March 1, 1895
 from Victoria, Australia


No, ridicule of strange sightings was not invented for UFOs. A cartoon from the Aug. 30, 1914 Reading Eagle
The Reading (PA) Eagle,  Aug 30, 1914 
That Sea Serpent
Q "What has become of the sea serpent that used to show up every summer?" A: "They had to chase him off the coast. He caused so many men to take the (sobriety) pledge that he was killing business for the bar."

Another example, an even older one from The Toronto Daily Mail, September 8, 1885!

The Toronto Daily Mail, Sep 8, 1885 
Unfortunately, ridicule and disbelief are part of human nature. It's certainly not of anti-Disclosure UFO disinformation scheme. That would be silly.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Saucers That Time Forgot

"The Saucers That Time Forgot," is a new blog focused on presenting the cases that UFO historians either missed, or would like to keep buried. 

The stories will mostly center around newspaper articles documenting forgotten sightings, hoaxes, mistakes, denials, explanations and the media's commercial exploitation of the public's fascination with UFOs.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Dr. J. Allen Hynek: Ufology is a Mess


“Ufology today is in the state I would say chemistry was when chemistry was alchemy,  a mixture of superstition, wild ideas, unproved claims, and yet out of that whole mess, finally the very first class science of chemistry evolved. And I think the same thing is going to happen eventually with Ufology, but right now, it is a mess. 
There’s a fantastic amount of wishful thinking, of desire, of pseudoscience, of pseudo-religion, of cultism, but eventually, I think that will all finally sink to the bottom, and we’ll have out of the whole thing a clear liquid of something we that can really see, and I hope, understand.” 
Dr. J. Allen Hynek in The UFO Experience (documentary, 1983)


The Close Encounters Man

Hynek is back in the news, due to the biography by Mark O'Connell, The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs O'Connell interviewed people who knew and worked with Hynek, and was given unprecedented access to Hynek’s professional files as an astronomer, and the UFO documents and correspondence at the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). 


It's not exactly a UFO book, but it touches on a lot of the topic's history in telling the story of the man, Josef Allen Hynek. So in that sense, it's a book that' is accessible to non-saucer buffs, and also provides an interesting look UFOs as part a cultural phenomenon, and Hynek's evolving role in making it happen.

More details about the book and the author can be found at this page at The Book Cellar.



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.