September 22, 2009

AKA Alva

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Alva John Kiehle is a fine name, but obviously not snappy enough for an ambitious young writer.

John started experimenting with pseudonyms early and often. The usual was the simplified spelling, John Keel; he later added the middle initial A to distinguish himself from another John Keel. Or so he said: it made sense, but I have no idea who this other JK was.

But there were other pseudonyms. A few follow; I’m sure there were more.

JAKEEL: John started using this when he was a boy. Even in later years, it was the name of choice for informal letters, and for some of his hi-jinks with mail order and classified ads.

STONEHEAD McGUIRE: An early working title for Jadoo was Pattern for Adventure, by Stonehead McGuire.

SMEDLEY LIPSCHITZ: Smedley was responsible for a 1955 short story, “I’ll Spit on Your Grave!” As far as I know, this has no relation to Boris Vian’s novel of the same name.

HARRY GIBBS: John came up with this one from his father’s first name, and his grandparents’ last. He used it for (among other things) the novel Three Women.

GREG HAMILTON: This was one of the “house names” for Midwood Books, a publisher specializing in risque fiction in the ’60s. John’s novel Town Tease was written as Harry Gibbs, but Greg Hamilton was credited on the cover.

THORNTON M. VASELTARP: John used this splendid name, often trailing assorted doctorates, for his bawdy humor pieces for Screw, which were mostly mock-scientific sex surveys. Dr. Vaseltarp was also one of the characters in the proposed novel, Prurient Interests. After I mentioned the name in a bio I wrote for the Fortean Times, the novelist William Gibson put it in his book Pattern Recognition: the character Parkaboy takes it as an alias. Naturally, Gibson’s readers have started using it on blogs and bulletin boards. Dr. Vaseltarp lives on!

MAYNARD GIBSON: Another Screw pseudonym.

DR. THADDEUS L. FARNBOGGLE: Another Screw pseudonym.

CLAYMORE FINCH: The pen name for the proposed comic novel Kiss My Gun.

DARWIN FUDWOPPLE, D. D. S.: John sometimes used burlesque names on his TV scripts; this was the byline for an episode of “Mack and Myer.”

RANDOLPH HALSEY-QUINCE: This distinguished character wrote a diet book, How to Turn Yourself Inside Out, and a proposed comic novel, Prurient Interests. One of his early appearances was as the author of “I Fed My Arm to a Tiger,” in Escape to Adventure, July 1957.

September 16, 2009

Keel in the “Fortean Times”

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The current issue of the Fortean Times (September 2009) carries a five-page tribute to John.  Included are a memoir (“John Keel: A Reminiscence”) and bio by Phyllis Benjamin, my account of his later years and death (“John Keel: The Last Years”), and a number of previously unpublished photos I picked from his papers.  Jenny Randles also writes about John’s ideas on UFO patterns.  Look for a copy!

A Garland of Links

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A quick search of the www will net Keel stuff galore; for your easier perusal I’ve selected a few links.

Some of John’s correspondence with John Rimmer (of Magonia) has been posted here.

Richard Hatem’s charming memoir can be found here.

Loren Coleman often mentions John on his site, Cryptomundo. The latest entry is a survey of Mothman toys.

More will follow; these should hold you for a while…

[UPDATE: I removed a few dead links. These still work.]

The Mothman Festival

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For eight years now, Point Pleasant has produced an annual Mothman Festival. You can admire the Mothman statue, visit the Mothman Museum, go on the Hayride and Bus Tour, stuff yourself in the Pancake Eating Contest, admire the contestants in the Miss Mothman Pageant, and listen to local bands — there’s even one called Mothman. And I hear from the organizer, Jeff Wamsley, that the museum has acquired the white suit that John wore to the unveiling of the statue.

This year’s festival takes place on September 19 and 20; read all about it at the Mothman Lives site.

September 6, 2009


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Welcome to the John Keel site.  I’m Doug Skinner, a friend of John’s for many years; I’ve started this site to give his fans a place to find a reasonably accurate biography and bibliography, and semi-regular postings on his life and work.

The biography and bibliography are still in progress; I’ll keep adding to them as the site grows.  Meanwhile, check back, comment, suggest, complain, and steer clear of those ultraterrestrials.

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