November 27, 2010

“The Flying Saucer Subculture”

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:28 pm


John Keel published several booklets in the ’90s, under the imprint of the New York Fortean Society.  They reprinted articles he’d published earlier, elsewhere (see the bibliography for details).

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), with an added “Afterword.”

The article is 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, including John Michell, Brad Steiger, Jacques Vallee, and Gordon Creighton.

The “Afterword,” coming twenty years later, expressed even more disaffection with the field.  He noted the deaths of many prominent writers, and dismissed the remaining crop of buffs as “pathetic mediocrities and discombobulated psychopaths”; and concluded that “American ufology remains a sad little hobby for a tiny group of severely maladjusted people.”  He noted that “great progress has been made in Europe and elsewhere,” and decried the diminishing quality of the American literature:  “The collapse of all cultural standards in the late 1970s meant that the Madison Avenue publishers no longer applied sensible criteria or followed a code of ethics.”

I drew the cover for this booklet; John and I had great fun with all the ufological in-jokes.


  1. Wow, I never thought I would even see the cover of this title! Is there any way you could post the book here? Or is there a way I could get a copy of this book from you? Please email me if you would.

    Comment by Bo — November 28, 2010 @ 3:49 am

  2. Where can I get a copy?

    Comment by DavidP — November 28, 2010 @ 9:21 am

  3. It should be illegal for people to charge $150.-$200. for this title. Seems like the copyright must have expired by now. If anyone has a copy for a reasonable price I would be interested. It just disgusts me how much this title is going for.

    Comment by Bo — November 28, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  4. Good news! You can go here and purchase a copy for 29.95.

    Comment by Bo — November 28, 2010 @ 8:58 pm

  5. I have a copy of this that can be viewd on my Scribd page located here.

    Comment by Bo — December 3, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  6. The URL is a site I recommend to UFO researchers. I found this site by accident. I find Mr. Keel to be an interesting personality. I agree with his assessment of modern UFOlogists, most out to make a name for themselves, though others are still seriously looking for answers. I fear the UFO community as it is now has no direction, and is simply waiting for something dramatic. This is a bad thing, as if they wait too long, they may be tempted to invent something. It’s obvious this has occurred before. RIP John Keel I am sure those who are keeping your memory alive do not do so in vain.

    Comment by Peter Cephas — January 11, 2011 @ 6:17 am

  7. i have always gravitated to humor as the best expression of genius. that’s a hard road to take in the world of art, where (it seems) the ugly and depressing is always thought of as more serious and meaningful.
    that’s why i delight in keel. and your cover is genius as well. i recognize some of the alien types, but please clue me in…who is the woman in the dome hat, the elephant nose guy coming up from the trapdoor, and the “ask me about hypnosis man? who was the basis for the hairy man?
    you should start a Keel page on cafe press, and sell this on a tshirt. fund the site.
    thanks. patty

    Comment by patty gallagher — June 28, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  8. the business cards esp would make great tshirts.

    Comment by patty gallagher — June 28, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

  9. Ah, the woman is Our Lady of Fatima, whose description by witnesses sounded more alien than Marian. The gent with the proboscis is one of Richard Shaver’s deros, as depicted in some of his pulp stories. The hypnosis man wasn’t anyone in particular, just a reference to the popularity of hypnosis as a (dubious) tool for retrieving abductee memories. There have been several hairy dwarf ufonauts; I don’t recall which one that was. T-shirts? Do you think anyone would buy one?

    Comment by Doug — June 28, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  10. well. i would. the great thing about cafe press is you create the designs, have your own “store” and they are produced as ordered. there are no inventory costs.

    Comment by patty gallagher — June 29, 2012 @ 2:38 am

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