Things have been pretty hectic around here and it's all I can do to keep on top of the blog. So when John Keel died I didn't write about it, since I was processing what Keel's work meant to me. Most of this is through osmosis, since I've only read The Mothman Prophecies, which I loved. This was following repeated viewings of the deliriously unfaithful 2002 film adaptation, but the book hit me with a strange kind of numinosity. But you can't poke around the World of Weird without running into Keel time and again. and his work has certainly had its effect on me.
So in that spirit, let me pay tribute to the late John Keel by pulling out some amusing Mothman syncs from my personal files. All of this kind of crept up on me when I was doing research on the topic when the 2002 film was released. I had only a passing familiarity with the topic before but found that in a semiotic sense at least, ol' Mothie and I seem to travel in similar circles.
Let's start with what is considered the first solid eyewitness account of the Point Pleasant Mothman from 1966:
November 14, 1966 - A gentleman by the name of Newell Partridge was home watching television one night around 10:30 P.M. when the TV picture turned to static and a loud whining noise started. Bandit, Newell Partridge's German Shepherd, was on the porch when he began howling towards the barn. Partridge shined his flash light towards the barn and picked up the glow of two red pulsating eyes like bike reflectors. The dog ran towards the eyes snarling and Newell went inside and locked his door. He was very shaken and terrified.
The next morning, Newell went outside to find Bandit, but all he saw of the dog were a lot of tracks that looked as if the dog had been chasing his tail, something the dog had never done before. Bandit was never seen again.This story caught my eye back when I was researching all of this because Newell is a variation on Knowles, the partridge was traditionally a symbol of Christ, and I was born in 1966. And from then on Mothman connections would show up at pivotal points throughout my career, such as it is...
My first job in what you might call the entertainment business was working as a store manager and house artist for New England Comics. When I worked there it was just a hole in the wall in the Patriot Building in Quincy, across the street from the "Church of the Presidents," the Unitarian Church were John and John Quincy Adams were buried.
NEC started a publishing line a few years after I worked there and their cashcow was The Tick, created by future TV producer Ben Edlund. And, of course, The Tick's sidekick was a moth-man.
Edlund quit comics for the greener pastures of TV, landing a gig on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (as well as co-writing the atrocity men call Titan AE with John "The Nines" August). After leaving Buffy, Edlund signed on the Fox series, Point Pleasant. However, this was a different Point Pleasant (set in Secret Sun stomping-ground New Jersey) and featured the brain-meltingly gorgeous Elisabeth Harnois as a Manga-eyed devil's daughter (Harnois also appeared in the Strangers with Candy movie and her next project is as an alien in Mars Needs Moms, an animated adaptation of Berkeley Breathed's 2007 children's book).
When I finally did my own comic series, Halo: An Angel's Story (published by Sirius), I was smart enough to get myself a lawyer at the time, the incredibly awesome Jeff Rose. One of Jeff's other clients was Doug Tennapel, creator of the Earthworm Jim video game. Doug actually did a movie called Mothman, released in 2000 but filmed (in Point Pleasant) around the time I was working on H:AAS.
I met Doug in 1997 at the San Diego Comicon when I was pitching my new comic series, Rivets & Ruby. Doug and his team were stunned when I showed them the pitch material because they had been working on a character almost identical to Rivets. I'm not sure if he ever saw the light of day. Doug also does comix for Top Shelf, who published Comic Book Artist when I was working on it.
As mentioned before, this string continued when Crossroads jerked me around for a few months with the H:AAS film project. Crossroads' ad superstar Mark Pellington later directed the film of The Mothman Prophecies, which is more an X-Files adaptation than a John Keel one (funnily enough, TMMP co-star Will Patton played an "Ox Knowles" on Ryan's Hope in one of his earliest roles). There are some scattered syncs thoughout the TMP movie but I won't bore you with those.
Anyhow, all of the Mothmany goodness came to a head with the publication of Our Gods Wear Spandex, since my editor (and friend) on that project, Brenda, is actually from Point Pleasant, WV and remembers not only the Mothman flap, but the Silver Bridge collapse quite well. Brenda also landed me the X-Files book gig, which of course has its own Mothman (and MIB) tie-in.
And the cherry on top of the Mothman sundae is the frequent guest appearances on this blog by the esteemed Loren Coleman, a good friend of Keel's and the inheritor of his neo-Fortean mantle.
So what does it all mean? Well, let's just say it's all grist for the mill and incorporating (or at least considering) some of Keel's theories has been a major boon to my own research. Keel is one of a generation of Forteans who became exasperated with the UFO phenomenon, since whoever's up there doesn't really care much about our theories about them. But a few theories Keel put out there have become increasingly important to my own speculations, which we'll be looking at in the future...
PS- Heh. Well, I just went upstairs to take a little break and picked up my copy of Bruce Rux's Architects of the Underworld and it opens up to page 153, which ends with this sentence "what are we to make of such creatures as the 'hairy dwarves' or the infamous Mothman?" Then as I came back into the office that little fella you see in that photo (taken with my crummy old cellphone) flew in with me. Synchromysticism on demand- you gotta love it...