Monday, July 13, 2009

John Keel, the Mothman and Me

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...


  1. Been researching the cedar tree lately (Lebanon, Solomon's Temple, etc.) cedar also repels moths.

    So why are you showing a Rocky Horror Moving Picture logo?

  2. I just finished watching Knowing. In the end, the aliens are revealed to be very angelic/moth-like.

  3. Really cool fractal of events.

    I went for a bike ride tonight in hopes of seeing this 'UFO' I keep seeing. 'Luckily' I got to see it again. The thought came to mind that it might be a satellite (chasing its own tail.) The last two times Ive seen it, its course has been from west to east. I ended up walking back home most of the way cause I broke something on the rear wheel. There were cars driving beside me and I was wondering if they saw my bike reflectors. Then I thought about my eyes reflecting red. Then I come here end read about your MothMan experiences. I too share strange resonances with that creature but I'll save that rant for a post or something.


  4. Right before I was reading this I was looking up Charles Fort, named Father of Modern Paranormal Phenomenon. Both Fort and Keel have been huge influencews in my life. They revealed to me that there is a whole other world out there; one hauntingly beautiful :)

    I would've actually have liked to hear about your other synchs concerning the movie.

  5. I wonder if your life, Chris, ever overlapped with Gene Andrusco's? He's one of the people on my on-going tally of mysterious deaths aligned with the legacy of the Mothman.

    Born in Ontario, Canada on April 6, 1961, Gene Andrusco relocated to Southern California when he was young, then soon became an actor on television programs such as "Bewitched" and "Cannon." In the mid-1980s, under the pen name Gene Eugene, he started a second career as a Christian alternative rock producer, engineer, and musician as a member of Adam Again, the Lost Dogs, and the Swirling Eddies.

    It was as a musician that his life crossed paths with Mothman, in the late 1990s.

    The only movie Gene Andrusco ever worked on was Douglas TenNapel's elusive independent film, Mothman (2000). Andrusco was the music editor, and performed some of the music, as a member of the Lost Dogs.

    The film was the first feature directed by Douglas TenNapel, produced by Mark Russell and Jay Holben, and executive produced by Martin Cohen of DreamWorks SKG. It was shot on location in Orange County, California, and Point Pleasant, West Virginia, on 35 mm in fifteen days throughout the month of December 1997.

    Jay Holben, the film's head cinematographer, would go on to do Minority Report. Mark Russell would produce Minority Report.

    A sneak preview of TenNapel's Mothman was held at San Diego Comic-Con on August 12, 1999, but, although the date of final release is listed as 2000, no one really knows whatever happened to the film.

    Andrusco, 38, was found dead in The Green Room, his production studio in Huntington Beach, California, during the early morning of March 30, 2000, of a brain aneurysm or heart attack.

    There is some speculation that TenNapel was rather shook up by Andrusco unexplained death, and the "bad luck" associated with the Mothman project convinced TenNapel to shelf the film.

    TenNapel refuses to discuss his indie or Andrusco's death to this day.

    Andrusco, of course, was not the first nor last person associated with Mothman film projects who died under mysterious circumstances.

  6. One aspect/interpretation here is that it all smacks of Childhood's End...and the Overlords, with their leathery wings etc...but perhaps you are aware of this fact already, I don't I have only just found your blog and I have much to share with you from my research over the last 10 years?

    At least that is what it suggests to me...this 'mothman' entity.

    Forgive me but is there a way I can contact the blog author via email or something?

  7. Its the Dog-days.
    Its synchronicity-galore.
    Thats what "Cosmic trigger" taught me.

    Greetings from Germany

  8. I my self just writing about Mothman.... You always do this to me. Weird...

  9. Michael- Hmmm-My mother had a strange obsession with cedar when I was young...and owls. We had all these owl figures all over the house.

    Yacarete- Oy- Knowing. That's a whole other story. I just re-watched it last night while I was working. Heavy.

    Jon- Dude- get that sucker on film for us!

    Grey- Yeah- I'll be touching on Fort in an upcoming post.

    Loren- Never heard of him. Poor guy. Can't see any connection, but I've not been involved directly with this stuff. How was Doug's movie?

    Horsey- Yeah, Childhood's End, Knowing, all sort of tying in. If you have a blog share a link.

    Dynie- Is it the Dog Days already? I need to check.

    Hermie- Let us know when the piece is up, brother.

  10. Yes, indeed, another sad story in the wake of the Mothman melodrama.

    Chris asked the right question: "How was Doug's movie?"

    Darn, I wish I knew.

    If one wasn't at the San Diego Comic-Con on August 12, 1999, there's no way of knowing, apparently. That's when the draft of the film was screened, and as far as I have been able to determine, no one has seen it since.

    I've certainly tried to get my hands on it, but with no luck.

    Has anyone out there seen it? Is Doug TenNapel reading this? People are curious about your contribution, Doug, to Mothman imagery and storytelling.

  11. This case has always fascinated me to no end Christopher-thanks so much for bringing it up! That is really interesting about Brenda being from the area. I enjoyed all of the comments also and nice to see the great Loren Coleman here-I will definitely be interested to see any other synchs or info you come up with in the future about this incredible case-best to you as always!!

  12. Chris, I would love to interview you sometime for the podcast I'm doing. I couldn't find your e-mail so I figured I'd leave mine here.

    Vision for the People

  13. Three hour audio interview with friends and aquaintences of John Keel.


    Some of it is very sad as the peole talk about his last few years.

  14. Ah, Mothman... One of the first cryptozoological entities I was interested in.

    Did he have any connections to last year's bridge collapse?

  15. Tommy asked "Did he have any connections to last year's bridge collapse?"

    John Keel was not writing and out-of-the-loop, as far as Mothman investigations, by 2007, when the bridge to which I think Tommy is referring collapsed.

    I assume this is about the I-35W bridge at Minneapolis. After that happened, I wrote of the coincidences linked to Mothman (see Bridge Collapse: Flashback to 1967 and Beyond Mothman: I-35W Blues).

    In a strange twist of fate, Ohio's and West Virginia's U.S. Highway 35 was the road carried over the Ohio by the Silver Bridge. Plus more.

  16. Christopher Knowles said...

    Michael- Hmmm-My mother had a strange obsession with cedar when I was young...and owls. We had all these owl figures all over the house.
    CK, images of owls are often used as screen memories for abductees.

  17. Is Yeti Real?

  18. I ordered these books from Amazom mid-Jan,after reading and listening to Andy Colvin at Mike Clelland's blog;

    ...and you might notice that your book is amongst the bundle.

    Shipping estimate for these items: January 18, 201
    "The Mothman Prophecies"
    John A. Keel; Mass Market Paperback; $6.99

    "When God Winks at You: How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence"
    Squire Rushnell; Hardcover; $12.23

    "The Mothman's Photographer: The Work of an Artist Touched by the Prophecies of the Infamous Mothman"
    Andrew Colvin; Paperback; $22.99

    "The Mothman's Photographer II: Meetings With Remarkable Witnesses Touched by Paranormal Phenomena, UFOs, and the Prophecies of West Virginia's Infamous Mothman"
    Andrew Colvin; Paperback; $19.99

    "Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes"
    Chris Knowles; Paperback; $13.57

    "Stalking the Tricksters: Shapeshifters, Skinwalkers, Dark Adepts and 2012"
    Christopher O'Brien; Paperback; $12.24

    I had no idea that you had such 6th degree links with the Mothman and the "Mothman Prophecy" film.I can't wait to start reading these books,when I get them (with my estimates,should be tomorrow).

  19. ...Oh,and that moth sync is something comparable to Jung and the Scarab-like beetle incident,out of his book "Synchronicity"

    Spine-tingling stuff.

  20. Chris, if you liked reading the Mothman Prophecies, I recommend reading his previous work, Jadoo; an excellent book and you won't be disappointed. It will give you an idea of Keel's background before he worked on Mothman, etc.

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