Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Monster Car Illustrations

Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was a central figure in the hod rod and custom car scene that flourished in 1950s and early 1960s Southern California. Born in Beverly Hills to German immigrants, Roth grew up in Bell, California, home of “speed shop” Bell Auto Parts and nearby Slauson Avenue, a popular drag strip. After a stretch in the Air Force, Roth became a sign painter at Sears and, in 1958, starting designing cars out of his garage…

Kids Discorporated: ‘Sixth Sense’ by Larry Kettelkamp, 1970

Hundreds of books on various psychic phenomena—both surveys and how-to manuals, sometimes both—were released throughout the 1960s, as the paranormal, especially ESP, began to be taken seriously by academics and the American and Soviet intelligence communities. What makes Sixth Sense notable, apart from a convincing cover illustration, is that it’s essentially a kid’s book…

Sticks and Stones: ‘Dowsing and Archaeology’ and ‘Site and Survey Dowsing,’ 1980

These two odd little volumes were discovered a few months ago in an antiquarian book shop in Canterbury, UK. Published by the British Society of Dowsers in 1980, Dowsing and Archaeology and Site and Survey Dowsing collectively offer a few dozen short articles, culled from the annals of the Journal of the British Society of Dowsers over the half-century leading up to 1980. As the book titles make clear, these articles take dowsing past its usual folk magic remit of finding sources of water and into territory usually ceded to archeologists or metal detectorists: finding ancient objects and the outlines of ancient structures…

‘UFO Drawings From The National Archives’ by David Clarke, 2017

A recent spate of books have sought to analyze the visual culture of 20th-century ufology. 2016’s Flying Saucers Are Real!, which featured the archive of science fiction writer and amateur UFO material collector Jack Womack, offered richly-drawn, full-color images of UFO culture from every decade of the phenomenon. What Flying Saucers Are Real! did for American ufology, David Clarke’s UFO Drawings From The National Archives does for the United Kingdom…

One Step Beyond: ‘Alpha: Probing the Paranormal’, 1979 – 1980

In one of the first episodes of BBC Scotland’s epochal 1979 paranormal drama series The Omega Factor, the program’s psychic protagonist can be seen sitting in his modish Manchester flat, leafing through a magazine with an aquamarine cover. The cover illustration shows a trombonist, the tubes of his instrument drooping in an evocation of psychokinetic metal-bending. That magazine was Alpha