James W. Moseley, Founder and Lead Editor of Saucer Smear, Has Gone Off-World

A more tangible loss has come to the UFOlogical community than the recent announcement by some folks in the UK that the Age of Flying Saucers has come to a close. Jim Moseley, founder of the longest running UFO magazine around, Saucer Smear, has passed on at the ripe age of 81.

Jim brought an air of humor and sociological consciousness to what can otherwise be a contentious and cliquish field of inquiry. Saucer Smear’s running motto was, “Shockingly Close to the Truth,” which provides a good idea of where he was coming from. Greg Taylor, founder of The Daily Grail, puts it well in his memorial published on TDG:

“Jim Moseley entered the world of ufology at the very beginning, with his first two magazines devoted to the topic, Nexus and Saucer News, being published in the 1950s. He was an associate of many ‘legends’ in the Fortean field, from Gray Barker to James Randi – and like those two individuals was somewhat of a trickster figure, often straddling the line of truth that separates researcher from raconteur. He was most well-known in recent decades for his newsletter Saucer Smear, a much-loved (and also often hated) ‘gossip rag’ that explored the rumours and politics of everything related to the UFO field (from feuds between ufologists through to opinions on skeptics) with a large helping of humour and snark.”

According to Loren Coleman, UFO’s weren’t the only Fortean fascination that Jim helped to foster in the public consciousness.  Ancient Alien theorists have him to thank for bringing a Fortean touch to the Nazca lines as well:

“”James Moseley was a pivotal chronicler of a now-famed mystery that issued from his interest in ancient Peruvian artifacts. It is to be recalled that the Nazca Lines were first discovered by the Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe, who spotted them when hiking through the foothills in 1927. He discussed them at a conference in Lima in 1939. Maria Reiche, a German-born mathematician and archaeologist, first studied and set out to preserve the Nazca Lines in 1940. Paul Kosok, a historian from Long Island University, is credited as the first scholar to seriously study the Nazca Lines in the USA, on site in Peru, in 1940-41. But it was Moseley who first wrote about the Nazca Lines as an intriguing Fortean phenomena in Fate Magazine, in October 1955, suggesting a mysterious origin, long before they interested alternative writers such as Erich von Däniken (1968), Henri Stierlin (1983) and Gerald Hawkins (1990).”

Saucer Smear is a wonderful example of pre-internet DIY journalism, and Jim’s focus, as the editor, on the social elements at play in the diverse world of UFOlogy makes it an early example of pre-web social media.  According to Dr. Tim Brigham, a contributing editor of Saucer Smear and long time friend of Jim’s, there is a final issue of the magazine that Jim himself edited and had printed, which many are doing their best to make sure goes out. Brigham has also set up a memorial page to gather remembrances of Jim’s long and productive career on the cultural fringes which includes links to memorials by Loren Coleman, Adam Gorightly, Greg Taylor and a number of others: Ancient Hallucinations – Memories of Jim

After all the memorials are posted  however, as Brigham pointed out on Twitter, the best way to remember Jim is to follow his advice and “Watch the Skies.”

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