The 1970s were a glorious time for UFOlogists and flying saucer fanatics, with conspiracy theories and eyewitness accounts clogging the pages of countless specialty magazines like cigar-shaped swarms of invading alien spacecraft. In college lecture halls, on cinema screens, around the office water cooler and at backyard skywatching parties held over grilled Ballpark franks and frosty cans of Fresca, the titillating topic of choice was UFOs and their periphery of mysterious, intertwining subjects.
Starting in the late '60s, this unprecedented frenzy of UFO interest came on the mounting crest of Cold War hysteria, the end of the Air Force's secretive Project Blue Book, ancient astronaut exposes like Erich von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods, and the illuminating writings of noted UFO expert Dr. J. Allen Hynek. Accelerating interest in NASA's Apollo moon missions also entrenched widespread fears, fanning the paranoia-fueled consequences of mankind's intrusion into the cosmos.
Hollywood tossed its golden chips in the game as science fiction films gained immense popularity, beginning with Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, then continuing with Lucas's Star Wars and Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, all leading us to crane our necks toward the stars, hoping to see strange distant lights or a formation of hovering discs.
A crazy crop of UFO magazines emerged to satisfy this immediate hunger, all devoted to the burgeoning business of exposing the truth. Across America, candy-store magazine racks and bookshop shelves were crammed with flashy titles covering mass sightings, governmental coverups, famous saucer photos, eerie abduction tales and endless interviews with eccentric scientists, avid astronomers and amateur stargazers hoping to discover proof amid a controversial galaxy of glossy magazine pages. With the advent of personal camcorders and more sophisticated debunking technology, the throngs of dedicated disciples faded, and with them most of the lesser-selling titles as publishing houses moved on to the next craze.
Here's a serious sampling of vintage UFO magazines and extraterrestrial-themed special issues from publishers homing in on the hype, some even spilling over to mainstream titles like Newsweek, Life and TV Guide. Watch the skies and tell us if you're still a believer.