Random House had signed a contract for a Weekly World News book of original material by a gaggle of WWN regular writers in 2006. They were very excited about publishing it. Random published the Onion books and those had done very well for them. The editorial would be sourced by the tabloid's regular staff, including me, managing editor Robert Greenberger, creative director Madeleine Blaustein, and art director Kristine Schmidt — all of whom had formerly worked with me at DC Comics — and such writers as Richard Siegel, Stan Sinberg, Denny Spurling, Mark Miller, Charlie Kadau, and others.
There was no reason why Weekly World News, then an older and even better known brand vis-à-vis American pop culture, couldn’t sell a few books. And our first book was all new material, articles and photographs, unlike Onion’s reprints. But then, in August of 2007 Weekly World News bit the dust and, shortly thereafter, all the licensing agreements, including action figures (yes, and we were going to start with a Bat Boy Action Figure!) and books, were canceled. With no supporting publication, no ongoing brand, they lost interest. (Fortunately publisher Kensington Press didn't feel the same way about Jew-Jitsu: The Hebrew Hands of Fury book I wrote based on a WWN article; they went ahead and published it as a stand alone, without WWN branding.) Oh well. The completed manuscript, which I edited, exists. Here is the introduction written for this phantom book in September 2007, accompanied by some of my published WWN articles.
Introduction to MUTANT PETS, ALIEN SCHOOL BOARDS, AND YARD SALES: WEEKLY WORLD NEWS BOOK OF SUBURBAN LEGENDS
I wasn’t there at the inception. I don’t have any great stories to tell about the good old days or the grand old names who started this wacky roller coaster of a ride going twenty-nine years ago.
Back then, I was just another Weekly World News reader, a mind hungry for truth in a world of increasingly corporatized and corporal news coverage. If I needed to know the details of an international trade agreement or the contents of a prepackaged presidential speech, I could always turn to the New York Times; when I hungered for news of a less down-to-earth nature, there were few places to go and most of those operated on the lunatic fringe.
This was, I hasten to add, long before the advent of the Internet. Today, every voice can be heard on the World Wide Web. Then, pre-technological leap, all we had was print. Now, I love print, but print material on the subjects that Weekly World News now covers routinely was hard to come by back in those days. And that which did exist was scattered all over the place; this organization covered U.F.O.s, that one hauntings, this other cryptozoology phenomena, another magic, and so on.
Then, one day in 1979, there it was.
A newspaper for the rest of us.
Weekly World News started life with an odd mixture of celebrity news and gossip and reportage of the unusual, quickly carving a niche for itself as the only newspaper to follow not only the natural world of human trials, tribulations and foibles, but the supernatural and the out-of-this worlds as well.
And the stories they ran, investigated and written by the top people in their fields, did open up literal new worlds for readers.
The mainstream wouldn’t touch the story of the Bat Boy found living in a West Virginia cave. Weekly World News picked it up and, in the quarter century since his discovery, we have become the exclusive outlet for news of this amazing human-bat hybrid.
Reporters for the major media outlets did not believe it when the first reports of Elvis sightings began to trickle in during the early-1990s. Weekly World News was the first to report the news that the King was still alive, and as recently as summer of 2007, published the latest exclusive pictures.
And we continue to beat the big guys to any number of stories, the May 2007 discovery of a mysterious dip in gravity over the Hudson Bay region of Canada, anticipated by Weekly World News in its May 13, 2006 issue with the story of Lowgravienna, an Austrian town of weakened gravity being only the most recent example.
I’m no longer just a reader. I came onboard as a reporter in 2005, which was an eye-opening enough experience, but landing, a year later, behind an editorial desk was like going from Manhattan to Mars (funny story, that; unfortunately, classified). It’s a very different view from here, one best summed up by former managing editor Sal Ivon, who famously said, “If someone calls me up and says their toaster is talking to them, I don't refer them to professional help, I say, “Put the toaster on the phone’.”
Suffice to say, I’ve spoken to my share of ‘toasters’ in the past couple of years, as have the numerous Weekly World News reporters and stringers who cover the globe and the news beats beyond. Of course, we live in strange times, but it’s become increasingly clear to those of us who track these kinds of things that the strangeness has started hitting closer and closer to home...in fact, there are things going on in your own backyard that would shock and astonish even the most careful reader of our publication.
Weird has moved to the suburbs and Weekly World News is moving in with it. How do you know you can trust the stories in Mutant Pets, Alien School Boards, And Yard Sales: Weekly World News Book Of Suburban Legends?
First, because we interviewed a lot of toasters along the way to insure truth and accuracy.
And, second, because we’re the world’s only reliable newspaper.
Says so every week, right on the cover.
Paul Kupperberg Executive Editor October, 2007