I had no idea that Erich von Däniken had an 8-issue line of ancient astronaut comic books for children. Released by von Däniken’s publisher in German translation from an unpublished Polish manuscript in the late 1970s, the Gods from Outer Space series was putatively fictional and based on von Däniken’s successful line of nonfiction books. Issues covered such topics as the Nazca lines, the Watchers from the Book of Enoch, and the genetic engineering of humanity from apes. The aliens in the comics order the construction of Mesopotamian ziggurats, the Great Pyramid, and Stonehenge, as well as Noah’s Ark.
Each issue featured von Däniken’s face on the cover above a lurid picture of aliens interacting with ancient people. Written by Alfred Górny and Arnold Mostowicz and drawn by Bogusław Polch, the comics wear their science fiction guise so lightly that it is quite clear that the comics had a polemical purpose underneath their space opera trappings.
The comics, created under Poland’s communist government, were apparently meant to help indoctrinate children with the idea that religion is a lie, accounting for the imagery of Biblical figures interacting with aliens. This was particularly ironic given von Däniken’s vehement opposition to communism and socialism of all stripes. The Polish comics were among the very few products of communist art to find a widespread Western audience and were translated into twelve languages.
I understand that there was an English language edition put out by Magnet Books in London, but I have never seen it.
The final issue, “When the Sun Stood Still,” begins with a summary of the comics’ overall story. I translate here from the German:
In the comics, the aliens pilot space ships modeled on the (fictional) spaceship of Ezekiel from Joseph Blumrich's speculative book and are themselves basically human in appearance, as per von Däniken’s speculations. The series ends with the authors telling their juvenile readers that perhaps one day their grandchildren would ride in spaceships with the aliens, traveling from world to world, for wherever a sun shines on a planet, there is love.
The 1970s must have been a very different time. Could you imagine the same thing happening today? I shudder at the thought of Ancient Aliens for Kids! or a Giorgio Tsoukalos action figure.
Special thanks to Greis (@mortengreis) for calling this to my attention.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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