Promotional Press Releases for Baum's "Queer Visitors" Cartoon Strip

For the eleven days preceding the introduction of the new cartoon strip, "Press Releases" were published with the intent to capture reader attention and interest. Using the innovative concept of invaders from beyond our planet, the releases sought to amuse while also stoking the curiosity of the reading public. (Could this have been the beginning of the "flying saucer" reports that bedevil us today?) The daily releases as printed in one newspaper, the Philadelphia North American, are provided in the full text on this page. Each begins with the publication date and column banner.

August 18, 1904: PLANET IN A PANIC OVER QUEER VISITOR

Big As a Horse and Beats the Air With Fans.

ASTRONOMERS PUZZLED

Special wireless telegraph to The North American from an unknown planet in the vicinity of Argo. (Copyrighted, 1904, on all planets throughout the universe.)

August 17.

    Professor Swoggleman, the great astronomer of our planet, states that a body moving at a terrible rate of speed passed this planet last night at 11:34.
     The body had a most unusual appearance. It was as large as a coraman; or, as it is termed on the earth, a horse. Around the body there was a strange vibration or motion of air. This motion of the air seemed to be affected as if by the operating of large fans.
     The commotion seemed to be entirely beneath the body, and Professor Swoggleman thinks that the air was used to hold it up and give it motion.
     There was no light connected with the body. Professor Swoggleman thinks that it could not have been a meteor, unless it was just beginning its journey and had not attained the general characteristics of an aerolite.
     The body passed on the west side of this planet, and Professor Swoggleman was able to see it by the aid of his trans-reflector. The trans-reflector is a new invention of the professorís by which he can see on any side of our planets.
     A wireless dispatch has been sent to Professor Nindon, on the west side of the planet, to watch for the body. He wired back that he had already located it, and would send information about his discoveries.

August 19, 1904: FELL IN FRIGHT AT SIGHT OF MONSTER

Inhabitants of Argo Stricken by Queer Apparition.

IS AS BIG AS A CAMEL.

Wireless special dispatch to The North American from the unknown planet in the vicinity of Argo. (Copyrighted, 1904, on all planets.)

August 18.

    The following dispatch was received from Professor Nindon in relation to the moving body which Professor Swoggleman discovered on the other side of our planet:
     "Professor Swoggleman.
     "Dear Sir: The body you discovered passed on the west side of this planet today. It passed very near, so that it was unnecessary to use the telescope. Never have I seen its like in astronomy.
     "The body was as large as a smokdaugh; or, in the words of the earth, a camel. It moved by flopping large, fan-like things attached to its sides.
     "Upon its back was a cluster of curious-looking objects, tied together with rope. These curious things moved and looked at us as if they were alive and understood their surroundings.
     "The entire population of all the cities on this side was terribly frightened at the monster. A large number of people deserted their homes and fled to the mountains. Others rushed to the temples, while many fell prostrate on the streets. It was a common opinion that the monster had been sent to chastise the people for their wickedness.
     "For nearly three hours the object was in full view of the entire populace. At the end of that time it disappeared in the sky.
     "I am of the opinion that the monster might be one of those things which on the Earth are known as birds. Of course we have no birds on this planet; and I would not want my name used as saying it was a bird."

August 20, 1904: 20,000 SOLDIERS LAY DOWN A KINGíS ARMS

Hoodmanís Guards Flee Because of Fear of Strange Monster.

PEOPLE QUIT THE CITY

Special wireless dispatch to The North American from the North Star. (Copyrighted on all planets.)

August 19.

    Over 20,000 soldiers deserted from the army of King Hoodman today. The army rebelled at an order of the King to attack a foreign monster which came through the air and alighted on Mount Haldon.
     The monster circled about the city of Tarnia and frightened the people so that thousands fled from every gate. Even the soldiers were frightened, and they would not fire upon the monster unless the entire army was called out.
     The King accordingly called out the army of 30,000 men, and the army fired upon the monster as it circled in the air. It is not thought to have been hit, but it sped away to Haldon Mountain, where it alighted on the top.
     The King ordered the army to ascend the hill and attack the monster. The men started, but were overcome by fear, and over 20,000 deserted.
     After some time, the King got 10,000 men together, and he led the army up the hill to where the monster was seen resting. Before the King reached the top the creature went into the air again and sailed away. Upon its back was a bag filled with berries which were picked from the berry plants on top of the mountain. It is supposed that the bad witch of the north picked them and gave them to the creatures.

August 21, 1904: FARAWAY WORLD IS SWEPT BY A CYCLONE

For Ten Miles it Leaves Behind a Trail of Ruin.

A MONSTER OF THE AIR

Special dispatch to The North American from one of the planets of the Little Bear Constellation. (All rights reserved.)

August 20.

    A most peculiar cyclone visited this planet at midnight. The wind, instead of sweeping past the planet, swept down upon it and seemed to turn us out of our orbit. A large number of houses were sunk into the ground by the terrible pressure of air. In some cases houses with weak foundations were sunk into the ground seven and eight feet.
     The results of the cyclone are to be traced for ten miles in a straight line. The cities of Jalson, Frit and Hamal suffered the greatest amount of damage.
     Reports from various parts of the planet state that it was not a cyclone but some air monster, which, in passing our planet, came too near. The monster in passing beat the air with its tail and fins so that it caused a rush of atmosphere, giving all the effects of a cyclone.
     Some of the guardians of the cities claim to have seen it. They say that the monster was as large as a penapoleo or an elephant. Others say that it was twice as large as a penapoleo.
     Professor Hobblesmack saw the monster through a telescope. He was about to examine it, when the creature hurled a large berry at him. The berry struck his telescope and broke it so that he could not use it until the monster was out of sight. He claims that the creature was as large as the animal known as the horse, which lives on the planet Earth.
     The berry which the monster hurled at Professor Hobblesmack is found on the plant North Star. A wireless telegram from there states that the monster was attacked by an army of 30,000 soldiers, and that it bewitched the entire army so that it escaped.

August 22, 1904: HEATHENS BESEECH THE GODS FOR HELP

One of the Seven Stars Shaken by Aerial Phenomenon.

Wireless dispatch to The North American from one of the seven stars of the Dipper. (All rights reserved.)

August 21.

    The gods of our people showed their wrath today by sending a terrible air monster among us. The monster alighted near the cave of the witch on Mount Sheekan, where no man dare go.
     It could be seen from the city at the foot of the mountain. The people were overcome by fear, and many deserted the city to flee in the opposite direction.
     The wise men of this planet gave forth a proclamation from the Kingís palace saying that the gods of the people had sent this monster as a warning to them in their sins. Great hordes of people took warning and rushed to the temples to expiate to the gods. In a few hours the entire population was praying to the gods and beseeching them to take the thing away.
     Their words were heard, for before dark the monster arose into the air and departed. It carried something on its back, which, it is thought, the witch of the mountain must have placed there.
     All the people of this planet are celebrating the departure of the monster. Even the king and wise men are celebrating within the castle.

August 23, 1904: PLANET URANUS IS SHAKEN TO CENTRE

Monster as Big as 10,000 Uranians Pays Unwelcome Visit.

Planet Uranus special wireless dispatch to The North American. (Copyrighted, 1904, on all planets throughout the universe.)

URANUS, August 22.

    A terrible air monster passed this planet today. The monster approached from the direction of the Dipper and was headed toward the planet Neptune. It was 1000 times as large as one of our citizens.
     The entire population of all the cities on this side of the planet gathered to see it. The monster appeared, at first, like a small bird, such as live on the planet Earth.
     As it approached it gradually increased in size until it could be plainly seen. It had a head with sharp, piercing eyes, and a set of very sharp and dangerous-looking horns upon its head. Its tail stuck out in the air like the branch of a tree.
     Queen Nell XLIII, thinking that the monster was going to land upon our planet, called out the entire army. When the monster saw the army it flapped its wings all the more, making a terrible noise, as if trying to frighten our men. When it saw that we were not frightened it did not land. It was a good thing that it didnít, as we would have killed it.
     Upon its back were to be seen some strange-looking objects tied together with rope. One was thought to be a bag of meal, probably for food. The other was big and round, and resembled a foot-ball such as the people on the planet Earth use to start a fight between a lot of men.

August 24, 1904: NEPTUNE SHOCKED: MONSTER IS THERE

King Kala Defeated and His Brave Soldiers Killed.

Neptune special to The North American. (All rights reserved.)

August 23, 10:34 A.M.

    This planet is about to be destroyed. A terrible monster of the air has alighted upon it and is now fighting our army on a mountain near the city of Budaca.
     Reports from Budaca state that a large number of our soldiers have been killed, and King Kala, our greatest general, has been forced to withdraw his army.
     The monster occupied the top of the mountain, which has very smooth sides. From this position it bombarded our men with a terrible shot, which mowed our men down before they were able to approach near enough to use their weapons.
     It is thought that the monster is aided in the destruction of our troops by some unknown witch. The beast seems able to fight on all sides of the hill at once, and it mowed our men as if they were made of mud.

King Kala has summoned aid from all sections of the planet, and it is said that he will beseech the witch of the south to dispel the terrible monster.
    

One hour later

    The monster has departed. It went away in the air flying like a bird such as inhabit the planet Earth.

August 25, 1904: SATURN DARKENED: SUN WAS HIDDEN

Strange Body Passed Between the Planet and Its Luminary.

Special wireless dispatch to The North American from the planet Saturn. (Copyrighted on all planets.)

SATURN, August 24.

    This planet has been dark for sixty hours. Not a ray of light has shown upon us, and the people are in great stress. The end of the world is feared.
     The professors at the colleges state that some foreign body has come between us and the sun. What it is they cannot say, and they even do not know how long it will hide the sun from our planet.

Saturn, sixty hours later.

    The sun is out. A foreign body flying through the air hid it from sight. It is thought to have been a large meteor, and it is directed toward Jupiter. A wireless dispatch has been sent to Jupiter to prepare the people for the end, for if it strikes that planet it will demolish it.
     Our army was sent to attack and kill the monster and other creatures, but as soon as the army approached the giants got upon the monsterís back and flew away.

August 26, 1904: BIRD OR BEAST? ASK PEOPLE OF JUPITER

Bells Rung to Summon Dwellers to Seek a Monster.

Jupiter special wireless dispatch to The North American. (All right reserved.)

JUPITER, August 25.

    The people of this planet were awakened last night by the ringing of all the bells on the planet. The President of the planet had received a wireless dispatch from Saturn warning him of a foreign body moving through the air which would demolish our planet if it struck it.
    

The body was discovered by the aid of telescopes. It was found to be a large bird carrying several people on its back. The bird was very large, and while it might hide the small sun of Saturn, it would not even hide a star from Jupiter.
     It alighted near the city of Dabin, where, the people say, the objects on its back looked like giants. They were twice as large as our men. One of them had a flat face, with one eye larger than the other, and he never winked. His head and body were stuffed with hay, which protruded through his clothing at the elbows and knees.
     Another was joined like a stovepipe, and at his side hung an oil can, as if he had to oil his joints occasionally. Another had a large head, forty inches in diameter. His face was set into a smile, and he smiled all the time. His eyes, nose and mouth were nothing but big holes cut into his head.
     One of the giants had a terribly large head, which seemed to be very loose. The wind lifted his head from his shoulders and sent it against the straw man. The force of the blow knocked him down and the head landed on top of him.
     The tin man picked the head up and placed it back on the body of the giant, who continued to laugh.
     The company enjoyed themselves for a short time and then they departed toward Mars.

August 27, 1904: FOUR GIANTS RIDE ON BIG BIRDíS BACK

Winged Creature Big as a Horse Lands on Star.

Special wireless telegraph to The North American from one of the Astrepoids.

August 26.

    A large black bird bearing four giants upon its back landed on our planet today. The company did not seem to have any desire to injure our inhabitants, so they were allowed to go. They flew away through the air as they had come.
     The monster was as large as a horse and had huge wings, with a large set of horns upon its head.
     The giants were a curious-looking set. One of them was made of tin, and he carried an axe. The first thing he did when he alighted was to oil his joints. He was evidentally afraid he would rust.
     Another of the giants was not very strong, as he could not stand in the strong wind that swept over the mountain. He seemed to be made of straw, and the wind doubled him up easily.

August 28, 1904: WANDERING MONSTER KNOWN TO MARTIANS

Itís the Gump, Carrying Visitors From Land of Oz.

Mars special to The North American. (All rights reserved.)

August 27.

    The great bird of the air which has visited a great many planets in the universe arrived here today.
     We are surprised that the natives of other planets should have been frightened, as it was simply the Gump from the "Land of Oz" bearing his companions, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and Pumpkinhead to the Earth.

Of course the natives of other planets are not familiar with the funny things that take place on Earth, and for that reason they were probably frightened.
     The members of the company were the guests of the King while here. They stated that they were on their way to the United States, where they have an engagement with The North American.
     They left the "Land of Oz" ten days ago and had many peculiar experiences on their trip. On some of the planets the people were very much frightened, and they were unable to stay longer than an hour, lest the people would become desperate and injure themselves.
     After luncheon with the King, the little party left for the Earth. They expect to be well read during their stay in the United States, and the adventures which they will experience in that land are to be told in full in The North American every Sunday for many weeks.

 

The following additional articles were published in the newspapers, in addition to the above promotional series.

 

August 25, 1904: GOAT TRIES TO EAT WOGGLEBUG BUTTON

Animal Cannot Get Souvenir Down Its Throat, and is Saved by Woman.

Special Dispatch to The North American.

Wilmington, Del., August 24.

    A goat belonging to Mrs. Patrick Murphy, living in the Highlands, attempted to swallow a wogglebug button this afternoon, and caused much excitement in that section of the city known as Forty Acres.
     But the button did not go down, and a minute later the goat began to turn red in the face. It coughed and spluttered, and straightway started on a rampage about the Highlands. It overset a hucksterís wagon, and the owner took refuge up a tree.
     Pedestrians sprinted for places of safety, and somebody was preparing to turn in an alarm of fire, when Mrs. Murphy appeared on the scene.
     She chased the goat for several blocks, calling it a variety of pet names, and finally overtook it. She made a careful examination of the goat, and, ascertaining the trouble, removed the button.

August 28, 1904: WOGGLEBUG KILLED: CHICKENS NOW SAFE

Special Dispatch to the North American.

Georgetown, Del., August 27.

    The Wogglebug has been killed, and owners of chickens breathe freer. For several weeks chickens have been fatally stung on the head. The mystery surrounding the creature caused it to be called the Wogglebug.
     Mrs. George Schockly yesterday killed a large, queer-looking bug in her hennery, although two chickens had been stung before she struck the insect with a paddle. It will be placed on exhibition. No one recalls having seen its like before.

August 28, 1904: ĎTWAS EXCITING, BUT NOT THE WOGGLEBUG

Crowd Witnessed Spectacle With Curiosity That Indicated Great Expectations.

FLIGHT THROUGH AIR

    Stretched across Arch street, between Ninth and Tenth, during luncheon hour yesterday, was a heavy wire. Beneath it with upturned faces stood more than 5000 persons. The expressions varied from that of mere curiosity to open-mouthed astonishment. It was plain that something out of the ordinary was in the air, and the wire seemed to have something to do with it.
     "Dear me," said one old man, as he tried to make his way through the crowd. "What on earth is the trouble?"
     "Itís in the air, mister," screamed an urchin. "The Wogglebugís cominí in and heís goiní to let us have that say of his."
     The old man hastily rubbed his spectacles and joined the multitude.
     "My, my!" he exclaimed. "Iíve heard so much about that Wogglebug! So itís to be here at last!"
     With that he adjusted his spectacles and set his eyes skyward.
     It was the difference between fiction and fact. It was not the Wogglebug, after all. Press agents, like poets and novelists, have license to utilize the imagination.
     Norman Jeffries, whom everybody knows, announced that one of his performers, supported solely by one foot and holding by his teeth a woman weighing 150 pounds, would slide down the wire.
     It was all right; but there was no woman. From a small wheel on the wire hung a strap. Holding the latter in his teeth, he (not Norman) made the slide.
     "Was that the Wogglebug?" asked the old man, whose eyes failed to show him the fleeting figure.

"What did the Wogglebug say?"

Sources:
Philadelphia North American, 18 to 28 August 1904. Reprinted in The Baum Bugle, Spring 1985.


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