When the Weekly World News stopped publishing in 2007, the legitimate media noted its demise. No more headlines about Bigfoot, space aliens and miracle cures. No more Bat Boy.
Now, the people at Google Books have created an archive of the supermarket tabloid for all to enjoy. The searchable collection offers full issues of the newspaper from 1980 through 2007.
It’s interesting to see the evolution of the Weekly World News as it moved from celebrities to the supernatural. (That’s Catherine “Daisy Duke” Bach on the front page on the left.) The paper’s experiments with color on the front page and its increased use of doctored images are there to see as well.
It’s also entertaining to skim through the paper’s exclamatory, all-caps headlines, which amount to an alternative reality that may be more interesting than our own. Here’s a sampling:
- ELVIS VISITS HIS NEW GRANDSON!
- SPACE ALIEN MEETS WITH ROSS PEROT!
- FAT IS CONTAGIOUS!
- ANGRY TRUCKER FIRES 5 BULLETS INTO UFO!
- BAT BOY LED OUR TROOPS TO SADDAM’S HOLE!
So what did in the print version of the Weekly World News? (It still exists online, but just barely.) My guess is The Onion, which took the idea of fake news in newspaper form to a more sophisticated level. It turns out that its focus on the mundane is more amusing than the preposterous.