Alien Skulduggery

A skull ain’t nothing but a close shave gone wrong.

Skull Men

Attention warriors of Zlinn! I have decided that we will not be invading Earth after all. It turns out the Olympic sculling event isn’t what I thought it was. The lizard men can have the place for all I care!”

The warriors of Zlinn made their first (and not surprisingly their last) appearance in When the Skull Men Swooped which appeared in Scoops #3, 24 February 1934. Scoops was a British magazine which published a good deal of primitive science fiction. Like most of the stories which appeared in the magazine When the Skull Men Swooped has no author attributed to it. A lucky escape indeed for whoever was responsible given the quality of the story.

4 thoughts on “Alien Skulduggery”

  1. “Swooped” is a good word that doesn’t get enough workouts in sf titles*. But Anonymous Author missed a chance for alliteration here — s/he could have gone instead with “When the Skull Men Skulked!” Or, being meta, “When the Skull Men of SCOOPS Skulked!” (And saved the verb for a later story about different aliens, perhaps “When the Swine Men Swooped!”)

    As you probably know, many issues of SCOOPS are online, but apparently not #3.

    *Aside from Wodehouse’s fine early “England invaded” parody THE SWOOP, of course.


    1. I did know about the copies of ‘Scoops’ online but am happy to own an actual copy of #3. There’s nothing like owning an actual copy of something like this to put the magazine into context. It’s interesting to note how like later British adventure comics and story papers ‘Scoops’ was in its physical format. From what I’ve been told those later efforts also contained stories little different from those published in ‘Scoops’. A smart author could probably re-title and resell a story year after year; ‘When the Skull Men Skulked’, ‘When the Skull Men Scooped’, ‘When the Skull Men Scored’. On the other hand titles can’t be too silly. Pigs will fly before an editor will buy a story called, ‘When the Swine Men Swooped!’. Hogwash they will cry and send it wee we wee, all the way home. That, after all, is how literature works.


  2. Incientally, the art makes it look as though Boss Skullman is dangling a shiny cord in front of the crowd, presumably to hypnotize them into Swooping more aggressively. I’d have thought it was hard to hypnotize a skull, but maybe you just have to first bone up on the proper technique.


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