Book Reviews Perceptions Magazine, September 2023
Editor’s Note: Lee Paqui of Australia’s UFO Research Queensland did a real great job of reviewing this book, The Closest Encounter: The True Story of Calvin Parker. I was honored to do an introduction to it, as I had visited Pascagoula myself in 1973, just 10 days after their reported alien abduction, and met both Hickson and Parker, and then met Hickson a year later at a talk he was doing in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. We went out and had lunch together afterwards. I also later met another man who claimed he met some humanoid beings on a beach down there afterwards, but I’ll leave that alone and other things for now. Don’t want to give too much away. LOL!
Author Martin Powell and I will soon be talking about the book and this intriguing case in an upcoming episode of Gene Steinberg’s The Paracast, with his co-host Tim Swartz, for anyone who may be interested.
The Closest Encounter: The True Story of Calvin Parker
Story: Martin Powell; Artwork: Jason Gleaves
With Calvin Parker, Philip Mantle and Brent Raynes, and based on the book by Calvin Parker
Published July 1, 2023
Review by Lee Paqui [UFO Research Queensland]
On October 11, 1973, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker had an encounter with a UFO and its occupants that would change both of their lives forever. It would also change the face of ufology, bringing to the field an entirely different kind of encounter experience at that time – one that was neither nice nor friendly, and was peopled by a type of humanoid being that had not been reported before. Owing to the extreme publicity that the story generated, the lives of Hickson and Parker were quite literally turned upside down. Hounded by the press, an assortment of UFO researchers and the plain old UFO-curious, both men approached their experience differently – Hickson seemed to accept this as a means of alerting the world to this new and novel danger, while Parker turned himself inward and shunned any kind of attention. It is only in recent years that Calvin Parker has spoken more openly about his story in a bid to both set the record straight, and to perhaps purge himself of years of fear and unexplained memories.
The graphic novel ‘The Closest Encounter: The True Story of Calvin Parker,’ does a great job of visually conveying to the world the events of that night in a format that expresses both the horror and the strangeness of Calvin’s experience. And it works. Jason Gleaves’ artwork is both evocative and expressive, and the use of monochrome very effectively draws the reader into the distant and dreamlike world of the 1970s. The limited colour palette also serves to tone down the lurid quality that is inescapable with such an event, something that a full colour scheme would have inadvertently accentuated. The use of first-person voice in the captioning takes us right into the heart of young Calvin’s psyche as he navigates not only the trauma of the event itself, but also the disruptive aftermath and how it affected the rest of his life. ‘The Closest Encounter: The True Story of Calvin Parker’ is an unexpectedly moving reading experience thanks to the careful consideration of the author and the artist, and thanks also to the honesty of Calvin as he tells his tale so many years after the event.
This graphic novel is no mere re-hash of the Pascagoula encounter, it is an exploration and a revelation as Parker reveals more about what took place inside the spaceship. He also provides information about the occupants that has not been previously described, the details of which have been carefully crafted by the artist into an accurate visual form. Parker also goes into detail about what happened when the encounter was first reported to the police and the Air Force, as well as his meetings with Dr J. Allen Hynek and Budd Hopkins, and the hypnosis sessions that he later undertook.The story follows Calvin’s journey through to more recent times, exploring other encounters he has had and even his decision to finally speak out, thanks to the urging of his wife and British UFO researcher Philip Mantle.
‘The Closest Encounter: The True Story of Calvin Parker’ is a mesmerising and thought-provoking presentation of the inexplicable, and a moving glimpse into the inner workings of Calvin Parker at that fateful time in his life. It was a stroke of genius to present this story in a graphic novel format so that readers could not only ‘see’ the events as they played out, but could also be drawn emotionally into a very unique story. I loved it.
OUT NOW BY MOONSTONE BOOKS