Alien Autopsy: William Barker on Schwa, two decades later


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Wow. As someone who excitedly purchased the World Operations Manual when it came it out, it makes me ridiculously proud to think that I was one of just 10,000. Still have it. Still have some of the stickers and such that came with it. Even laminated the little bracelet things, and so still have those as well.

Alone Cannot You It Resist!

(This unit is defective.)


me too. i still have the “instant stick person - just add water” bookmark thingie, the books, and some other stuff. maybe 8 or 10 years ago i finally broke down and put my only beloved Schwa head sticker on my snowboard. i still have the board, i think, but i don’t ride that one any more and i wish i could move it to my current board. i’ve always loved how he was a cool reno guy that went global with something so awesome.

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File under nostalgia here. I received this book via Mark Pawson when I was running Zum! magazine (during the 'zine boom Barker referred to) in '92, and thought it was right on “the wave” at the time. Generously, I gave it to someone with no graphics sensibility at all, but an interest in weird stuff, then regretted it immediately, and have often thought back to it. So it was a pleasure to see this work again.

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You can buy a sticker for your other board from the man himself here:


this makes me happier than you can know! thank you!

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I still have the tee-shirt with the glow-in-presence-of-aliens warning [printed in Xenon ©].

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I got a copy of the WOP and Counter Schwa right after I moved to SF in 1993, either on Haight St. or that comic shop on Shattuck and University… appropriate places for such a weird discovery, I think. Still have the stickers!

Mine sits merrily on the shelf next to The Happy Mutant Handbook and a pile of Mondo 2000 stuff, in the Mutant section of my library.

Still have my WOM - still love it!
Schwa was, and is, brilliance!

I can’t really describe how great it was to randomly find it one night.

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I did a GIS for “Alienware Schwa” and got this:

I…uh…that’s not how jumpropes work, bro…and good gravy, I spy a Photoshop Disaster.

Also, total lack of Alienware or Schwa.

No mention of the amazing website! It was the most inventive use of HTML out there at the time. I remember a to-scale model of the solar system done only in HTML and gifs. Technically brilliant stuff. Some of it is on the wayback machine, but without the pictures and server-side includes.

I remember every once in a while I’d mail off my Schwa Credit Card only to get it back along with a free Schwa doodad, as promised. Schwa remains my very favorite thing from the 90’s.

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