Here’s an interview conducted by our friend and native Texan, Glen Harrison from Hardcore Paranormal on Facebook.
“It’s not only fun but also intimidating to interview one of your old pals who’s now a big time cryptozoologist. But I had the opportunity to do so with Lyle Blackburn recently and here it is. I have a feeling that Lyle’s not going to mind answering a few more questions if you have anything I may have overlooked. So with no further rambling from me here’s the interview…
HCP: The legend of Bigfoot has been around for centuries yet to date there is no “real” evidence it exists. Does this creature really exist? What are your thoughts on this phenomenon from around the world? What’s it going to take to convince the world that it’s a reality?
Lyle: There actually is some concrete evidence to suggest one or more of these creatures around the world may indeed exist. This primarily comes in the form of alleged footprints, plus some unidentified hair samples. The best footprints show evidence of dermal ridges and other abnormalities that would be hard to fake. Of course nothing is impossible to fake, but it’s enough to keep the case open. So based on eyewitness reports and possible physical evidence, I believe there is a possibility that at least some of the creatures collectively known as “Bigfoot” may be real. At this point, nothing short of a body is going to prove it. Even a good video will be suspect, given the technology of CGI. As with any scientific discovery, it will require a type specimen to completely verify.
HCP: I absolutely agree there. And it’s something that we’ve talked about here. Yeti, Sasquatch, Swamp Ape and Yowie are all names of hairy monsters found throughout the world. Assuming they exist… are they the same species? Or just related?
Lyle: Descriptions of these creatures are consistent in a general sort of way, such as the height, presence of body hair, bipedal locomotion, ape-like features, etc., but can vary in other ways such as the hair color, length of hair, and even the ability to move on all fours. In my book, Beyond Boggy Creek, I examine Bigfoot-type encounters across the entire Deep South region of the United States. Within this region, I found that the descriptions do vary, but don’t necessarily fall into precisely defined areas. In other words, even though they may be called by different names in different states, there’s not enough absolute consistency and accuracy in the descriptions to say that the Skunk Ape is something completely different than the Fouke Monster, for example. Sometimes Skunk Apes are described as being more ape-like, and perhaps moving on all fours, while at the same time some are described in more typical Bigfoot terms such as walking upright on two legs. So there may be one or more different related species or variations that live in and among each other.
I think there’s a few good possibilities as to what these creatures might be, if they do indeed exist. First, they could be a species of ape that’s managed to evade discovery by virtue of their small populations, above average intelligence, and the desire to remain elusive. By archeological standards, apes have never been known to exist on the North American continent, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t suitable candidates. One example is Gigantopithecus, a “giant ape” that existed in China. Perhaps these giant pongids crossed the Bering Strait Land Bridge along with many other species during the continent’s formative years. Once present in the New World, the apes could have spread into the various mountains, forests, and lowlands where they would presumably adapt as changes to environment and climate occurred. The other possibility is that they could be a relic hominoid which diverged from a common human ancestor long ago. In recent years, we’ve come to understand that the family tree for the hominin species is much more diverse and “bushy” than originally thought. If one of these primitive species survived, it could account for sightings of a “man-like ape.” This is a very simplified answer for a complex question which could encompass a whole book chapter or even a book. Ultimately, it’s hard to say anything for sure without a specimen to examine.
HCP: Which of these hairy humanoids are you most convinced are real?
Lyle: I would say the Orang-Pendek, which is purported to be a five-foot-tall, hair-covered biped living in the forests of Sumatra in western Indonesia. I rate this cryptid highest on the list because this area of Sumatra could indeed hide a small population of unknown hominoids. Also, it’s been sighted by some very credible eyewitnesses, including wildlife conservationists and photographers. The locals also know of the creature and quite a few intriguing footprints have been found. I’ve personally examined some of the footprint casts and they seem very compelling.
HCP: Television shows such as Monster Hunters and Finding Bigfoot provide viewers with little in the way of actual discovery. Do these shows help or hurt the actual field of cryptozoology?
Lyle: I think it’s a two-edged sword. The shows help, in that it makes people more willing to talk about unusual things they may have encountered, since they see average people just like themselves reporting encounters with strange things. However, since many of these shows are fictional and made to seem real, this tends to make cryptozoology look silly. Everyone needs to remember that most “reality television” is not reality. It’s made primarily for entertainment without concern for the truth or what impact it might make on the subject matter being discussed. That being said, there are some shows and cast members that do their best to reflect real-world investigations. It’s just often hard to tell what’s real and what’s not unless you’re truly immersed in the subject matter.
HCP: Can you discuss the most recent Mothman activity? Has it been seen at all in recent years? Of course we’ve been following the reports from the Chicago area.
Lyle: Over the years there have been sporadic reports of the “Mothman” near Point Pleasant, West Virginia, but most of the credible sightings occurred during the original flap which spanned from 1966 to 1967. In the last few years there’s been reports of an alleged Mothman-like creature seen in the urban areas of Chicago, but from what I’ve learned of these reports, they are highly suspect. There’s no question that witnesses near Point Pleasant saw some unexplained entity back in the late ‘60s, but whether there’s still something up there is debatable.
HCP: How did you become involved in this field Lyle? I’m assuming it was a lifelong fascination on your part as well.
Lyle: When I was young I got a book called “Strange But True” which had chapters on Bigfoot, Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster. After reading it, I became really interested in those type of creatures and the reported encounters. I’d always loved movie monsters and spooky legends, so cryptids were right up my alley. As time progressed I saw the famous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film on television, and the old movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek, which dramatized sightings of an alleged Sasquatch-like creature in southern Arkansas. Since Boggy Creek was only about three hours from where I lived in Texas, it really got me hooked.
I spent most of my adult life working as both a musician and a writer, so for years I just casually followed the subject of cryptozoology. Then in 2009, I started writing a column for the horror magazine, Rue Morgue, based on my knowledge of cryptids. This got me thinking about writing a book along the same lines. The subject of such a book would not be hard… I would simply write about something that had captivated me all of my life… The Legend of Boggy Creek. So I began researching the case by going to the small town of Fouke, Arkansas, where the reports had originated. Once I finished the book, I got a publishing deal pretty quick. The book sold very well and was extremely well received, so I decided to continue researching and writing about cryptids. I was also contacted by several television shows, so appearing on those helped get my name out there, and also turned into a run as a story producer for Monsters and Mysteries in America. So for the last decade, I’ve been publishing books, participating in films and television shows, and constantly doing research into recent sightings and old legends. I’m often called a cryptozoologist, and I suppose that’s the closest term that applies to what I do, but I primarily consider myself an investigative journalist and adventurer who happens to pursue stories of unexplained creature sightings. I think my books reflect this approach better than anything.
HCP: Of course we all want to know about the book on the Missouri Monster Momo. When is it going to be released?
Lyle: The book was just released. Momo – short for “Missouri Monster” – is a somewhat famous case from the early 1970s in which people in the town of Louisiana, Missouri, reported sightings of a disturbing hair-covered, bipedal creature along the Mississippi River corridor. Sightings of the creature were accompanied by unexplained lights in the sky and other weird phenomena, such as disembodied voices, so it’s a really bizarre case. People in the town were so freaked out by what was going on, law enforcement formed posses and plunged into the woods trying to track down the creature. It was totally surreal.
Momo has always been one of my favorite cryptid stories, and I had intended to include it in my Beyond Boggy Creek book, which discusses the history and modern sightings of Bigfoot-like creatures across the southern United States. However, there ended up being so much material for that book, I had to narrow the scope to the Deep South, which amounted to about 10 states. Missouri kind of falls into the gray area of what is considered a northern state versus a southern state anyway, plus there is much more to the Momo story than would fit into a small section, so I decided to make it into its own stand-alone book.
HCP: What about Small Town Monsters? Anything new from that direction? You’re getting a lot of attention for the narration! I thought that was cool…
Lyle: We are doing two films in 2019: Terror In the Skies and Momo the Missouri Monster. I’ll be narrating Terror In the Skies, a film which explores sightings of giant birds and other flying entities in the area around Illinois. Momo the Missouri Monster will be a film that reflects my research into the case and offers a new angle in how we’ve approached these real-life documentaries. Of course, I’ll be narrating Momo, as well as appearing in the film as an on-screen host. We’re very excited about both these upcoming films.
(I do have to add that Lyle’s narrative skills have earned him the moniker of the Morgan Freeman of the paranormal-supernatural world. Lol)
HCP: Since we have a bit of a love for alternative types of music here in Hardcore Paranormal, tell us a bit about your band Ghoultown. Anything new on that front? Shows and or any new stuff?
Lyle: Ghoultown is the band I’ve fronted for almost 20 years now. Prior to taking a break to write The Beast of Boggy Creek, it’s what I primarily concentrated on, aside from some freelance writing. These days the band is still active, but has to take a backseat to my other career because I simply don’t have time to do it all. Our latest album, Ghost of the Southern Son, was released two years ago and we’ve done some limited tour dates to support that, playing in the U.S. and England. We’re currently writing songs for the next album, but I can’t say for sure when that might be completed.
HCP: Lyle thank you for the time! We know how busy you are these days. Is there anything else you’d like to add? I for one want to know how and where to get ahold of your books and videos. How can we get ahold of your stuff?
Lyle: Thanks for all the support from yourself and Hardcore Paranormal. It’s really cool how our personal interests have run a parallel course from our younger days as punk rockers in the Dallas scene to our fascination for strange phenomenon.
My books and music are available in the usual places such as Amazon, iTunes, Bandcamp, etc.
To learn more about all my projects, just drop by www.lyleblackburn.com and www.ghoultown.com
I hope you all enjoyed that. Lyle’s a great guy and as always worthy of our support! Check out his books and what he’s doing with Small Town Monsters. You won’t be disappointed. I certainly haven’t been!” – Glenn Harrison (Hardcore Paranormal)