One of my earliest and fondest memories is spending long afternoons sitting cross-legged on the cool cement floor of a room adjacent to the garage of our home in San Marino, California where my parents kept the Strange as it Seems archives.
Created by my grand uncle John Hix in 1928, the Strange as it Seems feature was carried forward by his brother Ernest after John died of heart disease on D-Day (strange as it seems), June 6th, 1944 . When Ernest himself died suddenly in a plane crash just 4 years later, my grandmother Elsie picked up the torch and produced the feature for the next 15 years, eventually handing it over to my parents in the early 1960’s. By 1970, though, their careers were in full swing and with syndication agreements dwindling, researching and producing the feature was no longer feasible for them. So they shut down the feature and boxed up the archives for posterity.
Ernest Jr. and Phyllis Hix also adopted me that same year. I was 5 years old. As the only child of two hard working parents, I could disappear into that room off the garage for hours on end without ever being discovered or interrupted. I would build forts out of the stacks of comic strip proofs while munching stacks of crackers and apple slices and just stare at the fascinating drawings, reading endless pages of strange and unusual stories, often dozing off only to wake up and read more until my eyes went bleary again.
As I grew older, I came to appreciate more and more the extraordinary playroom I had been given as a boy, especially as my knowledge of history, literature, art, science, and nature had grown by osmosis to a point at which my friends refused to play Trivial Pursuit with me any more.
My Grandma Houston on my mother’s side used to say “there’s no such thing as a coinkidink”. In 1977, The People’s Almanac published the first volume of The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace, which immediately became a #1 bestseller. I was given the book for Christmas, and when I opened the book to “The 15 Favorite Oddities of All Time”, the 5th favorite oddity began with the sentence, “Oddity hunter John Hix told one of the authors of this book about the world’s most incredible engineer … “
As I swelled with pride at reading Uncle John’s name in the country’s #1 bestselling book, I realized at that very moment that I was the only Hix remaining. While I had enjoyed my private playroom of oddities, I felt a responsibility to see the feature reborn again and the archives carried forward.
In 1970 when the feature ended, Strange as it Seems had run for 42 years. 42 years later, the brand returns again for the digital age. In 2009 with two of my closest friends from college, we launched HistoriVision, a new media company that is a multi-brand platform producing premium quality, high engagement video content featuring professional narration, stirring music, crisp sound effects, and state-of-the-art animations from an award winning design studio. For 2 years, we’ve been building an initial library of content that includes internet episodes, animated comics, and classics mined from the archives that we are digitizing and preserving for generations to come.
Our first Strange as it Seems Internet Episode features the #1 favorite oddity of all time according to the 1977 Book of Lists. To this day, it remains one of the strangest coincidences ever recorded.