Hello, fellow Geeks and followers of the GeeKon Record. I’ve always considered myself a different kind of geek — aside from the standard, my favorite part of Doctor Who is the dark shadows that must be overcome, and that’s not even getting started on how much I love Lovecraftian horror (how many Cthulhu necklaces do I own? More than most girls, I’ll tell you). Feeding into my interests, as a result, is the recent surge of popularity in the podcast Welcome to Night Vale by publisher Commonplace Books, headed by creator and editor Joseph Fink.
The publishing group was, as Fink puts, it, “an outlet to do interesting work with other authors”. He showed off his own creepy-creative side to the extreme, however, when he started the podcast project of Welcome to Night Vale. Fink works together with Jeffrey Cranor to write the piece. The basic setup is simple; the site itself describes the podcast as “a twice-monthly [piece] in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale”. Each episode begins in the same way: the smooth baritone of voice actor and main character Cecil Baldwin saying, “Good evening, Night Vale”.
I know what you must be thinking. What’s so creepy (and cool) about this, anyway? Well, fictitious rhetorical querier, never fear! There’s so much geeky creepy packed into WTNV (as the fans call it), it might as well be its own genre. Inspired by the dark, Victorian gothic style of H.P. Lovecraft’s work, the ‘town’ of Night Vale is an unsettling mixture of bizarre happenings, monsters walking amongst humans, and realistic reactions to the aforementioned by the only ‘normal’ person in town, a scientist named Carlos.
Each episode really is what it’s labeled on the tin: simply bi-monthly updates on town events, such as book fairs and sports. Sometimes there are other recurring segments, such as traffic reports. There are even advertisements! However, Fink and Cranor work together to construct a strange, twisted take on all of them. Advertisements from the mysterious, fictional Strex Corp mention a “smiling God” who only gets eerier as things progress, while Cecil Baldwin, the upbeat radio host, never seems to think it strange that hooded figures roam the Dog Park, or that his interns seem to mysteriously die or ‘go missing’ nearly every other day.
There’s no way to accurately describe what’s so thrilling about the podcast. Is it that the “weather report” is actually music by varied independent musical artists? Is it that, alongside the podcast itself, there is a Twitter and Facebook account posting all kinds of mysterious, subversive statements? Maybe, perhaps, it’s the strange wisdom offered despite all the weirdness, through statements like “Within our limitations, there is no limit to how beautiful we may become”.
All in all, though, there’s something about the creepy-weird-funny work that keeps listeners rapt, coming to live shows and catapulting Fink’s creation to become the most popular podcast in America, with teens and adults alike attend lives shows and use it as a creative outlet, interpreting the surreal imagery as they will. After millions of downloads on iTunes and even more people streaming the episodes, it’s clear that Geekdom loves Night Vale.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide on your opinions. But for now, in the words of Cecil Baldwin…
Good night, readers. Good night.