Tales of the Bizarre
Tales of the Bizarre #1
cody Van Winkle
Interview by L. Valena
First, can you please describe to me what you responded to?
I responded to a pastry, a baked good? Well, it was a fried good. I was given a foodstuff, a snack. We talked a bit about the flavor and texture- instead of just saying 'it's good', I really needed to talk through what I was experiencing
So talk to me about what you experienced.
It was so bright, the flavor was. I hesitate to say 'sour', because it didn't exactly make me pucker, it was a pleasant thing, like a tangy zesty kind of a thing, and I liked that. But it was also in a format I'm not used to. I really like a tart lemon curd, and also usually when I have one I know that I'm going to have it. With this, I didn't know what I was going to feel or taste, it was a surprise. It turned out to be a sour orange affair. The texture was kind of the opposite of what you expect that flavor to be associated with. You expect that flavor in fruit, or deliberately sour candy. This was kind of a rural, old-fashioned, down home format. Is it classist to say peasant food? No, that's charming. But something like that. It was something old world, in the country, and it was unusual to have such a bright, exciting, tropical fruit flavor to go with something that felt like a colonial American format.
How did you get from there to figure out what you were going to draw?
When we first ate the thing, we discussed what it made us think of, and that list gave me a few ideas to work with. In the end I decided that what I would depict is some sort of metaphorical marriage between these juxtaposing elements. What I ended up depicting was a literal marriage between them. I wanted to think of something that represented such a bright tangy flavor, and something that represented such a humble, old-fashioned texture, and I wanted it to be visually very different as well. They needed to be conceptually different, and also look like an odd couple when you put rings on them.
So tell me about what you drew.
In the end, what I drew was a pilgrim woman. I was looking at colonial American garb, and puritans to decide what she would be wearing. I decided to make her a she also, because I especially like the idea of there being a bride wearing something black and dowdy, just because that's her tradition. And the person she's marrying- is it a person? This pilgrim bride is marrying an alien that is hovering above the floor. It is a very neon green, and appears to be glowing. The shape of this alien is modeled after the classic, Communion-era alien. Thin with a big guitar pick-shaped head, really big eyes and the subtlest hints of nose and mouth. I'd never seen one just hovering before, so I decided to do that. And the glow made me think of the X-files episode of the Simpsons. Have you seen it?
Well, I'm going to go ahead and spoil it for you. There's something weird in the forest, and so Mulder and Scully are called in.
Wait, Mulder and Scully are actually on the Simpsons?
Yes, with the actual voices of David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson! They go to Springfield to investigate, and in the end it's revealed that this weird alien thing that's hanging around in the woods is Mr. Burns. He's high on meds or something. But the only explanation for why he was glowing in the dark was how much time he was spending at the nuclear power plant. Anyway, this is a drawing of the wedding of a human from the past and alien from... the future....?
And when does this wedding take place?
Well, I didn't really give any indication. It does appear to be in some kind of church, or possibly dungeon. If the fellow performing the ceremony is to be an indicator of the time period, 1968? He's an old man, I didn't want him to look like he's from any particular religious bent. Same with their surroundings- there's an alter, but no religious symbols. There are candles. So there is this old gentleman who is wearing some great, high-waisted brown plaid slacks. Would you describe this as a powder blue blazer?
And he's performing the ceremony on the cover of a fictitious magazine that I call Tales of the Bizarre.
And it's 39 cents, so this must have been published in the 50s or something.
That's true. And I don't think anything on this cover could refute this being from the 50s. I've been inspired lately by old comics and pulp magazines, and how sci fi used to work. A lot of sci fi now I think is wonderful and smart. But, the old-timey sci fi has a certain charm. I've been watching the Twilight Zone recently, and much of that show was made before we even got to the moon. Their understanding of space travel and other planets was so different from what we decided once we had been there. I'm trying not to use the word 'real'. They definitely took some wild guesses, and I'm fascinated by the idea that that was their reality then. As far as they knew, that could be what space travel was like.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how our current conception of reality affects both how we view the future and how we view the past. I think it's so interesting that no matter what we're doing in our lives at this moment, it affects how we tell our stories to ourselves to make sense of how we came to be right here. And same with what we expect the future to look like. It's so interesting to look at past examples of what the future might look like, because, there was a time when the 'future' was full of bakelight. And really, there are very few things in contemporary America that I can think of that are made of bakelight. I think espresso machines involve some, but that's all I can think of.
You've seen Journey to the Moon, right? When they go to the moon, these learned men file into this giant bullet, which is in the big shotgun that's aimed right at the moon. And it goes off, and they fly to the moon, and they're there. When it's time to come back, they fall off a moon cliff, and fall back to Earth. The moon is up, so they just had to fall back down.
Isn't it crazy to think about how cute some of the things we 'know' about space and time are going to sound in 50 years?
Exactly. That's why I hesitate to say what's 'real', because how the bleep do we know?
Right. It's a moving target. Do you have anything else you want to say about this switch?
The other drawings I made existed in their own universes, but this one is the cover of a periodical, and it was my first time adding another layer of 'what if?', and I really enjoyed that. So I may explore that more in the future. I deliberately didn't put any fruit in this drawing, because so many pieces in this thread have already involved images of grapefruit. I want to be that one in the game of telephone who fucks it up on purpose. I decided to use only metaphorical imagery, so you could look at this and have absolutely no idea that it involved food in any way.
Call Number: C11.1FD | C16VA.vaTa
Cody VanWinkle spent five years illustrating children's books at the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute. In 2017, he was published in And Lester Swam On, written by 21 rambunctious second graders. Someday, he would like to combine his passions for making ice cream and knitting.