The quirky serial about a female trucker on a cross-country search for her formerly presumed dead wife, achieved number two on the iTunes charts Monday, based solely on its audio teaser trailer. As of press time, the show was locked between established mega-hits Serial and This American Life. [UPDATE: The show is now number one on iTunes as of March 8.]
If you are surprised, don’t be. Alice follows the unlikely playbook for success created by New York-based creative duo Joseph Fink (the show’s writer) and collaborator Jeffrey Cranor, who grew up in Mesquite. The men’s debut podcast, the offbeat, 4-year-old Welcome to Night Vale, spawned a cult following of obsessed fans who helped the novelization of the show last October debut at number four on the New York Times’ bestsellers list. Now, the men have launched Night Vale Presents, a new podcast network for fiction, with Alice as the debut show.
A crucial part of both programs’ collective mystique is the visual design by Dallas graphic artist Rob Wilson. Wilson, who last year created the opening title sequence for the Matthew Broderick film Dirty Weekend, was friends with Cranor in Texas when he was asked to design the original Night Vale podcast logo for iTunes. Fans began posting Wilson’s iconography and their own versions of it on everything from crocheted handbags to body tattoos. His work was later adapted as the cover for the Night Vale novel.
Now with Alice, Wilson had a new challenge. “I was given four scripts to read as the show was being developed,” he says. “I decided that the image needed to visually relate to the Night Vale brand, but, since it is its own monster, needed to stand alone. The story is told through the voice of a lone truck driver traveling across the U.S. and her experiences on the road.”
He focused on the truck and the resulting logo is both eye-catching and creepy. “I researched 18-wheelers, horror novels and truck stops. I also researched all the weird ‘70s movies about convoys,” Wilson says. “But one day in traffic, I noticed that the headlights, grill and window of a truck actually formed the structure of an upside-down skull. I quickly made a sketch of this in the car, and when I got home, started drawing ideas, trying to make it work.
“The simplest thing to do was to flip the image, and when that happened, I was amazed that I hadn’t seen this before. The writers loved that it’s simple, clever, dark and relates to the vision of their work.”
Can we expect to see Alice fans creating their own tribute art from Wilson’s newest creation? “I’m not going to comment on the body parts I’ve seen my artwork on,” Wilson says. “However, I can only imagine that the new Alice artwork will end up on truckers’ mudflaps across the country.”