Strange Tails began as an inkling of an idea in 2010 in Chicago, IL when visual artist and writer Kenneth Gerleve and writer and editor Todd Summar decided that they wanted to combine their talents into a project that would provide a creative outlet for both. The duo is inspired by the aesthetic of the Gothic and German expressionism (such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), vintage cartoons, illustrated novels, as well as modern art, absurdist films and humor (David Lynch) and horror movies of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Ken Gerleve use narrative and image to tell stories, which are often darkly humorous. His artwork juxtaposes the traditional elements of the Gothic with contemporary culture. He often uses Scherenschnitte, or paper-cutting, and dimensional book structures, like Tunnel and Carousel books, to create sculptural scenes reminiscent of the silhouette animations of Lotte Reiniger. Ken earned an MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts from Columbia College Chicago. He is the studio assistant for visual artist and author Audrey Niffenegger. His illustration and design work has been featured in previous issues of Pistil Magazine, the Journal of Artists’ Books and Little Bang.
Todd Summar writes fiction and essays, and serves as an editor for publishers and individuals. He draws inspiration from dreams, experiences, absurd humor, and anything that mixes these elements in a literary context. His work has appeared in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Literary Hub, and PANK, among others. He is the founding editor of Goreyesque and has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. You can learn more about him on toddsummar.com or ToddSummar.
The Real Fizzbert, Rufus, and Suzy
Fizzgig (named after the Henson creature in The Dark Crystal) is the real Fizzbert. He loves dressing up in costumes and posing.
Rufus enjoys staring and keeping a safe distance from humans.
Strange Tails is inspired by the personalities of our cats Fizzgig (Fizzbert) and Rufus, and their sister Suzy, who lives with their grandma, Tracy Hughes. Fizzgig loves attention and is an expert at pretending to be innocent while causing mischief behind the scenes. Rufus is lovable and affectionate but doesn't want anyone to know it. Suzy is a certified acrobat and can reach any shelf at any height.
Fun fact: Suzy's original name is spelled Siouxsie, named after Ken's favorite Post Punk / Goth singer Siouxsie Sioux.
Suzy is an expert at scaling tall counters.
(Photo courtesy of Tracy Hughes)
Behind the scenes of strange Tails
Kenneth Gerleve sculpts the body of a cat, which will eventually provide the pattern for a puppet.
Our Ouija board collection.
Fizzbert in full color.
Fizzgig contemplates fabrics.
Kenneth Gerleve designs the look of the Curious siblings.