Cecil Gershwin Palmer
|Name:||Cecil Gershwin Palmer|
|Occupation:||Radio host and Journalist|
|Fandom:||Welcome to Night Vale|
|Other:||Voiced by Cecil Baldwin|
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At times, Cecil will report on events as they are occurring. It is mentioned he often receives faxes and phone calls from listeners on events, as well as updates from his surviving interns out in the field.
It's likely that Cecil is, like the majority of Night Vale residents, human, describing himself as such in passing several times. He is also described by both himself and by Kevin, his Desert Bluffs double, as "a man."
He is described from a photograph as being "not too short or tall, not fat or too thin. With hair [resembling Kevin's], a nose [resembling Kevin's] and eyes [resembling Kevin's]." He also wears a vest and tie, at least in the photograph.
In fan art, he is commonly depicted with a third eye on his forehead, and tattooed arms with either runic or "tentacle-like" patterns.
Cecil is a very genial person and seems very well acquainted with the folks about town. But he has something of a dual personality. He can be serious and cheerful by turns, switching between extreme tones at the drop of a hat.
He seems very fond and proud of Night Vale, despite its horrors (many of which he has experienced firsthand) and often provides comfort for the residents of the town during times of uncertainty or danger. Though he is quick to praise the City Council, the Sheriff's Secret Police, and their draconian policies, his views on many social issues seem surprisingly free-willed, and he even occasionally calls out the town's crooked politicians on air, despite the risk of retaliation.
There are times when Cecil's cognitive dissonance becomes obvious. In a set of cassette tapes he made as a teenager, we hear fifteen-year-old Cecil already struggling to rationalize his family's strange behavior towards him, and that struggle continues in his adulthood. It's implied that he's become very good at ignoring the discrepancies in his own memories.
- Carlos/Cecil Palmer: Carlos is Cecil's current boyfriend. Cecil fell in love with handsome new scientist in town, Carlos, instantly in the first episode, and Cecil's open and complete adoration for him features prominently on the show, with Cecil frequently gushing in lyrical prose over his beautiful appearance and great intellect. Carlos is initially either unaware of Cecil's affections, or willfully chooses ignores them, only ever contacting Cecil on matters of business. It's only after a near death experience in episode 25 that Carlos finally calls Cecil for "personal reasons" and, after sharing a tender moment together in the Arby's parking lot, the two begin dating.
- Earl Harlan : Earl Harlan was Cecil's childhood best friend. They were in the Night Vale boyscouts together. It is implied that Cecil probably had been (or was about to be) in a relationship with him. Earl grabs Cecil's arm during an interview at the station and sadly tells him, "We could have had something, Cecil. Always remember that." In Homecoming, it is mentioned that Earl and Cecil graduated from Night Vale High School in the same year, though neither could remember a specific year.
- Intern Dana : Cecil seems to have a fond friendship with Intern Dana, the only intern he shows any prolonged concern for, though they relationship becomes strained when she becomes Mayor.
- Old Woman Josie: Cecil and Josie speak like old friends.
The narrator of Night Vale, Cecil, shares his name with the voice actor who plays him, Cecil Baldwin. For the first few episodes, the narrator is not named at all, but is credited at the end of every episode as "The Voice of Night Vale". In later episodes the narrator names himself as Cecil. Some fans took this to mean that the character's name was Cecil Baldwin, and named him such in art tags and fics. Fans sometimes referred to the actor as "Realcil" to distinguish him from the character.
In the episode "Cassette", posted Oct 15 2013, the character gives his full name as "Cecil Gershwin Palmer". The show creators confirmed on Twitter that this was the character's full name (and that the "Palmer" was a nod to Twin Peaks), though due to the nature of the episode there was some question as to which character was actually being named[note 1]. Jewish fans were happy to hear "Gershwin" (Gershowitz) and some speculate on how their faith is practiced in Night Vale.[note 2] In later episodes the narrator more clearly names himself "Cecil Palmer"; the creators explained that they named the character to develop him further as well as separate him from his performer.[note 3] Most fanfic writers began using this name, and the character tag on AO3 was changed from "Cecil (Welcome to Night Vale)" to "Cecil Palmer" in Jan 2014; some writers also chose to go back and change Baldwin to Palmer in previously posted works.
Fan portrayals of Cecil run from dorky 50's radio host to immortal eldritch abomination, though there are surprisingly consistent fanon elements (see Tropes on the main page more details.) Non-white depictions of Cecil are sometimes tagged "POCecil" (Person of Color Cecil). As Cecil's clothes have been occasionally described (he wore his "best tunic and furry pants" on his first date with Carlos) he is sometimes pictured in outrageous or unusual fashion choices, such as explored on the blog whatwouldcecilwear.
Some fanartists and fanfic authors will use a particular Cecil headcanon, while others portray him differently with each work.[note 4] Fanfic writers may link to corresponding fanart or actor pictures; others deliberately avoid describing Cecil's physical appearance. In a few stories, Cecil is described as appearing differently to everyone who sees him, or simply being indescribable.[note 5] Some fanart may also obscure Cecil's appearance, by showing him from behind or only in silhouette. "Blob!Cecil" is sometimes used for depictions of Cecil as an entirely inhuman tentacle monster, such as illustrated on the tumblr blobcecil and in some fanfic (usually he can assume human form.)
The character of Cecil is only described in the vaguest of terms in the program itself, and the show creators and Cecil Baldwin have stated that Cecil's canon appearance is whatever the listener thinks it is. Depictions in fanart and cosplay, and descriptions in fanfic of Cecil often include certain fanon characteristics, in particular a third eye, esoteric sleeve tattoos, and tentacles; he is often shown with glasses, white hair and purple or all-white eyes as well. These fanon details are so strongly established that newcomers to the series may mistake them for canon. (The tumblr blog "Night Vale Community Fanon" keeps a record at NVCF Canon Primer of what is and is not canon in terms of character appearance and traits, along with other common questions. While non-canonical, these fanon consistencies allow the character to be recognizable across a wide range of depictions, especially in fanart and cosplay. Even after they've been completely jossed, many fans still hold to their personal images. And as reality in Night Vale is supposed to be a bit fluid, if not bizarre, why not.
Cecil as Eldritch Creature
These portrayals often include tentacles.
The Reorg by I Am Your Spy: Cecil has been captured by StrexCorp, who are running experiments on his Eldritch body. As part of a daring plan to rescue Cecil, save Night Vale, and escape the desert, Carlos joins Strex -- but his two major goals may come into conflict, especially since Strex has found a way to read his thoughts. (Another neat detail: Cecil is phobic toward mirrors. Strex uses this to torture him.)
- "Am I the only one who still finds it ambiguous whether the Cecil on the tape is our regular radio host, and that his reaction to that section is not clearly indicative that they share a name?" measured-words on tumblr, Oct 15 2013
- See the tumblr tag Jewish Cecil, although the blog Jewish Cecil is Canon is devoted to general Social Justice concerns.
- "We’d never given him a last name but we’d never thought of his last name as Baldwin. That was one of those rare instances of us taking one really particular fan question and addressing it really directly in the script."Interview: Cecil Baldwin and Jeffrey Cranor of “Welcome to Night Vale” on The Backlot Oct 31 2013
- In neveralarch's fic, Cecil is described variously as having "cool black skin", "brown skin" and "long black hair", "light brown, freckled" skin, and "close-cropped and thinning hair".
- In When You're Finished Struggling, Are You Free Tonight? by Chash, Carlos cannot mentally picture Cecil when not looking directly at him.
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