Behind The Blue Rose: An Inside Look at the Men of Lynch Issue

Twin Peaks fans by now have largely seen the “Men of Lynch” issue of The Blue Rose Magazine. Thirty essays from male writers, covering David Lynch’s body of work. Social media has been abuzz about the follow up to last year’s successful “Women of Lynch” issue the magazine produced. It’s no secret that 25YL and Blue Rose have both a working and personal relationship and that relationship is on full display in “Men of Lynch”, with several 25YL contributors writing in the issue, myself included. I found myself really interested in the story being told here. A community of people coming together to work on a project eagerly anticipated by many. All of the moving parts required in an endeavor this large. The economics behind it all, a fact most don’t stop and think about. The genuine excitement about the cover art being produced by two well-respected members of the Twin Peaks fandom. There was a story to tell here.

We always knew we were going to do the Men of Lynch  Issue #11, ever since we did the Women of Lynch Issue #7 last year. Thing was, we spared no expense on the Women, and we just couldn’t do that this time. So, we had to cut the Men down to 30 essays instead of 40. That broke my heart, but we just don’t have the funds to do extended issues. So we had to cut The Magician (Richard Green) from Mulholland Dr, Chad (John Pirruccello) from Season 3, and Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) from Twin Peaks. These are all actors I know. I hated having to do it, but I had no choice. Creating art is about making tough choices  – Scott Ryan, Managing Editor, The Blue Rose Magazine

The Cover Art

For the “Men of Lynch” issue, I initially assumed I’d round up a bunch of models, actors and ne’er-do-wells to represent the fellas as I did for the “Women of Lynch” 2018 issue. But truly, the WOL issue was a huge, huge task and I wasn’t sure I was ready to go through that (admittedly awesome) process again. And that’s when Milly popped into my mind. I’m a huge fan of her art and the way she makes a tiny piece of the character’s soul inhabit her doll creations – Blake Morrow, photographer

One of the most anticipated aspects of “Men of Lynch” was the cover art. Photographer Blake Morrow set the bar incredibly high, with last year’s “Women of Lynch”, with people still raving about the cover. Blake assembled many women from the Twin Peaks fan community and cast them as iconic female characters from David Lynch’s films. It was a genius idea that served as the perfect exclamation point to an already exciting project. As a writer for “Men of Lynch”, I was just as in the dark about what this year’s cover would be. The only thing I knew was that I never got that call to pose as Carl Rodd for a photoshoot.

“The final cover honestly took more than a year of planning. First, Scott and I drummed out a secret list of who should be on the cover and why. I gave Milly the dream list of characters about 9 months before I was planning to shoot them. She would have time to create them without rushing and they could be shipped from Australia (where she lives) to Canada (where I live) with time to spare. I had the joy of opening a few packages of Lynch man-dolls that she would send to me every few months. It was like a creepy geek Christmas. Milly doesn’t kid around—each of the characters had packaged props to accompany them. I was obsessed with action figures as a kid, so posing these dolls had a very familiar vibe for me. For a few months at home, I manually brainstormed how I would pose the dolls for the big studio shoot day, warning guests who would come over of an odd set-up on my kitchen island. It’s not often that I have a lot of time to think before a commercial shoot, so it was heaven. I knew Mr. C and Dougie had to stand on either side of Lynch and I knew Freddie had to have his hand on Leland. Everything else came with time and randomly posing dolls in my kitchen while making a sandwich. Honestly? This is a creative person’s dream.” – Blake Morrow

Blake Morrow setting up Milly Henley's Men of Lynch dolls to be photographed

“Blake Morrow and I have known each other since he used a couple of my dolls in his Return to Twin Peaks project. I adore Blake and have a lot of respect for his work, so when he asked if I’d be interested in collaborating for the cover project, I didn’t hesitate. Once the characters were decided upon, I set to making the ones I hadn’t prepared earlier. The actual process isn’t that difficult. I use existing dolls and polymer clay to sculpt their faces into a (hopefully) similar shape to the original character. During this process, I think my favourite was the Elephant Man. Not only because of his powerful character but when I first put that hood on, it was a bit of a moment. I’ve been so excited to be able to share it with everyone. It was a difficult secret to keep. Blake sent me the proof shot a week or so before I started seeing subscribers getting their copies in the mail. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to instantly share it, or how much better the image is with Blake at the helm. I’m so happy to have been a part of a great cover on a great magazine. This Lynchian world is pretty alright.” – Milly Moo

Doll of the Elephant Man

“The Gentleman’s Club / Smoking Room set for the cover was co-created by Milly and I. She built some beautiful furniture like the ottoman that Lynch sits on and the intricately-detailed bookshelves and fireplace. (On the cover you can see both a pretty “Twin Peaks Opening Credits”  bird as well as a Frogmoth sitting behind everyone on the shelves). I constructed the wooden flooring and the metal walls, inspired by the otherworldly worlds we saw Coop explore at the beginning of The Return.” – Blake Morrow

“Milly Moo and Blake Morrow outdid themselves with the cover. They kept it a secret, and Milly worked so hard making the dolls. I love the cover. I also really love the Cooper centerfold where we had all the writers discuss Cooper. I think the design of Issue #11 is one of the best. Please support Blake and Milly in all they do.” – Scott Ryan

The Men of Lynch dolls being photographed by Blake Morrow

The Writers

Writing for the “Men of Lynch” posed an interesting challenge. Not only did the writers have to come up with unique things to say about characters studied and discussed for years by Lynch fans, but they also had to do so in a relatively small word count.

“The biggest and most pleasant surprise in writing for the issue was revisiting the character Lester Guy. When Scott at The Blue Rose Magazine asked me who I’d like to write about, I seized the invitation as a reason to re-watch the too-short-lived series On the Air. I hadn’t watched it since the original air dates, and because that first run was so close to the end of Twin Peaks, I had conflated Lester Guy with Dick Tremayne. It turned out I was remembering things in my own way, and it’s a good thing to exfoliate memories to see what emerges for new perspectives. I ended up feeling a lot more sympathy for Lester Guy than I thought I would. In the context of “Men of Lynch,” thinking carefully about Lester helped me articulate a number of gender formulations that one can notice across Lynch’s work. Similarly, going back to Lester was really fun and engaging with the retroactive perceptions enabled by knowing the men that came after him, particularly people like Adam Kesher and Devon Birk/Billy Side among others. Lester and these others can form a kind of constellation of how Lynch has explored masculinity within show business.” – Andy Hageman, writer/ 25YL contributor

Doll of the man behind the camera from Lost Highway

“I was assigned two of my favorite characters, Paul Atreides from Dune and Bobby Peru from Wild at Heart, two characters about as diametrically opposed to one another but now both being framed through the lens of Lynch. And really what is happening when you sit down to write about these characters is you are holding a mirror up to your own psyche in the moment you are composing these sentences. And sometimes it can get a bit personal. For example, when thinking and writing about Bobby Peru, one of the most wicked male villains that Lynch ever created on screen, a man is forced to weigh and consider his own past treatment of women and girls. There are many words shouted in anger and sourced in deep insecurity that I would love to be able to take back. But the gift on the other side of that coin is that the movement from those points of mean weakness become markers to measure the motion of one’s soul to something comfortable inside the open light of life in the living moment. In the final summation, writing about art that pulls us towards it and also pushes us away, but ultimately sets us free from the cage of our interpretations is how proper art becomes a spiritual virus that can heal the world.” – JB Minton, author of The Skeleton Key to Twin Peaks

The Men of Lynch dolls lined up

“I was called upon late into the submissions process to cover two profiles in a crunch for The Blue Rose Magazine editing team. The unattended profiles were that of Eraserhead’s Henry and Lost Highway’s Fred Madison. Scott also offered me a paragraph on Cooper. I jumped at the opportunity and had the first two within a week and the Cooper piece by the next. I’ll admit that my experience meeting deadlines for 25YL really came in handy with such a fast turnover. The night after it was offered to me, I sat down and re-watched Eraserhead. I think getting a hold on Henry was the largest challenge. I work in a library and somewhere—you know, it was a collection of newspaper clippings in a book about Robert E. Howard—I saw the term of a citizen from the 1930s that said he was a “boyologist.” I just couldn’t shake that terminology, this idea of conditioned masculinity, and here I was searching for an approach to Henry. The anxiety in that film permeates and is projected by his character, and in combination with that idea of conditioning and expectations of masculinity, I found access to Henry. Per Fred, I was talking with my wife about that character, and she said: “Fred is all Id.” That was it for me. I told her on the spot I was stealing that, and it became my whole approach—the psychology of his evil deeds, his refusal to see it for what it was, then what he simply couldn’t manipulate, the truth. The willful toxicity of masculinity, the utter lack of accountability, was where I found access to Fred.” – Rob King, 25YL

“Making my contribution to Special Agent Dale Cooper was a real challenge. When I was a teenager watching all the original airings of the first two seasons of Twin Peaks, I was not a very critical thinker. I was a teenage boy living in a small town in Iowa in the early 1990s, so, yeah, not socially attuned. So it’s not surprising that I was fascinated with the character pure and simple. Now, decades later and as a professor of literature, tv/film, and media, I analyze the ideological machineries of what I watch and write on and teach. Re-watching the early episodes makes me personally cringe at how normalized, and even sympathetic at the time, Cooper’s masculinity was. But writing my piece on him as a Lynch man helped me work through the idea that Cooper fits into a whole range of deeply problematic men across Twin Peaks and Lynch more broadly. Key to noticing this is that I find it a strength of the series rather than a failure of imagination. Twin Peaks, especially The Return, is for me one of the most unflinching representations of pervasive misogyny culture in the US, and it does this without attempting an absurd end-run around the matter by fantasizing about perfect men who’ve found a way to strip all cultural programming.” – Andy Hageman

Doll of David Lynch sitting in a room of books

“Then, there is Cooper. Where I work is Texas Tech University’s Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. A lot of what I work with daily and my interests revolve around the American Southwest. Season 3 opened that right up for me, giving me Odessa and New Mexico to work with. There was just this sense with Cooper at Judy’s diner. I always saw that as Lynch’s little homage to the old Western, Cooper’s brief shootout at the O.K. Corral. And what’s more masculine screen presentation than a Hollywood Cowboy? You know, where we once had knights, we later had cowboys. Then, I thought about Lancelot Court and all of that associated Arthurianism around Season 1 and 2. I just made the bridge to Cooper transferring into the Western. That approach felt very Hollywood and perfectly appropriate to a “Men of Lynch” theme. If I had a reference for this, it came thoughts I had when I wrote “Odessa, West Texas: Scorched Oil, Judy’s, and Murder” for 25YL.” – Rob King

“We were very lucky with our writers, as we have always been during the Blue Rose’s run. To get Jeff Lemire to not only write, but draw his picks, was amazing. We have 2 original Lemire drawings that you can only get in the magazine. That is worth the price right there. We also got Robert Day, who was actually in The Elephant Man to write about the Elephant Man. That is pretty trippy.” – Scott Ryan

Men of Lynch dolls lined up against a wall

Final Thoughts…and a Surprise

So now that we have done Women & Men, that only leaves the Animals of Lynch. I mean there is the deer in The Straight Story, the dogs in Wild At Heart, the owl in Twin Peaks, and we all know the black dog runs at night. Issue #72 will be the Animals of Lynch, I call it now. – Scott Ryan

Taking this behind the scenes look at the creation of the “Men of Lynch” issue of The Blue Rose Magazine really exposed not only the passion for this project but also the time, effort and research that went into it. This was a labor of love, made with the help of a community for that very same community. I really enjoyed speaking to several of the people who participated in the making of the “Men of Lynch” and as an added bonus, we’re going to publish right here, one of those essays Scott mentioned not being able to include in the magazine due to budgetary issues. Consider this essay from photographer Blake Morrow on Twin PeaksBobby Briggs “The Missing Pieces” of “Men of Lynch”. I hope you enjoy.

In the 25 or so years since we last saw Bobby Briggs, he’s been allowed to do what almost no other Lynch character has done; he’s grown up and he’s wiser for it. Who would have thought rebellious 1990’s Bobby would be the mature, modern lens we view our beloved town through in Twin Peaks: The Return? Bobby might yearn for the past but he is a symbol of hope for the future. His motives aren’t selfish. He wants his daughter to thrive and not fall into the obvious trappings of their small town with drugs and a doomed relationship. He longs for a reconciliation with his estranged and uninterested wife Shelly, still the love of his life.

Bobby is realizing the limitations that his loved ones have accepted in their lives. We see him at a point of managing his sadness at these limitations. He is realizing that the truth of love means letting people make their own decisions, even if those decisions hurt us. But he won’t give up. Like his father, he would rather fail at the side of good then thrive on the side of evil. He has chosen his path and he has chosen well. Like many of us, Bobby has matured with time and with life experience.

Bobby represents that part of us who, in our youth, questions everything and pushes against the traditional. Yet throughout the mundane process of aging in a small town with normal everyday problems, he comes to an understanding of the need for community and protecting it. He embraces the very thing he rebelled against in his youth: Order.

His growth in empathy costs him. He loses his high school sweetheart, herself on pause, not growing past her infatuation with “bad boys”. We see him aware that he is no longer what she wants or seems to need. He may have walked a path to redemption in some ways, but it hasn’t provided him with all of life’s solutions. He’s at times an alien in his own community, trying to figure out how to inspire others and keep the peace.  He seeks to make sense of a town gone mad, with no simple answers to steer people towards a better way.

He’s also a father who loves his daughter and like any dad is doing anything he can to help her work out her life. She is his little girl. He now understands the sacrifices parents make and the patience his father had with him during his rebellious years. He watches his daughter, the perfect mix of himself and Shelly, unravel with the impending doom of her tragic young marriage. He will offer her every chance to get herself out of these troubles and find a better path for her life. Just like his father did for him.

Admirably, throughout these challenges, Bobby hasn’t lost his childlike wonder. He exhibits an enduring love for his father while helping figure out clues to a mystery his father left behind with the sheriff department and his Mom. We see his child within fully alive and nor soured by his regretful teenage mistakes. Bobby also sits in peace and enjoys the company of those older and wiser then him. The very people he used to distrust most, he now values more then ever.

Bobby is a unique Lynch character in that he isn’t a complete train wreck anymore. He has embraced the truly caring and sensitive side of himself we saw glimpses of in his teenage youth of the 90’s. By the end of The Return, we leave Bobby, much like we left his father back in the original second season, in the midst of being a beacon of hope; hoping that his town and his loved ones will find their true path, just as his father did for him.

Visit today to order your copy of “Men of Lynch”.

Written by Andrew Grevas

Andrew is the Founder / Editor in Chief of 25YL. He’s engaged with 2 sons, a staunch defender of the series finales for both Lost & The Sopranos and watched Twin Peaks at the age of 5 during its original run, which explains a lot about his personality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Twin Peaks Red Room

Twin Peaks Hits The Road: Beyond The Black Lodge Tour Announced

Cover title for Horton's book

Discussion on H. Perry Horton’s Book, “In Dreams”