Editor’s Note: Pictures

Graphic literature, comics, illustrated and ekphrastic writing contain a certain magic, a certain electricity. “Giving something a term, no matter how ill defined, can be life altering,” Bianca Stone tells us in her interview with Ariel Kahn in this issue, which is why, as children, we fall in love with picture books, the union of words and images. These are the places in which the pictures we imagine ourselves into receive their names, and alter us.  Blending language and image, we represent life as art and, simultaneously, art as life. This interpenetration creates third (and even fourth) entities that come into being by in the mind of the witnessing reader.

In this “Pictures” issue we are offering meditations on seeing, as in the images of Ed Epping, who notes, “The ‘picture’ we make of what we see dictates and is dictated by our capacity to empathize with that which we witness. Seeing is solitary even when shared with others. Being seen is what brings us together.” In the spirit of making visible, we offer visions from and about the incarcerated, and all who are invisible in our societies, such as migrant workers, and political refugees. Some of the works in “Pictures” remind us of the limits of illusion and appearance. Others critique aspects of our contemporary, instantaneous cultures, and still others call us to question the clash between our untested convictions and our lived experience of gender, economics, romance, and beauty. “Pictures” playfully explores our relationship to our environment, our history, and even our hair in imaginative and delightful ways.

We have a long-standing debt of gratitude to Sarah Wetzel, who guest edited poetry. “Pictures” was her fourth time as guest editor; she’d previously worked with us on the “Men,” “Sacred Words,” and “Foreign Bodies” issues, and her impact on this journal is deep.

We have never previously attempted a graphics-themed issue, and the fact that this one has exceeded our wildest expectations is due to graphic artist and writer Franky Frances Cannon, who was our graphics guest editor. In an issue like this one, “graphics” guest editor means that she had a hand in nearly every piece in this issue. Thank you!


Marcela Sulak