Saturday, June 17, 2006

Now about that cover...

I know that a lot of people have had very strong reactions to the current cover, some positive, some negative. I don't think I've yet heard anyone who had a neutral reaction to it. So I'll paste here a little of my logic in deciding to use it. Here, edited a tiny bit so it makes sense without context, is something I posted in a discussion of the painting. And I (and I'm sure Marty, too) welcome all comments on the cover, positive or negative:

Maybe it's not my job as an editor to incite discussion, but dialogue is largely what I hoped for in choosing to use this cover. I think it's true that some folks new to the magazine may be repulsed enough to turn away and not read what is within. I also think that there are other readers new to the magazine who will be struck enough by it to delve in further, and hopefully to delve deeply. We're seeing a case of this already on a blog called On Life as a Sarcastic FringeHead--she was so intrigued by the cover that she dove in and devoured the entire issue and is now going through and writing reviews for every single piece. That's not just being intrigued, that's being captivated. That's giving serious thought to the material within.

Was I going for shock value? Was Marty? I can't speak for Marty, so I'll only speak for myself. I'd be lying to say that I didn't think anyone would be shocked by this, but that's not my primary motivator. When a friend asked me the other night what my favorite story was, after thinking about it for a while, I told her the cover was my favorite story in this issue. And that's not to disparage any of the stories within--I love them all. But as much as I've loved Marty's artwork for every cover, I've never really thought of any of them as being stories. This is, and it's a very strong story and one that is open to an incredible amount of interpretation (as was seen in the thread where this originally appeared).

Many people have had the initial reaction of turning away. I had the same feeling. But people are coming back to it. "What does this say? What does it make me feel? Why does it make me feel this way?" To affect people this way, to make them feel deeply and think deeply... isn't that one of art's greatest purposes? Maybe its single greatest purpose?

Again, I totally see the point about whether it is welcoming or not, and I've worried a great deal both about whether this would turn too many people away. In the end, I felt like the story this painting has to tell and the dialogue(s) that would hopefully result from its use were too compelling to pass on it.

So... as Linda Richman said, "Discuss."


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