Iridum Sound, publisher of odd fiction magazines, blogs about telling stories using both words and illustrations.
Right from the start, The Again wanted to do something that added as much value as possible to short stories and boosted our readership. Creating each issue is a collaborative effort. We hypothesised that providing illustrations would enhance the reading experience by offering an interpretation of events that complemented (or even contrasted with) the written work.
In fact, it never really occured to us to simply reproduce the text alone. A digital publishing world is one in which many of the traditional constraints related to the reproduction of images don’t apply. Including illustrations adds no printing costs, so for us, it didn’t make sense to leave the display of our published work as text alone. (Note: we do offer a text-only version of each story for those who disagree with the above.)
If the first few lines of a story don’t grab the reader’s attention, illustrations are likely to do that. A reader might not be interested in a page-by-page illustrated version of War and Peace, but illustrations work well for short stories and can set the tone for the reading experience.
Illustrations certainly color a reader’s perspective. A story with illustrations is not the same as a story without them. We never presumed the The Again’s illustrations would make the written work better, but we knew illustrations would cause the written work to be received in a different way. We hoped this would be seen as adding value from a “variety is the spice of life” perspective, but we weren’t sure.
Of course, a written work should stand alone perfectly well, but the idea of a story being illustrated in ways an author didn’t expect appears to excite and interest all of our writers. The readers seem to like it, too. We don’t want to narrow their perception of the story, but the risk of doing so is worth taking. What results from an illustrator’s interpretation of the written word is so interesting.
We strive for balance between the story and the art. Writers may dream of having control over their story art, but it’s hard to make that happen. As editors, we try to identify a theme or central image and discuss the medium – sketch, watercolor, collage – with the author. This type of collaboration is informative. It would seem we do need to tweak the process to allow for some greater interaction, but we want to maintain the element of surprise, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the process.
Iridum Sound is a venue for odd fiction magazines. They currently publish one of those themselves, The Again, and offer some free hosting space for other magazines that feel like they have a natural home there. The aim is to cultivate a kind of meeting place for a range of creative projects and the people they attract, a collection that shares a vague theme. They believe that this theme is their position along the oddity range. Creative Commons licenses for the illustrations above can be found here.