Technically the first issue of the eighth volume of this funky yet respected journal of comtemporary arts and literature, this is the first issue (to our knowledge) that is devoted to all things comics. The group responsible for this issue bring a fresh, savvy, and somewhat outsiderish perspective to the wonderful world of comics and that world is a better place for it. We start off with a cover by the one and only Lynda Barry that serves as a preview of what's to come: not only an interview with the estimable Ms. Barry, but an eight page essay-on-art-in-art (Barry's own unique comics/collage hybrid) that is truly a one-of-a-kind piece that is simultaneously a feast for the eyes and mind. This piece alone is -- in our opinion -- worth the price of admission. But, there is much else to recommend this issue besides. Such as: learning that authors Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Chris Offutt and Luc Sante not only still have the comics they drew as children, but they're willing to have them printed in a nationally distributed magazine, and,when you're ready to handle it, they're hiding here in plain sight. While we're in the fan zone, this is an opportune time to mention long-suffering DC artist Karl Kessel's contribution -- a heartfelt appreciation of Jack Kirby's relatively unheralded creation, The Challengers of the Unknown (the entirety of which, by the way, was just collected by DC in the latest volume of their Showcase Presents series; yes, we have it in stock), which Kirby created for DC immediately before moving to Marvel to create The Fantastic Four with Stan Lee. But there's way more, starting with an amazing selection of excerpts, from: Marjane Satrapi's latest, Chicken with Plums; Martin Lemelman's upcoming graphic memoir, Mendel's Daughter; Zak Smith's insane project illustrating Thomas Pynchon's masterpiece, Gravity's Rainbow; Daniel Raeburn's fascinating historical survey of Mexican comics; and Graham Rawle's upcoming novel, Woman's World that is ENTIRELY composed (the editors say "assembled") out of cut and pasted exerpts from women's magazines -- and this is old school cut-and-paste we're talking about here, these excerpts are physically cut and pasted so you see the original fonts and X-acto cut strips laid side by side, making this a work of collage as well. OK, I guess we've got to stop, but there's really quite a bit more including a new Tom Tomorrow, storyboards for an upcoming Dylan biopic, not to mention the regular fiction and poetry features. Check this issue out, it's a bargain!
On the off chance there was any lingering doubt about Chris Ware's status as a contemporary artist, with the release of this volume it can now be officially proclaimed dispelled. This 112 page monograph from Yale University Press provides an in-depth exploration of Ware's work by The Imp editor, Daniel Raeburn as well as a very generous sampling of Ware's work, much of rarely if ever seen before and sumptuously reproduced here. In case you were wondering, the answer is no, this essay is not the same essay that Raeburn wrote on Ware in The Imp#3, but an all new piece entitled, "Building a Language."