Words By Dani Hedlund, Art By Brian Demers
Dear lovely reader,
It seems unfathomable to me that less than two years ago, F(r)iction did not exist. Back then, we were still printing a traditional journal, the Tethered by Letters Quarterly. But in our free time, we were all reading weird speculative fiction and comics, wondering, Hey, why can’t we publish stuff like this?
The answer to that “why” always seemed obvious. Literary journals had a role, we’d been told: to publish traditional literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. All genre work—sci-fi, fantasy, romance, horror, comics—were unserious forms of literature.
Editorial art, too, was dying. Why? Well, it’s expensive and time consuming. And printing in full color? Why would an indie press even consider such an extravagant expense?
The evidence was clear. Our dream of starting a whole new kind of journal—one that would publish great stories (regardless of genre!), cultivate brand-new talent (through months of editing!), and pair each written work with custom full-color illustrations—was insane. We’d be raising our cost more than tenfold and radically increasing the workload of our team. All for a product that the industry would surely reject.
But, as my mom would say, we had more stubbornness than sense. We believed, as we still do, that great stories are worth fighting for—that excellent literature deserves to be presented as beautifully as it is written. But more than anything, we believe, deep down, that with enough passion and drive, anything is possible.
Now, twenty months and five issues later, things are looking very different. Since issue #1 came out in April 2015, our circulation has increased by 1500%, making us one of the fastest growing literary journals in the world. Our pages have been graced by celebrity authors, poets, and artists alike. We’ve published over twenty creators for the very first time. Two of the comics we’ve featured were nominated for the Eisner Award. And—get this!—issue #6 marks a huge milestone in our history: we finally have the funds to pay every single one of our contributors, even the works shopped through our educational programs!
Don’t get me wrong: It’s still an uphill battle. We still leap into each others’ arms every time a journal order comes in, every time some amazing person gets a subscription, every time another bookstore increases its stock. More than 90% of our staff is unpaid, and we’re all rocking bags under our eyes, but we don’t care. We’re living the dream. We’re printing the stories we really, really care about. We get to work with some of the most talented, inventive, and delightful writers and artists around the world . . . and we love it.
None of that would be possible without you, dear reader. If you’ve been with us since the beginning, your love of F(r)iction—and your heavenly desire to share it with your friends—is why we’re still here. If you’re new to our pages, your bravery in taking a chance on this book is the reason we’re growing so rapidly. By picking up this issue, you’re ensuring that these great stories will not go unheard. You’re declaring that editorial artwork matters. You’re saying, loudly and clearly, that you don’t have to play by the rules to do something meaningful.
From our entire staff, from our outstanding contributors, from the dreamer in all of us: thank you. You, my dear, are extraordinary.