I’ve had about a week with Paper Darts, Volume 3. Since I’ve been talking up the magazine, quite a bit, I wanted to give my impression or a review of it.
(I want you to know both Vol 2 and 3 are available at Paper Dart’s magcloud page and also available in a digital copy. Buy the print copy and you’ll get the digital copy as well. Magcloud has a sale through March 17th, so both issues are just under $10 at the moment)
First off, the quality of the magazine is stunning. I’ve put Vol 2 next to Vol 3 and really, it’s weird how the perfect binding makes the damn thing seem more well crafted. Yet the layouts, paper stock and printing on the inside show that the two magazines are the same.
On every level, this magazine continues to be impressive in its quality. It is a Lit AND Art magazine, so it is of course important that the visual presentation represent a focus on art as well.
For the money, this is a better visual product than the three issues of Zoetrope that I have seen (and the one that I actually own). I will also say that I enjoyed the written works more in this magazine than the issue of Zoetrope I have.
In the Lit department, the editors have definitely stepped up their game. Disturbingly in some ways, as there is an interesting subtext of…umm…fleshiness running through the poetry and fiction. Sex, death, and house pets in all their gooey glory, it’s the distinct impression I’m left with after finishing all the poetry and fiction. But it’s all good, high quality stuff.
My only disappointment is that I really want to hear the band that is described in “Glam Cowboys,” yet I don’t think it exists.
As far as the Art featured in the work, there’s a great kick in the magazine deciding to feature the two page layout for fellow tumblr onethirtyfive as it’s tumblr page. Which, frankly is an obvious, but possibly overlooked decision. The artists at onethirtyfive clearly chose that theme as the best way to display their mix of photography and writing, so why not allow the artists choice of presentation be carried into print?(Speaking of which, they have a gallery showing coming up in two weeks, check the tumblr for more details).
And as for the rest of the work: stunning. Andy DuCett’s drawings are crazy and bright, drawing you in to study every detail. The spreads showcasing Ronald Cueppens and Dominique Vangilbergen were chosen and arranged well, allowing you to focus on individual pieces, but also see how they relate to other parts of the artist’s work as well.
The only area I felt was a little weak is that onethirtyfive’s photos were the only artistic photography featured. Try as you might to consider Louisa Podlich’s photos on their own, they’re married to Christian Dahlager’s words. It would have been nice to see a spread of photography similar to the Cueppens/Vangilbergen layouts where the visual art is forced to speak to itself.
On that level, I found it important to look at the work of every artist and writer interviewed in the magazine prior to reading their interviews. After all, you don’t necessarily want the artist to spill the beans on their work before you have any chance to contemplate it.
The interviews were insightful, and overall show Paper Darts ambition to be more than just a typical literary journal. This is The Believer plus McSweeny’s plus Some Art Journal I Have No Expertise To List Here.
So, go buy your copy. Look at how attractive that damn thing is. It’s going to look good on your shelf and seduce you into reading it.
Ultimately, that may be one of the highest compliments you can give Paper Darts, in that they have Style AND Substance.
Here’s to hoping they’re soon at a point where they can publish multiple volumes a year.
(Also, for those on tumblr, Paper Darts now has one too, follow here)