This week, the The New Yorker cover on magazine stands has a bonus element when viewed on a device. The graphic artist Chris Ware partnered with the radio program This American Life to create an animated cover–quite literally a “cover story”–narrated by Ira Glass and the writer Hanna Rosin.
Ware, in his typical hyper-detailed, intimate style, animates Rosin’s story of a conversation between her and her 13-year-old daughter one Halloween night. Initially intended for This American Life‘s “Regrets We Have a Few” episode, Glass’s interview with Rosin, who writes for The Atlantic and hosts Slate’s DoubleX Gabfest podcast, about the dynamics of mother-daughter relationships is both entertaining and endearing. Put those three storytellers together, and the animated short is predictably delightful.
In an article on the cover for the New Yorker‘s site, Ware describes the delicate process of creating visuals for an audio-only story. “Usually, when listening to a story, one’s mind not only sees but also feels in images; you imagine and constantly revise and update entire tableaux, much the way you imagine things while reading a book,” he writes. “I hoped that our pictures wouldn’t interfere with that ineffable mental dance but would somehow, like my usual medium of graphic novels, complement it.”
In many ways, Ware’s sentiment echoes a broader consideration for multi-media reporting and experimental storytelling. Technology provides tools that should be used to enhance a piece–make the story richer, the reporting more accurate, the data and statistics easier to understand–rather than just tacked on as bells and whistles. The magic of “Mirror” is not only that Ware’s animation springs to life, but that it adds a certain poignancy and sense of connection to Glass’s radio story, and vice versa.
See for yourself in the video above, or purchase the e-issue of the magazine here.