Subscriber Invitational 1: Imaginary Friends

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Not so long ago, child psychologists viewed the appearance of an “imaginary friend” as a sign of poor adjustment, even neurosis. These days, research suggests that these characters represent nothing more than a fertile imagination. They are hardly a rarity: A 2004 study from the University of Washington reports that up to two-thirds of all children happen to claim an imaginary friend by the time they are 7 years old.

Several months before going to press, we sent an email inviting Esopus subscribers to submit descriptions of their imaginary childhood companions. After receiving a healthy number of responses, we passed them on to 13 musicians, each of whom chose one friend as inspiration for a song. The selected descriptions run the gamut from distinctly human confidantes to hair-dwelling rabbits to vaguely sinister letters of the alphabet. They all resonate with the rich, uncompromised imaginative powers that fuel early childhood. We applaud our readers for successfully bringing each of their friends back to life for this invitational—and for inspiring the incredible tracks created for the issue’s CD by the participating musicians.


Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, Yvetta Federova is based in New York City. A graduate of Pratt Institute, Federova has created award-winning illustrations for The New Yorker, Time, Travel & Leisure, and House & Garden, among many others. Her comic strips have been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustrators, Communication Arts Illustration Annual, Print's Regional Design Annual, the Society of Publication Designers, the Society of News Designers, and the Art Directors Club, and have appeared in worldwide publications.