It’s hard to define what you would expect from a publication called Scream Magazine. Perhaps a gritty literary arts magazine with comics and a strong political vein was on someone’s list. It certainly was for editor Russell Judd Boone and business manager Katie Boone. They went on to create a memorable and highly creative run of just that type of magazine between 1985-1989. But you can look at the parts of the whole that made up each issue, and see that in a lot of ways Russell was using the tools he knew to speak of his more personal woes, and in doing so brought forward talent that could use his venue to bring forth their own anxieties.
Scream Magazine was certainly a visceral response to the Reagan era, but looking at its range of articles, from “Censorship for Dirty Minds” to running excerpts of Ernest Hemingway’s FBI files, it was obvious Russell was mining a culmination of information and frustration that began long before Reagan. He even dug out controversial text like the Gemstone Files and the POW accounts of Lieutenant Charles Frederic Klusman in “The K Files”. And in later issues you could even find political satirists William Nealy and Dennis Draughon adding a humorous tone to the magazine’s edge.
But the meat of creative output that defined the tone of Scream Magazine lay from 2 directions: fiction & poetry, and the comix (with an “x”) found in the Rollywood Funny Papers.
It’s clear from the start that much of the hard work that Russell put into the magazine came from the solicitation and editing of the fiction and poetry found it copious amounts throughout Scream. He had a few favorites like David Weaver, Jim Shell and David Wilson that would appear periodically throughout the run of fiction, but otherwise the authors were often unique to a specific issue. The same selective habit can be said for the impressive range of poetry. While the 10 Women Poets section found in issue 4 was a really standout, it is the poetry of Charles Bukowski found in issues 5 and 6 that defined the success Russell was beginning to have on a national level.
Let’s not short change the strength and impact the comix section the “Rollywood Funny Papers” set for the whole magazine. The scratchy and expressive storytelling of David Larson’s “Mr. Creative,” the elegant sci-fi tainted “The Vacation” by Lillian Jones, the humorous and unapologetic “Gutter Man” by Tim Kearny and Rick Koobs, and the short but wonderful wanderings of Matt Feazell’s various mini comics set an underground tone that would continue to evolve for much of the run. But issues also featured more hardcore punk attitude stories by Errol Engelbrecht and the Michael Moorcock Jerry Cornelius-based stories by Daniel Gallant.
The benefits of terrific comics contributors were found in Russell’s ability to solicit many of the artists to do great accompanying illustrations for most of the literature and articles. David Larson alone contributed many amazing pieces throughout Scream and could easily be credited for its overall visual impact and tone of the magazine. But other contributors like Gerry Dawson, Errol Engelbrecht, Lillian Jones, Daniel Gallant and a host of others also lent a strong hand in bringing a visual dynamic to the magazine.
But the art didn’t stop there. Each issue sported great cover contributions by many of the same stalwart artists, but also included unique contributions by artists like Rob (Zombie) Straker. Also featured outside of the Rollywood Funny Papers and peppered throughout each issue were impactful and rebellious quotes by famous authors like Nietzsche, Camus and Baudelaire, all illustrated by David Larson. And adding to that effect were comics adaptations by Tim Kearney of famous short stories by Kafka, Baudelaire and Poe and were primarily illustrated by Rick Koobs.
So for many, experiencing Scream Magazine really was the sum of a whole creative mini-movement with a cornucopia of approaches to subjects and content that was certainly unique to our region. It is difficult to know what made Russell and Katie Boone decide to cease publication while the magazine had such strong content and momentum. They had gone from the humble 36 page black and white self-published style to a 64-94 page square or perfect bound archival format with color covers printed by Barefoot Press. I doubt the financial rewards equaled the immense work involved in soliciting and editing the great contributions. Maybe the changing of the creative guard that became more profound as it reached the end of its run, stopped being fun. Or it may even be that the success and evolution of the magazine had finally dictated that it was either time to take it to the next level and the national stage or to simply let it go while the going was good.
Who knows. But for a while at least, North Carolina and our region had a great underground literary arts magazine that could and did.
For now this page serves to feature a glimpse into the content that appeared in Scream Magazine. We are hoping to feature full issues to view if there is enough interest. So look out for announcements.
If you are a previous contributor to Scream Magazine please contact us so that we can get your permission to reprint your material online.
By David Larson
While I really enjoyed many of the comics contributors to Scream Magazine, David Larson was always my personal favorite. His loose expressive lines gave way to areas of harsh blacks and meticulous details. Presenting for the first time anywhere is his entire run of Mr. Creative strips in the order that they appeared from issue 1 thru 4.
Written and illustrated by Daniel Gallant, co-plotting by Jeff Smith, lettering by Rick Koobs
This is the complete story that was featured in issue 7. It is also the final chapter in my own 4-part Jerry Cornelius experiment, and follows a disorganized stream of consciousness structure found in most Cornelius stories, whether Michael Moorcock authored or not. It also marks the last story I would do in this style of chaotic and overly busy illustrations. While easily the cleanest art of the series, I would almost immediately shift to simpler, thicker and more varying lines and shapes.
This is only a small sampling of the wealth of material that can be found in these issues. Would you like to see complete issues of Scream Magazine featured here? Interested in writing a more complete history or critical article on Scream and it’s contributors?