Spy in the Slushpile #2: SCAB MAG


Spy in the Slushpile #2 SCAB MAG

Psssst! Over here! 
Notebooking Daily snuck agents into the offices of your favorite literary magazines to bring you—the potential submitter—the sweet low down, the inside track, the full two scoops of raisins. Everything you need to know to make as successful of a submission as possible will be here, but remember that the number one rule to putting your best foot forward is to take the time to read the journal you're submitting to and FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. This is vital to show the editors that you respect their time and effort, and because some journals will reject submissions that don't extend the simple courtesy of following guidelines, without even reading it—and no one wants that.

Today we check in with our spy who was sent to the offices of the literary magazine SCAB MAG.

Our spy's dossier: 
SCAB MAG is a transgressive online literary journal that publishes art and "words" (up to 2000 words per submission regardless of genre). They read no-fee submissions all year round via Email
  • This journal is unabashedly not for the faint of heart. 
  • You have been warned.

Their editorial statement is as follows "Nick Zedd wrote in the manifesto of the Cinema of Transgression that “any film which doesn’t shock isn’t worth looking at”. He also proposed to “go beyond all limits set or prescribed by taste, morality or any other traditional value system shackling the minds of men” and that “there will be blood, shame, pain and ecstasy, the likes of which no one has yet imagined. None shall emerge unscathed.” SCAB is a transgressive online (mostly but not exclusively fag)mag aiming to represent these very principles in the realm of visual arts and words alike. The motto might be something like this: the worse the better. If you’re a writer/artist, send your filth SCAB’s way. If you’re not but have something to share, don’t hesitate to do so too."


When our spy saw their chance, they pounced on Editor-in-Chief Kim Magowan and were able to secure the answers to their assigned six questions. The transcript follows.

1) I always recommend that potential submitters read the most recent issue of a journal before submitting there (at least the genre which they're submitting), but if you could recommend, say three or so pieces (or however many) that you feel especially exemplify for one reason or another, what you're looking for, or that you are especially proud to have published and think everyone, whether they plan on submitting or not, should read? 
TL;DR Pieces that exemplify the journal. 

ISSUE #1: 'An Excerpt From a Zine on My Electro-Convulsive Treatment' by fishspit 

ISSUE #2: 'Puke Porn' by Justin Holliday 

ISSUE #3: art piece without a title by Alex Rose 

ISSUE #4: 'Photo 1' by David V. Glass 

ISSUE #5: 'Faggot Child' by Anonymous 

ISSUE #6: 'Remembered Men' by Shane Allison 

2) Is there any genre, topic, theme or stylistic that you are surprised you don't see more of, or that you would like to see more of? For instance prose poems, stories about organized sports (or one in particular), non-conventional family narratives, non-standard typography, alternate history, high sci-fi, hybrid pieces utilizing white space... 
TL;DR I wouldn't kick these submissions out of bed for eating crackers. (updateable, if the interview results in an unwanted flux of submissions)

Even though SCAB is a magazine for literature AND art, the vast majority of the submissions are written pieces. I would definitely welcome more visual material: photos, drawings, collages, and all kinds of weird, hybrid pieces. 

3) Hard sells—and not just the standard (though very important) "don't send hateful, misogynist, racist etc" work. Is there a plot, trope, character, motif, idiom or even phrase you would like people to think twice about before using? One that you see a ton, or that stick out when you're reading, in a negative way for whatever reason.
TL;DR Hard sells.
SCAB aims to be a vulgar, dirty, and pretty much no-limits publication. It's constantly looking for work that shocks and hurts. And that's pretty much it: if the piece doesn't do these in some way or form, it's generally a hard sell. (That said, pieces with the sole purpose of being hateful or discriminative are not welcome.)  

4) If you could pick 2-3 pieces of writing that you just love that are already out in the world and somehow have the ability to have discovered it in your slushpile, itching for you to publish them, what would they be? 
TL;DR Wish I could've published that!

1. An excerpt from The Sluts by Dennis Cooper
2. An excerpt from Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite
3. An excerpt from Tick by Peter Sotos 

5) To your tastes, how would you describe the sort of "experimental" writing you seek? The idea of categorizing experimental or avant-garde writing is very slippery, as it means different things to different people, and it can even change over time from the same person's perspective. So in this moment, allowing that tomorrow you may feel differently and we won't hold you to it, what are you looking for in experimental writing? Is there a 'soft line' where it begins to lose meaning or goes too far (say, where you think the author/artist's intentions are subverted or hurt by the radical level of experimentation—of course allowing exceptions, we're not issuing challenges here) 
TL;DR The journal's place on the spectrum of 'experimental'.

This is a tough one. Generally, I consider "experimental literature", for example, to be concerned, first and foremost, with technique. However, SCAB is not so much about form or style but about a certain mood, and how the writer/artist/whoever finds a way to best convey it. Often, this means that they employ "experimental" techniques. But sometimes more traditional ones apply better. Where all this puts the magazine on the spectrum of "experimental", I'm really not sure. Not strictly experimental, I'd say. 

6) If you could speak directly to a potential submitter as a voice in their head, like their 'submission conscience', neither angel nor devil but bookish nerd that wants the person to have the best chance with their submission as possible, what would you want them to be sure to do or consider when submitting? 
TL;DR Please consider this when submitting.

Please familiarize yourself with SCAB's general content before you submit your work. There are certain themes and subjects (homosexuality, drugs, wasted/crazy rants, etc.) which seem to appear a lot, however, what really connects the published pieces is a certain aesthetic, a specific "SCAB mood". If you get the feeling of "hell, this piece could've been something coming from my mind" while reading the issues, you might just be part of the family. 

(at this point the editor hadn't yet called for security but was in the process of kicking the spy's teeth in themselves, so our spy wrote down one last question and received the answer on the way out the door)

7) What other journals do you really enjoy reading, or do you feel especially akin to?

Misery Tourism


Dominik was actually a delightful host, so perhaps the subterfuge and breaking and entering and crafting a Tyler Durden-esque persona to beat himself up was unnecessary of our spy, but not every journal will be quite so accommodating—because of that we'll keep reporting back from the various assignments of our Spy in the Slushpile.