No more desperate evidence of my haplessness exists than this: I conceived and executed this cover with the intention of selling out. This, my friends, is Swill at its most commercial.
So this issue of Swill has been particularly grueling. It is late as hell and it is all my fault. Well, when you require art of a crazy person sometimes there will be a delay.
One thing should be made clear. This volume is, to a greater degree than any previous one, the product of cronyism. Nepotism seems to loom in our future. So let me make this clear to anyone who resents the fact that a lot of the people we publish are people we know.
First, the submissions go through Rob before they get to me. So we've probably rejected half my relatives and I haven't heard about it yet. And those who are closest to me can attest to the delicacy of touch with which I approach their creative efforts. Which means I'm kind of a bastard to them. Because this shit is important.
Second, do you think it is easy to find work that's worth publishing? Jesus, all the people writing, writing, writing, you'd think it would be crawling out of the fucking woodwork, but no --
(I don't suppose the fact that we're an obscure magazine that doesn't pay has anything to do with this.)
-- but no, I have to badger, beg, and bat my nasty little squint eyes to get some fucking proper fiction. Out of necessity, I only have friends and relatives who are decent stylists. Damnit.
This is borne out by the other thing that I need to make clear.
Best issue so far.
The last two were fascinating deviations, and it'll be interesting to see if the dice roll that way ever again. The work that came in was all of a piece, literary neo-pulp. I felt like I was doing a punk version of Black Mask or something.
This issue is like the first issue, done right. We have a much wider variety of fiction, a more diverse crop of writers, a finally-perfected layout... (I worked like a bastard on the typesetting this time around. A real designer would have no trouble, but that ain't what I am.) It's more well-rounded, more experimental, less relentlessly negativistic, and still appalling.
On to the contents.
Janine, by Warren Lutz. A perfectly sordid slice of naturalistic noir, this one places a journalist’s eyes and ears at the service of a deceptively lucid, fluid prose style.
Remind Me To Show You Your Face, by Elizabeth Eslami. Nice use of style to convey character, a look at the service side of the entertainment industry, and a good, solid, undependable narrator.
The Feld And The Veldt, by Sean Beaudoin. Now here we have part of the uncanny resemblance to the first issue. Just as someone else submitted a clown story in issue one, this time someone else has a Bush-era relic, and their fucking name is Sean. But at Swill, we do not give a care, because this one is a funny. It made me smirk, persistently.
The Quiet Type, by Chia Evers. Horror seen through the eyes of love, written with an approach that made me think of a hard-boiled Poe.
The Weight Of Fall, by Wendy Sumner Winter. So this is why you should let the editor decide whether or not they like the story. Based purely on light romantic content, you’d think I’d hate this one. Instead, I responded to it as though I was catching up with an old friend. But what really sold me? The footnotes. Which were a massive pain in the ass. But I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
Jimmy’s Confession, by Sean Craven. This is the second-nastiest thing I’ve ever written. It’s ‘pretty dark,’ even by Rob’s standards. Please don’t actually read it as it will make you like me less. It was written at request for an anthology during the Bush years, but there is a whole other fucking story there.
By Himself, by Allison Landa. Stylistic risks are taken and rewarded in a tricky, crooked story with a painfully human core. Sometimes you need lateral approaches to go deep.
Crystal Vision, by Catherine Schaff-Stump. This one moves as directly as a bullet, with a payload of knotty family dynamics that keeps unraveling long past the ending.
Stomach Punches, by Rob Pierce. Ah, l’amour.
Unmoving, by Z.Z. Boone. One of the great rules of life is that there are some people you do not fuck with. This story reminds us that you can’t always tell who those people are.
Son Of A Goat, by Jasmine Paul. This one is just jam-packed with squealing goofiness, a midnight movie in print form.
blowjob; ferocious patter: fucking incoherent, by delphine lecompte. Rob can explain it to you some time, but delphine is the reason he founded Swill. Rob has tried in vain to get more fiction from her; these are selections taken from the ensuing correspondence. Effortlessly transgressive, sensually driven, and brutally absolute, she writes in a magpie chatter of compulsive verbal brilliance. She’s the saint of Swill.
Seven Views Of The Downtown Area, by Sean Craven. For the first four issues of Swill, I more or less hid the fact that I was the one doing the art. You might have been able to guess if you read the indicia, but what kind of freak reads indicias? This time around, I worked my fucking ass off on the illustrations. Every one of them is better than any prior interior illustration in Swill. I’ve posted them on the blog, but they were made for print, and that’s where they work best.
So click here and go buy some fucking Swill!