Strong Start for New Online Journal
Review of Scribble, Fall 2018 by Kim Jacobs-Beck
Scribble, an online journal devoted to short fiction, began in September 2018, with a focus on new and emerging writers. With just three existing issues, Scribble is an ideal place to send work if you are beginning to publish your work.
A refreshingly simple, attractive, and easy-to-navigate website and straightforward submission instructions makes Scribble an inviting journal for new writers. Editor-in-Chief Jade McGowan, a short fiction writer herself, requests "literary and all fiction genres with a literary approach." In keeping with the preference for short and flash fiction, submissions are limited to a maximum of 2000 words. Scribble publishes 3-5 pieces per issue every two months. Submissions are restricted to emerging writers, defined here as those who may have several journal publications but who not yet have a book published; and debut writers, who have never published their work. A check of contributor biographies bears this out: I found a mix of both emerging and debut writers across the three issues. The only artwork is the photo on the home page of the journal and the covers of each issue; none are credited, so they are likely created by the editorial team.
Current content leans toward the surreal; a good example from the January 2019 issue is Cavin Gonzales' "Native to North America," in which the narrator gives up the challenges of young adulthood for life with a raccoon that he perceives as a friend. "We were two thieves, brothers in arms, parasites living off the monsters we feared most. I only got recognized a few times during our food looting excursions. 'Mark?' someone would ask, raising a flashlight to my torn clothes and muddied hair. Then Sebastian would hiss and I would hiss and they would say, "What in the wild fuck is wrong with you?" And we would scamper, oh how we would scamper!" JP Sortland's "Pop," about the arrival of the soft drink Surge in a town divided by loyalty to Coke or Pepsi, is more overtly a social commentary: "Its labeling was a violent explosion of green and red. The bold and messy design caught the attention of Joanie and before she could think to inquire which soda giant this sparkling new soda came from, she asked if she could have a sample." Tyler Phelps' "The Madonna Under the Willow" recasts the Immaculate Conception as a complex interaction ending in violence: "God's eyes flicked past her shoulder. She turned her head in time to see the man with the floppy red hat mouth the words 'I'm sorry,' as he hit her on the head with a frying pan.
She awoke on a comfortable bed underneath a snowy white comforter.
God sat in a rocking chair nearby.
'The deed is done,' said God. 'Mankind shall rejoice!'."
These stories are engaging, innovative and memorable. All three, as well as stories from earlier issues, demonstrate an editorial preference for political or social themes through slightly warped, occasionally humorous, and ultimately compelling voices.
A minor concern to note were several minor typos and mechanical errors such as "you're" for "your" in one of the stories, suggesting that careful proofreading and copyediting by the author may be necessary.
Scribble looks to be a very promising journal for new short fiction writers. There is a clear aesthetic at work here; as a reader, I found nearly everything abou inviting and enjoyable.