On Our Ten-Year Anniversary by Betsy Sussler

BOMB 36 Summer 1991
036 Summer 1991

Discover MFA Programs in Art and Writing

BOMB Magazine began as a discussion around a kitchen table very late one night, ten years ago. Someone said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful, wouldn’t it be fabulous, if we published a magazine where artists and writers could speak about their work, the way we speak about it among ourselves. We’d publish fiction, we’d publish poetry, we’d publish art, and we’d publish conversations between peers: no criticism, no journalism, no mediation, simply the work itself.”

Many late nights later, around many more tables, coincidence brought us the name: A writer was talking about Wyndham Lewis’s journal BLAST, published in England just before WWI; an artist was doodling pictures of what looked like A-bombs and I was acting in plays that were opening and closing rather quickly. At the time, 1981, downtown Manhattan was booming with independent productions: theater, performance art, film … sculptors were doing camera work for filmmaker friends, painters were painting sets for playwright friends, novelists were writing scripts for cable TV, actors were playing music, and everyone but everyone was acting or performing on some level—and opening and closing rather quickly.

I thought it would last an issue or three at best, so I named it after plays that bomb. It had a good topical ring, unforgettable, and if by chance, the magazine lasted we could always hedge our bets by saying it was named after Lewis’s BLAST, an artist’s and writer’s journal, historically ensconced.

What no one factored into the equation was the enormous enthusiasm and support the magazine would engender from the cultural community at large—from artists, to playwrights, to the art community, to our contributors—it was, after all, their magazine. BOMB is still an artist’s and writer’s magazine. Its editors direct films, make art, write novels, compose music, direct plays … And so do its contributors. BOMB is a spokespiece where the people who make the art get to say what they want, the way they want to say it. And that’s the way we intend to keep it, for a very long time to come.

Thank you to everyone who has made this possible: the artists who have so generously donated work, the playwrights who so generously directed work for our benefit, The Board of Directors who have served so loyally and unstintingly these past years, the editors and designers who have worked long hours for nothing because they believe in what they do. All of our contributors, who did the same—and last of all you, our reader, for telling us that you want to hear what artists speak.

Originally published in

BOMB 36, Summer 1991

Featuring interviews with Vito Acconci, James Merrill, Mira Nair, John Leguizamo, John Wesley Harding, Jill Eisenstadt, Chuck Connelly, Jane Alexander, Amos Poe, Alan Uglow, Mary Shultz, Joachim Ernst Berendt, and Ann Hui.

Read the issue
036 Summer 1991