Created in 1930, the year after the demise of The Chameleon (the previous, student-run, literary magazine), the first issue of The Yowl appeared in November and cost only thirty-five cents per issue. In fact, the delayed release of the new publication received attention before any issues were actually published. The Davidsonian ran two articles on November 6th and 20th of 1930 to appease public curiosity.
Published by Davidson College, but staffed with students, The Yowl was a humorous magazine filled with satire, cartoons, jokes, humorous stories, anecdotes, poetry, songs, and skits created by the student body. In addition to the student contributions, The Yowl had a section, “Editorially Speaking,” in which the managing and editorial staff would add their own humorous comments, but also, on occasion would write on contemporary social issues or campus occurrences. The last issue of The Yowl was published in May 1936. Under pressure from the faculty of the college, The Yowl lost its name and ceased its promotion of strictly comical subjects. As appeasement the editors of the final issue wrote: “Next year’s magazine shall be predominately literary, sprinkled only here and there by gems of wit…” (Yowl 6).
After The Yowl was retired, most of the editorial staff remained to produce Scripts ‘N Pranks, a magazine devoted to “literature (scripts) and humor (pranks) as well as a horrible parody, for which we have already apologized [referring to the yearbook Quips and Cranks]” (Quips 4). A person could subscribe to Scripts ‘N Pranks for one dollar per year. In fall of 1958, the once quarterly magazine switched to three seasonal issues for each academic year. In the early stages, the editors published humor balanced with poetry, literature, and other fillers, but later in its twenty-nine year history, Scripts ‘N Pranks reverted its focus back to humor and satire by separately publishing the issues so that only one issue was of “literary” nature while the others focused on humor (Cole).
Despite the shift of balance to humor, the editors of Scripts ‘N Pranks took the literary portion quite seriously. Some of Davidson College’s most distinguished Alumni were editors or contributors to the magazine. Samuel Spencer, president of Davidson College from 1968 until 1983, contributed several articles. Charles Wright ‘59, recipient of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was a regular contributor of literature to Scripts ‘N Pranks, and as well was chief editor during the 1958-59 academic year.
Another well-known tradition of the Scripts ‘N Pranks editorial staff not only was to publish other students’ humorous work, but also to harass continually The Davidsonian and its staff for their publication and their constant editorial errors in spelling and grammar. In editorial of the December 1964 issue, the editors wrote, “Davidson College supports two humorous publications: The Davidsonian which poses as a newspaper and this Scripts ‘N Pranks which poses as a humorous publication” (Scripts 5).
Unfortunately, only two months later, Davidson College was to support only one such publication. February 1965 marked the last publication of Scripts ‘N Pranks. The final editors felt that Scripts ‘N Pranks no longer properly represented Davidson College. “Davidson College can and must produce a magazine of high quality. Faculty, members of the administration and concerned students have sadly watched the old magazine deteriorate” (Vick). Much to the disappointment of some students and alumni, Scripts was scrapped, and a more serious, literary magazine, The Miscellany, was created.
Ironically, The Davidsonian, the very publication that suffered so many insults and jokes, restored The Yowl to the Davidson College campus. On January 2004, the Davidsonian staff released a four page, newsprint issue of The Yowl, which parodied the local and campus news. Since then, The Yowl has been a regular segment of The Davidsonian.
Cole, Bob. Personal Correspondence with Dr. C. G. Davidson, Unpublished Postcard, 17 September 1965.
Periodicals: Scripts ‘N Pranks Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Davidson College. The Yowl 6, no. 4. Davidson: Davidson College, May 1936.
Davidson College. Quips and Cranks 1, no. 1. Davidson: Davidson College, November 1936.
Davidson College, Scripts ‘N Pranks 26, no. 2. Davidson: Davidson College, December 1964.
Vick, Charles and Al Carson, “Scripts and Pranks: A New Concept,” Unpublished Memorandum, 25 March 1965. Periodicals: Scripts ‘N Pranks Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Author: Mark Grotjohn
Date: July 2005
Cite as: Grotjohn, Mark. “Yowl ~ Scripts ‘N Pranks” Davidson Encyclopedia