A week before Christmas, Abrams Books released a beautiful coffee table book entitled Scream With Me: The Enduring Legacy of the Misfits (1977-1983). Scream With Me is a visual history of The Misfits, one of the world’s most iconic punk bands. The book showcases the band during their classic era. It features over 300 colour photographs spotlighting the band’s striking and influential album and single art along with fan club merchandise, original posters, show flyers, and one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen rarities. The bulk of the memorabilia included in Scream With Me is culled primarily from the extensive collection of Misfits archivist Umberto D’Urso.
Scream With Me is a labour of love for book creators Tom Bejgrowicz and his co-author Jeremy Dean. Over a calendar year, they both worked diligently en-massing, photographing and designing the book, enlisting brand new commentary from members of Metallica, Pearl Jam, Refused, Avenged Sevenfold, Dropkick Murphys, and more. A foreword by street artist and designer Shepard Fairey seals the deal.
Scream With Me is a book that should please Misfits fans, everyone from the casual fan through to the die-hards. Each page is lovingly designed and showcases the progress of the band from inception through to their full realization. The afterword from Bejgrowicz explains how he became involved in the project and some background behind how it was created; “Garrett McGrath reached out and asked me to create a book that celebrated the visual history of The Misfits. Together we combined that visual idea with my concept of ‘influence’ and how much the band’s musical and visual legacy changed the lives of artists around the world. In that influence lies the undeniable proof of the band’s brilliance — thus the subtitle of this book.”
This is an excerpt from the book, highlighting an Irving Plaza show in Manhattan featuring The Misfits, Necros and Beastie Boys:
Discuss your earliest memories of The Misfits. How you became enamoured with the band?
Tom Bejgrowicz: “My brother was the one who exposed me to their music. He’s four years older and was going deep into the punk, new wave, and gothic music scenes in the early ‘80s. It took me far too long, admittedly, to catch up to him. While I still love classic rock and metal to this day, he expanded my universe by introducing me to The Misfits, Public Image Ltd., R.E.M., and an album titled The Cave Comes Alive by an obscure band from Australia named Lime Spiders. Thankfully he did because my life drastically changed when Lyle Preslar hired me at Caroline Records to help oversee the creation of releases for The Misfits as part of the label’s new contract with the band in 1995.“
Jeremy Dean: “I remember being VERY confused and trying my best to make sense of it all. When I first started listening to punk and hardcore in 1985, the only Misfits recordings readily available were Legacy of Brutality, the Die Die EP, and Wolfs Blood/Earth AD. These three things didn’t help paint a clear picture of the band. As a 13-year-old kid, I was trying my hardest to put it all together with just a small part of the whole picture. Once the Danzig interview appeared in Thrasher, I started to put it together and ask the older punk kids I knew if they had any of the other recordings. Down the rabbit hole, I went. Stringing together the whole of the band’s evolution was fun, and once I had audio copies of all the singles and albums, I saw the big picture, and I was hooked for life.“
How were you both brought into this Scream With Me project? Was it pitched to you, or were you pitching it to Abrams Books?
Bejgrowicz: “I was approached by Garrett, our future editor, at Abrams after he became familiar with my work history with the band. I honestly thought I was done working with the band’s legacy, especially after the whole 12 Hits From Hell meltdown in 2001. But when he offered me the ability to create a visual history for the band, I couldn’t refuse. Maybe I should have!“
Dean:“Tom made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.“
Bejgrowicz: “Jeremy was my first and only person I thought of when I considered bringing someone into partner with. He’s not only a friend, a talented artist, and a fan of the band, he brings a point of view, industry contacts, and visuals influences that are unlike my own. For the book to be less singular, this was key, and definitely played a significant factor in the final product.“
Check out the cover artwork for the physical version of Scream With Me:
Before some of these reunion shows, The Misfits had been defunct for quite a while. In your opinion, what is it about The Misfits that keeps them alive and in this generation’s stream of consciousness?
Bejgrowicz: “This is exactly what the book is about and, without question, when you immerse yourself in it, the answer becomes clear. In short, it’s the catchy, twisted songs combined with brilliant artistic vision.“
Dean: “The timeless music and strong visuals are just as compelling today as they were 40 years ago, that’s why they continue to generate fans and keep ahold of fans for a lifetime.“
Bejgrowicz: “I think there are a lot of really good punk bands from scenes around the U.S., but there are only so many that are going to be passed along as a rite of passage. Misfits, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag are, for me, the Big American Five. While they all wrote songs that transcended the moment, both lyrically and musically, if you break those five down, the Misfits stand out from the pack with their striking visual approach and classic melodies.“
Another excerpt highlighting The Misfits’ “Die, Die My Darling“ and the 1953 issue of the Chamber of Chills comic book that inspired the iconic cover artwork:
Can you talk a bit about Umberto D’Urso and his collection of Misfits Memorabilia? How you got access to his collection, and the work involved with photographing the pieces correctly for inclusion in Scream With Me?
Bejgrowicz: “I got to know Umberto’s name in the mid-‘90s when I was working at Caroline. He’s renowned in a world of rabid Misfits collectors, and I knew him enough to approach him about the book. We didn’t want to photograph everything he has in his collection. We were interested in a specific combination of materials that connected the dots and told the story of their music and artistic vision. How about first sitting with him and the teaser folder he brought with him?“
Dean: “We knew the book wouldn’t be as dynamic as it is without the inclusion of Umberto’s collection. We had communicated over the years, and he had shared some images with me here and there that just blew me away, but nothing prepared me for when we first met up, and he brought a folder of ephemera that just left us both speechless. Fast forward to our photoshoot with Umberto’s collection at Tom’s house, and my jaw dropped to the floor. I spent the next two days trying to pick it back up. I could have spent a full week just analyzing his collection, pouring over every little nuance. One of the reasons I loved working on this book is I got to stare at these images for hours on end for a good two months. I’m still not sick of them.“
Bejgrowicz: “It’s worth noting that we also licensed fantastic photography of the band taken by the likes of Paul Till, William Coupon, John Rynski, Eerie Von, and Glen E. Friedman. Paul Till took the cover photo of Bob Dylan’sBlood On The Tracks album. William Coupon has photographed world leaders and musicians alike. John Rynski’s 1979-era images of the band are of great lore. Eerie Von later joined Glenn in Samhain and Danzig. And Glen E. Friedman, whose books on the Dogtown skating scene, Public Enemy, Fugazi, and Beastie Boys, are legendary. These images complement the ephemera and take things to another level by offering a different kind of historical context.“
Here is another cool snippet from the book, this time highlighting The Misfits:
What was your original idea for the aesthetic of Scream With Me? Do you feel you stayed true to that original idea, or did you stray as the project got into production?
Bejgrowicz: “The cover did evolve from a subtle tone-on-tone-with-a-pop-of-design design to the colourful assault it is today! That change was a request of the publisher, and with Jeremy and my experience in the design world, we weren’t surprised. We get it, and I love the colorful version Jeremy came up with. It simply wasn’t where our heads were at initially, is all. Regarding the rest of the book, we had a vision of using minimal black and white backgrounds to document everything against. The reason being, we wanted the original works to do the talking.
We didn’t feel the need to put our stamp all over it. The layout was the toughest task but one that came together nicely when I imagined the book as a gallery exhibition and its spreads being arranged similarly to that of glass-table top display cases and art on the walls. I imagined if someone came home with photographs of the exhibit that the book is what those would look like. Preferably, of course, good photographs.“
Dean: “It was quite an evolution from beginning to end. I usually have an exact vision of the final product in my mind when I begin a project, and in the end, it comes out close. But this was the opposite. We went through many rounds of designs and options to make sure we made it reflected the look of the band while respecting the images and letting them do the talking. It was a great process, and I learned a lot along the way, which made the project even better. I definitely strengthened my layout and typesetting skills working on this book. It’s not a muscle I feel all that often these days.“
This is an excerpt from the book, highlighting the “Bullet“ 1978 First Pressing, lyric sheet, and 1979 Second Pressing:
How easy/hard was it to get input from bands like Metallica, Pearl Jam, Refused, Avenged Sevenfold and Dropkick Murphys for inclusion in your book?
Bejgrowicz: “It was, as you put it, both easy and hard, artist-depending. Jeremy knows different people for different reasons than I do, so we combined (along with Umberto) to create a list of creatives we wanted to be involved. Some were direct friends, some friends of friends, and others were total cold calls through management. It was exciting to tell the team when someone came on board, for sure.“
Dean: “Out of my initial list, I got about half the people I originally asked. It was a challenge at times, but I feel like the ones who stepped up, and they REALLY stepped up, were super-strong and helped tell their side of why the band is so important to them.“
Bejgrowicz: “Each of the artists were given the same exact set of questions to respond to. The questions themselves were pretty boring, strategically so, mind you, as I knew the answers were where the interest would be found. Depending on those answers, the unique responses would align themselves in support of a specific release by the band, artwork, the fan club, merchandise, or whatever. This is similar to a documentary interview where the footage will appear in the ninth minute, then again at the 26th, when another piece is relevant. And so on. Since I thought of this book as a documentary in book form, the approach worked out quite nicely.“
Could you talk a bit about Shepard Fairey’s relationship with The Misfits, and what his inclusion in Scream With Me means to you both?
Dean: “Shepard has had a long-standing love for The Misfits and punk music in general, so I thought it would be a perfect fit for him to kick off the book. His aesthetic is heavily influenced by what Glenn did for the band and how they both borrowed imagery to make it their own. I thought there was a great symbolic relationship between the two. It helped that he trusted that we would make a great book honoring the legacy of the band and quickly agreed to write what I feel is an excellent synopsis of how so many of us feel about The Misfits. He’s a busy guy, to say the least, so for him to take the time out to do this was something special.“
The only Danzig-era music video. Check out “Braineaters“ from The Misfits:
How long did you both work on this book; from start to finish?
Bejgrowicz: “I was contacted about the book in February 2018, Jeremy was on board in April, and 99 percent of the material was documented by August. I believe we wrapped design up by March 2019 and have been dying for people to see this since then.“
Dean: “Hard to keep it under wraps for that long! I showed no one. That was tough.“
Did you thumbnail the spreads out before going to the computer at all?
Bejgrowicz: “We were so excited that we finished documenting everything before the reality of having to organize, editing, write, and design the book set in! With my editing and writing copy, generating the pagination, working directly with the publisher, and whatnot, Jeremy took on the layout of the book. At some point in the process, I approached him with the gallery exhibition photography concept I mentioned earlier. Combined with what Jeremy had already accomplished, that seemed to solidify the vision and free him a bit.“
Dean: “I had been doing sketches even before we photographed everything. This book was one of the most challenging design projects I’ve tackled in years because of the volume of work that we wanted to include. Tom helped clear my head and give me a solid direction. Sometimes I have issues with too much freedom, especially with larger projects like this one.“
Bejgrowicz: “We shot everything against black or white and had a basic vision of what it would look like but with a finite amount of pages and an ungodly amount of materials to put on them, it was tough going before we found our groove. Naturally, it ended up looking nothing like either of us originally envisioned.“
If you had zero stakes in Scream With Me as creators, what would you say would be the draw for each of you as fans that would make you want to purchase it for your libraries?
Bejgrowicz: “It is the definitive collection of Misfits ephemera ’77-’83. There are very few items missing from here. I may be biased, but it is a must-have for anyone that even likes the band a little bit because it solidifies a visual legacy that is as strong as a musical one.“
Dean: “Agreed. It’s about having it in one cohesive, chronological collection in high-quality resolution with the bonus of having those who were influenced by the music and the art share their thoughts and offer historical and influential context. It’s a timeline of punk and a scene unto itself. A scene they pretty much stood alone in. The Misfits played in New Jersey and New York all the time, but they weren’t part of the NYC scene in the way other bands were. They stood apart, and the book delivers the reasons why, and then some.“