Cirsova 2023 Calendars Are Here!

For the first time ever, we’re offering Cirsova wall calendars, featuring some of our best covers!

Misha Burnett has been bugging us for years to put together a calendar, so we took the time to reformat a dozen of our merch-formatted cover images to work for Lulu’s POD calendars.

Not only does this have standard holidays, it also marks our magazine’s release dates and submissions window so you’ll know when you can submit to us!

Burst Water Heater

So, my water heater just went out, and the cost to not only replace it but bring the whole installation up to code is through the roof.

There has never been a better time to buy from us!

  • Amazon [Paperbacks and eBooks]
  • Lulu [Paperbacks and Hardcovers]
  • eBay [Boardgames, Toys, Original Art, and More!]

Indies and Shelf Space

Recently an acquaintance of ours posted an open letter regarding the role “Independent Booksellers” play, or in some/many cases refuse to play, in the publishing ecosystem.

It’s an interesting piece. Check it out.

As much as I hate dealing with Amazon, its problem seems as much corporate incompetence as anything. It has infinite shelf-space. Indie bookstores face similar issues as comic shops [“why aren’t they stocking an entire run of ____ manga?!”] when it comes to independently published fic. Shelf space is limited, and they carry only what’s moving AND what they can make money on.

People don’t go to bookstores to buy indie titles because bookstores don’t have indie titles because people don’t buy indie titles from bookstores.

I have traded in a few indie books I’ve gotten over the years for cred [which has long since expired] at a local store I’m friendly with. I’m sure I could still find them on the shelves all these years later.

We’ve talked with the owner some in the past about consignment, and I think both he and we are in a place where something might be workable, but store owners know their clients and will try to stock towards their wants.

I’m extremely fortunate that this guy is open to vintage science fiction, because I’ve gotten a number of great titles from him over the years, but he’s confided that his bread & butter are old paperback romance novels. You might not know this, because when you step into the shop, the first thing you see is a wall of Appendix N and adjacent fiction in excellent shape and fairly priced.

Indie bookstores that focus on new works and new stock are going to be tightly constrained by top-of-stock market forces. Ones that focus on older and used work are more of an “I know a guy…” kinda situation. Indie authors may find themselves better served by the latter.

I’ve been asked if it’s a similar situation with comics and indies. The short answer is “yes and no.” But with most things, there are distinctions which complicate matters.

Generally comic shops will order what their customers are subscribed to and order extra based on those numbers extrapolating additional demand. If there’s no [known] demand for a title, they will not order it.

Stories of large piles of unsold comics usually happen because a catastrophic shift in demand for a title occurs after an order is placed to meet subscriber demands.

A great example of this would be Batman 51, where even with stores drawing down orders drastically, Batman 50 had caused such a crash in the demand, stores were left with large supplies of unsold 51 cuz they had still not drawn down enough. Piles of unsold Batman 51-53 were Batmanspreading into Batgirl’s shelf space.

With indie books, it’s much worse than with indie comics. First of all, there are astronomically more indie books available through distribution than there are indie comics available through distribution. A comic shop could theoretically buy 1 of every distributed indie comic each month and not lose their shirts too badly if they could make up for it across other titles. Michael’s store typically would carry at least 1 of every indie comic distributed through Diamond. But that meant only a dozen or so a month.

For books, there are hundreds of thousands “available through distribution” either via Amazon’s expanded distribution or Ingram Content’s catalog. Stocking one of each would be impossible both financially and spatially.

Bookstores take on a risk for each title they take, both in the space that it takes and the cost they sink. With a virtually infinite number of titles and no incentive to stock any particular one, they will tend to play it extremely conservatively. Unless you can establish a personal rapport with a bookseller, there’s little chance or even point in getting your book in a store.

Some Brief Thoughts on AI Art

I recently started playing with Stable Diffusion, just to see what all of the fuss was about. I mean, I KNOW, what the fuss is about, but I wanted to see how easy it was to create something with it and see how viable it was for any sort of mock-ups.

Here’s a first attempt with a Maciste-related prompt.

Here are some choice results from a raygun adventure-related prompt.

As you could see, those results were terrible. So, I wanted to see if, at bare minimum, I could get it to generate a touhou.

One thing I realized was that I had to set inference steps waaaay above the default. I got substantially better results at 70-90 range + adding in an artist to “train” it.

Vermeer with 70 steps. Still pretty oof.

Renoir with 70 steps.

Renoir with 90 steps.

So, here’s my thoughts on Stable Diffusion. It reminds me a lot of the junior officer in Critical Point: she’s the only one on the station who can get the food printers to put out more than just unappealing space mush because she knows all of the various input configurations, levels and settings [ironically, she’s actually a terrible cook]. It may not be “art” but there’s certainly an artistry to it.

I understand why many artists find the rise in AI art worrisome, and the latest scandal involving DeviantArt default opting in its users’ works to train AI raise some serious red flags in ethics and handling of this new technology.

However, I’m seeing firsthand the weaknesses of the tool for commercial purposes. Yes, it’s proven its worth as a cute girl generator [despite my own failures to output anything particularly worthwhile], but its results are unpredictable and can’t deliver consistency necessary for the kind of work we need. It was a fun experiment, and it’s a neat toy. But we never had any intention of using any art but that created by professional artists.

If you ARE serious about trying out Stable Diffusion to create artwork for concept pieces, Rawle Nyanzi has put together some pretty good tutorials and shared his experience with it.

Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 2: The Heat of the Chase is Out Now on Amazon!

The retail version of Mongoose and Meerkat volume 2 is available now! Even if you’ve been following along in the magazine, there’s plenty of new and exciting bonus content to entice you, including an all new fantasy murder mystery novella, Thunderhead, TTRPG content, and additional artwork from DarkFilly and Raven Monroe [Machi the Lazy Witch, Cookies & Scream].

Battle for Castle Brovenloft: Brovenloft Tell-all(Tell-some)

I’m posting this for posterity, scheduled to go live after Halloween, but I wanted to show some of the work that went into this. This is some of the actual game work that’s going on behind the shitposting and diss tracks. It’s kind of insane, honestly. Maybe this is the battle that happened October 10th? No idea! But that was the plan… [Update, this battle took 5 days to fully resolve, lasting 11 rounds. Kangsta lost, because the entire forces of Heaven and Hell were arrayed against him, but his army did a lot of damage on the way out.]

Part 1 Troop Composition.

10 units – Front rank
284 CL 1 – Sanctuary
135 CL 2 – Remove Fear, Sanctuary
45 CL 3 – Remove Fear, Sanctuary, Hold Person
27 CL 4 – Bless, Cure Light, Sanctuary, Hold Person, Silence
11 CL5 – Bless, Cure Light, Sanctuary, Chant, Hold Person, Spiritual Hammer, Prayer
4 CL6 – Bless , Cure Light, Command, Chant, Resist Fire, Hold Person, Dispel Magic, Animate Dead
1 CL7 – Bless, Cure Light, Remove Fear, Hold Person, Resist Fire, Spiritual Hammer, Dispel Magic, Prayer, Cure Serious Wounds
3 CL8 – Bless, Command, Cure Light, Chant, Resist Fire, Spiritual Hammer, Cure Blindness, Dispel Magic, Animate Dead
1 CL9 – Bless, Command, Remove Fear, Light, Hold person, Resist Fire, Silence, Spiritual Hammer, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Continual Light, Exorcise, Cure Serious Wounds, Insect Plague

10 – Back Rank
284 CL 1 – Sanctuary
135 CL 2 – Remove Fear, Sanctuary
45 CL 3 – Remove Fear, Sanctuary, Hold Person
27 CL 4 – Bless, Cure Light, Sanctuary, Hold Person, Silence
11 CL5 – Bless, Cure Light, Sanctuary, Chant, Hold Person, Spiritual Hammer, Prayer
5CL6 – Bless , Cure Light, Command, Chant, Resist Fire, Hold Person, Dispel Magic, Animate Dead
1 CL7 – Bless, Cure Light, Remove Fear, Hold Person, Resist Fire, Spiritual Hammer, Dispel Magic, Prayer, Cure Serious Wounds
2 CL8 – Bless, Command, Cure Light, Chant, Resist Fire, Spiritual Hammer, Cure Blindness, Dispel Magic, Animate Dead
1 CL10 – Bless, Command, Remove Fear, Light, Hold person, Resist Fire, Silence, Spiritual Hammer, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Continual Light, Exorcise, Cure Serious Wounds, Insect Plague, Flame Strike

Not shown
10 Hieracosphinx ridden by CL9
Bless, Command, Remove Fear, Light, Hold person, Resist Fire, Silence, Spiritual Hammer, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Continual Light, Exorcise, Cure Serious Wounds, (5)Insect Plague,(5)Flame Strike

5
100 Lt Inf
1CL 11 – Bless, Command, Remove Fear, Light, Hold person, Resist Fire, Silence, Spiritual Hammer, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Continual Light, Exorcise, Cure Serious Wounds,
Insect Plague, Flame Strike, Blade Barrier

2 Chariots
20 Chariots
1CL 13 – Bless, Command, Remove Fear, Light, Hold person, Resist Fire, Silence, Spiritual Hammer, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Continual Light, Exorcise, Cure Serious Wounds,
Insect Plague, Flame Strike, Blade Barrier

1CL 14 – Bless, Command, Remove Fear, Light, Hold person, Resist Fire, Silence, Spiritual Hammer, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Continual Light, Exorcise, Cure Serious Wounds,
Insect Plague, Flame Strike, Word of Recall, Control Weather, Gate

Kangsta
9 – Sanctuary (3), Dark (3), Command (3)
9 – Hold Person (4), Silence (2), Spiritual Hammer (3)
9 – Continual Light, Blindness (2), Dispel Magic (3), Locate Object, Cause Disease, Glyph of Warding
8 – Cause Serious Wounds (6), Exorcise, Protection From Evil 10′ (2)
7 – Flame Strike (3), Insect Plague (2), Raise Dead, True Seeing
5 – Blade Barrier(2), Conjure Animals, Heal, Word of Recall
2 – Wind Walk, Earthquake

Part 2: Formation and Unit Makeup

Part 3: Orders and Action

Pre-battle

Kangsta casts Wind Walk
Kangsta goes to tower of Castle Brovenloft in mist form
cast Quake. 10″ {100 yard} diameter 5d12 damage to all
structures, 1 in 6 medium creates in the area die {swallowed up or crushed}
Kangsta returns to his own lines via Wind Walk or fights targets of opportunity along the way

This is the signal for the troops to start advancing in formation.

Skeletons in front of Cleric units [one on each side of the center light infantry] will lead with banners of WOPK

Cleric units will cast sanctuary on their front ranks as enemy approaches.
If necessary, second rank will cast sanctuary. This will buy time for
higher level clerics to cast. The higher level clerics will cast insect plague
on advancing enemy troops.

2nd rank Cleric units will do the same, however higher level clerics will cast insect plague
then cast flame strike.

All cleric units are also under affect of
Bless – +1 to hit
Chant – +1 to hit, +1 to Damage, +1 to AC {-1 to enemy attack}
Prayer – +1 to hit, +1 to Damage, +1 to AC {-1 to enemy attack}

Light Infantry units will hold possition, and when charged,
Cleric leaders will cast Blade Barrier in front of advancing enemy

Chariots will move to entrap units attempting to flank. Clerics will cast
Blade Barrier, then Insect Plague, then Flame Strike.

10 CL9s riding sphinxes will be casting 5 Flame Strikes on Round 1,
attempting to target 1) Vampires and undead, 2) leaders, 3) cavalry in that priority
and 5 Insect Plagues

Cirsova eBay Store

I’m trying something a bit new. Mostly to get rid of some junk and maybe some other books and whatnot [we’re starting small], but I’m going to being listing a few things on an eBay store.

Right now, we’ve just got one DC SuperHero Girls Katana doll and a Kamen America Cosplay mask up, but eventually I’ll be listing more, including books, toys, and even boardgames.

https://www.ebay.com/usr/cirsova

Relics of tha Kangsta

For those of you clamoring for a BROSR/BROvenloft module, this is the best you’re going to get. This is the only “BROSR” “Product” and it’s available for a limited time, exclusively through Lulu.

It’s black cover because we don’t hold the rights to the meme cover, so we’re not going to make money off someone else’s art unlicensed. Think of it like the “censored” Walmart covers from back in the 90s.

This collects the collated rap battles of Kangsta Wrapper, the Count, Der Erlbronig, and the Rev, + Kangsta’s character sheet and miscellaneous domain notes.

This title will be available through October 31st.