Reggie Byers to Resurrect Shuriken

You heard it here first, folks!

Reggie Byers just stopped by the Cirsova blog to let us know that he plans to digitally reprint the first four issues of Shuriken and intends to launch an ongoing.

I hope that Marvel/Disney does not fight him over the rights to the character. While Malibu/Eternity owned the character, the Shuriken in Ultraverse/New Exiles was an entirely different character [Brittany Chien; chinese instead of japanese; some superficial similarities, but otherwise a distinct character], and Byers’ Kyoko Shidara never appeared in any Marvel titles.

It’s kind of strange… Shuriken is a property that I called “mediocre,” [and admittedly, the art and writing are sufficient but not great], but there’s something about it that spurred a fervent interest in it. I’ve got ALL of Shuriken now [except for #9], multiple copies, even, as I tracked it all down.

Contrast that with Billy Tucci’s Shi, which I checked out because of the Kickstarter and picked up a bunch of back-issues from a bargain bin. While it’s VERY similar and better technically in almost every way, it just leaves me feeling ‘eh…’

But this girl? I love her.

Image

One of the few pieces of comics “memorabilia” I own and am incredibly proud of is an original portrait Byers did of Shuriken. It was listed only as “anime girl” and I got it for a song. I’ll have to scan and post it one of these days.

Meanwhile, I would be remiss to not mention that Cirsova Publishing is reprinting another cool black & white 80s indie comic, Badaxe. The first issue is reprinted in our spring issue and we’ll be serializing it over the next two issues later this year.

Quick Review of Soulfinder: Black Tide

Soulfinder: Black Tide (Book 2) - Hardcover

Recently got in my copy of Doug Ernst’s newest installment of his Soulfinder series, Black Tide.

With everything Tim Lim has going on, Doug had to switch artists, but with Matt Weldon taking over pencil duties, it still has excellent artwork.

The core of Black Tide is a nautical horror/monster story; a cultist in the navy absconded with a nuclear sub and its crew and is looking for an incorruptible who sank to the bottom of the ocean. Without offering up too many spoilers, they go out to sea, encounter the cultist, fight the monster.

The most impressive part of Black Tide may be its gorgeous packaging; I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a comic presented as nicely as this–multi-textured casewrap hardcover, heavy-stock pages, gold-foil leaf, sewn in ribbon. It’s REALLY nice.

The comic itself was good, but I don’t think it was quite as good as Demon’s Match. This might just be a matter of taste, but the first Soulfinder delved a bit deeper into the characters, and I think that’s where Ernst’s work really shines. In Black Tide, the characters are there but the circumstance of their mission has to carry the book, because there’s not much new that we see in regards to their backgrounds.

If I had any real complaint about Black Tide, it’s that the story didn’t have enough space to properly breathe and unfold. The setup is one which should allow for a greater buildup of menace and suspense. But I also understand that there’s always the fear with the graphic medium that decompression not only leads to pacing issues, it inflates costs. That said, I think that Black Tide needed more pages and more time to let the tension between the Soulfinders and the crusty old sea captain simmer. I also think that a longer story would have better suited the ultra-deluxe presentation of this volume. Strangely, while both Demon’s Match and Black Tide are 56 pages (I actually had to check), Black Tide felt substantially shorter.

Fans of the first Soulfinder will enjoy this–I did–but I don’t know that Black Tide is a good jumping on point for new readers, particularly at its price. The production values certainly justify the price point, but some readers may want more story for their money.

You can get Soulfinder: Black Tide direct from Iconic Comics.

$10k Stretch Goal Met! + Sneak Peek at Scenes of Hawthorne’s Romances

Thanks to everyone’s support, we’ve hit our $10k goal and will be starting a Cirsova Classics imprint focused on bringing previously unscanned and uncollected Public Domain pulp works back into print in modern formats. I know that Michael and Robert are already chomping at the bit to get started on the next project. We may even be able to begin as early as this fall [roughly as soon as we get The Cosmic Courtship out the door]. Most likely the next work we get out will be the uncollected Hawthorne novel, Sara Was Judith, and with the novella A Goth From Boston as a companion volume. We’ll try to get both of those by mid-2022. 

Hawthorne was fascinated by the concepts of astral travel, out of body and out of time experiences, hypnotism, and clairvoyance.  These play a central role in several of the short stories of his that I have read and is the means by which the heroes travel to Saturn in The Cosmic Courtship.  While I have not yet had a chance to read Sara Was Judith, it’s not hard to guess from the pitch that it will be about some form of clairvoyant astral discorporation. 

We’ve got an idea or two for the third project/fourth book, but haven’t quite settled on it just yet.  We’ll let you know when we do.

A few people have asked about illustrations–unfortunately, The Cosmic Courtship, like many stories published in All-Story, did not have accompanying illustrations [many of the well-known later pulps that were fully illustrated tended to be monthly or quarterly]

We are, however, including a facsimile reprint of Scenes of Hawthorne’s Romances in all formats but the pocketbook [it’s just too small, sorry!], which IS lavishly illustrated.

Below is just a small sample of the work, and you’ll understand why we went with a facsimile approach–also why, even though the text is extant, we felt it worth including in its original presentation, as it is available nowhere else. 

Guest Post: God’s Teeth! A Review of David Quammen’s Monster of God, by J. Comer

Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the  Mind: Quammen, David: 9780393326093: Amazon.com: Books

Larry Niven’s masterpiece Ringworld includes a conversation which alludes to SF world-making in a mildly funny way. Louis Wu’s shipmate Teela Brown objects to the idea that the makers of the Ringworld would bring only “safe” animals to their artificial world; she asks “What if the Ringworld Engineers [who built the huge Ring] liked tigers?”

In Monster of God, the science writer David Quammen, author of Song of the Dodo, travels through five landscapes seeking the last large predators and comes to what he calls a “science fiction ending”. 

Most readers of Cirsova don’t come here for the science, and some will question the review of a zoology book on this site.  Nevertheless, worldbuilding for fantasy, gaming, and SF authors usually includes descriptions of animal life, as well as the role played by predators in myth, art, and the story itself. 

Good world-makers, such as Hal Clement, craft all from top to bottom; some more careless authors simply throw a slew of carnivorous beasts at their heroes without wondering who eats whom. On Earth, the top predators which have survived the end of the Ice Age are central both to ecology (as keystone species) and to myth (as gods, as beings created by God, or as the enemies of gods or heroes).

The four ‘monsters’ of the title are lions in India, crocodiles in Australia, bears in Romania, and Siberian tigers. In each case we look both at the beasts and at the humans who have to deal with them: avoiding them, fighting them, hunting them, worshipping them.

The book reflects on the past as well as the future: like the makers of the Ringworld, we are building a habitat which is more and more artificial.  In our future, will we like tigers? Will we like them enough to give them enough space to live freely in the wild? And will we like them enough to tolerate them occasionally killing us?             

What can we make of this sojourn through lions, and tigers, and bears (and crocodiles!)?  On one level, the travel story is light reading, like a Bill Bryson story with more science asides.  The careful reader will note that the science is a very readable introduction to topics like trophic collapses and keystone predators (this section could make a whole fantasy campaign in a setting such as Nicholas Eames’ or Lois McMaster Bujold’s worlds, where losing one species, even a mightily nasty one, causes all heck to break loose).  On another, the SF writer could see here a reply to Niven’s question.  Well, what if they liked grizzly bears? Heinlein’s dragon-infested forest in Glory Road is an example of a good use of these concepts; there are many others. 

The book is a lesson, an enjoyable one, in how to use animals such as Burroughs’ banths or the “grezzen” in Buettner’s novels.  The thoughtful author or GM will profit from reading it.  Recommended.

The Cosmic Courtship – $10k Stretch Goal: Ongoing Imprint

Things are going so quickly for our project to restore The Cosmic Courtship that we’re already almost to our next stretch goal before having a real chance to even talk about it!

When we first started this project, we weren’t sure what the reaction would be. We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm for this project, and even before we had hit the last stretch goal, Robert, Michael, and I had been talking about what was next.

“Cirsova Classics” is our working title for the imprint [we’ll keep “Cirsova Presents” around for other special one-offs.]

For the time being, we hope to continue with a couple of Hawthorne’s other uncollected works, though we’ve got arrangements made for up to three titles already. Next in the queue will be Hawthorne’s strange mystery “Sara Was Judith.”

$8k Stretch Goal Update – New Digital Tier

Wow, the response to this project has been phenomenal!

We all thank you for you support!

We are adding a Digital-Only backer tier. Originally, I’d told someone that they wouldn’t have to select a tier to receive digital rewards… and that’s true! But I also realized that in order to get backer’s names (and not just user names) included in the “Thanks” appendix, we’d need survey responses and you can’t send surveys to backers with no tiers. 

The plan for the release will be as follows:

-Kickstarter ends, funds are released, and we collect surveys

-Backers will have two weeks to send in survey responses; if you do not send in a survey in two weeks, we will use your username in the “Thanks” section.

-Once the “Thanks” section has been added to the project files, we will upload the print files, do a final check, and place an order. 

-We’ll mail everything out to backers.

-Once everything is mailed out, we’ll send a link to backers where they can download the digital files.

-Once we have sent the link out, we’ll upload the plaintext file to Project Gutenberg

More on our $10k Stretch Goal soon!

A Quick Look at Julian Hawthorne’s Six Cent Sam’s

So, one of the things I’m trying to do since I’m publishing work by Julian Hawthorne is to familiarize myself with some of his other stories. I’ve already reviewed The Golden Fleece

In putting together a selected bibliography to include in the new edition of The Cosmic Courtship that we’re putting out, I came across one book called Six Cent Sam’s–I couldn’t find out much of anything about it, but surprisingly there was a facsimile edition available, so I went ahead and nabbed it. [Yes, I bought it just so I could add a couple words to the bibliography page.]

Six Cent Sam’s is a weird mystery short fiction anthology with a fascinating framing device: the narrator is ushered into a quiet and exclusive dive by a friend. That dive is Six Cent Sam’s–it only costs six cents to get in, but there are a few catches: you have to pay your own way [no treating to get in], Sam has to like you, and you have to be of ‘a certain sort.’ The six cents gets you admission, a booth, a meal, and whatever entertainment is on the tap, but there’s a special rule: anyone can drop by one of the other booths and offer additional food and libation which may only be accepted if repaid by a tale of one’s latest adventures and/or strange happenings.

While there’s clear demarcation between the tales, Hawthorne is more clever than just having his narrator go from booth to booth. While the first story serves as an introduction to the concept and has a marginally science fiction premise [an inventor is in love with a woman whose father is a doctor; inventor has an ailment that the doctor tries to use hypnosis to cure; doctor can’t hypnotize the guy, but the guy’s susceptible to his daughter; after several sessions, doctor and daughter disappear; guy finds out doctor has stolen his invention and patented it, using the hypnosis sessions to work out the kinks the guy himself had not yet worked out; he’s broken up about it, cuz he still loves the girl; end of his tale, the girl walks in–she’s broken up about it, her father’s dead, and they’ve got some stuff to talk about.] The next story begins on another night, in the middle of drinking and cards among friends [including the narrator, who is now a regular at Sam’s], and there is concern over a missing friend–he was with one of them on the street one moment, and was gone the next! At the heart of the mystery is a beautiful Persian exotic dancer and a progressive modern girl, that the young lad was absolutely torn between.

Anyway, it’s been loads of fun so far, and the facsimile edition is fully illustrated. I recommend you check it out!

Also, we’re right on the cusp of our $8k stretch goal for The Cosmic Courtship!

Plus, test copies of the pocket paperback arrived yesterday!

The Death Cult is Real and Not Hyperbole

Brian Niemeier has written extensively on the Pop Culture Death Cult, so rather than try to explain the entire concept, I’ll refer you to his blog.

Well, the Death Cult is not hyperbole, and Mouse Wars is literally giving you cancer.

A recent report came out that many of the Hand-Sanitizers put out during the height of the Wu-Flu contained toxic, cancer causing chemicals. [This is in addition to the products that contained methanol, which is highly toxic and can be absorbed through the skin.]

“A number of them were widely available, with some purchasable on Amazon and at Target stores. One of the more contaminated formulas was sold as a Baby Yoda-themed bottle.” – From New York Post

This isn’t even something you can take schadenfreude in, because this is a product that was easily as likely used by small children as soy-faced Funko-Pop collectors.