Advanced Review of Duel Visions

Tara Grimravn has some pretty glowing things to say about our upcoming release, Duel Visions, by Misha Burnett & Louise Sorensen.

If this sounds intriguing, you can pre-order today!

Duel Visions will be out on the 14th of February.

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Quick Reminder Re:Ad Space in Spring Issue–Need Ads by Feb 8!

We’re trying to get all of our Advertising in by no later than February 8th.

We have 8 6 4 slots left (1/2 page ads = 2 slots), including room for three 1/2-page ads. [Text ads are placed at our discretion to fill gaps where our normal ads do not fit.]

250 Character Text Advertisement $25
1/4 page Advertisement $35
1/2 page Advertisement $50

Advertisement images should be 300 dpi, with the following measurements:

1/2 Page – 7.5″ w x 4.5″ h or 3.5″ w x 9″ h
1/4 Page – 3.5″ w x 4.5″ h

Contact us at cirsova at yahoo dot com to arrange payment and placement.

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Quick Comics Review

I’d said that I’d do a round-up review of the series I followed (or briefly followed) last year, and, well, here it is!

Scott Snyder’s Justice League Stuff – I enjoyed Metal a lot, and despite the promises of the short-lived New Age of Heroes that were “Taken from the pages of Metal”, the real follow-up to the event was Snyder’s new sprawling Justice League story. It started out promising, with Justice League: No Justice, but I felt like the wheels were falling off by the time his new Justice League title started; I dropped it after #2, because frankly it was too bloated and dull. Which surprised me because I thought he’d handled a large ensemble fairly well in No Justice. But the start of Justice League was just so sloppy I skipped out on everything else.

The Immortal Men – Slow, pretentious, and utterly beautiful–the art wasn’t enough to make up for the plodding attempt to cram all of the Immortal Men mythos into what ended up being a six-issue mini-series due to its cancellation. I picked this book up because “Oh, hey, Batman Who Laughs is here!” and I was curious what he was up to after Metal. Well, it turned out he was mostly just standing around behind some other villain whose name I forget so they could put him on the cover and trick people like me into following the title.

The Brave and the Bold – If not for Kings of Fear, this would be my book of the year. A Celtic / Dunsanian fantasy fairy tale murder mystery that Wonder Woman and Batman have to solve. The art was gorgeous and story compelling, and it was wonderful to see this kind of fantasy story being told today.

The Terrifics – I love the Terrifics, and due to the hiccups at DC, it’s as close as I’ll be getting to the Outsiders for some time. It was a bit slow early on, but it really hit its stride with issue 5 and hasn’t really let up since. This has been my favorite ongoing since I got back into comics, and the price is right at 2.99.

Raven: Daughter of Darkness – This one started out slow, and it’s not a take on Raven that I’m a huge fan of, but it got better after a few issues; while it’s not great, I don’t regret my decision to not drop the title.

Catwoman – I love Joelle Jones’ art style; I just wish she was better at pacing her story. I think the first story could’ve been told in 3 issues instead of 6, but that’s really a problem with contemporary comics in general. I almost dropped this after the first arc, because even though I enjoyed it, I’m not invested in Catwoman beyond her place in the Bat-o-sphere. Then Penguin showed up in issue 7, so I’m sticking around, even if he really should’ve shown up several pages earlier to offer her the gig instead of at the end of the book; again, pacing.

Batman – I’ve done a complete 180 on Tom King and his Batman. Yes, I raved about his cozy Batman stories, but when he’s not doing cozy Batman, his stuff was terrible. I got tired of watching Batman lose and not save anybody, and the lead-up to the wedding was egregious. I could’ve stuck out the Batrayal or the price hike, but not both.

Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome – This is a gem I picked up on a whim and ended up not only following the 4-issue series, I’ve got a few issues from an earlier run, as well. Great art, fun and intriguing story. I hear there’s an omnibus collecting all of Britannia up through this, so I’ll be nabbing that.

Batman: Kings of Fear – Book of the year, right here. (Sorry Brave & Bold; you were fantastic and beautiful and sublime and all, but this is ImportantTM)

Kings of Fear blew up the post-modern approach to the Batman mythology with two tons of TNT and is easily one of the best Batman stories ever written.

Batman gets hit with an abnormally large dose of Scarecrow gas, and Doctor Crane tries to analyze Batman to see what makes him tick.

It turns out that Batman’s greatest fear is that the contemporary post-modern approach to writing and critiquing Batman as a rich crazy guy who is probably just making things worse by his crime-fighting is true.

And if this were a contemporary post-modern Batman story where Batman is a loser, doesn’t save anyone, and creates more supervillains than he stops, his fears would be reality.

Only it’s not, and they aren’t. Spoilers: This Batman saves lives. Not only does Batman save the lives of people targeted by criminals, Batman saves the lives of criminals, too. It turns out that the recidivism rate of criminals who are stopped by Batman is only 2% (pretty much his rogues and their most devoted henchmen); criminals stopped by Batman turn their lives around: they go to jail, learn trades, get out, start families, and keep their shit together.

Both the tone and aesthetic of this book hearken back to a time when Batman was still a winner–a good guy who saves the day. So, while Batman is letting randos get murdered in Batman, and Leslie Thompkins just got killed by the Joker in the current Detective Comics countdown to #1000, at least one Bat-book from the last year has a real goddamn Batman who saves the day and makes Gotham a better and safer place.

Cirsova Featured on Hollywood in Toto: Plus Bonus Content–The Origins of Cirsova

We did an interview with Paul Hair the other day for Hollywood in Toto. It went up yesterday and can be read here.

https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/young-tarzan-mysterious-she/

(Big shiny link so you don’t miss it ^^^^)

The article mostly features the exciting story of how we came to be publishing a brand-new Tarzan Story in our Spring Issue.

Some of the interview had to be truncated for length, so as a bonus, here’s a bit about the history of Cirsova, where the name comes from and why we started the magazine.

Cirsova started out as a TTRPG (think D&D) setting blog. Cirsova was the name of both an empire and its central province. I lucked out that Cirsova was one of those made-up words like “Kodak” that didn’t really exist in any language and didn’t really mean anything, so I was the only one using it. When I first started, if you tried to search for us, Google would ask “Do you mean Alissa Firsova?” (Look her up, she’s good.)
 
The setting was unused (it’s not a great setting, and while the “Encyclopedia” posts are all still on the blog if anyone really wants to read them, I wouldn’t recommend anyone try gaming in it). I did write a Choose Your Own Adventure book that took place in the distance past of the setting called “City at the Top of the World” which, despite Cirsova Magazine’s success has probably sold maybe a dozen copies.
 
The blog morphed towards more mechanical game-oriented topics as I became involved with the OSR [Old School Renaissance, though there’s disagreement about what the R really stands for]. This in turn led to additional focus on old school science fiction and fantasy writing. Conversations with Jeffro Johnson, who was a Hugo Awards finalist for his writings on 1e AD&D’s Appendix N works (books that had influenced the development of D&D), along with the Sad Puppies debacle got me thinking “I should start my own SFF zine”.
 
At this point, the most important thing to know is that it’s pronounced with a hard Latin “C”.
[…]Jeffro Johnson and the Sad Puppies had a lot to do with [why I started the Magazine].
 
I became aware of the latter because I was friends with the former, and he was on their short-list for best fan-writer.
 
How cool!” I thought “The serious-business science fiction community has taken notice of the OSR!”
 
The history of the Sad Puppies, the name-calling, the record number of No Awards given out is too long and, at this point, too stupid to devote much time to.
 
But one thing that Sad Puppies had promised was what Brad Torgersen called “Nutty Nuggets”; basically if a spaceship and action was on the cover of a book, you ought to find action and spaceships in the book—just like if a box of cereal says “Nutty Nuggets”, you expect the box to have “Nutty Nuggets” inside.
 
Except a lot of the short fiction that the Sad Puppies nominated was not discernibly different from a lot of the stories that I’d seen some members of Mad Genius Club (a blog behind the Sad Puppies campaign) complaining about.
 
Jeffro Johnson had a joke about needing to “regress harder”, and I’d been reading a bunch of Planet Stories and whatnot around that time and thought “Surely there are people out there actually writing stories like this today; I’ve just got to find them.” So, instead of doing something sensible like trying to find a magazine that published the kind of fiction I enjoy, I started my own and was willing to pay around $75-$100 per story for short fiction.
 
I managed to cobble together a first issue with a handful of stories and some great art from Jabari Weathers. It was a little bit sloppy, especially compared to our current issues, but it was a shot across the bow. By the end of 2016, we’d put out 4 issues and around 250k words of fiction.
 
This got us a Hugo nod in the Best Semi-Pro Zine category in 2017 (apparently it doesn’t take many votes for non-pro magazines to get nominated). And we were No Awarded, as expected, because we were one of Vox Day’s recommendations that year and because I review old pulp stories and old war games on the Castalia House blog.
 
But we closed out 2018 having put out 10 issues in 3 years.
 
[RE: rebranding] (…)even though Tarzan’s technically SFF because he exists in the same setting as Pellucidar, the dinosaur-filled hollow earth, he seemed as good an excuse as any to reposition ourselves as something of an Argosy, rather than a Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

More Kline! Outlaws of Mars

Kline was one of the masters of the classic Good-girl / Bad-girl dichotomy, as well as the good Bad-girl, that flourished in early 20th century Sci-Fi up through the writings of Leigh Brackett.

One of Kline’s shticks was to take the All-American gentleman and stick him in an Oriental despotism, where alien sultans and viziers conspired against one another and beautiful princesses either had guards who’d kill you if you so much as looked at them wrong in their pampered towers or they were ready to throw down with a blade and carve out an empire with the rest of them.

Unlike Brackett’s bad-boy heroes who often end up with the bad-girl (if he didn’t kill her), Kline’s heroes may go after the good one and get her, but are just as likely to find the good-girl is bad and the bad-girl is good.

Morgan screws up horribly bad with the good-girl (shoots her not-Woola!), but it’s still love at first sight for both of them–she even intervenes to spare him from execution. But after a duel that leaves one of the best swordsmen on Mars dead by Morgan’s blade, the bad-girl has eyes for Morgan, too!

The roomy apartments of Nisha Novil were furnished with a splendor that was almost barbaric, and Nisha herself was the most ornate object of all. Lying on a swinging divan upholstered with alternate stripes of orange and blue plush, she shot a languishing smile at Jerry from beneath her long, curved lashes, as he was ushered in before her.

The only cloth upon her shapely body was a silken cincture of orange trimmed with blue. Her small breast-shields were of blue and amber beads. By any standard she was undeniably beautiful.

With a wave of her hand she dismissed the page. Then she spoke, her voice low, with a purring quality, like that of a kitten that is being stroked.

“You are prompt, Jerry Morgan, but why have you brought the bodyguard? Were you afraid I might injure you? As you see, I am unarmed.”

“Your highness forgets that I am a prisoner under suspended sentence of death. The guards …”

“Yes, to be sure. I had forgotten.” She addressed the two. “My slaves will give you pulcho in another room. Wait there until I send for you. I will be responsible for your prisoner.”

With respectful salutations, the two guards followed a brown slave-girl through a curtained doorway. Then Nisha waved a slim hand, and the other slave- girls who stood in attendance behind her filed out of the room. As soon as they were alone, the princess rose with feline grace, and stood before Jerry, smiling up at him beneath languorous lids. She was no bigger than Junia, and much like her in appearance. Yet there was something about her, an untamed feral something in her every look and gesture.

“Come,” she said, taking Jerry’s hand and leading him to the divan. “You must be weary after your dual with Arsad. Come and rest here beside me while we talk.”

“I did lose some blood,” Jerry replied. “That was why I was about to ask your highness’s indulgence …”

“But since I am dispensing with formality,” she cooed, drawing him down upon the divan, “you may rest here as well as in your own apartment. And what I have to say cannot wait, for there are those who plot against your life, and I would save you. Tomorrow will be too late.”

“Your highness is most generous to take an interest in my life.”

She snuggled against him. “On the contrary, I am most selfish. From the very day when I first saw you, standing before the throne of Numin Vil, I have desired you.

“I heard of the suicide of the slave in your apartment, but did not grasp the significance at the time. However, when I learned of your duel with Arsad today, I knew that you had done something to displease my brother, and that where Arsad failed, another of Thoor’s tools would eventually succeed. So I had a talk with my brother.”

“I don’t know what I ever did to him,” said Jerry, “except that I turned one of his own sarcastic remarks against him, this evening.”

“That had some weight, but it is not the true reason for his bitterness against you,” she told him. “It began when our cousin, Junia, begged your life from Numin Vil after you had slain her dalf. I may add that those of whom Thoor becomes jealous never survive long.”

“It seems that I have been exceedingly fortunate, then.”

“Your skill with the sword saved you tonight,” she answered, “but other means of compassing your death have already been planned. Thoor Movil’s spies are everywhere, and when he heard of the look which Junia gave you in her apartment today, you were marked for death.”

“And just what can you do about all this?” Jerry asked.

“Everything,” she replied. I have made a pact with my brother. Your life is to be spared to me on condition that you never again cast your eyes toward our fair cousin.”

“So you have arranged the whole thing between you. Thoughtful of your highness. But did it not occur to you that I might have some ideas of my own on the subject?”

To his surprise, she flung her arms around his neck—pressed her warm lips to his.

Had he never seen Junia, it is quite possible that the Earthman might have capitulated. Gently he disengaged the clinging arms from around his neck, and arose.

Nisha fell back on the divan, panting. Then she sprang straight for the Earthman. Screeching curses, she beat upon his breast, scratched his bare flesh until the blood welled forth. And through it all he stood immobile, hands at his sides, teeth clenched in a grim smile.

Her fit of fury passed almost as suddenly as it had begun. With horror in her eyes, she stood limply before him.

“Deza help me!” she moaned. “What have I done?”

“Have I your highness’s leave to go?” he asked, with studied calm.

“No, wait! You must not leave me thus!”

She turned and ran into another room, reappearing a moment later with a basin of water, a handful of soft moss, and a bottle of jembal. Jerry stood like a statue while she washed away the blood and applied the healing gum to the scratches she had inflicted. Her ministrations finished, she looked up at him, tears swimming in her large black eyes and pearling the long lashes.

“Forgive me, my dear lord,” she begged, contritely. “Strike me! Break me with those strong hands of yours! But do not leave me with anger in your heart. Only say that you forgive me, and Deza will grant me strength to go on, knowing that I may some day win your love.”

“It is I who should ask forgiveness,” Jerry told her, “since you have only wounded my body. But I, it seems, have unwittingly wounded your heart.”

“You are generous, my lord,” she cried, and flinging her arms around his neck, crushed her lips to his. “Now go. But remember—Nisha loves you, and will be waiting.”

I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Quick Round-Up and Some News!

Our upcoming issue was mentioned in the latest Pulp Coming Attractions.

JD Cowan has reviewed Cirsova #8 here.

Deuce over at DMR Books did a spotlight on the new Tarzan story here.

We finished doing our taxes for the business yesterday. It was grueling. Our losses for 2018 were $1k less than our losses for 2017, and the losses for both years combined were less than what we’ve invested in Illustrated Stark and Duel Visions which will be released this year.

Sometime today, we have an interview going up on Toto in Hollywood (maybe).

We’re trying to get the Duel Visions pages for ebooks and print synced up. That should happen soon. You’re not going to want to miss it!

We’ll be doing the same for Illustrated Stark books once we find out why Enchantress of Venus isn’t populating on Amazon yet.

This Saturday, Michael Tierney will be on with Critical Blast alongside Peter Simeti of Alterna Comics.

Also, we finished doing layout for John E Boyle’s new book in his Children of Khetar series earlier this month; Raven’s Blood is available now. John’s been a big supporter of Cirsova, both through his advertising and by hiring me freelance on projects like this. There’s a lot of Cirsova goodness that wouldn’t have been possible without him, so be sure to show his new book some love.

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