Interview With Jon Del Arroz, Jeffro on Geek Gab, and Cirsova Line Art

Not long after our interview with Chris Lansdown, we also spoke with Jon Del Arroz about Cirsova’s background as an RPG setting and the types of stories Cirsova publishes and is looking for.  You can read it here.

Also over the weekend, Jeffro Johnson, one of our regular columnists and the author of the bestselling Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons, was on Geek Gab.

Finally, I took a minute to snap the line-art that Ben Rodriguez sent for our Eldritch Earth cover.

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Should I have put this up on the chopping block? Probably, but I wanted to actually own an original piece of Cirsova artwork, at least for a little while.

Please consider backing us on Kickstarter! Only $1 gets you a digital subscription to our 2017 issues.

Cover 5 Reveal + New T-Shirt Designs Up

Cover Art is done for our Spring Eldritch Earth Issue!  Featured cover story is Darla of Deodanth by Louise Sorensen. Art by Benjamin A. Rodriguez.

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We will probably begin taking pre-orders sometime next week.

Also, all Cirsova covers are now available at our Tee-Public store.

The Darla of Deodanth design will be discounted for a couple days, so grab it while you can!

Cover and Defense

Two completely separate things, in this case!

At Seagull Rising, Jon Mollison talks about Cirsova’s cover art in comparison to some of the big-name magazines.

One thing, as a heavy fantasy-leaning magazine with most of our SF stuff being more Sword & Planet, we have ended up with more fantasy-esque covers. Worth noting, though, the guy on the cover of issue 2 has a pre-Star Wars light saber (Star Lances; the first Dream Lords book was 1975).

It may be a bit before we get an outer-space SF cover, especially since issue 5 is going to be Lovecraftian Sword & Planet, but we’ve always wanted to go for really cool, bright and colorful covers, not just to set us apart from so many of today’s magazines*, but because we want them to look awesome. We really could not have achieved this without Jabari Weathers, who is amazingly talented.

Meanwhile, Doug Cole at Gaming Ballistic has taken a look at our post on Parrying and extrapolated a bit on his own ideas for various defensive mechanics in RPGs. I don’t know that anyone will ever agree on the best mechanical way to handle the defensive utility offered by a shield, but Doug has a few of his own to offer up in his Dragon Heresy game.

*:Though FWIW, the cover art for Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has almost always been a consistently bland and muddied mess of abstraction.

That New Swords & Wizardry Thing…

Okay, some quick thinks on the new Swords & Wizardry thing, which appears to be an even bigger “debacle”::fingerquotes:: than I imagined. How much of the debacle is people (one person) strawmanning? I don’t really know.

So, Frog God Games is kickstarting a new printing of Swords & Wizardry. They put Stacy Dellorfano in charge of the art direction and all of the art is done by women. The stated reason for doing this is “the fact that many OSR games have a physical appearance and presentation that really targets the 40 year old guys who’ve been gaming since forever, and doesn’t have nearly as much appeal to younger or female gamers of the generations following that first wave of players from the 1980s.” So, they put a grimdark exploding elk skull with butterflies on the cover.

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Problems with the compositional elements aside*, my take is that it’s an odd, possibly bad, choice at best given that stated goal, especially when the previous cover was done by the guy known for the covers of ‘fun for the whole family’ toystore editions of Dungeons & Dragons.

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While some people don’t like the art, period, others are, like me, simply confused as to why this was chosen for the cover.(I really like a lot of what I’ve seen of Kaos Nest’s work as an illustrator, but she’s not someone that would come to mind for a “more-accessible next printing that [Frog God Games] are targeting toward the mainstream market.”) What I haven’t seen is any wailing or gnashing of teeth about the OSRness of the new printing. It’s not an attack on innovation, or even an attack on “not even innovative” innovation; it’s a befuddlement at a single befuddling art direction decision. Then again, there’s really only one guy saying that it is, so it’s probably best to not worry about it.

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Seriously, though, S&W is the last big-named OSR system that springs to mind when I hear ‘we need a more mainstream accessible product that will have wider demographic appeal’.

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*generally you don’t want any sort of detailed or dynamic elements where there will be text if you can help it. Changing the transparent yellow to a bright red and the red to a yellow would be a step in the right direction as far as composition goes, but that doesn’t address the issue I took with it.

Disclosure: I don’t play or own any Swords & Wizardry products; aside from Blueholme (and DCC 4th printing, if it ever ships), I don’t own any OSR products. I guess I’m not even really OSR! I just thought it was a really weird choice for a cover given what the stated intentions were.

Update: Okay, so I found one guy who’s on about this as an attack on the OSR rather than just as a bad art/design choice, but his beef is the quip about “40 year old guys” in conjunction with the art as part of a virtue signaling on FGG’s part to dump on their core fanbase.

Magic: the Gathering Artwork – a Look at Some Old Favorites

One of the few things Anna Kreider and I have in common is we both find the art in Magic the Gathering rather disappointing. However, whilst Wundergeek’s complaints largely revolve around boob plates and the elves being too sexy, my gripe is the artistic shift away from the iconic art styles that defined MTG during its 90s heyday.

Before his death, Quinton Hoover, one of the artists who, perhaps more than any other with the exception of Douglas Schuler, shaped the aesthetic and implied setting of MTG, remarked that one of the reasons why he was out was that by the 00s, the art directors just didn’t want the kind of fantasy art he was known for and he couldn’t conform his style to the sort of art they did want.

The art was still pretty solid by the time I had quit regularly playing and collecting(late 1999), and not all of the stuff I’ve seen since was bad, but I’d noticed that there was definitely a shift that had started going on in Rath and Urza that struck me as being stylistic forerunner of the typical Wizards of the Coast fantasy art that you see all over the place these days. But rather than complain about the new art, I’d like to show a few of my favorite examples of the classic art.

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Quinton Hoover’s clean line-art was second to none.  Even so-so cards like this one became icon parts of MTG because of Hover’s art.

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Another classic Hoover common.

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A card whose endless popularity has nothing to do with how good it is.

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I promise, Hoover illustrated cards that didn’t suck, but even the ones that did, his art made them worth holding onto.

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All censoring this card did was send us kids to the dime boxes to buy up as many of the older versions as we could when we found out we’d been cheated out of burning pentagram.

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But Schuler was someone who knew that evil existed and could be vanquished by good.  Only thing that would make this better would be a Teutonic Eagle.

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I also dug this Joan of Arc-ish piece; these found their way into a lot of my white decks.

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Never neglect your education.

Serra-Angel

Of course, his Serra Angel is perhaps one of the most iconic images in all of MTG.

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Whoa, hey, a thing is happening here!  Betcha the squeamish Pathfinder feminists aren’t happy about this lady character or the lady who illustrated her, but man, don’t you want to know more about this character whose story this card gives you a tiny window into?!  Baroh’s a mixed bag, but I do like a lot of her stuff.

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Though Rebecca Guay often goes for a hazy feel in her water-colors, all of her line-work is incredibly strong and solid.

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This was one of my all time favorites.  It was a mediocre card in its day and even just a couple years of power creep later rendered it beyond bad, but man, who would not want to read half a dozen short stories about this lady!?  Really, the early MTG flash fiction was a bigger selling point for me than the game itself.

 

Cirsova Variant Cover by #Gamergate Life Artist Ku Kuru Yo

In addition to the gorgeous piece done by Jabari Weathers for The Sealed City, Issue # 2 will have a variant cover by Hugo Nominated artist Ku Kuru Yo.

Cover in progress 3 (Kukuruyo Art) Front Only

 

Versions featuring this cover will ONLY be available via Kickstarter.  This variant will be available in both Softcover and Hardcover editions.

I’d like to commend Ku for his work on this.  If you have any commercial projects you need cartoony art for and want a quick turn-around time, Ku’s you’re guy.  Keeping in mind that Ku’s been getting hit up for a lot of commissions these days, he tells me “it may take some time, i may not be able to finish it till next week.”  Sure enough…