Quick Con After Action Report

Hey, back The Strange Recollections of Martha Klemm if you haven’t already! We’ve hit the mid-point doldrums and need things to pick up ASAP if we’re going to raise the amount we need to do another Cirsova Classics project!

Had a great time at Arkansas Comic Con. Our best con performance to date. We actually made our table back, which is a first for us!

Of course, I blew a lot of the money on souvenirs…

Got a sketch cover from our buddy Tim Lim.

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The guy who does the Street Fighter battle academy doujin series was there; I’d been waiting for over a year to see him again, and I bought the next 10 issues. The interior art… is not great, but it’s serviceable for the story he’s telling, and the story he’s telling is legitimately fun and every page I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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I also found a handful of Doctor Spektor and Jungle Twins books, including the issue with them choking out and punching a gorilla!

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We even got to meet Misha Burnett in person for the first time!

Okay, so what’s on tab?

Cirsova’s Things To Do List is nuts right now:

  • First off, finish making payment to the accepted offers. I’m doing this tonight, possibly tomorrow as well. Checks will be going in the mail for people who requested checks. Please cash them as soon as possible, since terms are enforced on acceptance of payment. There are a few offers in limbo still, and at least one withdrawn story due to an eligibility issue–so, things are not set in stone, and I may “call back” a story or two that we sent rejections for when we know exactly how much space we will have.
  • The Paths of Cormanor arrived right on the eve of con setup. I haven’t had a chance to get to those yet. That’s the first thing I need to work on as soon as payments for 2022 are out.
  • Pulp Trading Cards are on the table as a stretch goal item for Strange Recollections of Martha Klemm. I need to get those laid out ASAP. Also, to fulfill one of the stretch goals for The Cosmic Courtship, Michael Tierney has his scans hosted at his website.
  • I’m sure there’s more I need to do and it is on my list, but I don’t know that it will get done this week. I DO want to get my United Caveman Federation tell-all posts done at some point, by OMG, I’m soooo busy! Help, I’m drowning!

Wild Stars Comics Giveaway! [Aug 23 – 30th]

With Wild Stars V: The Artomique Paradigm coming to a close next month in the Fall issue of Cirsova Magazine, we’re thrilled to be able to run this promotion in concert with Michael Tierney!

We’re giving away a complete set of the 2000s Wild Stars Comics! We’re also giving away a rare copy of the Across the Distance Wild Stars Art Portfolio.

In the 1970s, Michael Tierney wrote a series of novels that formed the Wild Stars universe: Wild Stars Rising in 1976 (a different novel from Wild Stars 4: Wild Star Rising), Moonshadow in 1977/78, and First Marker in 1978 (later adapted into the graphic novel Wild Stars 1: The Book of Circles), which were the first uses of the trademarked term of Wild Stars.    In 1978, Michael released a portfolio illustrating scenes from these novels and his then-recently released magazine, The Multiversal Scribe . Each print was individually signed with matching numbers, with three plates illustrated by Michael Tierney and three plates illustrated by Bruce Conklin.

One of Bruce’s plates featured the first appearance of Phaedra.
One of Michael plates featured the first appearance of Eagal Ir Radin.
While Phaedra has since appeared in the comics and novels, Eagal Ir Radin will make his first series appearance in 2022 when Cirsova Magazine begins serialization of Wild Stars 6: Orphan of the Shadowy Moons (originally the 1977/78 Moonshadow novel).

To enter, send an email to: Cirsova at yahoo dot com

Subjectline: Wild Stars Giveaway

In the body of the email, include the answers to the following Wild Stars trivia question:

1. In Wild Stars 4, Part 2, what is the Lantern Star?
    A. A lodestar
    B. A pair of stars in very tight orbit.
    C. A stellar signpost used by Roy Kirk’s grandfather.
    D. All of the above.

2. In Wild Stars 4, Part 2, what is the the E=MC2 trigger used for?
    A. Assassination.
    B. Manufacturing beer.
    C. Launching a starship.
    D. All of the above.

3. In Wild Stars Volume One: The Book of Circles–Recalibrated, what was the identity of the telepathic armored warrior?
    A. A time traveling First Marker.
    B. A time traveling Ancient Warrior.
    C. A time traveling agent selling auto warranties.
    D. None of the above.

For the Across the Distance portfolio:
   
4. Who is Eagal Ir Radin?   

A. The Ancient Warrior.
    B. The Ancient Warrior’s father.
    C. The Ancient Warrior’s adoptive father.
    D. The immortal known as God Father.

All Entries must be received by 8 PM CST August 30th! Entries with the most correct answers for Questions 1-3 will be entered for the drawing to win a complete set of Wild Stars Comics. Entries with correct answers for Question 4 will be entered for the drawing to win a copy of the Across the Distance Portfolio.

Be sure to visit http://thewildstars.com/ and https://cirsova.wordpress.com/wildstars/ for more about The Wild Stars!

Shuriken Kickstarter is Live!

Yeah, I know, I should be plugging my own stuff, but you guys are probably tired of hearing about it by now.

Reggie has the Shuriken Kickstarter live. I’ve already double backed it [mostly to get two original pieces of artwork instead of just one, but if there’s a huge after-market demand for the book and chachkis, I won’t be in a position where I’d have to refuse to sell the only copy I have.]

One interesting tidbit is that the Kickstarter page affirms the 9-issue run of the original series [so “ha!” to all of you selling those “Complete set 1-8” on eBay]. Not that I’ve ever found a copy online or in the wild, except for that pirated scan.

In Cirsova news, our next Kickstarter to get the rest of Julian Hawthorne’s All-Story Weekly fiction back into print is just about ready to go, but Kickstarter won’t let us launch it until The Paths of Cormanor is out the door. Look, like I said, I know you’re tired of hearing about it, but this is easily one of the best books we’ve published, and we don’t want you guys to sleep on it! So back it, and let’s hit those stretch goals for extra content!

New Shuriken Site

There Shuriken blog has been moved to a new site, so the old redirects aren’t working.

New site is up here:

https://www.reggiebyershuriken.com/

We’re hyped. Supposedly there’s gonna be a kickstarter for it later this month.

[Today, I’m gonna be too busy boxing up copies of the Cosmic Courtship to mail out next week to shill for The Paths of Cormanor, so please help spread the word for us and back if you haven’t already!]

What Will Cirsova Be Looking For In August?

Our August 1-7 submission window is coming up fast, and one of the questions we get a lot is “what are you looking for?”

Well, a lot of general suggestions can be found on our Submissions Guidelines page. But for more specific stuff…

Well, I know it’s probably not a great habit as an editor, but I generally like seeing content similar to whatever it is has me excited at the moment. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to read the pulps because I’ve been so busy with this Julian Hawthorne project [which has even more exciting new stuff to come once The Cosmic Courtship is out the door]. In what free time to read I have, I’ve been reading a lot of older comic books. So, maybe take some inspiration from a few of these:

Dagar the Invincible (1972 Gold Key) comic books 1972
Occult Files of Doctor Spektor (1973 Gold Key) comic books 1976
Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 A.D. TPB (2010-2014 Dark Horse) comic books
Donald and Scrooge (1992) comic books
Ghostly Haunts (1971) comic books
Grimm's Ghost Stories, No. 17 (Death Rattle): Amazon.com: Books
The Strangest Northerns: The Mighty Samson - Dark Worlds Quarterly

Of course, it never hurts to have actually read some Cirsova to get an idea of the kind of stories we typically buy. My recommendations would be either Volume 1, Issue 4, or the Fall Special #1, because these both showcase the breadth of fiction we typically purchase.

House of Seven Gables + DC Festival of Asian Heroes

Given how much of Julian Hawthorne I’ve been reading lately, I thought it behooved me to read a bit more of his father’s work, and I just happened to have a fairly nice illustrated copy of The House of Seven Gables lying around waiting to be read.

I get why kids who had to read this in high school hated it, I really do. Though it is a tale of mystery, murder, madness, mesmerism and a wizard’s curse, so very little happens and Hawthorne takes his sweet time in the telling to get there.

Yet, despite how tedious and absolutely turgid House of Seven Gables is, I feel like it could be easily adapted into Children’s Puppet Theatre, probably boil the whole bloody gist of it down to about 20 minutes.

I have to admit that I felt a bit smug that Henry James’ afterword for House of Seven Gables seemed to entirely support and justify this belief.

He notes that the characters, while lavishly and intricately detailed, are mere “pictures” and grotesques, acting out their tropes, than truly fleshed out ‘real’ characters. The book focuses almost entirely on tableau and scene, painting the picture of these characters.

So, while the “story” is, imo, great–fantastic, really–it is such a small portion of the work itself–buried, really, like the old sorcerer himself, underneath the endless description of the house and its accursed inhabitants.

I think that it could be distilled easily into 20-30 minutes:

  • Narration of the Pyncheon vs. Maule saga culminating in the bloody death
  • A brief parade of the characters and their foibles, culminating in Phoebe’s awkward introduction to Jaffrey
  • Tableau of the dinner, Phoebe and Clifford’s relationship, maybe the bit with the weird chickens, done in a couple minutes’ description and puppet pantomime
  • Phoebe and Holgrave + Holgrave narrates the story of Alice, Phoebe departs.
  • Jaffrey’s attempt to confront Clifford
  • Clifford and Hepzibah’s flight + a very condensed version of Clifford’s rant about impending modernity
  • The return to Seven Gables, Phoebe & Holgrave’s union, and the discovery of the lost “treasure” could be condensed to a single scene with a narrated happily ever after.

I’d probably cut Uncle Venner, since, while he may be thematically important, I think he can be removed wholly from the narrative and the story remain unaffected. He’s there only as commentary and to comment on the other characters who are engaged in the plot.

Anyway, whether or not I’ll have time to come up with a puppet operetta, we’ll have to see…

So, I recently picked up Festival of Asian Heroes as an excuse to introduce myself at a new shop. I don’t know what I was expecting, but somehow this book was much worse and much more cringe than I imagined. Practically no one knows how to write cape stories anymore… practically every story just doing the “here is the character monologuing about their life and their feels while things happen in the panels.” Plus the awful strawman villains in the Katana story were oof.

Literally the only short I liked was Tamaki’s Cassie, and even tho it was mostly monologuing, at least it pulled off being cute. It sucks that they chose to showcase Asian capes [somehow Damian Wayne qualifies as this?] in such a lousy book with such lousy stories. I’d say these characters deserve better, but I’m not really caring that much anymore.

Foreword: “There just weren’t any Asian heroes in comic books when I was a kid.” will_smith_wildly_gesticulating_at_the_glut_of_now-forgotten_asian_led_titles_in_the_70s_and_80s.jpg

Dice Latte - DC Festival of Heroes The Asian Superhero Celebration #1 (One  Shot) Cover B Stanley Artgerm Lau Variant
Pretty much the only reason I bought this.

The ArtGerm variant was gorgeous, I was curious to see what Gene Luen Yang was gonna do [was kinda disappointed] and it was an excuse to meet the new store without having to add it to a pull [so at least DC doesn’t get to boast about order numbers from picking up an extra that the new place had.]

  • Sounds: Liked it, favorite of the bunch. I think I’m forgiving of internal monologuing when it’s Cassie because she has a speech impediment.
  • Dress Code: eh… So, asian green lantern wears an asian dress tunic. plz do not make fun of him.
  • Hawke and Kong: okay, I guess. Two Asian expys of other heroes who don’t get along fight a villain and become friends. Whatever…
  • Special Delivery: didn’t like it, also I guess Damian Wayne is Asian?
  • Masks: okay, but mainly I guess it was the sort of story I would’ve liked to have seen after the new Cheshire had been brought into Catwoman [I don’t know that they’ve done anything at all with her since she was introduced, and I had just about forgotten about her.]
  • What’s in the Box: I don’t even know who the other character who is not Cassie is
  • Family Dinner: Cringe and tired ‘meeting the parents’ story. Seriously, can we stop doing “gay superheroes meet dad/mom over dinner and it’s awkward” comics?
  • Kawaii Kalamity: cute but didn’t really do anything for me
  • Festival of Heroes: Ultra cringe with a stupid strawman villain [a bunch of white supremacists show up to harass people at an Asian food festival]; sad that this was what they had for the Katana story.
  • Perseptible: dull, didn’t like it, but I’ve never really liked Captain Atom.
  • The Monkey Prince: torn between okay and cringe; kinda wanted to like it cuz I love what Yang has done w/other books, but I rolled my eyes a lot. May still give it a chance. On one hand, a Son Goku vs. capes comic could be a lot of fun, but this gave off really bad “How do you do, fellow kids?” vibes that are really disappointing considering that Yang writes/wrote two of my favorite DC titles [Terrifics and Batman/Superman]

Really, DC missed out on a great opportunity to introduce a new anti-Asian villain, The Fixer–an obese enby who goes around “fixing” Asian people’s artwork.

Speaking of comics, be sure to check out the next installment of Badaxe in the Summer issue!

Comic Review: Otis Stein

Recently, I was sent a review copy of Matthew “Skinny” Vealey’s indie horror comic, Otis Stein.

Otis, a strapping young redneck, is the husband of Mary, a reformed cultist. Their daughter tragically died of cancer, and her medical expenses have left them ruined.

They’re about to be foreclosed on, Otis blows himself up in a moonshining accident, and Mary’s old “associates” come looking for her!

Mary’s attempt to use her occult arts to resurrect her husband is interrupted as the cultists close in. The cultists have their own designs on Otis to use him as a host for dark supernatural powers! Will the evil forces hold sway or will love triumph?

Otis Stein is a book that I appreciated more on subsequent reads. At first, it seems rather rough and simple, but there’s actually some nice depth and nuance that you’ll catch reading it more than once. The art is ugly, but in a way that is suited for the genre and story; “grotesque” may be a more accurate term. It gives the book a throwback vibe to some of the more obscure black & white indies of the 80s. The art does what it needs to for the story, and it does it well enough.

The pacing of the book is a steady launch ramp, starting with a slow burn setup, but never really wasting time getting where it’s going. The turns from mundane to macabre to monstrous in the three acts of the book are nicely done and reminiscent of Swamp Thing’s origin in House of Secrets [though much more grisly]. Much of the last section of the book is pure grisly action-horror, where the art style really has a chance to shine.

To be honest, at first I wasn’t impressed by Otis Stein, but I think I just didn’t know what to expect and failed to appreciate it on its own terms. I think it’s easy to read a single issue comic and not really appreciate it on the first read and then toss it aside and forget about it. But with Otis Stein, the more I come back to it, the more I find that I really do like it and the more it grows in my esteem.

If you enjoy horror comics or gore comics or even romance comics, you might consider picking this one up.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkinnysComics

Also, if you haven’t already, there’s still time to back The Cosmic Courtship on Kickstarter!

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.

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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.

What the Heck is Going on with Future State and Batman?

One of the rules of modern post-Crisis DC has been Batman never reboots. Never fully. They will do soft reboots, slide the timeline around a bit, but generally tend to avoid doing a hard reboot on Batman. And Future State has been no different, though, they’ve gone about it rather strangely…

Death Metal most recently hit the reset button on the DC universe, but it ran at the same time as an incredibly successful Bat Family event that repositioned the direction of the myriad Bat-books going forward out of Joker War.

Future State is either the remnants of an aborted project known as G5 or a spinoff event from Death Metal [with everything being framed as part of the infinite possible futures following the latest reset of the multiverse] depending on who you ask.

For Batman, it’s a weird postlude to Joker War. Like I said, Batman’s not allowed to be fully rebooted, so all of the Future State Bat-books are following a storyline of the aftermath of Joker War, taking place roughly two years later.

Asian cop who lost his eye in Joker War won his mayoral election right before Future State launched, and his anti-mask platform has turned Gotham into a police state, where all the criminals and capes are being hunted and locked up.

Bruce Wayne/Batman has been killed, but he hasn’t, Lucius Fox’s son is filling in as Batman, the rest of the Bat family is around struggling and not doing so hot, Batman is in hiding, or he’s in a prison, or he’s on a train. I’m not entirely sure. There’s a clear chronology to the Batman Future State books, but they’re being published out of order so that it can all run concurrently over the course of two months.

The problem: Future State did a two year time skip, but the Future State Bat-books all tell parts of a single story that spun out of Joker War… Where will the mainline books pick up in March? Things were ending just before Punchine’s trial, and Tec was set up to build into the story that would become the Future State Magistrate story. Will the Future State Batman storyline just be the new normal going forward; will Batman go back to a pocket continuity [like Tom King’s run before he killed Alfred] while it wraps things up that happed during the two years before Dark Detective and Next Batman? Will things rewind to Punchline’s trial and the Mirror gang and Future State doesn’t happen? Who knows.

Anyway, one of the main things I’ve noticed about Future State bat books [other than the homogenous neon mud coloring] is that it seems like a pendulum swing–someone was like “oh, crap, we have to run an ACAB storyline, because Joker War ended up being anti-BLM!” I do wonder what happened to Clown Hunter, whether there’s a story reason for him not being in Future State or if Tynion just said “no.”