Saline County Comic Expo + Other News

…was a lot of fun for us! It was actually one of our best con showings yet. We managed to sell a handful of books and magazines and I spent less on swag than I made in sales.

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Selling NFTs at a con

Our best sellers? Schuyler Hernstrom books that we didn’t actually publish.

Considering that most people go blank-faced when they realize that the books you’re selling are not comics at a comic con, we did fantastic.

I’m probably going to dump all of my old back-stock at Central AR Goodwill just to get it off of my shelves. Back issues have done especially poorly; most folks pick up the newest ones [which is hard because our newest issue has two part twos of ongoing series]. So, for the Little Rock Comic Con in September, we’ll be starting fresh with just the most recent stuff + the Tarzan book.

Open Submissions

Okay, this is a reminder, open submissions begin August 1st and will end August 7th. Get writing! If you want to get an idea of what we’re looking for, we did a post here, and, of course, please read the Submission Guidelines!

Interior Advertisements for Fall and Winter

We’re accepting advertisements for the interiors of the Fall and Winter issues! Fall will include the conclusions of both Wild Stars and Badaxe; Winter will feature a cover story by Kamen America writer Mark Pellegrini. Details about our ad specs can be found here.

Michael on The LCS Guys

As some of you may know, Michael is a regular on Critical Blast’s show, The LCS guys. In this episode, he talks some not only about his Wild Stars work with Cirsova and his plans for the future of the series but also his new Robert E. Howard project that’s on the horizon.

If you want to catch up on all of Michael’s Wild Stars adventures, the best way to do so is through The Wild Stars 35th Anniversary Omnibus, which will get you the original Book of Circles graphic novel, the Force Majeure comic/novel hybrid, plus Time Warmageddon and Wild Star Rising. We’re serializing Wild Stars V: The Artomique Paradigm this year [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 is forthcoming]

The Paths of Cormanor

Jim Breyfogle’s The Paths of Cormanor will be launching soon on Kickstarter!

The Cosmic Courtship

We’ve finally been able to put in the full order for The Cosmic Courtship, so that will be arriving soon for us to begin fulfilling! Yay!

More news and details on all of this soon…

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.

Sexy Fantastic: Swords & Shadows

As some of you may or may not know, our friend and contributor Robert Zoltan has been working on and publishing a new SFF publication, Sexy Fantastic, for folks into retro-pulp bodice rippers [think the sort of Andrew J. Offutt stories he published under his own name].

Robert will be doing a Kickstarter to raise additional funds for this project soon [July 1], and are accepting submissions through 15th of June.

Looking for superb heroic fantasy/sword and sorcery stories for Issue 4 of Sexy Fantastic magazine: Swords & Shadows! The fiction in the first three issues has been of incredibly high quality, and we seek to maintain that standard. Sexy Fantastic prefers mystery, strangeness, eroticism and atmosphere over violence. Note: this is not an erotica magazine; it simply does not censor stories for sexual content and treats sex as a normal part of life. $100 payment. 3K-10K word length. Deadline June 15th. See guidelines for tips and detailed submission instructions. https://sexyfantasticmagazine.com/fictionsubmissions/

If you have a story that you’ve been holding onto for us, give Robert’s mag a shot first, especially if it contains erotic themes and content. Right now, it’s looking like we won’t be able to take submissions until July, maybe August, so don’t hold anything back on our account! Send Robert your best!

2020 Submissions Update

Hey, everyone! The going has been slow for a number of reasons, but we’re making progress.

We’re starting to send out the first round of rejection letters this week. And it’s tough, let me tell you, because we’ll be saying no to some excellent stories from authors we love.

There are

  • 30 stories we desperately want
  • another 30 that it’s gonna absolutely kill us to say no to but we probably have to
  • 20 rejections we’ve written
  • about 40 we haven’t
  • just over 100 stories we haven’t even read yet…

And I’m still wringing my hands over that duct work that needs replacing

The only immediate panacea for this would be to take out an advertisement in our spring issue! That would infuse us with the immediate capital we need to start making offers.

What Stories are We Looking For for 2020?

Cirsova Publishing will be opening Submissions for our flagship magazine in October. Details can be found here. Everything in the descriptions there hold true in terms of what it is we’re looking for, but I’d like to highlight a few things in this post:

Raygun noir – Dark detective stories that had exotic space locals as their setting were a staple in the pulps, particularly Planet Stories. We’d love to see more of these.

Monster Girl – We got a couple of these last go-round, but none were quite what we were looking for. Seriously, go read C.L. Moore’s The Bright Illusion and get back with us. You got something along those lines? We’d definitely be interested.

South Seas Adventure and Chinoiserie – There’s a lot of interesting territory to be explored here, and we’ve dipped our toes in a bit [see The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar and The Bookhunter’s Apprentice as more fantastical examples]. That’s not to say we’re looking for Yellow Peril; we’re looking for exotic settings outside the normal fare of a lot of contemporary fantasy and adventure.

Afrofuturism – We’re genuinely interested to see what can be done in this field. We haven’t gotten any in our submissions before [though we’ve received and published fantasy stories with both northern and sub-Saharan African settings].

Mystery – If we get some genuinely good mystery stories, we don’t even necessarily need there to be fantastical elements, though strange and exotic settings would certainly be a plus.

Men’s/Boy’s Adventure – While we aren’t looking for Weasels Ripped My Flesh, classic early-to-mid 20th century Men’s adventure or, even further back, RL Stevenson Boy’s adventure would be of interest. See also Frank G. Slaughter and C.S. Forester.

Antiquity Romance and Medieval Mythology – You guys know how I rave about Swann. Also, remember that Medieval fantasy isn’t just dragons, elves and fairies; it’s also Blemyae, Skiapods, and Prester John.

Gothic Horror/Romance – We’ve actually received and published some of this sort of stuff in the past two years. Our Lords, The Swine and Pale Moon’s Bride are two solid examples. Remember that Gothic doesn’t just mean Vampires and Werewolves. In fact, we’re really not looking for either of those unless you can put a really damn good spin on it. Gothic means ghosts, crumbling dungeons, disused manses, courtly love, mysterious knights, and heretics and clergymen too damn zealous for their own good.

You Can’t Judge a Pulp by its Pitch

With our own open submission period fast approach, and in light of Corey McCleery’s post on the short story he’s writing for a Superversive anthology, I feel that I need to issue some clarifications on just what it is we’re looking for as a magazine that has had the attention of the Pulp Revolution.

First, I feel it’s important to point out that Cirsova was doing what Cirsova was doing prior to folks talking about a Pulp Revolution, and we intent do continue doing what we’ve been doing regardless of what directions either the folks involved in the Pulp Revolution movement do or what the Superversive movement does in response.

A lot of folks have said “I’ve got this great idea for X where Y happens in Z; there will be plenty of Q and T!” and I’ve absolutely encouraged people to write them.

But the thing is, a Pulp is much more than its pitch. A lot of pulp stories, when you try to distill their plots down to a sentence or two, come across as the wildest, most off-the-wall gonzo nonsense you can dream up. Except when you actually read the stories, they’re not only internally consistent, they often take themselves and the wild situations therein fairly seriously. While there might be some humor, the elements in the stories are usually not played for laughs. And I think that’s part of where we differ from some of the “Retro-Pulp”/”New Pulp” stuff, in that we’re not using the aesthetic for kitsch or playing it for laughs. It’s a very difficult concept to get across. It’s also why I think it’s worthwhile to show by example, which is why I strongly recommend folks read the pulps (particularly those that I’ve reviewed, because they are literally the context I’ve been using and measuring other stories against) and read previous issues of Cirsova to get an idea of just what I’m looking for.

Now, why did I bring up McCleery’s post?

Well, in addition to trying to define Superversive in his post, and trying to show that they are not mutually exclusive, he gives a pitch for his story that he is advertising as being a Superversive Pulp story:

It’s about a man, a man confronted with the injustices of a tyrannical usurper trying to slay the woman he loves, and to defend her, he becomes something greater than he is, using self-discipline and training to go from a plain warrior to someone of unmatched prowess. He’s morally straight and kind, but has courage in the face of incredible adversity, won’t shirk from trouble because it’s, well, trouble, and also refuses to do the wrong thing when that would make life easier, but compromise his conscience. Right there, that checks off two boxes listed above (Aspiring/Inspiring and Heroic).

He travels the world I have made, sees wonders, sees beauties unearthly. He goes into the most dangerous of places, and grows stronger for it.

He is guided by virtue, and eventually meets up with some other characters, many of whom are morally questionable. Through their interaction with him, these characters become more selfless, virtuous, and heroic themselves, and go from morally grey to heroes (there’s the Aspiring/Inspiring). In this world, there’s a clear line denoting what is good and bad, and that the evil usurper is bad, a cutthroat despot who isn’t scared to shed innocent blood (and she does this out of envy and desire for power, not because she was abused as a child or was a psychopath). Good is good, bad is bad, and while the hero isn’t %100 good, he aspires to be good (thus, the Virtuous box is checked).

And ultimately, the hero fights to restore the throne to the rightful ruler, and does so. He is not a pawn of chance, incapable of making his own decisions. He decides, and those choices have consequences. His actions have an effect, and he doesn’t react to the world, but proactively acts (thus fulfilling the Decisive category). And lastly, I’m not deconstructing ideals of heroism or other healthy cultural paradigms (thus fulfilling the Non-Subversive category).

So, I’m writing a Superversive story, one that will be published in a magazine.

Here’s the catch. It’s being published in Astounding Frontiers, Superversive SF’s pulp revival magazine. The description above is accurate, but focuses on the Superversive themes, not the pulp.

My story is about a soldier, charged with guarding the elegant and demure Space Princess, scion of a star (She kind of glows). He teams up with a stoic yet wise Void-wielding pseudo-Buddhist attack monk lizard alien man, a rough-and-tumble yet oddly maternal cyborg techno-necromancer (who’s art is drawn from Daoist philosophy), a giant crustaceanoid barbarian who’s bulletproof and very violent, and the crustaceanoid barbarian’s love, a sorceress insectoid-alien who is refined and demure (as refined and demure as an insectoid lady of high breeding level can be).

He flies in a ship that sails through the ether, and goes from a soldier to a sorcerer-knight who wields the ether and the Void, among other powers. He breaks into the vault of the imperial sorcerers to plunder its knowledge, and fights the horrendous beast that lurks in the heart of a sun. There’s travelling through the myriad avenues of death, Way Cool armor forged from the substanceless Void, action and heroism aplenty.

My story has battles on space ships, duels to the death, a classic romance, and a Space Princess, ethereal and beautiful. It has sorcery used alongside laser cannons and futuristic technology, where a battle can take place with scrambler beams or ether blades. Settings include the deadly library of sorcery, an ancient temple, and ruins of an M.C. Escher palace that is suspended in the heart of a hollow sun. It looks at genre distinctions and laughs in their face.

Now, a couple of things about this. This is a pitch. It gives you an idea of what the story will be about, but there’s no way to know whether this story is going to be any good or not. Also, that’s a LOT to try to cram into a short story*. Awhile back, I made a one sentence pitch for Schuyler Hernstrom’s The First American as an example of how it could be done (“Lizardmen stole a barb caveman’s dame, so he goes to a wizard who is an astronaut who gene-splices him and gives him a shotgun so he can rescue his dame from the lizardmen”), and that was a novella length work into which all of they X, Y, and Z were crammed. Another thing, I don’t know what deal McCleery has with the Superversives for their publication, so this is in regards to our publication, not theirs or anyone else’s, but as a general rule, unless you’ve finished writing your story, submitted it to me, and I’ve paid you for it, don’t say “here is the story I’m writing that will be published in Cirsova”, regardless of whether I’ve told you that your elevator pitch sounds awesome. That hasn’t happened yet, but it’s something I felt worth pointing out.

But back to pitches. What sounds great in a pitch needs to work out on the page. We’re not specifically looking for gonzo or how crazy and wild you can write a story. There may be a mistaken notion about the Pulp Revolution that to them Pulp is like some kind of Mountain Dew commercial, skiing down a mountain, chased by laser wolves, and screaming “PULP!” A lot of us make joke about that sort of thing, but that’s more about the bants than it is the serious business of writing and critiquing stoires. As for Cirsova, we are not the silly magazine that publishes silly and extreme stories for the sake of silliness and extremity. We’re looking for GOOD stories that are well written and have the potential to be entertaining to readers who enjoy action and romance. Ultimately, that is a far stronger consideration for whether we will acquire a story than whether it falls into a Superversive rubric or a Pulp rubric or a Pulp Revolution rubric, straw or otherwise.

*:Note – Corey’s pointed out that his pitch is for a serial; this is stuff that you CAN work into something longer, like a serial format. For our own submission purposes, since we only take serial works on special basis and by request only (please do not ask), we recommend only cramming in as much as you can reasonably work into 5000-7500 words without spreading your story too thin.

Issue 5 Going Out to Backers – Submissions Pre-Announcement

Issue 5 has been sent to all backers who’ve backed for physical copies (minus those still getting their surveys in).

Plan is still for the ebook version to go live on the 31st. If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still pre-order here:

If you want to get in on next year’s Cirsova, get writing and get editing. We WILL have a very brief open submissions period from June to July. Space will be very limited, so I recommend writing shorter pieces (5000-7500 words). I’ll post more specific guidelines closer to when we’re ready to open, but for now the following should suffice:

Do Send:

  • action driven stories
  • stuff with space ships
  • stuff with swords
  • stuff with rayguns
  • stuff with dashing heroes
  • stuff with daring dames

Don’t Send:

  • thinky stories where nothing happens
  • math problems or engineering troubleshooting disguised as fiction*
  • stuff with elves

We pay semi-pro rates of 1 cent per word with a bonus of an additional 1 cent per word on the first 2500 words. Payment is on acceptance for exclusive rights for one calendar year from the date of the publication.

*:we do accept “Hard” Science Fiction, just make sure that it’s something like Karl Gallagher’s Torchship or Paul Ernst’s Raid on the Termites (.

IMPORTANT CIRSOVA ISSUE 1 UPDATE!!! (Yeah, another one) SUBMISSIONS (ALMOST) CLOSED!!!

Okay, this is pretty big news!  I’ve got a LOT of really great stories for Zine’s first issue. So now, I’m (with some bittersweet regret) having to announce that submissions are (more or less) closing.

There are a few exceptions:

  1. I’m looking for one more Leigh Brackett or Gardner F. Fox style Sword & Planet/Planet Romance story that is around 7500 or less.
  2. One more essay (2500 words or less) on a work, series or author from the pulp era, their impact on books, film and/or gaming.  Or some other relevant theme: Bradbury’s Mars vs. Brackett’s Mars, Lin Carter/August Derleth Deathmatch, why Forbidden Planet was the best movie ever or something like that.  Just run the subject matter by me before you write/submit so we’re on the same page.
  3. If you’ve asked about submitting and I’ve told you “yeah, send it to me!”, send it to me.  Especially if it fulfills number 1.
  4. If I have personally solicited you for a submission and you’ve told me that you have something you’re going to send, I STILL WANT IT (otherwise, why would I have asked you?), especially if it fulfills any combination of 1-3.

And yeah, I’m looking for cover art!