Cirsova Publishing has been putting out its flagship magazine focusing on action, adventure, and romance in science fiction and fantasy since 2016. Last year, Cirsova began branching out, with the two-author anthology, Duel Visions by Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen, their fully illustrated 70th Anniversary Edition of Leigh Brackett’s Eric John Stark Planet Stories, and the 35th Anniversary Edition of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars.
Cirsova’s newest upcoming release is an anthology of Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose & Meerkat adventures, lavishly illustrated by up-and-coming artist DarkFilly. Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 1: Pursuit Without Asking collects all of the stories published in the pages of Cirsova Magazine through 2019.
Mangos is a bit of a bravo, ready to knock a few heads for some coin. Kat is a mysterious wanderer with more than her share of street-smarts and a head for ancient history. Together, the Mongoose and the Meerkat are a pair of rogues looking to keep their bellies and wine skins filled. Fitting in a comfy mid-point somewhere between Slayers and Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser, this duo is sure to appeal to fans of classic Sword & Sorcery.
We had a chance to talk with Mongoose & Meerkat interior illustrator, DarkFilly, about this thrilling new project.
First off, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I like to ramble so I’ll try and keep this short. I’ve liked to draw since I was a kid. Sometimes I dabble in painting, but I mostly like to do pencil sketches and inking. I grew up in the country on the west coast and my favorite color is green. I’m married and have lots of animals!
I know you’re a fan of Zenoscope, and have regularly posted about their Black Knight title. Who are some of your current favorite artists and influences?
Oh boy howdy do I. But that’s quite the question! I’ll try to keep it to immediate artists that come to mind.
James Stokoe, the more raw, natural feel to his inks is something I really appreciate. You can tell he just lets the pen fly and his imagination guides it with skill. I’d say he’s one of my inspirations because that’s how I like to draw and, in a way, he’s given me more confidence in that.
Dan Panosian, his comic style is so fun and intriguing. You can feel his confidence in every stroke and even his chaotic lines are done with purpose.
David Petersen, not only are his fantastical animals absolutely awesome and cute, he does fantasy art like gnomes and such. I’m very big into drawing fantasy and I love his slightly cartoonish flare.
Cory Godbey, he’s someone I truly admire. His mostly known for his work in the Jim Henson realm but his art overall is beautiful and inspiring. I recently got one of his hardback art collections, well worth it.
And then there’s Jeremy A. Bastion, definitely can’t forget him. His free-spirit is reflected in his art, while it still remains well detailed with clean lines. Absolutely someone that I am influenced by and I hope someday to be as strong in confidence as he is when it comes to what he puts to paper.
I also have a new favorited artist. Anton Oxenuk! His work on your covers are breathtaking. The Golden Pearl one was absolutely beautiful, the deep rich blues and corals captivated me. But then I saw the cover for Mongoose & Meerkat Vol 1 and fell in love with his lighting technique. It’s so glowy!
When/where did you first hear about Cirsova? Were you a regular reader before taking on this gig?
My husband is actually a fan! We both like scifi pulp and he saw you marketing your wares on Twitter, bought the spring 2019 issue and we’ve been fans since. I just had a thought, I had read Mongoose and Meerkat before you approached me! The Valley of Terzol, I really liked that one.
Have you done any other projects on this scale before?
Nope! I think the biggest I’ve done prior to this was art for a charity auction to support my old elementary school. I’ve done some more, I guess you could say, public art, via fliers for car shows and art for a MUD website. Aside from that, I freelance?
What was it like working on Mongoose & Meerkat? What were your inspirations for the designs?
It was a blast! I was extremely nervous, as I’ve never taken on a published project before. But knowing the content, I knew it was going to be fun.
As for inspirations, well… I sort of just kept sketching till I got features I liked for both characters that also fit the descriptions provided. The clothes are where I sourced out, I browsed pages of 1700s era fashion, a few times dipping into the 1600s and 1800s, to help get a feel for design. I really like to draw clothes from that era, particularly dresses.
It’s obvious from the amount of care you’ve put into these pieces, that you have a strong connection to the characters and the source material. What is it about the characters that resonate with you, and what was your favorite story to draw?
I really love adventure-fantasy, it’s one of my favorite genres. I particularly like ruin-raiding and, we’ll say, private contractors? Rogue in attitude, profession as a bonus. Jim’s Mongoose & Meerkat provided the perfect palette for my imagination to roam while still challenging me with new concepts and ideas. Like the bridge scene, that was a tough one!
So, not to sound like a stereotypical proud parent, but I loved all of them. I’m used to doing static subjects with no background while action is usually a cute pose. That’s not to say I haven’t done complete action scenes before, it’s just not my norm.
It’s hard to pick just one because each gave me a unique experience. The bridge scene was probably the most challenging, as I had never done a bridge before and I wanted to go for an extreme fore-angle with it. The wolf and tavern scenes I really enjoyed, particularly due to the clothing. Kat’s designs were a lot of fun to come up with. I like to draw zombies too, surprisingly, since they freak me out. So the scene with the revenants I really got into a familiar flow. Oh and the sword scene, I will avoid spoilers, but that one made me chuckle often while working on it.
We’re hoping to keep you on-board for two more volumes of Mongoose & Meerkat, and Michael Tierney has expressed interest in maybe bringing you on for a future Wild Stars project, but those may be a bit off in the future. Do you have any other projects coming down the pipeline? What’s next?
I am so excited about those prospects! Fingers crossed. I absolutely love working with you all. As for other projects? Mostly just personal and more practice. Mongoose & Meerkat are my debut work in publishing, aside from that I tend to draw whatever interests me, what I draw under DarkFilly I sometimes end up posting to an online retailer. I also do flier and charity work locally. That’s about as professional as I got before you got a hold of me.
Is your twitter the best place for people to see your work, or do you have an art site? You said you post some of your work on an online retailer–where would people interested in your work find that?
Twitter is indeed the best place to see the art I post. I’ve considered making a website for my DarkFilly art, but I dance back and forth on the idea since I don’t have that much content under this name. But it would essentially just be a gallery website, so why not, right?
I use TeePublic. A pretty decent third party retailer who’s products I’ve tested and are of really good quality. You can find my store at teepublic.com/user/darkfilly for any who are interested. It doesn’t have a HUGE selection, but over time I will add more!
Everyone we’ve shown your Mongoose & Meerkat illustrations has been impressed, and we’ve had several people ask about commissions and work for hire–will you be open to take on any new work now that this project is nearly in the bag? What would be the best way for people to get in touch with you?
Tell that guy I am not drawing the chick buying wonderbread.
Seriously though, that is so cool! It’s honestly pretty weird to be told my art is sought after. After being a hobby artist for so long and wary of commissions, I’m still pretty shy to the idea of opening to the public. But I’m definitely not opposed to it. It really comes down to the subject. So I’d say if anyone was interested in having me do a bit of a doodle for them, they can reach me at [email protected] – Or in Twitter DMs if that’s available. We can discuss details, I can come up with a basic sketch and we can go from there! Sort of like what we did for Mongoose & Meerkat.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us about Mongoose & Meerkat!
April 1, Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat, Vol 1: Pursuit Without Asking will be available for pre-order through Kickstarter in Pocket Paperback, Trade Paperback, and Hardcover formats.
The Trade Paperback will be available in general release in August.
For more information or inquiries, visit Cirsova’s website.
**Editor’s Note: P. Alexander, the author and interviewer is the editor for Cirsova Publishing**