My First Issue
Earlier this month we finished the first issue of Medieval Warfare where I will be listed as the Editor. I wanted to share with you some few thoughts on this new experience.
I did come to this role with a lot of familiarity of working as an editor, through my role at Medievalists.net, but the change from editing for online/digital to print revealed a lot of differences. First and foremost is the time frame - creating an issue of the magazine is about a five-month process, which seems to me a huge amount of time. When you write for the web you have a real immediacy to your work, and a sense that everything needs to be done quick. Time-frames for starting and completing an online piece is often measured in hours.
Going from that to having weeks to complete an issue is an adjustment, but there are a lot of benefits. One can really improve the quality of the articles - I had a lot of opportunity to discuss with the authors how they were doing, and to offer suggestions. It helped quite a lot that the my first issue is about the Templars, a group that I know fairly well. Grabbing books and articles about them usually consisted of searching my own book shelves.
The first stage in creating an issue is to figure out what articles you want to have, and who is going to write them. I reached out to some of the leading historians in the field - such as Helen Nicholson and Andrew Holt - to see if they would be willing to pen a piece for us. Once I knew what they would be contributing, I started looking into possible topics that could be written about. This included a piece about the Templars’ Rule - their document of regulations and practices. I know this text can offer insights not just into how the Templars lived, but also about how they fought. John Howe was an excellent choice to deliver an article that does just that.
As my colleagues at Karwansaray have explained, each issue needs a little blood and guts, and we provide that with our article on the Battle of La Forbie. This isn’t one of the more famous battles of the crusades, but I think it is one of the most interesting - rarely in that period do you have Christians and Muslims fighting on the same side. William Welsh, a long time contributor at Medieval Warfare, has done an superb job in telling the story of the battle.
This issue marks the first time Daniéle Cybulskie appears in this magazine. Readers of Medievalists.net will know her quite well, and I am very happy to get Daniéle into print. Her piece on the Afterlife of the Templars takes a look at the how this military order is being depicted and refashioned in books, movies and even video games. It is a real treat!
I very much enjoyed all the articles in this first issue - the authors have done a great job of creating pieces that offered insights and told stories without falling into cliches. I think even those readers who have a good knowledge about the Templars are going to find that this issue has a lot for them, with articles that are going to challenge their views about the military order.
Magazines have more to offer than the written word, and Medieval Warfare has prided itself on creating issues that are visually excellent too. We have a team of artists who I have been really impressed with. Our covers are drawn by Angel Garcia Pinto, and our centrefold illustrations come from Zvonimir Grbasic, both of whom are supremely talented. Over the last couple of months they would go back and forth with me by email, as we talked about their pieces. While it is important that we can make their work as historically accurate as possible, I have told my artists that I want them to create works of art, where they can tell a story and bring out emotions when you look at it. I am very proud of what they and the other illustrators have been able to do in this issue.
Since we are a magazine that deals with the Middle Ages, we have the great fortune of being able to use medieval images, especially those from manuscripts. Brian Price’s article on Conrad Kyeser and his Bellifortis contains 11 images from his work, which are both wondrous and very weird. I hope this is the beginning of a lot of articles in our magazine that will focus on the visuals related to warfare.
The team at Karwansaray have been amazing in helping me bring together all these articles, artwork and images into 60 pages. As it got closer to the date for shipping the issue to the printer, the pace picked up and a few times the unexpected happened - like finding out that we needed to fill in two more pages of content! Overall, the process went fairly smoothly, and I am very pleased by what we produced. Of course, the ultimate judge of the magazine is our readers, and I am eagerly awaiting your thoughts on the issue when you get it!
If you haven’t ordered our issue about the Templars yet, you can do so by clicking here.