Monday, March 30, 2009

I got nothin'...

No news today, but if you didn't check in over the weekend, check out the pictures we took of ourselves with our comic at Comic Relief in Berkeley, CA.

Nothing to report right now other than that...oh wait, I finally had a chance to try Zachary's Chicago Pizza in Berkeley. It's pretty much as good as everyone said it was...buuuut, I still like Pizz'a Chicago in Palo Alto more. =)

- Joseph

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Islands in the Sky at Comic Relief in Berkeley, CA!

We don't usually update on weekends but I thought I'd make an exception for this. Some good friends of mine, Uel and Jeff Carter (they're brothers) helped us get a few copies of our book into Comic Relief in Berkeley, CA. As long as I've lived in the Bay Area, I've never been to the store (though I've seen and shopped at it for seven years running at Comic-Con). The store is awesome. I was really impressed by the amount of small press and indie stuff they had there. From little booklets and ashcans to professionally printed stuff like our book. I ended up spending twice what I got from the sales of our book to their store! THEY TRICKED ME. =)

Anyway, here is a shot of Genevieve and I with our comic at their "new comic wall":

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And here is a close up of our book next to an Iron Man trade! "Beware. Boobs!" Heh Heh.

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I know it's probably not a big deal to a lot of other independent comic book creators but for Genevieve and I, it was a real treat to see our hard work in a real comic book store. Thanks again to all the great guys at Comic Relief ( and an extra special thanks to my friend Jeff who pushed me to send him a book so that he could show the guys at the store.

So if you're in the neighborhood, drop in and look for our book. If you have friends who haven't picked it up yet, tell them they can get it at Comic Relief! If you got a camera, take a picture of yourself with our book at the store. We'd love to post it here. =)

- Joseph

Friday, March 27, 2009

Time for a Kayli...MONNNTAAAGE!!!

As promised, here are some larger sized images of Kayli from the first web strip. I made a comment in my previous post about how the Gordo images turned out better than these Kayli images but that doesn't mean I don't love these. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to say the bottom right one where she's leaning forward and her left nipple is drooping over the edge of the panel. Her expression in that one is just so funny to me.

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You may have noticed that some of the images in the montage had missing ribs on Kayli's wetsuit. This is because Genevieve added them later after she noticed they were missing.

Here's the final two shots in their "inks only" form:

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No promises but we'll see if we can finally get started on the Kayli's Tattoo's Field Guide Update next week. I've plotted a shorter strip for Genevieve and have got a pretty good idea of what the Field Guide should cover. Hopefully, we can get it to you guys soon.

- Joseph

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This one is for the LADIES...

Hey everyone,

Genevieve and I hope you enjoyed our first web strip. As you might have guessed from the content, the strip was supposed to be up the weekend of WonderCon 2009 but I felt that the humor still worked so we decided to go with it.

I felt it was a bit of a shame for Genevieve's art to be seen in such a tiny format so today's update is some larger images for you to enjoy. The first one below deserves the size increase the most. It's so detailed and was sooo tiny in the strip. I've provided "ink-on-pencils" and "final-inks" versions:

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You can tell Genevieve really loves drawing Gordo. Overall, the Gordo shots turned out better than the Kayli shots...well, not that the Kayli shots sucked but you can see the extra love in the Gordo ones:

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I wanted to take a moment to talk about our definition of "inks". We realize that Genevieve's inks are not like that of traditional comic inkers. That is a separate skill for a process that divides work between the penciler, the inker, and the colorist. Genevieve does all the art and what you'd see as inks in other books, she would do in the color stage. We just didn't get a chance to explore that stage enough for our print comic...or even for this strip for that matter.

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On Friday, I'll put up the rest of the shots as well as the Kayli shots but with all the fan service for our male readership (which is probably most of you), I thought I'd do some fan service for the gals this time around. Oh and ladies, Genevieve assures me that "bare butt Gordo" is in the works...oh god. /shudder

- Joseph

Monday, March 23, 2009

First Web Comic!

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Hello, faithful readers! It's been a long time coming but we finally have a single web strip up. We wanted to give our readers a deluxe size, "Sunday Funnies" style strip for the first issue but as it turns out, the work is about as hard as a normal full page for the print comic. From now on, we're going to do shorter strips and keep varying our web content updates to allow us time to work on the actual print comic. Anyway, we hope you guys enjoy the strip. We'll continue to update when we can. If you like what you see, don't forget to help spread the word about what Genevieve and I are doing. Thanks!

P.S. Genevieve finally had some time to do a post. Her message to our readers should be right below this. If you want to hear from her more often, post in the comments and demand her attention!

- Joseph

Still Alive

Hey Guys,

Genevieve here! First of all, I'm sooo sorry, I must apologize for my apparent absence; I've been extremely busy during work and my personal life but have been reading everyone's comments, and whenever people email Joe for anything about the comic, he always passes the word along to me. Thanks so much everyone, for being so nice and patient! ^__^

I finally finished the first webcomic! I was working on it whenever I could in my spare time but ever since we launched at WonderCon 2009, I've been trying to recover my life. We dropped everything to work on it in the last few months and now I'm trying to reforge friendships, get enough sleep, and do all the fun things I missed out on doing while working on the book. Don't get me wrong, I love doing this! However, we fell behind schedule and there was nothing we could do except work overtime on getting it ready for WonderCon. @_@ The finished book with color is being planned by Joe and he is doing his best to keep the work schedule sane for me. That might mean I might take longer, but please be patient! We only want the best quality for our readers. ^__^

Thank you again for being patient and for all your wonderfully kind words. Hope you enjoy(ed) the comic! Hopefully, we will be able to bring more comics and content to you on this site sooner!


Friday, March 20, 2009

IITS Creative Process - The Original Short Story

Islands in the Sky actually started off as just a fun distraction from our day jobs. We didn't really set any rules for ourselves other than, "Let's create our own world and characters." For about a year, we worked on IITS in our free time...coming up with stories and ideas and characters. It wasn't till about just about May 2008 that we decided to do a comic book. When we started talking about what the story in the comic would be about, we naturally looked towards a short story I wrote set in the IITS universe. I won't torture everyone by reprinting the whole thing here but I thought a few excerpts might interest our readers. Remember the two pages of Kayli struggling with the blankets? If you're new to the site and haven't read our comic, the pages I'm referring to are in the preview we've provided on the sidebar. Anyway, in the original story, it's one paragraph:

Kayli mumbled into the pillow, pulled the furs closer around her, and turned over onto her stomach. Cold air assaulted her bare legs and buttocks. With one hand, she tried to pull the furs over her exposed parts but too much of the blanket was underneath her body and she was unsuccessful. She whimpered but went still. After a few moments, she made another unsuccessful attempt; straining her body a bit and making a feeble grunt. Grumbling softly, she became motionless once again. Suddenly, she twisted her body and flopped like a fish out of water, freeing some of the blanket but not enough to cover herself with. Her body, once tensed, now drooped in resignation and after a minute or so, she began to snore softly.

We're really happy with the way the whole sequence turned out in terms of pacing. We imagined it as an animated movie and so the pauses or beats were important to properly convey the humor in a visual medium. Turning the sequence into comic panels actually improved it because while we were story boarding it out, we realized that it was sorta missing something and that's when we added the idea of the sunlight slowing working its way over Kayli's bare butt for some yummy warmth.

We still consider Islands in the Sky to be a work in progress and based on what works and what doesn't, we're still considering changes to the stories we want to pursue and even the personalities of the characters. On the website, we present Kayli as blissfully unaware and happy-go-lucky. This can be explained due to the fact that our web comic was to be a separate set of stories from our print comic. I've always felt it difficult to follow strips such as Rex Morgan M.D. and Apartment 3-G. We don't have the time to pursue more complex stories (I know, like the print comic is fine literature, right?) in a web format so a simplification of the characters personalities seemed in order. Here is another excerpt from my original short story that show a bit of the personalities of Kayli and Gordo and their relationship:

“Did I really eat all of your food?” Kayli stopped packing for a moment and scratched the tip her nose. A thought occurred to her and she opened up the forward storage hatch of her glider, pulled out some jerky, stuffed one strip in her mouth, and handed the rest to Gordo.

“Mergency rashons…gud shtuff too,” she reassured him.

“Jerky? I had some prime meat in my pantry.”

“Behguz cawnt be choosuz.”

“Beggars? What? You ate all my food, remember?”

Kayli laughed and then coughed and began to choke. After awhile, Gordo realized it was serious and began swatting her on the back. She coughed and spat out a wad of barely chewed jerky while saliva leaked down the sides of her mouth and down her chin. She looked up at Gordo and smiled.

“Sexy, yeah?”


“Ha ha ha… (cough)…haha… (hack)…don’t lie… (spit).”

From the outset, I wanted to tell a fun story. While I love deep and complex stories that make me think, I wanted Islands in the Sky to be a great adventure story with likable characters, great action scenes, and lots of boob physics. What can I say? I'm a simple man with simple tastes. That said, in the future, our stories will get a bit more complex and we will continue to develop the personalities of Kayli and Gordo as well as their past. We hope our readers will look forward to seeing all the places they'll go.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

IITS Creative Process - The Money Shot

Genevieve and I tried to fill our book with many memorable poses and panels. We wanted to, as often as possible, make our characters do something very interesting rather than make a book about "talking heads". However, that goal we strive towards can often make it very difficult to even get a single page done. The three panel page where Kayli lands on the stranger's stomach with both her knees, catches his harpoon, and thrusts it over his face...took forever. We wanted each shot to good as we could make it and didn't rest till they were. If you don't know which page I'm talking about, head over to the store and order yourself a copy of the comic!

Below are three concepts (out of more than a dozen) that Genevieve did for the "Tadaaa!" panel in the book (viewable in the preview we've provided on the sidebar):

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As you can see, each one is very similar to what we eventually went with but Genevieve will keep pushing herself till we get the perfect shot. I have to take some of the blame when it comes to her overworking herself. Sometimes, if I so much as pause one second too long before making a comment, she throws aside the image and starts again. On the other hand, if she absolutely nails it, I spot it right away and she'll put in the finishing touches. Here's the final pencils:

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She did the original image "nude" to get the body shape the way she liked it. The image you see in the middle of the three is a scan of the clothing layer which was drawn on vellum (tracing paper placed over the original image). The third image is the final combined pencils before they were inked.

Our process, as you might imagine, can be a bit slow at times. We're doing our best to improve this as we plan the work for our deluxe version of the book and future books. Thanks for being patient!

Monday, March 16, 2009

IITS Creative Process - Storyboards

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People who see our work often inquire about the creative process behind it. They ask about how we came up with the story and the characters and what it's like to actually...just do this sort of thing. I think that the chemistry between writer/artist pairings are widely varied but Genevieve and I work well because we have a mutual respect and trust for each other's role in the creative process.

When I create a storyboard, I usually act out all the poses and motions so that when Genevieve has a question about how something should look (my drawings are pretty bad), I can show her right away. So yes, that means that many of the suggestive/sexy Kayli poses were drawn from reference of yours truly.

In the above image, you'll see from left to right: my original storyboard, Genevieve's own test storyboard based on mine, and the final art that appears in the comic. Since my original storyboard images are so tiny (about half the size of a playing card), I insert word balloons with the letter "K" or "G" followed by a number. These let Genevieve know who is speaking and the numbers help us keep track of what is being said. Not shown in these examples is the dialogue key where all the lines of dialogue are written out.

For the dialogue, I never try to get it done right the first time because I know I'll never be happy with it later anyway. So what I'll do is refine it as Genevieve creates the images, ask her feedback, take notes, and when I finally get all the images to put together into the page, I do the final writing pass. When the page is edited and formatted properly for printing, I send it to her as if it's the real deal...a perfectly clean page that looks completely finished. If she thinks the writing is funny, snappy, and comprehensible enough...that's what we go with.

I suppose there is a lot more to it than that but this is starting to become a really massive wall of text so we'll just leave it at that. Hope y'all enjoyed this tiny peek into our process.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Birthday Meats!

It was a long time coming but two friends were finally able to celebrate the launch of their comic by having a meal together. I couldn't think of a better place to do it than Espetus, a Brazilian style restaurant that has a "meats meter" at each table to let the servers know when to keep the fourteen types of meat coming or when you've had enough. We had a great time at the San Mateo location...the food was great, the service was great, and the company was great. Too bad the camera on my BlackBerry wasn't that great. We had to snap this shot twice because the first one came out blurry. We no longer had our forks and knives and while the server gave Genevieve his wicked meat choppa, I was forced to resort to holding up a spoon.

Oh yeah, it was a double it was Genevieve's birthday as well...actually, it's today so please wish her a Happy Birthday. =)

Here's a better shot of us, sent to to us by Dan, one of the many people who came by our booth during WonderCon 2009. Thanks, Dan!

[Gen's Edit]: A friend recently sent me this pic below.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

IITS Field Guide: Ecology of the Behemoth, Part III

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In lieu of our first web comic, I present you with...another Ecology of the Behemoth update! Wait, don't's got Kayli in it! I hope that makes up for the delay a bit. Trust me when I say that Genevieve has been working her butt off to put the final touches on the images before she sends them to me for the final script and formatting.

After we post it, we're going to explore how we're going to manage our work on finishing the first volume (the deluxe version we've talked about) while keeping this site updated with new content. We're not going to lock ourselves into one basic format because we can only do this part time and, as it turns out, doing a regular web comic is harder than it looks. Yeah, we pretty much ignored everyone's warnings.

In any case, we promise to try our best to keep giving our readers a reason to come back every few days, week to week, and month to month. Thanks for sticking with us!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good News and Bad News

Good news first...
The Islands in the Sky Online store is now open! Please visit the site at or click the Online Store Now Open picture on the sidebar to get taken straight there. We have our comic, two prints, and a rather neat set of magnets for sale. If you like our stuff and want to show your support, please order from our store and tell a friend!

Now for the bad news...
As you might have guessed, we fell short on delivering our first web comic. We're very sorry but real life happened and we were so caught up on getting the store up, the comic fell behind. Another reason is our process. We treated it like another comic page and that's very difficult to produce so while it's almost done, we are reevaluating how we work and how we can possibly deliver as much content as we can each week. More on this later but for now...just know we're going to have to make some changes. For those of you who have been waiting since WonderCon, I'm very sorry...we'll try to get it ready for you in a day or so.

Friday, March 6, 2009

IITS Field Guide: Ecology of the Behemoth, Part II

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Surprise update! It's Part II of the Behemoth Ecology! (cue sound of crickets) I can almost hear the collective sigh of the readers as they realize the update doesn't have Kayli in it. Soon, loyal readers...soon. Anyway, if you haven't noticed already, the quickest way to get Islands in the Sky news (if you're not already following the blog) is to check the info right below the IITS logo at the top of the page. As you can see, we'll have our store open and launch the first web strip on Monday. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

IITS Field Guide: Ecology of the Behemoth, Part I

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Hey readers, please let us know what you think of the Field Guide. Genevieve and I want to try to deliver as much content to you as possible but due to the pressures of real life, we're not sure how we're going to pull that off. One way we thought could help was to release smaller updates and this first Field Guide Update is something we're considering. We've got a pretty well thought out world in mind and we hope today's content post is something you'll enjoy.

P.S. Click on the image to see the larger, readable version! Also, we realize our site is a bit dinky and lacks the bells and whistles you'd expect from a web comic site. Please bear with us as we see about getting real web page set up. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Updated Contact Info

Heya folks! As we may have mentioned at WonderCon '09, we ran out of time to do our business cards and so Genevieve volunteered to use her Electronic Arts business card as a replacement and scribbled out our Islands in the Sky web address as she handed them out. If you need to contact us about IITS, please use the following contact info:

Joseph Wong - Writer
Contact for: Questions about IITS Comic/World/Characters/Future Plans, Upcoming IITS Appearances at Cons, IITS Web Comic Info, and anything else related to IITS.

Unfortunately, Genevieve is very busy these days at work and she's really sorry she hasn't been able to post but she needs to take care of all her official business first. Don't worry, she's still devoting as much time as she can to the project and we're still doing an update tomorrow & Monday.

Genevieve loves to hear from people who enjoy her art but she needs to separate her EA work from her Islands in the Sky work so if you want to contact her, for now...please leave a comment here. She has the site up all day at her desk and is reading everything, we swear. =)

Help Us Promote Islands in the Sky!

I've put up a Islands in the Sky Comic Sneak Peek slide show on the sidebar. Please help us promote Islands in the Sky by sending a link to our site to friends you think would like our stuff. With the inclusion of the slide show, new readers can now see some pages straight from the comic.

IITS Store Update: I need to work out the last few kinks in the system but I may be able to get the store up and running within a day or two. Initially, we'll offer the comic, the posters, the stickers and the magnets that we had at WonderCon '09 but we'll add new items to the store throughout the year. The store will accept payment by PayPal but please remember that PayPal allows you to pay with a credit card as well if you don't have or don't want a PayPal account.

P.S. Please use the comments to make suggestions about posters or other types of items you'd like to see in our store!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday WonderCon 2009 Pictures!

Hey, everyone. I apologize if you were looking for your own picture last night. Well, they're up and once again, I'm not in a single one...but look at all these good looking people (beneath the wall of text)!

One of the most gratifying things for us was to see repeat customers and customers who bring their friends to our table because they want them to see our work. Also, I swear...every single person who said they'd be back later to pick up something (to which we'd always say "Yeah, right.") actually came back and bought something. I kinda wish they would have just read our minds and said, "Yeah, I came back and bought something didn't I? IN YOUR FACE!"

I want to take a moment to thank all my friends/former co-workers from Shaba Games for coming by to support us. Doreen, Brandon, Frenton, Hough, Scott, Bradley, Harrison, D-Neg, Joel (and Katie), Ann (and Matthias), Shaheed (and Marilyn), K-Burn, Will, Chowder, Sherwin, and Damon. Thanks so much!

Genevieve has been really busy so I'll do the shout-out to all the Electronic Arts folks who came out to see us. Their numbers...legion. Their support...much, much, much appreciated. You folks know who you are but I'll give Salaam a special thanks for being so awesome as to buying and donating us a giant stack of bags and boards for our comics. Our customers really wanted them and I'M SO SORRY WE SCAVENGED THE BAG AND BOARD FROM YOUR OWN COPY TO GIVE TO SOMEONE ELSE.

Thanks also go to a few peeps from the LavaPunch group...Alex, Evon, Teerawat, and Jillian for coming by and buying some stuff, giving us some words of praise and delivering the occasional scolding for the high price of our book that was digitally printed and not offset whatever the hell that means.

Thanks to Mike, J.C., and Jody (sorry for spelling it wrong earlier) for bringing back customers and generally spending boatloads at our booth and helping us carry stuff back to the car.

Thanks to Cliff for being a three day repeat customer, introducing us to some neat new ink pens that Genevieve took a liking too, and constantly apologizing about taking up all our table space with his stacks of stuff and then not actually moving any of it out of the way (just kidding, dude).

Thanks to Emmy and Steve for bringing by bottled tea (at least I think that's what it was) and bringing us Bearded M-ther F-ckin Papas, yo.

Thanks to Anthony Hon for just being an all around cool dude.

Thanks to Nat Loh for spending time with us then leaving when we were busy and then coming back to spend more time with us when we had another second to spare.

Thanks to Sean "Cheeks" Galloway for trading your awesome art with our work. We definitely got the better end of the deal but at least you'll learn from this bitter experience. =)

Thanks to Martin and Elsa, our left side neighbors for being so cool and nice. GO CYBORG MICE!

Thanks to Jules and her guy friend (sorry, what was your name?) for stopping by twice to chat with us about web comics and printing stuff.

Thanks to Peter and Joey Gonzales, our across the "street" neighbors at Crown of Life Christian comics, for shocking the heck out of us by coming by and picking up our comic that's full of naked boobies. Just goes to show that even God approves of naked Kayli on giant meats. Man, I'm going to hell for that.

Thanks to Brian Baltes at Endeavor Printing for all his help in getting our book formatted, printed, and shipped out to us in the nick of time. Now, we did have to pay UPS a lot extra for the expedited shipping but after we uploaded our files to Endeavor, Brian put together a proof on the same day, sent it to us overnight, we approved it a day later, and he printed all our books and had them shipped out to us IN THE SAME WEEK. Brian, you rock. Thank you!

Thanks to Eric for coming by and giving us advice and praise for our book and to keep doing what we're doing no matter how many pages Kayli has to go naked in. We look forward to hearing from you again.

Thanks to our right side neighbors at 17 Machine Studios, Vince & Kelly Riley, Chuck, Lefteris for being the awesome, fun, laid back, and creative people that they are.

SUPER DUPER EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS to Vince & Kelly Riley for constantly looking out for us, giving us extra $1's, and oh my god...making sure we had something to eat and drink every day of the show. Lessee...goat cheese and tomato pizza, pepperoni and sausage pizza, one giant bag of healthy type chips, loads of gum drops, two giant bottles of expensive bottled water from companies we never heard of and certainly don't sell their stuff in Safeway, one giant bag of unhealthy type chips, a croissant with powdered sugar, some round thing with raisins and glaze, a super healthy hummus and wheat bread sammich and then a fat bacon and turkey sammich with even fatter slices of cheese, seven different cups for the expensive bottled water, and the fruit custard things with fruit and custard on them. You guys rule...especially Kelly. Vince, you're just married to her so I had to mention you out of courtesy. Thank you, thank you, thank you (Kelly)!

Finally, a thanks to all the folks who liked our stuff enough to buy it and here's the names we were able to get before you escaped our clutches...Jay, Willam, Andrew, Manuel, Rod, Joey, David, Symon, Don, Mark, IRON CHUCK, Yann, Steve, Willie, Saxby, Kevin Q, Joe Lee & Gina, Dallas, Dominic, the other Andrew, John, Michael, Jean, One Lung Ho & his wife Crystal, Kiyoshi, Glenn, Glenn again because he bought two books, Terry, Tony, Norm, Pelham, Oz, Dalton, Jeff, Joshua, Robert, Kampol, Serv, Jill, Orna, Andrew, Kelly, Eva, Sean, Byron, Adam & "Pinky" Paige, the other Alex, Tomas, James, the Ransom guys, Garth (how 'bout some "Rhyme Duo Time"...sorry obscure video game reference), Crayon Shinyan (close enough), Mac, Kisiwa (you got Genevieve's best con sketch), Wathanee, not to be confused with her friend Wathana, Rita, Marc with a C, Mandi, Jason, Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera for making Genevieve's day for agreeing to a trade, Dahveed, Jules, Daniel, Bill, Stephen, Tamie, Ann, the other Michael, Tom, Dennis, Fred, the other Mark, Rennie, Florencio, Dan, Todd, Ray, Eric, Troy, Jeff, Dave, Vincent, Ron, Francisco, the other Tom, the third Mark, Jonny, Kevin no Q, the other David, Justin, Grace, Tomoko and Tomoko, Oliver, Tacchan, the other Eric, Charles, Paul, Kamron, and the three dudes I didn't get the names of. Thank you all! Sorry to everyone I failed to mention but if you picked up the book and liked it, post a comment and let your voice be heard!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Saturday's WonderCon '09 Photos

It's 3:20am in the morning and I really should be sleeping right now but I got me some magnets to prepare for the last day of the show and figured I should post Saturday's pics as well. I feel bad that we only took pictures of about half of our customers. Sometimes it's so hectic, we just forget to snap a pic. Usually, it's me taking the picture so I'm in very few of them but if you look through these, I'm the guy blocking Kayli's big sword in the picture where three people are posing with Kayli. Genevieve is the one kneeling...if you hadn't already guessed. I remember most people's names but Genevieve said I shouldn't try to name everyone just in case I make a mistake and hurt someone's feelings. However, I know for certain that this first photo is of Gordo, a customer who shares the same name as our comic's co-star. =)