When Genevieve and I met in 2005, we quickly found inspiration in each other's creativity. I loved Genevieve's art and the stuff she was doing for the game we were working on at Shaba at the time and I'd keep her entertained on IM with random stories that I told and evolved on the fly. To this day, we still sometimes go over our old chat logs and laugh at the ridiculous conversations we used to have.
Anyway, I wrote a story as a gift to a friend, Jacqueline, who I was playing WoW with around that time. I played on Kil'jaeden and was the guild leader of <and the Pussycats> and though Jacqueline was not in my guild, I played together quite often with her character, Apsara. The story cast our characters, Kayli and Apsara, in a story about...you know, it was pretty out there. It starts in a prison cell and eventually has pole dancing, rat bone toothpicks, a little girl on girl action (really a lot tamer than it sounds), nuns getting their teeth knocked out by Kayli, and...well, it was a lot of fun to write and was the first story I wrote that involved Kayli in years.
The story turned out pretty good and pretty funny and Jacqueline enjoyed it quite a bit. I had asked Genevieve's opinion about the story as I was writing it and so the three of us remain the only people who have read the story. After I had finished writing the story though, I realized I hadn't written a short story in a long time and I really enjoyed writing dialogue and humor and really enjoyed writing about Kayli as well. This bit of history is important because Kayli's personality as a character evolved directly from this short story I wrote. It is important to note, however, that at this time...I had not worked on ideas for Islands in the Sky in quite some time and had not considered Kayli as a character for it.
Moving on, at some point in 2007, I found the inspiration to write a story about Kayli again. Kayli is a character that I have used all my life (well, since high school) in various forms. As characters in short stories I wrote, as player characters in table top games I played, as characters in single player RPG's I played, etc. So while I never really developed her personality too much, I did govern my "play" of her as a "good" character. So if I played games like Fallout or whatever...a game I could make decisions in, I would play Kayli as the good guy. I had another character I used, "Sariya" (pronounced suh-RYE-yah)...and I used her as my "evil" alter ego. As you might gather, you don't really get to develop a character in this way...so writing short stories with Kayli was the best way to do it. So I wrote a new short story detailing the meeting between Kayli and Gordo (this is the first time Gordo appears as a character ever). Aspects of it have changed from the short story version to the comic but the basic premise (sort of a Goldilocks and the Three Bears) remained unchanged.
When Genevieve and I finally decided to collaborate on a creative project it was natural to attach Kayli to the world of IITS. Kayli has been a hundred different characters in a hundred different games but the Kayli in the world of Islands in the Sky is the definitive one. The world of IITS is perfect for her because it was created to give the reader a sense of wonder...to make them believe that anything can be over the next horizon...and Kayli, among other personality quirks, has an insatiable curiosity.
Among the many ideas we had to work on together, a comic book was one that came up pretty often. One evening, I put together some simple boards and Genevieve immediately brought them to life with her drawings. At the time, we thought they were awesome but looking back on them now, woof...well, Genevieve has developed her style quite a bit since then. Maybe as a bit of fun, we'll scan those older comic pages and include them here someday.
As a world idea, IITS was developed more or less entirely separately from Kayli...but both Kayli and the world of IITS have long histories. Hopefully, the descriptions of each have been of interest to the readers of this blog. The development of Kayli and Islands in the Sky still continues and every one of our readers is a part of the ongoing saga. I feel proud and privileged to have Genevieve as my partner in this endeavor. She has helped me breathe life into the world and characters and nothing I write doesn't go through her first. Likewise, she often comes to me to get feedback on her art and sometimes, when I step out of the situation...I realize how much we sweat small things but I realize it's this quality control we both strive for that makes our stuff as good as it can be and I'm sure our readers don't mind.
To give you and idea of how much we think about each shot, here's an actual conversation Genevieve and I had recently:
Joe: "I think the belt should hang lower because it'll look sexier...put it at sort of an angle but make sure it doesn't cover the top of her butt crack because that looks good."
Gen: "Mmm...you're right but then it'll force me to move her hand and I like how it pushes in her butt fat right now."
Joe: "Yeah...damn, okay...do what you can. Hmmm...should the nipple be pushed up or down?"
Gen: "Up. Definitely."
Thanks for coming in each week to get a dose of my ramblings. We're still hard at work trying to get some good stuff ready for Comic-Con next month. In fact, as a preview...the above conversation excerpt is from something we're working on for that show. =)