Monday, June 22, 2009

Islands in the Sky: The Evolution, Part IV

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 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 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 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: "'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, 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. =)

- Joseph


  1. I wish you guys would just start drawing porn already. This stuff right here is boring.

  2. Well, sorry you think so and sorry...we won't be drawing porn either. Check out 4Chan for plenty of free porn if you need your fix, dude.

  3. ...but you're right about the other thing. I was boring myself to sleep with it. Ha ha.

  4. Ah, that makes me kinda sad... it makes me wonder how many of our readers just want to see porn or T&A. =( I suppose it's sort of our doing; we did present her many times as a sexy, often nude character, but we tried to keep it fun and lighthearted. Yet there are plenty of artists who depict characters in that way and no one calls it porn.

    I'm sorry you find the stuff boring, Anonymous. Some readers appreciate Joe's writing, and we're thankful for that. But we understand it's not for everyone. At least you're honest! ^^

    Perhaps it would interest you more if Joe wrote some erotic fiction instead, haha! ;)


  5. You keep saying this isn't a T&A book, but that's all I've seen on here. The art is awesome, but the writing just isn't that intresting. Sorry.

    You guy's obviously like drawing naked chicks. Stick with what you're good at. :)

  6. Well, you heard it here first, folks...if you can't please the Anonymous Internet Person, you must be doing something wrong.

    P.S. Awww...that's so sweet of you to rush to my defense, Genevieve. =)

  7. Were you expecting to draw in a serious audience with tits? You're advertising it like it's a T&A book, I'm just saying to admit that's what it is, embrace it, and maybe take it further. Am I really that out of line? I'm not trying to offend here.

    These long walls of text are not going to appeal to anyone outside of your friends and family. Post the art work. That's what's good. Just an observation. Criticism can be a good thing, guys.

  8. Really? I found the writing to be a bit humourous and the story to be plenty interesting. Different strokes for different folks I suppose.

  9. You seem to be interested enough to continually return here so I'll try to address what I believe are your main concerns.

    So your main problem is that you want to see artwork...specifically, artwork of of naked girls and in the last four weeks, you haven't been satisfied with the lack of naked artwork posted here. Maybe you're new to the site, maybe you've been following it for doesn't matter, you're here for some tits and the lack of tits is getting you upset enough to do something about it.

    That's it in a nutshell, right? I mean, you have commented that you thought the writing wasn't very interesting but I don't know if you're just referring to the blog posts or if you actually own a copy of the book and don't like the writing in there either. Either way, my answer to that is the same: Sorry, I'm going to keep writing on the blog and for the comic and if you don't like it, you don't have to read it.

    Some of my posts on the site are "filler", sure...but the goal is to let people who follow the site know that we're not dead. I think people come here for different reasons. Some people don't mind the writing, some people enjoy it, and you seem take it as an affront to nature. I'd rather not have a weekly post of "No news today, sorry," so if it's all the same to you (since you wouldn't read it either way) I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing.

    The posts are not intended to replace the real star of the show (that's, uh...Genevieve's art, in case you all haven't been paying attention) and if we had new artwork to post, we would certainly post it.

    Lessee...what else? Oh. "Were you expecting to draw in a serious audience with tits? You're advertising it like it's a T&A book, I'm just saying to admit that's what it is, embrace it, and maybe take it further. Am I really that out of line? I'm not trying to offend here."


  10. (cont. from previous post)

    Yeah, that probably needs to be addressed. Yes, we did intend to attract a serious audience because while we regard "fan service" as important we only ever intended for our comic to be sexy...not sexual. So if by "taking it further", you mean "acts of sex", I'm sorry, we're not going to go there. I suggest Heavy Metal Magazine as a source for fine art with sex in it.

    You probably haven't read the book and no, I don't think if you'd have a sudden change of heart. However, what you would realize is that we made a serious effort to create something for an audience that could appreciate a little sexiness with their light hearted adventure story. It was not our goal to attract an audience that just wants stroke material. If we weren't serious we wouldn't have spent the time story boarding, writing, and drawing a story. We would have just done what you wanted...draw pinup porn. So whether or not you like it doesn't matter, this is what we're doing.

    It's too bad the site isn't what you are looking for and, unfortunately for you, it will never be. In the last few weeks, I've plotted out the next 8 pages of the book and submitted the storyboards to Genevieve and she really loved them. I'll give you a preview, Bob (I've decided to give you a name, Anonymous Internet Dude is so impersonal)...while there are some fan service shots, all pages feature Kayli fully clothed.

    On the other hand, yeah...we do like to draw Kayli naked because we think it's harmless, sexy, fun and we hoped that most people understand that it's all in good, clean fun. Maybe you understand that...but I think you misunderstood the reason why this site is here.

    Your backhanded comments in the flimsy guise of "criticism" (which basically amounts to "stop what you are doing and draw porn") are clearly intended to insult and while neither random Anonymous Internet Dude's around the world or, in fact, you Bob...even cause a stutter in our daily thoughts, I've given you my time and made the effort to explain the intent of the site, our intent with the comic, and to directly address your concerns. Furthermore, by not shutting down the ability to post Anonymous comments or even all comments, I've given you a forum where you can state your opinions and even continue to do so...but please, don't tell us what to do on our own site, it's just rude.

    P.S. Y'know...for all your dislike of my writing, you certainly are a glutton for punishment, Bob.

  11. Dude, well said. I know that everyone is entitled to there opinion but sometimes its just bad taste to post negative comments about something you have no idea about. I like the art in IITS. I ain't gonna lie. I'm an artist and I've always been attracted by the drawings in a comic. If the plot is good then it pulls me in even more. I'll read a terrible story for some killer panels. I'm not saying that the writing is bad or anything, I just need more story for the characters to flesh out and see where they are headed on their journey. I agree that if you just want pure T&A = 4chan is there for the pillaging. There are many doujinshi artists out there that make just about every parody porn story for peeps enjoyment. People are so used to flaming on message boards and such that they don't even know how to say anything constructive or thoughtful. The fact that they(Bob) took the time to hate without any beneficial info is just sad. I feel that you Joseph should keep chuggin' along and bringin' the funny and insightful stories. I like to hear about the background and progress. The "chat" about the details you and Genevieve had was hilarious! I hope to see new stuff in time. Good stuff and keep workin' hard.


  12. Thanks, Mike. =)

    Well, you get all sorts. However, I'm glad that most of our readers seem to be considerate and patient.

    Genevieve and I set out to make Kayli cute, funny, and sexy...and I think with the feedback we've gotten at shows so far, we seemed to have achieved that. Therefore, it's not a big surprise to us that Kayli and Genevieve's art is the main attraction.

    We've received criticism that the story is a bit short and doesn't seem to go anywhere beyond a naked Kayli fight in the first book. As I explained (in the back of the comic), the original book was 32 pages and we had to cut pages to make the print date for WonderCon.

    The book IS a bit short but and it doesn't help that my style of storytelling uses a lot of moment to moment panels. At times, I fast forward the clock a bit to get to the next scene but overall, the story was told exactly the way I intended. The first book was meant to get people interested in the story by introducing a cute, funny, and sexy female lead, showing some fighting action between some characters and then leading into a big fight with the Behemoth but we only managed to get the first two of those three things done.

    In subsequent books, we have a lot more story planned and while we still intend to have more of the moment to moment storytelling (which can be difficult to produce good results for), we'll also speed the story along when we can.

    Thanks for reading everyone.

  13. I did buy the book, actually. 20 pages of it featured the Kayli character nude. Not a T&A book, huh?

    I don't know. I didn't buy it exclusively for bewbs, I wanted to see the story you guys talked about so highly, but all that's in there is 2 pages about Kayli's wetsuit, and 3 more on her design. So I guess I'm judging the writing to hastily; I really haven't seen enough to do so.

    Anyway, I'll go ahead and drop this subject since I'm being pegged as a perv and a troll.(I guess my comments about turning this to porn went too far.) Not my intention, but whatever, It's just some anonymous internet person's opinion after all, right?

    I plan to continue following this for the fantastic art and a possible story in the future. Feel free to keep doing pinups, though. :P


  14. We're new at this and we strive to improve ourselves in all areas. We're not professional comic book creators but we've enjoyed the experience and have the highest respect for anyone who can do this for a living.

    I guess it's easy to criticize the story because it doesn't try very hard. It doesn't try to make you think, it doesn't foreshadow anything great, it doesn't try to be more than just the moment.

    You're not alone in your unspoken sentiment...that sentiment being "I could do better." Trust me when I say that myself and other creators get that all the time. It's not a bad thing because I've said that too and it drove me to create something that I would enjoy and hopefully find an audience for.

    Well, this is the story I want to tell and I'm grateful for having someone as talented as Genevieve enjoy my storytelling as much as she does and help me bring life to the characters and world we've created together.

    I'm also grateful for YOUR support of our book (the mere act of buying it makes Genevieve and I very happy and proud) but I hope you don't end up waiting around for the type of story you're expecting (I still don't know exactly what that is) but will never get. Thanks for giving us (me) a chance.

    - Joseph