Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Future of Islands in the Sky

Our fans often ask us when the next issue is coming out and, as always, we deflect the question with a vague date in the future. Please believe me when I say that we're not stringing you along. We'd love nothing more than to have the freedom to pursue all of our IITS ambitions with complete freedom but reality always comes in to spoil the party. As a two person operation, we have complete creative control...but it comes at the price of having to deal with all the financial responsibility of printing the books and merchandise and the risk that comes with printing too much. Furthermore, while making a little money on the side is nice, this hobby cannot pay each of us our respective rent and living costs like "real jobs" would. So much of the time, we are either focused on working these day jobs or looking for new day jobs.

Before anyone gets the idea that this is a "We're stopping production on Islands in the Sky," announcement...it's not. I just wanted to take a moment to tell our readers where we're at and what we are thinking. Well, first of all...Genevieve and I both really love the IITS world and it's a source of constant frustration for us that we have so far left it in such an unfinished / unresolved state. All the questions you have about world, characters, and story...we want to give you the answers. We have more characters to introduce, a fun story to continue, more layers of the world to explore...but not enough time at the present to do it.

I still haven't addressed the topic of the post...what is the future of Islands in the Sky? In the near future, we want to continue work on the comic and shoot for a major new content release in April of 2010 at WonderCon. Depending on how much we get done, we will either introduce the new work as a final cut of the first book or as the second issue. Some of you may be wondering, "What does the 'final cut' of the first book mean?" Don't worry, we don't want to just pad the original book with a few new pages and resell it to our older fans. If we add content to the first book for WonderCon 2010, we will do our best to make it worth it to new and old fans alike.

So why do that at all, you wonder? Why not just make a whole new book? The reason why we may add content to the original issue and re-release it is because we want to better define our property with the first book. In other words, we want a second chance at a first impression. We've listened to feedback from both friends and strangers and these are two of the most common criticisms:

1. The story is too short and it seems to end very abruptly...right when the plot begin to move.
2. There is an overall lack of backgrounds and/or toning.

In regards to #1, the original story was 42 pages long in pre-production. Early during production, we trimmed it to about 36 pages...basically, a "deluxe" sized, premiere issue. Late in production, when we realized we were never going to finish that many pages, we cut two double page spreads (great visuals but did not serve to further the story), and then a bunch of pages in between and after the pages we had already completed. So the resulting pages were actually reworked and in-production pages changed to keep everything making sense despite the cuts.

In regards to #2, we were torn between doing the gorgeous backgrounds of European comics and the simplicity of, well...simply doing NO backgrounds like so many manga books. In the end, to save time...we simply did not do backgrounds on many panels. As a compromise, we decided to do toning to make the characters pop a bit but even then, we ran out of time. So one of our major goals is to address these two main issues about the overall quality of the book.

Nudity has also been an issue that is frequently brought up in regards to our book. Our book has been both praised for having a more adult oriented nature and shunned for that same reason. Like I tell everyone at the shows we attend, "We wanted the nudity to be fun and sexy, not sexual," but I think that too many times people mistake sexy for sexual. We're not trying to push smut...we think Kayli is sexy and cute and we want to be able to share ALL of her with our fans. However, we also promise to make her an endearing character beyond her boobs...someone that both guys and gals will come to love. We do realize that between the boobage that is revealed in the book and some of our revealing Kayli prints and magnets, that we have perhaps overdone it a bit...but like I said, we will balance it not by showing less of Kayli but by giving you more story. The nudity is just a fun bonus and despite what she may tell you, Genevieve loves drawing it as much as I love coming up with ways we can show it. =)

I realize this is a long post but I decided that rather than be accused of coming up with "fluff" content to post, I'll not divide up everything into smaller, separate posts and just drop it all down right here in one day. Moving on, one of my ambitions is to make Islands in the Sky into a video game. Since the release of the comic, I've put together some preliminary design documents for two versions of the game dubbed: IITS-U (for Ultimate) and IITS-L (for Lite). IITS Ultimate is a "blue sky" design that is a big budget production. IITS Lite is a smaller scale game that retains the same basic principles of IITS-U but presented in such a way that it can be done in less time, with less money, and a smaller team. Another way to describe the differences would be to say that IITS-U would be the equivalent of a fully featured console or PC game and IITS-L would be a PSN, XBLA, or Steam released indie game. So will it ever become a reality? Well, if we can make the comic a big success...the game is that much closer to being made.

Finally, we've been approached by a rather cool guy about worldwide publishing rights to the Islands in the Sky comic. I don't want to reveal too much about it right now because we've only discussed it in a few meetings but suffice it to say that we've been talking to him about the possibility since WonderCon 2009. I will say, however, that his treatment of another IP (one that Genevieve herself is really rather fond of) is nothing short of fantastic and if Genevieve and I ever get the time to polish and work more on IITS, his company has the potential to really launch the adventures of Kayli and Gordo beyond what we ever hoped. The main reason why we chose not to sign anything at this point? We don't want to disappoint anyone with promises we can't keep. The only thing that Genevieve and I can promise is to do our best...no matter how long it takes. We hope that if we ever get there...you'll all be here to cheer us on and support us.

Thanks for reading.

- Joseph

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Great APE Weekend!

We had a fun time at the show. APE is much more relaxing than WonderCon or Comic-Con...there are also much smaller crowds but we still got our book into the hands of a lot of new people so that was the most important thing to us. We also had a lot of fans from previous shows come by to say "Hi," and ask about whether or not we had a new book out. Not yet! Sorry, everyone. We're going to try and make a big push for WonderCon 2010 in April so keep an eye out for us then.

It was great to see so many of our old IITS friends from the previous shows: Stephen, Cliff, A.J., and so many others that I'm failing to name here. Aside from those who already told us they might not make it, we were surprised that we didn't see Sparky. SPAAAAAARKY!!! Thanks for dropping by and chatting with us guys, it's always great to see you guys. =)

As usual, we wanted to snap pictures of all our customers but, as usual, we ran into a bit of a snag. This time, Genevieve's camera started acting weird halfway through the first day and, well...it stopped being able to take pictures. I managed to snap just a few with my BlackBerry camera but I was worried they would turn out crappy so I just stopped. There should be like 50-60 pictures here but unfortunately, we only have a few to show. I'll post the rest when Genevieve pulls them from her broken camera's memory card.

I want to send out a big thank you to all our old IITS friends...we really appreciate you stopping by to support us every time we exhibit at a show. A big thank you also to Martin at Bioroid Studios. This is the second time that they were exhibiting directly to our left at a con and it's always great to have them as con neighbors! Another big thank you to all our former and current co-workers for coming by and supporting us! Finally, a super huge thank you to all of you who picked up our book for the first time at APE. If you enjoyed it, please share your copy with a friend or send them to our IITS Store. We're just a two person, self-published operation and appreciate all the help we can get.

Genevieve and I had a great time at APE and we hope you did as well. We're doing our best to make an Issue 2 happen for WonderCon 2010 and we hope to see you all there. Thanks, everyone!

UPDATE: Genevieve recovered the photos from her broken camera and I've updated the post with them. What a great group of charming, smiling, and funny APE attendees these are! =)

- Joseph

That's it for this year's APE! See you at WonderCon 2010!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

APE is this weekend!

Wow...it's our first appearance at a show since Comic-Con. Time to dust off the ol' comics and knock 'em dead. I expect the show to be pretty chill overall. The vibe I get from APE is that it's mostly an indie pow-wow and social thing. A lot of local comic fans and creators will be there so I don't expect we'll move a ton of books but it'll be nice to talk to people and just relax in a very creative atmosphere. If you're in the neighborhood, why not drop by? Remember: If you have a paid Comic-Con '09 badge, you can use it to get into the show for free! Hope to see you there. Have a a great weekend everyone. =)

- Joseph

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Very, very quiet...

...because there just isn't much going on right now on the IITS front. Genevieve is hard at work on her gallery pieces and we can't wait to show you those when we can. APE will be pretty low key for us, just a bit a fun hanging out with other creators and selling some of our extra books. One more week...then we'll start planning out WonderCon 2010 in earnest. Thanks for being patient...if there's anyone still out there. =P

- Joseph

Friday, October 2, 2009

Doodles from Vacation

O Hai Guyth!

Sorry about the lack of updates! Aside from IITS, I've been really busy at EA, the gallery stuff and many other things at the same time, so I apologize there hasn't been much on the site lately. I also came back from a cruise to Alaska with my family a few weeks ago. I went ziplining over a rainforest canopy in Ketchikan, and I took a helicopter to the top of Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, where I went dogsledding. The sights were incredibly amazing! Anyway, I just thought I'd share some doodles I did while I was on the trip. I did a lot more but these are just the IITS-related ones. Some are kinda crappy cause I felt sea sick while I was doing them on the ship. But, I included a bonus sketch...

Enjoy! XD


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Don't Forget...APE is October 17th & 18th!

The Alternative Press Expo is a fun, local SF show that is mostly local creators. It's never too crowded but there is a lot of great talent to see and you generally have a better chance to chat it up with people. Remember, if you attended Comic-Con 2009, your badge from that show is FREE admission to APE so why not drop by?

P.S. Oh, and come by and say "Hi" to us if you do. =)

- Joseph