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


  1. Coolness.

    A game based on Islands in the Sky gets me excited thinking about all the possibilities.

    Will it be like Odin Sphere? Street Fighter? God of War? God Hand? Disgaea? Metroid? X-Com? Septerra Core? Megaman Legends? heh

    Whoa, getting ahead of myself there.

    I am very interested in seeing the story or Kayli and Gordo, as well as learning the lore of their world.

    Personally I like learning about how the everyday things are handled in different worlds.

    Such as how people get hair cuts, do they cut it themselves? Is there a machine that does it? Magic?

    How is Kayli's suit made, was it one person sewing this animal together? Who or what took her measurements? Hmmm, maybe I'll commission that heh.

  2. I'm glad that the idea of a IITS Game sparks some interest in you. You named off some pretty different games there...my favorites in your list are X-Com and Odin Sphere but I do love the character designs in Disgaea too. Some pretty obscure stuff too like Septerra Core and Megaman Legends, whoa! I'm personally a Misadventures of Tron Bonne person myself (shoulda been a sequel). =)

    The "everyday things" you're talking about is the basic idea behind our "Field Guide" that we had in the back of the book and it was originally our plan to release more of those through the website. Unfortunately, till we get a real site going...the content will be sorta difficult for people just stumbling onto our site to sift through...unless I can think of a better way to present it here.

    We've been slacking on meatier updates for the site and to be fair, I can't lay the blame solely on Genevieve, though she's been very busy with other things...I haven't sat down to work on some of the back story and world in a way that can be released as bite sized...or should I say, "web sized" chunks. Maybe we can start that up again before the year is up so we'll have more reason for people to come visit our site on a weekly basis.

    You ask a lot of neat questions and we hope to answer those things for you in the future, Zac. =)

    - Joseph