Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Production Post #1: From "Skyline" to "Unbroken Skies"

In addition to posting story content on this blog, Paul and I will also post information about the production of "Unbroken Skies". We'll discuss our creative choices and perspectives in relation to bringing this world to life. This is sort of our, "Behind the Scenes" bonus feature if you will. The first post discusses the origin of "Unbroken Skies"...

The concept that lead to the creation of "Unbroken Skies" has existed in my mind for the past four years. At the time of it's creation I was desperate to find a new story concept to work on for my portfolio. Other story ideas became stale and it was necessary to create something that could capture the imagination and inspire good work. An idea that could be somewhat abstract in it's concept yet grounded in sophisticated storytelling. Basically, something that would create a real challenge for the work that needed to be created for a strong portfolio.

Exploring a team story seemed like fun. I'm a big fan of the "Justice League" and love the idea of different individuals working together with various skill sets. Still, it was difficult to find a concept to build a foundation on. There was an idea of a team of time traveling adventurers looking for lost treasure through time, but for some reason it was difficult connecting with that story. It wasn't until I had a brief conversation with an old man at work about World War II combat pilots, that the idea of a world existing only in the sky started to germinate. I've had a deep fascination with aviation and World War II combat planes ever since I watched the film, "The Tuskegee Airmen" when I was ten. Also, I have an interest in the samurai and thought it would be cool to have a "samurai-ish" story that takes place in the air, with wandering ronin in fighter planes. Eventually this concept would find it's existence as a single page comic via the Campus Ledger, the bi-weekly student newspaper for Johnson County Community College.

"Skyline", as the story was called then, ran for three semesters. Except for our four main characters, the story of "Skyline" was very different from "Unbroken Skies" and to be quite honest, not very good. Writing dialog and making the story practical was extremely difficult, especially with the schedule we had at the newspaper. Often times I would only have one day to illustrate the comic. My good friend Bryan Timmins would often give his thoughts and his wife Julie would also help write some of the "Skyline" comics, which really saved the story. Despite the many hardships "Skyline" faced at the newspaper, the comic managed to win many first place awards including first place with the Associated Collegiate Press two years in a row. A lot of hard work went in to creating that comic and a good portion of credit should go to my wife Whitney, who handled the typesetting and layout.

The "Skyline" story didn't end after its run at the Campus Ledger. Eventually I found myself employed at Half Price Books, where I would meet my good friend Paul Dodson who would shape the struggling "Skyline" story into the dynamic and fun "Unbroken Skies". Paul has managed to give the story it's wings and a horizon to sail upon. It would be unfair for me to discuss "Unbroken Skies" further without the help of Paul, for "Unbroken Skies" belongs to us both!

This is just the first of many production posts which will follow the Wednesday posts every week. I hope you enjoy them!

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