As I have said before, I love-love-love retro space opera and sci-fi. The high-adventure, quasi-fantasy tales of characters like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and John Carter have become a cornerstone of my pop-culture sensibilities.

One reason is the charm of fiction written about space travel before any actual space travel had ever occurred. It’s endlessly fascinating to me. Another reason is that mind control is all over that genre, especially the later works during the 1950s. I first came to appreciate these things because they were highly inspirational to Star Wars, but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to love them all on their own.

And so, as those of you who follow this blog will know, years ago I found some material that I thought would be suitable to put my own spin on a mind control tale set in this genre. But a lot has happened since then. I’ll tell you all about it but first you should probably go and read the debut issue of our new monthly series Captain Jette Jones, Star Ranger!

This project, in its original incarnation as a one-off photo manip, has been brewing a long time, since 2017 in fact. It came very close to being finished in 2019 but, then as will sometimes happen, I had more ideas. As I thought about the original photo that inspired all this I began to fill in more and more details about the universe this took place in and the characters involved. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had started world building.

I gathered ideas, I photoshopped many other characters and locations and I wrote… lots. I wrote backstories and histories, I wrote scenes and bits of dialogue and I outlined an adventure on a grand scale.

Too grand, in fact. The idea had become so big that I realized that I couldn’t possibly find enough source material to photoshop all the story beats. To say nothing of writing the tens of thousands of words that it would take to bring the tale to life. At the time, I hadn’t quite gotten up the courage to tackle straight prose in my work.

So, I shelved it, thinking maybe someday I’d figure out what to do with it. I’d show the concept art (as I’d grown to think of it) around to friends on occasion to get their reaction, which was always encouraging, but I still didn’t know what to do with it.

This original source photo, that I’d imagined as a princess from the stars undergoing sinister brainwashing, eventually led to the adventures of Jette Jones

Then in the summer of 2020, I was chatting with connie k, one of my favorite past times, and I mentioned this “retro space opera with mind control” idea to her. I showed her some of my photoshop concept art and she got excited. Like, really excited.

She loved it and wanted to know everything about it. She was more excited about it than I had been in a long time and that enthusiasm was infectious. I’d felt overwhelmed by tackling such a huge project but I thought that if she were game, maybe it would be something we could do together.

I’d already been thinking about a collaboration with her, our influences and tastes are so similar – it seemed like we might really gel if we worked together. So, I proposed we join forces. I think she was hesitant at the start, she hadn’t collaborated prior and she was definitely cautious about diving in. But she agreed and we started going over all the material I’d created so she could catch up.

We outlined the first story, we knew right up front that we had loads and loads of stories we wanted to tell. She started writing. The plan was for her to take a full pass at the story and then hand it back to me to tweak and polish. Along the way, we developed the idea that this would be like a comic book. We’d write each part as an issue and thought we could comfortably put out a new one every month.

She wrote for several months and wouldn’t let me see anything (such a tease). I promised myself early on I would never ask her when I could see it. I would wait until she was ready to show it to me. She’d ask questions along the way: where does this name come from, what’s the deal with this organization you mention, how big is a rayff staff?

She was incredibly gracious and accommodating. She told me, repeatedly, “change anything you like from my work. It’s your story, I’m just here to help.” And yet, from our very first conversation, once we’d agreed to collaborate, she had such a clear vision of what she wanted us to create.

She had a handle on character traits that I’d never been able to nail down. She saw some of the names I’d created and said “we need to change that one, it’s not quite right.” She told me about how she saw the relationships between the characters and how she thought they could grow.

And she was right about all of it!

The flames really started burning when she finally dropped the first pass of issue #01 in my inbox. It was amazing to read through something I’d helped to shape but written through another artist’s lens. We started talking about where to take it from there. My job was to add color and erotic heat as well as to make sure all the details lined up with the greater mythology.

I was so nervous as I started making my first changes. Despite all her encouragement to change whatever I liked, this was my friend and what if I deleted or changed something that she really loved? I made her wait weeks while I picked at it. I wouldn’t let her see what I was doing (payback time!). I finally decided I was going to do as she’d asked and change whatever I wanted.

I’d come to a scene and say to myself, “hey, I see what she’s going for here, maybe I’ll add a bit of this” and I’d throw some more paint on the canvas. I laughed myself silly as I came to passages that read like, “What have you learned about the Suzerain Council? It’s really interesting stuff Captain, I’m gonna let Callidus tell you all about it. Hit it big guy!” Eventually, I finished and handed it back to her for her notes.

She dove in and cleaned up my copy, pointed out where I was explaining the same thing more than once, and recommended places where we should start cutting scenes short to tighten up the pacing. She rewrote my stuff and asked me to put things back in that she thought were tonally important.

It was glorious fun! Far from being awkward or a stalemate of egos, we’d become totally simpatico. We shared a combined vision of what a Jette Jones story should be and discovered that our approach and styles complimented each other perfectly. We came to trust each other’s instincts and trust that we were both there to make Jette Jones as much fun as we possibly could.

We wrote and joked and laughed ourselves silly as we finished the work on issue #01. And, now… we’re doing it all over again for issue #02! I won’t spoil anything of real value but I will say that this first story, Slaves of the Suzerain, is slotted to take place over the first four issues.

We’ve got sizzling mind control, sensuous hypno sex and slamming action in store for you over the next several months. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this first installment. We hope you had half as much fun as we did putting it together! We’ll see you back here in late April for issue #02!

Until then, and as always, your questions, comments and suggestion are welcome!


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