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  • Sam Kennedy

Callisto Magazine


Thanks for stopping by.

Today's post will be about Callisto Magazine, the next work being published by Jupiter Valley Studios. Though to be more precise, Callisto will be publishing it.

Jupiter Valley Studios as a company is going to hold two imprints. The original JVS line will focus on tabletop gaming and the overall business. Callisto will be geared towards the creative arts and print publications. It will be a beneficial split in terms of branding, and I think it will really help me find the right audiences for what I'm publishing. That's not to say that the lines won't be blurred in terms of what's being put out and for who. The JVS mission remains the same for both:

"Jupiter Valley Studios publishes content that explores the furthest reaches of creativity, while holding true to the founding aesthetics of human artistry."


Callisto Magazine will be the imprint's flagship publication. The first issue, Callisto Magazine No. 1, will be landing January '24. (It was first planned for December 2023, but I'm expecting my second child soon, so I need to be realistic with my time.) The second issue will be coming out later the same year. My goal is to someday make Callisto Magazine a quarterly periodical, but for that to happen I'm going to have to bring on staff, which is in the works for 2025.

The idea for Callisto has been bouncing around in my head for quite a while now. About a year ago I decided I wanted to make it a reality. I tackled Lock & Spell first, since I had long been ready to join the tabletop industry. But when the game was finished, Callisto Magazine became my main focus. (Along with my next game, Children of the Sun. But that's for another post . . . )

The postcards I made to promote Lock & Spell featured this early design on the opposite side. The art is generic stock, but the general art direction was taking shape. The title design alone has helped me define the magazine's style.

Callisto got its name from one of Jupiter's many moons. Jupiter IV, as it's also called, is the single most cratered object in our solar system. It's completely riddled with impacts from celestial objects, which seems symbolic in a way I haven't yet figured out. The moon itself got its name from the Greek nymph Callisto, lover of Zeus who was changed into a bear by his vengeful wife. Callisto was then killed on a hunt and turned into the stars as Ursa Major.

With all that in mind, while Callisto Magazine isn't at all related to the moon or its goddess, there's a subtle outer space aesthetic going on its design. (Hopefully creating a sense of wonder and adventure.) The overall vibe of the magazine is going to be similar to a vintage comic book, with mixed styles ranging from the early golden age of the 40 & 50s all the way up to grungy era in the 80s & 90s. I'll be hand drawing and inking everything, then doing coloring digitally with a set of vintage aesthetic tools by Retro Supply Co. (ColorLab in particular!)


I've got the first issue of Callisto outlined. It's a fun mix of short stories, comics, art, and games.

It's been awhile since I've written in earnest, so I'm both excited and bit unsure of myself. Junicka Valley is the only fiction I've written for the last five years. (Which I wholeheartedly promise will be published in full someday.)

I've always had a love/hate relationship with writing. It's like pulling teeth for me. Beautiful golden teeth that satisfy the deepest yearnings of my creative my soul. But pulling teeth nonetheless.

An even bigger hurdle I have to face is learning to draw again. I'm shaking off years of neglecting my art. I used to draw and paint all the time. Heck, I'm even an art school dropout. But it all fell by the wayside as life moved forward and my time became limited. So now here I am, years later, trying my damnedest to revive it. The experience was rough at first. My sketches felt like they were done by a child. But I soon found, after practicing for a bit, that the passion and skill are still there, just buried very deep and needing a good polish. Overall I'm feeling hopeful about the whole endeavor. Graphic storytelling might just be the medium I've been looking for after all these years!


There will be two (and a half) comics in Callisto Magazine No 1.

Dream Jam, a strange story about a young man facing the unraveling of the cosmos all within the confines of his city. And Flapjack, a comical western about an ex-bounty hunter who swore off shooting his guns.

Look, here he is!

An early blue pencil sketch of Flapjack.

The half-a-comic is Sunday Breakfast, a quirky little comic strip in the style of something you'd find in the Sunday funnies. It stars a cast of anthropomorphic breakfast items and their daily highjinks. Something lighthearted, yet funny in an existential sort of way.

It was comic strips that first got me back into drawing. They were the guiding factor in making Callisto Magazine a real goal of mine. I started reading Popeye, both the E.C. Segar's rowdy tales and Bud Sagendorf's wonderful adventures. Then Krazy Kat by George Herriman. Calvin and Hobbes was of course required reading. And next I went European for Tintin by Hergé. From there my studies shifted to the western super hero comics. (Though I often go for the weird ones, like Grant Morrison's Animal Man, Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, and Bill & Ted by Evan Dorkin.)


As for fiction, there will be two short stories in the Callisto No 1. I don't have a title for the first just yet, but it's a sci-fi tale that will start the weaving the threads of a whole loosely-tied universe. The second short story is the first installment of Felix & Gin, a tale I've been working on for a long time now and plan on releasing a series of novellas for someday. It's about a pair of vagabonds doing whatever it takes to make some cash in a semi-magical world heavily inspired by turn of the century Europe.


Game-wise, there's Word Avenue, a fun mix between Tetris, crosswords, and jumble. There's also Stargazer, a sort of trivia game mixed with constellation finding. Lithos is a half-page number puzzle that's simple yet fiendishly difficult. And lastly, there will be a short choose your own adventure of epic proportions tentatively titled Fate Breakers.


That all sums up Callisto Magazine pretty well.

For the next six months my nose will be to the grindstone writing, drawing, and designing. I'm excited for the Callisto journey to begin, and I know that years from now Callisto Magazine will be going strong. It's the artistic outlet I've so desperately needed, and it's really going to help me redefine who I am and what JVS is all about.

I'll be sure to keep everyone updated with my progress, especially when it comes to the artwork and layout design. And when January 2024 rolls around, get ready for a Callisto Magazine launch!

Thanks for reading!

Be sure to subscribe to the JVS Newsletter for email updates and exclusive content. I'll be sending out my Children of the Sun Designer Diary entries to all subscribers.

See you next time!



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