The Sly Cooper Fan Network recently had the privilege of interviewing Gemma AKA Fiendish Kitten, a magnate in the Sly Cooper fan community. Hailing from the UK, Gemma is responsible for creating the highly successful forum, Sly Cooper World, in 2006, and its accompanying website of the same name in 2007. More recently, Gemma is frequently credited with being “psychic” (a title she denies) for predicting the name of Sly 4, “Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time,” six years before its release. Catching up with Gemma nearly ten years since Sly Cooper World was launched, she had some pretty fascinating insight as to the state of the Sly Cooper fandom/community in 2007, her highly successful websites, and her awesome fan videos that have attracted a cult following.
Gemma first discovered Sly Cooper back in 2005 at a club she joined and immediately fell in love with the series. In 2006, as she was sitting in class, Gemma randomly decided to Google “Thief Net” and found the legendary, now defunct, Sly Cooper fan site, Thief.net (originally at freewebs.com/thiefsnet before later moving to SlyThiefNet.webs.com). From Thief.net, she discovered the Sly Cooper Forum (still active to this day) and Sly’s Underground, where she made her first appearance on the Sly Cooper scene.
After noticing a trend of fan sites and forums popping up across the Internet, Gemma decided to "jump onto the bandwagon." Her first creation, the Sly Cooper World forum, went live in 2006, with the Sly Cooper World website following in 2007. The iconic Sly Cooper World banner and logo was crafted by a forum moderator and artist, Penelope (AKA Mileope, or Mile), and other art was created by members Metsha the Wolf and Verona (Verona also created Verona Online, another huge Sly Cooper fan site that is still updated today).
During Gemma’s time spent on Sly’s Underground in 2007, she befriended Sly Cooper character impressionist Mike Bullimore, also known as “Dark Drifter.” Since they were both anxiously awaiting Sly 4, they decided to create a series of fan videos based on their own plot ideas and scripts. Mike was responsible for most of the truly incredible voice acting, with the exception of Penelope who was voiced by Gemma.
The fan videos were great, but their most intriguing quality may be their fortuitous title, “Sly 4: Thieves in Time.” Gemma and Mike had predicted the actual name of Sly 4 a whole six years before its release! The plot of their fan videos even resembles the 2013 game, as it centers on Bentley installing a time machine in the Cooper Gang’s van. Gemma swears that the name and plot similarities were nothing more than a coincidence, but many nonetheless regard her as being psychic.
When asked why Gemma left Sly Cooper World, the conversation took a somber turn. Gemma explained that, after Sucker Punch announced the first inFamous game, most lost hope that there would ever be another Sly Cooper game. Some emailed Sucker Punch to inquire about Sly's fate, only to be presented with an automatic email response telling fans to “rest assured, Sucker Punch will return to the Sly Cooper franchise,” a promise the company never kept. As a result, visitor traffic began to decline, and Gemma slowly lost her faith and interest. Her YouTube channel met a similar fate after perpetual negativity ensued in the comments.
While no longer active in the community, Gemma is still an avid fan of the Sly Cooper franchise, although very skeptical of the movie which may or may not be released. Rather than maintain a massive Cooper community, Gemma now produces amazing audio plays which you can check out on her YouTube channel. For more, you can read the full transcript of the interview below
Full Interview Transcript
Gemma: I haven't done this sort of thing in a while, by the way.
Sly Cooper Fan Network (SCFN): So, why did you stop updating the website and everything [Sly Cooper World, and Sly Cooper World forum]? Was it that you were just too busy or something?
Gemma: Yeah, that was one reason, I guess I just lost interest after a while. Plus, the fact, I had the feeling that, it was well into 2007 or 2008, people had kinda given up hope about Sly Cooper 4 because Sucker Punch had only just announced inFamous.
SCFN: I was just going to ask you about that actually, did you ever think there would be a Sly 4?
Gemma: That was actually quite a difficult question to ask because I, I’m not the only person, but quite a few people emailed Sucker Punch about Sly 4 and they kept getting this automatic email response from them, that they replied with the same thing over and over. All I remember that email saying was "rest assured, Sucker Punch will return to the Sly Cooper franchise." It just seemed they were focusing too much on inFamous like they were starting a whole new thing altogether. And then a few years later we found out that Sly 4 is coming but under a different company”
SCFN: I can understand why you would have become disillusioned with maintaining the website and everything.
Gemma: Even on the other Sly Cooper forums I was a member of - I was a member of three active Sly Cooper forums, one of which was my own. And I can’t remember the last time I even visited any of the other forums but, during late 2007 or 2008 it was clear that hardly anyone was coming on the forums anymore. I’m guessing part of the reason was because of Sly 4 not coming out and people were just giving up hope. Because obviously Sucker Punch were focusing on inFamous and moving on to a completely different project altogether.
SCFN: What first inspired you to make a Sly Cooper forum and then the website and then the videos?
Gemma: Well I’m gonna start off saying how I came to find out about this Sly Cooper forum I was a member of in the first place back in 2006. Interestingly enough, it all started when...I was in year ten at school, which is the equivalent of being a freshman in America. I was 15 years old and I randomly typed in Thief Net in Google, and the first thing that came up was ThiefNet.org [editors note: probably Thief.net formerly hosted at SlyThiefNet.webs.com] It started just by a random Google search - that’s how it all started. And there was a link to the Sly Cooper Forum on there, and interestingly enough, it was through this website that I actually found out about YouTube in the first place. It was June 2006, there was a link to two Sly Cooper forums, one of them was just called Sly Cooper Forum and it was run by somebody called Verona [editors note: Verona also created Verona Online, another huge Sly Cooper fan site that is still updated today] who does really good Sly Cooper fan art, and I remember she was obsessed with Neyla. I joined that forum under the name Fiendish Kitten. I also joined Sly’s Underground forum. They used to do Sly Cooper podcasts on there.” [editors note: the podcasts were originally hosted on the Sly Underground site, an archived version of the site can be found here but the podcast download links don't work]
SCFN: Really? Thats interesting.
Gemma: Yeah! It was run by a guy called Mike whose username was ‘The Murray,’ and it was him and his sister Jackie, and one or two other guest stars, and would just do random Sly Cooper podcasts. I think we ended up with about forty or so, I can’t remember, and from what I recall those podcasts no longer exist. But during my time on both of those Sly Cooper forums, it seemed like there was a trend going on of more and more Sly Cooper forums being created, and there was a couple more Sly Cooper forums being created by members of those forums, and I thought, "why not just jump on the bandwagon?!" That’s how I came up with Sly Cooper world the forum, which had quite a good run in the two years it was around for - well, technically it still exists today, but -
SCFN: Yeah there’s actually some posts on it from like, 2014 I think?
Gemma: Really? I’ll have to check that actually because I haven’t been on that site in like, forever.
SCFN: Oh, 2013 looks like the last post actually.
Gemma: Oh yeah! There is some from 2013, like...1 post. 2011...2008...wow. Oh my god, I’ve still got the flashing banner up there! The Sly Cooper World banner was actually made by Penelope, who was one of our moderators. Her username on deviantArt was Mileope, which was a combination of Penelope and Mile - I think it's pronounced Mile, that was her nickname. She was a really good artist. And I actually animated the banner myself. Looking at it now, it looks very...choppy. I mean, obviously the image itself is actually really good, because I like how she drew Sly just holding the world in his hand, but you can clearly see all the cuts around it. [editor’s note: the Sly Cooper World logo flashes on top of the Sly banner].
SCFN: I don’t think it's that bad and the art itself is pretty beautiful.
Gemma: It is! She did quite a lot of drawings of Sly Cooper, and there was also a fan character that I created named Matt Timber who she drew as well. One of the features I used to have on the forum was, every month I’d just have different character heads falling from the top of the forum, and I had one comment saying "why is it raining Penelope?!”
SCFN: So did you remove that after a while?
Gemma: Yeah, there were a few complaints about it slowing things down, because at the time people were still using dial-up Internet.
SCFN: Wow.. Dial-up? Wow...
Gemma: We had character of the month nominations, and obviously whichever character wins, their head would be picked to be falling from the top of the forum. The smiley was made by Mile again, there were quite a few smileys made by Verona, which were the Neyla, Dimitri, Sly and Carmelita ones. Metsha the Wolf, which is one of the active members of the forum - well I’ve actually still got contact with him now, he made quite a few smiles as well. He’s a really good graphic designer, he actually got me into graphic design, cuz he made a few mini characters on some of the other forums he was on, and that actually inspired me to create mini warriors for one of my other fandoms.
SCFN: That’s cool.
Gemma: Back to the Sly Cooper World website, that was basically just another trend going on. Like, everyone and their mother was creating Sly Cooper websites, and I thought I’d just create a website of my own.
SCFN: Well, I’m glad you did because it's probably one of the best Sly Cooper fan sites out there.
Gemma: Thank you!
SCFN: Even though it’s abandoned and everything, it's by far one of the best ones. And yours is one of the only ones that's still on the Internet right now because a lot of the older ones were made with Freewebs, and Freewebs is taking down a lot of the older sites that have been abandoned, so yours is one of the last ones that's still on the Internet, so that's pretty cool. So, how did you get the idea to start creating some fan videos?
Gemma: Well that was when I was on the Sly’s Underground forum. I actually met a guy called Mike Bullimore, also known as ‘Dark Drifter’ or ‘Dark Drifter UK,’ as he’s known on YouTube. He had previously mentioned that he does voice acting, like impressions of some of the characters from Sly Cooper, and I had this idea just come to mind that we wanted to just create our own fanmade Sly 4 while we were waiting for the real thing to come out. So, me and Mike started coming up with a few ideas for scripts, just writing down as we go along, and he provided the voices for all the characters. There was a bit in the second part with Penelope who I did the voice for, and listening back to it now it sounds really cringe-worthy.
SCFN: Well, it definitely sounded like you were trying to put on an American accent.
Gemma: Oh my god! My American accent is just awful, it’s worse than my Irish accent. And then I just randomly put up a Beyonce song. [editor's note: Penelope appears to be singing a Beyonce song on MTV in the second Sly 4 fan video] Interestingly enough, that bit with Penelope on MTV wasn’t anything that me and Mike wrote, that was just something I randomly added in at the last minute. I don’t remember how we got our ideas because me and Mike were just getting random ideas and writing them down into scripts. I think we, interestingly enough, we were going to go with the idea that Sly would be brainwashed and be stuck living his life as a cop with Carmelita. I can’t remember the actual idea because it's been so long, but I think what was going to happen was that Bentley was going to go back in time to just before the Dr. M incident, but instead we end up back in the past with Sly’s ancestors, and then it just goes forward from there.
SCFN: Gotcha, I was wondering how it was going to end. [editor's note: only four videos in the series were produced, and only three are currently accessible online. The series was unfortunately never completed]
Gemma: So, it was messing around with the space-time continuum, sorta like “Back to the Future.” I can’t remember if that was Mike who came up with idea or me, because again it's been so long, and I can’t remember who came up with the title either, it was one of us. And it was all just a big coincidence [that the title was the same as the real Sly 4 and the plot was even similar].
SCFN: So was it completely random that you decided to make it all about time travel too?
Gemma: I don’t honestly remember. I guess [in reference to the title] we were just trying to follow along with the pattern, cuz obviously it's Sly 2: Band of Thieves, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves; just keeping the word “thieves” in the title.
SCFN: I re-watched those videos recently, and there’s a lot of similarities between the game and your videos, like the time machine being built into the van - and there’s just a lot of striking similarities. Did you play Sly 4, by any chance?
Gemma: I’ve played half of it, but thanks to Tumblr - screw you Tumblr - I now know all the spoilers about Penelope, so thanks a bunch guys!
SCFN: Oh, that sucks!
Gemma: I believe I’m up to near the end of Tennessee Kid’s mission - I really like Tennessee Kid as a character, by the way. But yeah thanks again Tumblr!
SCFN: So what are your overall impressions of Sly 4 so far?
Gemma: I think it has been pretty good. I have a bit of mixed opinions about Carmelita’s voice actress. I mean, the one in Sly 3 was god awful, the voice actress in Sly 2 I actually really liked, but I think that Sly 1’s voice actress for Carmelita was the best one. I haven’t got anything against this voice actress for Carmelita in Sly 4, because I have seen some of her other works, so i actually know who she is. I think that acting is actually pretty good, but I’d probably rank her third in terms of voice actresses for Carmelita.
SCFN: What do you think about the trailer for the Sly Cooper Movie, which may or may not be happening?
Gemma: Well, I’ve kinda got mixed opinions on that as well, it seems that they’re just trying to humanize the characters, and also things are going back to the beginning. What I didn’t like was the portrayal of Murray - it just portrays him as the overweight fat guy that just lies around not doing anything. That is an insult to Murray. I was also a bit distraught to find out about Kevin Miller not being involved in this movie, or not even being asked apparently I just hope they don’t try to get celebrity voice actors, because there’s nothing wrong with Kevin Miller, Matt Olsen, Chris Murphy - and they’ll probably get another voice for Carmelita again.
SCFN: Probably. She has a different voice actor in everything and it just gets confusing.
Gemma: It’s like the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher from Harry Potter, you just get a new one every time. Its like its cursed!
SCFN: It's almost like tradition at this point!
Gemma: Now I’ll go into what I hate talking about: when the Sly 4 videos were on YouTube, I got haters galore. That was why I ended up putting all the videos as “unlisted” and leaving YouTube without saying anything.
SCFN: How did you first discover Sly Cooper, and what was the first game that you played?
Gemma: It was the first one that I actually played because I was a member of this club, and Sly Cooper 1, or Sly Raccoon as it's called in the UK, was one of the games owned by the club. I saw somebody playing it and I just snatched the controller off that person - literally snatched it off him - and started playing. And that kinda got me hooked on Sly Cooper, really.
SCFN: What is it that you love so much about Sly Cooper that inspired you to get so involved in the community?
Gemma: I just thought it was really unique. Obviously the first one and Sly 2 and 3 are very different games. I actually played Sly 2 more often than Sly 1, Sly 2 was kinda what got me hooked onto it overall.
SCFN: Well that pretty much covers most of my questions. So what are you doing now in life?
Gemma: Right now I currently write my own audio plays under a new name, Gina Ganymede, and I recently returned to using my former username, Fiendish Kitten, which I now use on Tumblr. I actually haven’t used that name in like, eight years, I think. But yeah, I produce audio plays now. I’m hoping to release one at Christmas.
SCFN: That’s kinda interesting how you went from producing Sly 4 videos and coordinating with a voice actor to producing audio plays today.
Gemma: Yeah, I actually do a bit of voice acting myself. I've already got a couple of my audio plays on YouTube.
SCFN: Well, thanks for doing the interview, have a great night!
Gemma: Thank you, you too.