My personal top 20 from #1 to #499 – Places 1 to 10
On Sunday, I posted the places 11 to 20 of my favorite Sandra and Woo strips which have been published so far. Here is the top 10 of my absolute favorites.
There’s no other strip which shows the attitude of all the main characters, except for Woo, in such a condensed way as this one. I really like the escalation from Sandra’s rather normal conversation with her father to Larisa’s eyebrow-raising one and finally to Cloud’s outlandish one. Ye Thuza is partially inspired by my own mom who’s an avid RPG player and active participant of renaissance fairs. I’m sure she would be equally mad at me for forgetting the rope when going into a dungeon. Compared to Ye Thuza, my mom’s kung-fu skills are seriously lacking, though.
Unsurprisingly, this was by far the most time-consuming strip to write until strip #500, The Book of Woo. I spent well over 20 hours to create the cross-word puzzle and to come up with all the other encodings that had to be as different as possible from each other. I was surprised that two readers managed to break the complicated autokey cipher used for Sandra’s word bubble in the last bubble within just two days. The code breaker Stella Loomis wrote that she was able to guess the first three words “The newspaper editor” from context.
This comic is currently on display in front of the raccoon enclosure in the wildlife park Pforzheim. Woo might be intelligent and sort-of domesticated, but I’m very cautious that he preserves his identity as a raccoon and doesn’t devolve into a small furry human. This strips is also a good example that sometimes you just have to leave something out, in extreme cases even an entire panel, and let the reader’s imagination fill the gap. It’s important to know when to NOT show a character or his facial expression. Imagine this strip with Sandra’s disgusted face in the last panel or something similar. It would have been one of the worst Sandra and Woo strips, not one of the best.
This comic wouldn’t have been possible without Larisa having a steady boyfriend so I’m very glad of Landon’s introduction as member of the main cast. I believe many readers were surprised or even shocked by the first four panels, but Larisa is always good for a surprise. Character based humor doesn’t get you a lot of links on Reddit and Tumblr, but is particularly enjoyable for regular readers. I’m very grateful for all the Sandra and Woo fans who’ve been reading our comic for several years now.
10 years ago, it would not have been possible to draw this comic exactly like this since the technology just didn’t exist yet. The opposite can also happen, of course. You can no longer do any jokes involving CRT monitors or VCRs if you’re not a syndicated American newspaper cartoonist. Of course, it’s much harder to pull off such stunts in real life. Writing the dialog of a seemingly simple comic sometimes takes hours, not seconds. My own spontaneity in real life is just average. Once in a while I’m able to come up with a clever remark, but I’m a terrible joke teller.
Tweety is easily one of the most annoying fictional characters ever. He’s at one level with the hag Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and Dakota Fanning’s character in War of the Worlds. So I gave my very best to make the comic in which he gets finally devoured as funny as possible. This event is canon, by the way. Tweety was actually eaten by Woo. If you should ever see that yellow bird again in the future, the story’s taking place *before* this event ;-). Powree drew two different skteches of the last panel. I liked the alternative one even better, but Powree drew this one by mistake.
For a great strip, all parts of it have to work together. There’s some serious action in the first six panels and you can really feel Cloud’s fear. But then the punchline completely changes the comic’s message. Taking a common concept and then running into the opposite direction is one of the main sources of humor. But with this kind of humor, you also have to be attentive to not make jokes that have been done to death already. I think it was very important for the funniness of the last panel to not have *just* gold and jewels as prize money and to make the aliens speak in a strange logographic language instead of plain English.
There are so many artists with great technical skill who never draw anything challenging or surprising. I think the art world would profit tremendously if artist-writer teams would also become common in the field of traditional art. One of the most innovative traditional artists alive today is Ursula Vernon, the creator of the fantasy comic Digger and the surrealist drawing The Biting Pear of Salamanca. The Laughing Sun could have been one of her drawings, but I had the idea first. Tee-hee ;-). This comic is another good example how important seemingly minor details are for the overall impression. If you removed one of the panels in the first row or drew them differently, the comic wouldn’t be as good. If Larisa were standing right next to her father in the last panel, the comic wouldn’t be as good.
I’m sure that no other strip published in 2008 or 2009 has convinced as many new readers to continue reading Sandra and Woo as this one. There are hundreds of cartoons depicting the famous scene with the snake from the Old Testament, but this one might be the best one of them all in my opinion. The punchline is just completely unexpected and original as many readers have noted. That’s when I started to believe that Sandra and Woo has the potential to become a long-running and successful comic strip instead of remaining just an experiment.
This is my favorite Sandra and Woo comic so far and will maybe stay it forever. It just has everything, an innovative idea, great artwork, perfect timing and funny facial expressions. It was inspired by a painting of the Swedish artist Vaksberg featuring Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes in a similar situation as Woo in the first panel. The original image file is extremely large. It has 11341 x 15687 pixels, that’s 177,906,267 pixels in total. In comparison, a large 1920×1200 wallpaper has only 2,304,000 pixles, that’s not even 1.3% of it!