Today, Sandra and Woo celebrates its 5th anniversary since the first strip was published on 19 October 2008. This is a quite impressive milestone for a webcomic which are notoriously short-lived. Many good or even great webcomics which started in 2008 or later are now defunct. In 2009, Sandra and Woo was given a Beaky Award as one of the three best new webcomics of 2008 by the creators of the Webcomic Beacon Webcast. There were 31 other finalists. Let’s have a look what happened to them:
- Bear Nuts: Ongoing!
- Blank-It: Last update in August 2012
- Capes n’ Babes: Ongoing!
- Clockwork Games: Finished since September 2013
- Curvy [NSFW]: Ongoing!
- Daisy Owl: Last update in June 2010
- Dregs: Offline!
- Evil Diva: Last update in May 2013
- Filtered Fuzz: Last update in August 2013
- Gastrophobia: Ongoing!
- Housepets!: Ongoing!
- Imy: Ongoing!
- Ink Tank: Offline!
- Marooned: Finished since July 2013
- moe: Last update September 2012
- Moose Mountain: Offline!
- Nerf Now: Ongoing!
- Night Zero: Unclear status
- Odd Fish: Last update in August 2012
- One Swoop Fell: Broken website
- Sam & Lilah: Last update in May 2013
- Sister Claire: Ongoing!
- Speak No Evil: Finished since August 2008
- Spying with Lana [NSFW]: Unclear status
- Strange Someone: Offline!
- Surfboards and Rayguns: Offline!
- Trying Human: Ongoing!
- Union of Heros: Last update in January 2012
- Vlad the Vegan: Offline!
- Whubble: Last update in August 2012
- Xanford: Offline
So not even a third of all comics are still updated regularly, and those were considered to be among the best started in 2008.
This is a good time to look back at the beginning of Sandra and Woo.
The history of Sandra and Woo began in the summer of 2008. While visiting my grandmother, I had a couple of ideas for a comic strip featuring a talking raccoon and a girl. It was clear from the start that the child character had to be a girl so that the comic strip wouldn’t be too similar to Calvin and Hobbes. I considered using Sally as name for Sandra, but eventually decided against it because Sally is the name of Charlie Brown’s sister in Peanuts. Shadow and Sid, named Squibb back then, were the first two additional characters. They originally lived in a city park instead of a forest. During the first five years of Sandra and Woo, they played a significantly smaller role than initially planned. Cloud and Larisa came later, after the first Sandra and Woo strips had already been published. In some of my first scripts I just used unnamed schoolmates of Sandra if another character of the same age was required. Larisa was initially named Elena and this name was even used briefly in the first strip she appeared in, Russian Revenge. But one reader reminded me in the comment section that Elena is also the name of an important character in Final Fantasy VII and that would have been one reference to that game too much. Larisa’s home country was originally Estonia, by the way, but I changed that to Russia fast.
After writing two dozen more or less finished scripts for individual Sandra and Woo strips, I posted a job offer in the ConceptArt and DigitalWebbing forums in October 2008. Since I was still a college student, I wasn’t able to offer much money. But many people seemed to have liked the concept because I received over 60 replies by interested artists. Powree, who read my offer at DigitalWebbing, was my first choice. Just one week later, we published the first Sandra and Woo strip on our website, A Sly Raccoon. Although I didn’t ask for a sample, several applicants drew the comic characters as part of their application. As you can see, I liked Powree’s initial character design so much that absolutely no changes were made to Sandra’s and only a few to Woo’s:
The following pictures were drawn by other artists who were interested in drawing Sandra and Woo:
- Sandra and Woo: A drawing of Sandra and Woo (very close to their original design drawn by me and my mother) by Mitchell Miles
- Sandra and Woo, Sandra, Woo and his friends, Noise pollution and Love: Various drawings of Sandra, Woo and his friends and two sample strips by Yusuf
- Sandra and Woo and A sly raccoon: Various drawings of Sandra and Woo and a sample strip by Joaquin Gonzalez Ruiz
- Noise pollution: Sample strip by Brian Barredo
- Animal abuse: Sample strip by Rowel Roque
- Sandra, Woo and his friends and Democracy: A drawing of Sandra, Woo and his friends and a sample strip by Luis Couceiro
- Democracy: Sample strip by Powil Lao Guzmanos
2006 to 2010 were very difficult years in my life. I was just no longer able to handle the crushing feeling of unrequited love. I met her again at a reunion this year, and she is still by far the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life. I’m sure she’s also still as nice as she was back then. I just hope that her partner appreciates her. On top of that, I was sad because my big Neverwinter Nights 2 mod project Gaia: Tales of the Third Age didn’t work out and I apparently suffered from a burnout so that studying for college became harder and harder for me. Sandra and Woo was one of the few things that gave my daily life at least some structure from fall 2008 onwards. I guess you don’t have to be depressed to create art, but it’s one of the few things that you can still do properly in a state of mental breakdown.
In July 2013, I posted two articles containing my personal top 20 of the first 500 Sandra and Woo strips. If you missed it, here’s the chance to check them out again:
- My personal top 20 from #1 to #499 – Places 11 to 20
- My personal top 20 from #1 to #499 – Places 1 to 10
To celebrate the anniversary, I also decided to increase the prize money for decrypting The Book of Woo to $300! If you are interested in solving this incredibly hard puzzle, then you should really check out the comment section where some crucial results are presented by some of our readers.