My favorite pages from the first four chapters – Places 11 to 25

Sometimes it’s tough to remember all the things that have happened over the course of a long running story comic such as Gaia. I took a look back and collected my favorite 25 pages from the first four chapters, The Red Hall, Shadowdancers, The Tower in the Sky and The Letter of Jael Bara. There were 272 pages in total in those four chapters, so this collection accounts for 9.19% of all published pages. This week, I’ll post the places 11 to 25. Next week, I’ll post my personal top 10 list. The following pages are listed in chronological order.

[Update: 1 Feb 2015]: The voting period during which the visitors of our website were able to vote for their favorite page has ended. I have added the voting result next to the title of each page.

The Red Hall #9 (#12, 4% of all votes)
Gaia: The Red Hall 009

“Don’t fight with words! Fight with potentially deadly weapons!” is one of my favorite lines in the whole comic. It’s only a single page, but it gives you a quite good outline of the rivalry between Ilias and Sandril as well as of Faye’s character.

The Red Hall #14 (#13, 4% of all votes)
Gaia: The Red Hall 014

I love how dynamic and lifelike Viviana’s jump out of the window looks, giving all readers a good impression of her skills. The last panel is also quite suspenseful with the guard getting ready to shoot Viviana with his crossbow. This early in the story nobody could know that Viviana would later become one of the major characters of the comic and her immediate death was completely possible.

The Red Hall #39 (#1, 14% of all votes)
Gaia: The Red Hall 039

I like this page just as much as most pages in my top 10, but having a top 11 list next week would have been silly. Lilith is drawn marvelously in the fourth panel and I’ve used the drawing for link and advertising banners and made it available as a wallpaper. Ilias’ reaction in the last panel also goes very nicely with it.

The Red Hall #45 (#7, 5% of all votes)
Gaia: The Red Hall 045

Some readers will call me a sadist for including this page in my personal top 25, but it’s definitely one of the two or three pages with the biggest emotional impact on our readers so far. Ars died as a hero and he should always be remembered like that. This page also made it clear that any character may die in Gaia, even the most loved ones. Where’s the suspense when you already know that every righteous character will live until the happy ending (if there is one)?

The Red Hall #47 (#6, 7% of all votes)
Gaia: The Red Hall 047

The fire dragon is my favorite single drawing in the whole comic. I don’t think it’s possible to draw such a fire spell any better. The second panel is also available as a wallpaper. I also like how the large panel in the last row become gradually darker towards the right side. There was much speculation what happened to Lilith when the page was published.

Shadowdancers #86 (#3, 11% of all votes)
Gaia: Shadowdancers 086

Gaia isn’t a light-hearted story by any means, but there’s also nothing wrong with slipping some humor in your serious story once in a while. Final Fantasy VII did it, The Matrix did it, even The Hunger Games: Mockingjay did it. Major parts of the tailor’s dialog were originally written by my mother when Gaia was still developed as a role-playing game mod for the PC game Neverwinter Nights 2 in 2005. However, the amount of dialog lines that could be re-used for the comic was very, very small. It’s almost like a completely new story, just with the same characters.

The Tower in the Sky #2 (#2, 13% of all votes)
Gaia: The Tower In The Sky 002

I chose this page over the previous one, which is looking even more beautiful in my opinion, because I love how cute Lilith looks as a child and because I like her brother’s funny line in the last panel. He’d be the perfect boyfriend for Larisa from Sandra and Woo. 😉 My characters seem to have a thing for fire, although I personally feel rather indifferent towards it. Strange…

The Tower in the Sky #9 (#14, 3% of all votes)
Gaia: The Tower In The Sky 009

Viviana is a great speaker and no other page shows that as well as this one. The last panel also turned out particularly well. The two drafts for the map featured rivers as well, as requested by the script. But I had to find out that drawing rivers on a map isn’t one of Powree’s biggest strength. The rivers shown on the cover are tolerable at most, and the rivers she drew for this map were unusable. So you’ll probably never see a map featuring rivers in the comic.

The Tower in the Sky #18 (#8, 5% of all votes)
Gaia: The Tower In The Sky 018

There are not many fighting scenes in Gaia, because I feel that they generally work much better in film than in comics. Either they look static and slow or you have a hard time telling what’s going on. However, I really like how this page turned out. Although there’s a lot of action in each of the small panels, you still get a pretty good impression what’s going on in each of them. I’m still amazed how Powree managed to draw the protection shield around the characters like that.

The Tower in the Sky #49 (#4, 8% of all votes)
Gaia: The Tower In The Sky 049

You’ll see the previous and the next page of this scene that concluded the chapter The Tower in the Sky in the top 10 list that I’ll post next week. I love the coloration of this page and I think that a lot of suspense is generated in the last panel. You just want to know what Viviana is looking up to. The Tower in the Sky is my favorite chapter of the first four chapters. Although it’s just an intermediate chapter before the big jailbreak, there are a lot of memorable individual pages in it in my opinion.

The Letter of Jael Bara #19 (#15, 3% of all votes)
Gaia: The Letter Of Jael Bara 019

I like this page because its look and feel is just so different from all the other pages published so far. It really catches you flat-footed and you want to know what’s going on here. I also think that the minimalistic room layout turned out very well. The cereal with blueberries and raspberries is a also nice touch.

The Letter of Jael Bara #33 (#11, 5% of all votes)
Gaia: The Letter Of Jael Bara 033

Four different spells on a single page, that must be a record for Gaia. I particularly like Lilith’s “laser” spell which doesn’t look like a spell you’d normally find in a fantasy comic. It served the purpose to scan the environment so that her subsequent fire spell doesn’t harm her pursuers. At this point many readers began to suspect that there’s something wrong with Lilith, but that was intentional. I didn’t want to make Viviana’s golem too realistic. I didn’t want it to become indistinguishable from the real Lilith.

The Letter of Jael Bara #44 (#10, 5% of all votes)
Gaia: The Letter Of Jael Bara 044

The marble cuboids that form Lilith’s Black Marble may not be as spectacular as the fire dragon seen above, but I really like how this spell turned out. I was somewhat worried in this regard when I wrote the script for this page, but Powree did a marvelous job here. I also like the lopsided panel borders which give the page a more dynamic look.

The Letter of Jael Bara #52 (#9, 5% of all votes)
Gaia: The Letter Of Jael Bara 052

I love the look and feel of the scenes from Lilith’s childhood at the Academy. They really show what a nice person Lilith is and why her friends risked so much to free her. This page may also have worked well if posted much earlier, in the first or second chapter. In a film, I’d put a few similar scenes of Lilith’s life at the Academy right at the beginning of the whole movie to introduce her and the other characters before an immediate cut to the final exams.

The Letter of Jael Bara #60 (#5, 7% of all votes)
Gaia: The Letter Of Jael Bara 060

While this page may not look as fancy as most of the other pages listed above, Viviana’s emotions are captured particularly well. I especially like her facial expression in the second to last panel. I also like Lilith’s deadpan delivery in the last panel. It may seem a bit out-of-character for her at first, but if you never do something like this, a character may also become stale and predictable.

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