My favorite pages from the first four chapters – Places 1 to 10

Last week, I posted the places 11 to 25 from my personal top list of all pages published as part of the first four chapters of Gaia. Now it’s time for the top 10. The following pages are listed in chronological order.

The Red Hall #18 (#2, 12% of all votes)
Gaia: The Red Hall 018

When the first pages of Gaia were published in November 2011, I made sure that this page was presented on the front page of our website. It took a few iterations until the 3rd panel with the fire-and-ice golem looked right, but it was well worth the effort in the end. For example, Powree’s first draft showed Ilias and Ryn stabbing into a crystal heart in the center of the golem’s body rather than swaying their swords through the converse element. The panel is also available as a wallpaper. These monsters may look a little too sophisticated for just an exam, but I wanted something to “wow” our new readers.

The Red Hall #23 (#6, 9% of all votes)
Gaia: The Red Hall 023

In my opinion this is the funniest page of the whole comic so far. Of course it would only be half as good without the strategically placed tentacle in the last panel. I love how the magic potion and the rainbow juice turned out and Ars immediately becomes a likable character. By the way, Ars’ recipe is inspired by a recipe appearing in a short story about an incompetent wizard that I wrote in 5th grade. I just dug it out to read it again and I have to say it’s an amazing text for a fifth grader. If it weren’t full of spelling errors I would have deserved an A+ for it.

Shadowdancers #73 (#3, 10% of all votes)
Gaia: Shadowdancers 073

This is one of the largest word/thought bubbles I’ve ever seen in a comic. I kinda put most of the burden on Powree here since I only gave her a rather generic description about the content of the thought bubble. So I’m happy that it depicts the structured chaos inside the mind of a great planer like Viviana that well. The illustrations show some scenes related to various possible breakout plans, but only Viviana knows if the the connections between them have a deeper meaning.

Shadowdancers #87 (#7, 8% of all votes)
Gaia: Shadowdancers 087

This was the first page that featured Viviana in a state of serious self-doubts. I think it was important to show that she’s not some kind of prodigy who’s always successful at the first try in everything she does. And the difficult task of opening the Baltor’s safe was the perfect opportunity for that. I think it’s very easy to identify with her on this page. You now exactly what’s going through her head in this moment. I would also be a “little” worried if there’s a 10% chance that I’d lose my hand.

The Tower in the Sky #7 (#9, 7% of all votes)
Gaia: The Tower In The Sky 007

Now if that isn’t an impressive dragon I don’t know what is. Xarlaxe is so relaxed, yet even in this state he’s still extremely intimidating. Nonetheless, Faye approaches him with confidence and no sign of fear. It appears to be a meeting between equals which makes you wonder about Faye’s character and her role in the story. I also love the coloration of Xarlaxe’s scales and skin. Powree must have spent quite some time to get the golden shimmer just right, without making the skin appear metallic or plastic-like. Too bad that I wasn’t able yet to reveal the purpose of this meeting.

The Tower in the Sky #33 (#10, 5% of all votes)
Gaia: The Tower In The Sky 033

This is another page whose dialog was based on the dialog written by my mother when Gaia was planned to be published as a role-playing game mod for the PC game Neverwinter Nights 2 in 2005. You shouldn’t do it too often so that your plot stays focused, but once in a while it’s a good idea to show a scene that doesn’t have an immediate impact on the current story arc. Pages like these make your setting seem less generic and add to the authenticity of the world you’ve created. The Shadowdancers chapter in its original state was way too long to work in a comic, but I knew from the start that this scene must appear in it since I absolutely loved the crazy prophet.

The Tower in the Sky #48 (#7, 8% of all votes)
Gaia: The Tower In The Sky 048

Gaia is not short on mysterious pages, but this may be the most mysterious one. While the identity of the ghost has been revealed in the meantime, the meaning of the purple dialog lines and the whole scene are still very much open for interpretation. I particularly like the color combination of the dark cave, the light blue ghost, the purple word bubbles and Viviana’s blond hair and red pajamas. One would think that such vastly different colors would clash, but they work together very well. Viviana’s reactions in all panels also seem very lifelike to me.

The Tower in the Sky #50 (#1, 13% of all votes)
Gaia: The Tower In The Sky 050

The Tower in the Sky. There is no other Gaia page whose draft was revised that often. First we had to decide on the final design of the tower, and then I made several change requests regarding the placement of all objects and the general page layout. I love how the page turned out in the end, looking almost exactly as I envisioned it. If you analyze the page, you’ll see that all objects are placed right where they need to be. If the tower was placed a little higher or lower compared to Viviana’s head, the whole page wouldn’t look as good any longer.

The Letter of Jael Bara #62 (#4, 10% of all votes)
Gaia: The Letter Of Jael Bara 062

I love Lilith in this page. She’s just so darn adorable. And the page also shows quite well what being a wizard means on Gaia. It’s a mixture of talent, enthusiasm and hard work. Of course it’s not a coincidence that Lilith’s magic proof resembles mathematical proofs. I’m a computer scientist and I had to come up with a couple of proofs of existence as well during my first year in university. Powree drew the formulas on the blackboard without further instructions. They remind me of physics formulas, which goes well with Lilith’s later line: “Magic is physics through will.”

The Letter of Jael Bara #78 (#5, 10% of all votes)
Gaia: The Letter Of Jael Bara 078

Another page featuring Lilith, and she’s cuter than ever! I believe anybody would like to own such a marvellous device. I spent at least an hour to optimize the blending of the firework effect after Powree sent me the colored page. And it really paid off if you compare it with the initial version which had too low a contrast between the firework and the background.

And here is the most popular page from last week’s poll, The Red Hall #39. It was my personal favorite of the 15 pages as well and received 14% of all votes (42 of 296). I have updated the article with the places #11 to #25 and added the voting result next to the title of each page.

The Red Hall #39
Gaia: The Red Hall 039

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