My favorite pages from the last two chapters – Places 11 to 25

Now that Monster has come to an end, it’s a good time to look back at the two last chapters. For this, I collected my favorite 25 pages from Breaking All Barriers and Monster.

There were exactly 250 pages in these two chapters, so this collection covers 10% of all published pages. This week, I’ll post the pages placed between 11 and 25. Next week, I’ll post my personal top 10. The following pages are listed in chronological order. While this list is dominated by pages from Breaking All Barriers, the top 10 list will include four pages from Monster.

You can vote for your personal favorite of these 15 pages with the voting widget in the right sidebar!

Breaking All Barriers Cover
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers Cover

The chapter cover for Breaking All Barriers almost made it into the top 10. I published two articles some time ago in which you can see the old logo the cover was based on and the progress from sketch to finished version. At first, I had some trouble with the text beneath the illustration. Whatever I tried, it just didn’t look good. But then I had the idea to increase the space between the individual characters which worked surprisingly well.

Breaking All Barriers #18
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 018

This page generated a lot of comments by readers who wondered what Lilith will say to Ilias in the next page. Some of them were really outlandish, making the comment section fun to read. The lighting of this page is particularly well done. It’s often hard to draw dark pages so that there’s still enough contrast to see everything in detail. And Lilith is at her cutest.

Breaking All Barriers #43
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 043

Now this is quite the contrast to the serene scene shown in the page above. I can already reveal that the previous page of this scene in the forest of Oakdale is in my top 10. Very few readers guessed that these pages were actually showing Eldor carrying out an operation on Viviana. This was finally revealed in Monster #57. What you can see here is what happened in Viviana’s mind, not what happened in reality. I spent ages on the transparent word bubbles.

Breaking All Barriers #69
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 069

This is the first of the four pages showing mysterious dreams that Viviana and Lilith had while they were in Oakdale. As you can see below, they’re all contained in this list since they shine with some of Gaia’s best artwork. While this and the next page were obviously showing a dream, many readers were naturally confused by the meaning of all of it. In Monster, Alissa and Ryn (and the readers) were finally enlightened by King Savos and San de Vertis. I love how the castle’s main hall turned out in the large first panel, especially after still being skeptical about it when I saw the inked version without the coloration.

Breaking All Barriers #70
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 070

If this had been the first Gaia page seen by a new reader, he would probably have been completely confused since the king’s dialog partner San is missing in the scene. A few readers tried to recreate the missing pieces of the dialog in the comment section and Grynfwald actually got quite close to what I had in mind for San to say.

Breaking All Barriers #71
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 071

Lilith’s episode with the mysterious witch is lifted almost entirely from the classic RPG Planescape: Torment, my second most favorite computer game. In the game, the hero doesn’t actually encounter such a witch. It’s just a story told to him by one of the “prostitutes” working in the “Brothel for S(l)ating Intellectual Lusts”. I used it since the story relates so well to Lilith’s situation as it has been revealed in Monster. The artwork showing the desolate landscape is truly outstanding and one of my favorite illustrations in Gaia.

Breaking All Barriers #72
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 072

I like to use colored word bubbles for special occasions such as this one. They really change the mood of the page and immediately draw the attention of the readers. But one has to be very careful to not overdo it with such gimmicks and save it for the most memorable situations.

Breaking All Barriers #84
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 084

I love how the lovely drawing of the landscape around the castle covers the whole page. Is there any adventurer who could resist taking a trip to the Thunderbolt Stronghold after seeing this illustration of it? I think not.

Breaking All Barriers #111
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 111

Another page that shines with its beautiful artwork. The interior of the temple really turned out great with the colorful flowers, the windows with tiled colored glass, the playful animals and the light shining through the windows.

Breaking All Barriers #120
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 120

Except for the first page, all pages from the sequence with the giant wolf in Viviana’s bedroom ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5]) were in my shortlist for this article. I finally decided to pick #120 and #121 (see below). The best part of this page is Viviana’s look of utter desperation in the last panel. Powree did a marvelous job at it.

Breaking All Barriers #121
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 121

The first panel of this page caused us some problems since I was not happy how it looked in the first two sketches Powree sent to me. But then I had the idea of showing the wolf’s eyes directly from the front and putting the silhouettes of Lilith and Eldor into them. The meaning of this dream sequence was one of the many mysteries eventually explained in Monster.

Breaking All Barriers #139
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 139

Finally something light-hearted action again. I love how Alissa is relentlessly teasing poor Viviana.

Breaking All Barriers #158
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 158

While the artwork of the pages #160 and #161 may be at least as beautiful, I’m particularly fond of the first appearance of Lilith with black eyes in the fourth panel. She looks truly terrifying in this page and it’s totally unclear what kind of spell she’s casting in the last panel. Some readers certainly expected the worst.

Monster #29
Gaia: Monster 029

Viviana looks truly shaken in this page. Powree did a fantastic job of conveying her emotional breakdown after killing the two Canian soldiers and the Ileasaarian bartender. And Ilias can finally show that he has learnt a few things in the academy, for example to never lose his cool in times of danger. I think that Ilias and Viviana complement each other very well and make a great couple.

Monster #51
Gaia: Monster 051

This and the next page in which San is showing her true intentions, generated lots of comments. I particularly like the last panel with San’s smug grin and King Savos’ hard-to-read facial expression. One thing should be clear after these pages: San is quite the power-hungry person. But how far she’s willing to go to reach her goals needs to be seen. 😉

Character occurrence frequency 2011 to 2016

Here is a diagram that shows how often the main and supporting characters of Gaia appeared in each year. Note that there were only 28 pages in 2011. Surprisingly, Ryn was the character that appeared the most often last year.

You can click on the images for larger versions.

Main characters occurrence frequency 2011 to 2016

Supporting characters occurrence frequency 2011 to 2016

Number of new pages per year:

  • 2011: 27 + 1 cover
  • 2012: 95 + 1 cover
  • 2013: 84 + 2 covers
  • 2014: 99 + 1 cover
  • 2015: 101
  • 2016: 101 + 1 cover

Gaia must be one of few webcomic that updates more often with time.

They were laughing when Donald Trump promised…

… to make anime real.

So, who’s laughing now?! Checkmate, liberals!

I don’t understand why they made the ad so depressing. I think that it’s a neat concept which should not only appeal to workaholics/otaku/hikikomori without a social life if done right. It should be more like a virtual friend instead of a wife replacement. And there need to be mods to load the appearance and the personality of your favorite characters.

I’d get a virtual Kurisu Makise with whom I could talk about quantum physics in a heartbeat. Of course I’d have to make sure that she doesn’t see my computer monitor or she’d call me a “pervert” all the time. *g*

Minor dialog corrections

I made a minor change to the dialog in page 56. Lilith now also mentions her brother in the fourth panel. This was necessary because I made some late changes to the dialog of the next pages.

I also corrected “time dilation shield” to “time suspension shield” in page 58 because I misremembered the exact wording for the spell.

Results of the artwork contest 2016 – Top 12

It’s time! Time for the top 12 of the Sandra and Woo and Gaia artwork contest 2016! If you haven’t done so already, also check out the submissions placed between position #13 and #25 and the other submissions we received.

The submissions are ordered from place 12 to 1. As you can see, we’ve received some amazing and innovative pieces of art this year again, partially thanks to the extension of the submission period. Please show your support by visiting the artists’ websites and/or by writing a comment in the comment section of this blog post!

[17 MB large animated gif]

Place 12 goes to Jennifer Zhu (website)

While I’m fond of the warm coloration of the tree and sky in the background, the surprising animation effect of this animated GIF is the main cause for the high placement of Jennifer’s submission. Last year, Jennifer reached position #16 with a drawing of the Gaia characters as members of a pop band.

[Artist’s comment: I was thinking about the lore of Gaia and what it means for Lili’s extreme magical power to be conceived from this Great Tree whose roots go deep underground to reach a source of the flow. But if Gaia imprisoned Bhaal deep in the earth, maybe Lili got a bit of a… darker kind of magic as well. I wanted to create an image with this dualism of Gaia and Bhaal, as well as having a twisted root frame to reflect what kind of magic the Great Tree could be carrying.]

Place 11 goes to
Sharon Green

The lighting is the strongest point of Sharon’s very pretty drawing of Lilith. It would work well as cover page for a new Gaia chapter since its style is quite similar to that typically used for our chapter covers.

Place 10 goes to
Lasse Wulf

Lasse managed to make it into the top 10 with a JavaScript program. The output of the program is an amazing animated kaleidoscope showing artwork and scenes from Sandra and Woo. I confirmed that Lasse’s JavaScript program is original and not just copied from somewhere else. It outclasses all other JavaScript programs that produce a kaleidoscope that I have found on the web. When I have some more time, I will check out what can be achieved by adding additional drawings since I think the effect becomes repetitive a bit fast due to the small number of used drawings. You can also download the program to play around with it. Send your results to

Place 9 goes to Michał Litowiński (website)

Michał submitted this super detailed black-and-white drawing of Ruth trying to escape with two snacks under her arms. The drawing shines with its attention to detail, such as the correct shading of the kits’ dark fur areas, the cut in Lily’s ear, and the dot on Arcturus’ forehead. But it would certainly look even better and less busy in color. Michał also submitted two aborted coloration attempts based on the original pencil draft: 1st version, 2nd version.

Place 8 goes to
Audrey Croce (website)

For this year’s artwork contest, Audrey created a Japanese crocheted doll (“amigurumi”) of Woo. I really like how well Woo’s face turned out. There is a step-by-step manual for anyone interested in creating the same Woo doll. Here are additional photos of Woo in doll form:

  • Finished doll: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10]
  • Work-in-progress pics: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]

Place 7 goes to
Siloy Fredy

Siloy’s very well drawn picture of Yuna only makes it to position #7 this year after his drawing of Woo and his family managed to reach position #3 in last year’s artwork contest. The superb coloration and the way the toys and the background are drawn are the main strengths of this drawing. On the other hand, Yuna’s face doesn’t look optimal and the drawing is lacking the originality seen in most other submissions in the top 12.

[Artist’s comment: This is about how creepy Yuna can be when she is playing with the toys, especially when she is alone with all the toys in her bedroom.]

Place 6 goes to
Robert Lodge (website)

Robert’s funny drawing of Zoey coming out of the closet with a chainsaw already reached position #12 in 2014. This year, he even reaches position #6 with the funniest submission of this year’s contest. The coloration may be simple, but the details like Larisa’s horny headphones make the difference. With a succubus like this, Landon is already a lost cause. 😉

[Artist’s comment: Succubus Larisa, spinning wubs in hell on the rims of sacrificial blood bowls!!]

Place 5 goes to
Kelsey Adams

Kelsey’s story about the beginning of the friendship between Lilith and Alissa on the Academy of Cania shows that stories can also make it into the top 10. Kelsey obviously knows how to write a good story with believable character decisions, natural dialog and a professional writing style. But what really lifted the story to its high position are the clever ideas and humorous elements like the food fight.

[Artist’s comment: I’ve attached my fanfiction entry “Alissa and Lilith.” I’ve always loved Alissa and Lilith’s friendship and how supportive they are of each other, so I wanted to explore how I imagine that friendship might have started out.]

Place 4 goes to
Ray Zhang (website)

After place 5 in 2014 with a Bioshock inspired drawing, and an unplaced Ghostbusters inspired drawing in 2015, Ray even reaches place 4 this year with this innovative Sandra and Woo clock.

[Artist’s comment: For this year’s artwork contest, I created a wallpaper clock based on Sandra and Woo. Each hour of the clock face is inspired by some element of Sandra and Woo, with the last hour representing the unfinished nature of the strip.]

Place 3 goes to
Yenrou Humuni (website)

To be blunt, Yenrou’s drawing of Oakdale’s priest Malva is not terribly original. But its sheer prettiness makes more than up for that. Everything comes together nicely, the character’s faces in the style of the comic, the warm coloration and the very detailed background. In 2014, Yenrou’s innovative drawing of the Gaia cast already reached position #6.

[Artist’s comment: Malva went out to pick flowers that are displaced to tidy them up on a better place. She saw a butterfly soaking in cold water and hurriedly saved it.]

Place 2 goes to
Oliver Barber (website)

Oliver already had the 3rd best entry in last year’s contest with a very interesting drawing of Yuna as mad scientist. While this year’s drawing is a bit less detailed, it shines with an awesome depiction of Woo in expert mode. I also liked the book in Sandra’s hand very much with its clever cover text and the deep cuts caused by Woo’s claws. (Yes, the cover is on the wrong side of the book, but I didn’t find that particularly problematic.) I guess that League of Legends fans will especially love this entry.

[Artist’s comment: This is Sandra and Woo cosplaying as Annie and Tibbers from League of Legends. As you can see, Sandra got a chance to read the instruction manual before activating Woo’s expert mode this time, but I doubt that will be without consequences!]

Place 1 goes to
Jenn Kim

Suprisingly, all our artwork contests from 2011 to 2015 had pretty clear winning entries and this year’s contest is no exception from that rule. Jenn’s drawing of Larisa, the Devil and Kevin-Asmodias is an exceptional piece of art that captures the spirit of the comic, the characters and the current story arc. The fire effect is excellent and the shading dramatic. Congratulations to Jenn for being the winner of this year’s contest!

[Artist’s comment: Larisa, the pyro succubus. I think she’s finally met her partner in crime.]