Raccoon power!

Years ago, I wrote large parts of the Wikipedia article about the raccoon. Today, one fact from it received 54.8k points on the Today I Learned (TIL) community on reddit. Very cool.


Go to DeviantArt today!


LOLWUT


Ask Novil questions about Gaia

In 2014 and 2015, I posted two news entries [1] [2] in which I asked our readers to ask me general questions about Gaia. That proved to be a quite popular format with lots of questions being asked.

The chapter Monster should have answered many open questions regarding the story of Gaia. But some of you may have additional questions, for example about the setting. In this case, post them in the comment section of this news entry. I will try to answer all questions as long as I don’t consider the answers to be spoilers for the plot.


My favorite pages from the last two chapters – Places 1 to 10

Last week, I posted the places 11 to 25 from my personal top list of all pages from the last two chapters of Gaia. Now I want to post my top 10. The following pages are listed in chronological order.

You can vote for your personal favorite of these 10 pages with the voting widget in the right sidebar!

Breaking All Barriers #12
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 012

A nice look back at happier days for our heroes when they were celebrating Lilith’s jailbreak in Silverdale. I love the page layout with the photographs lying on top of each other. I wonder myself what the hidden photographs may be showing since I didn’t give Powree instructions about their content. The best photograph in my opinion is the one with Lilith and Viviana giving each other rabbit ears. They’re just so cute in it!

Breaking All Barriers #36
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 036

Aaaaand we’re already back to our usual show “Terrible things happening to Viviana.” The sound effects look absolutely amazing. This page may have the best lettering I’ve ever seen in a comic page. Powree really outdid herself here. By the way, just two days after writing this page, my right ear began to bleed in exactly the same way as Viviana’s while I was lying ill in bed with a severe cold. That was somewhat worrying since my ear had never bled before in my life.

Breaking All Barriers #42
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 042

Another page with stellar artwork from the episode of Viviana getting lost in the forest of Oakdale. Those shadow creatures look truly terrifying. Viviana can really be gald that they weren’t real and Eldor and his helpers just appeared like that in her imagination. I spent quite some time with adjusting the size of the transparent word bubbles and moving them around on the page until I was satisfied with their positions.

Breaking All Barriers #106
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 106

This may be my favorite Gaia page so far. The transparency effect on Viviana and the rainbow effect of the rainbow knife turned out absolutely perfect. I love how Viviana is almost invisible in the first panel and becomes a little easier to spot in the third panel. But only at a second look when you already know what to look for. The elaborate manner of how the effect is finally removed from her in the fourth panel also looks great. We needed a full week to create this difficult page. The first draft for the page was disregarded completely. This happened for the first time ever regarding a Gaia page. And the second draft underwent several revisions. But in the end, it was more than worth the effort.

Breaking All Barriers #125
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 125

Readers particularly loved how happy Viviana looked in the big fifth panel. But my personal favorite drawing of Viviana in all of Gaia can be found in the second panel. Her cute, unsure look at Ilias couldn’t have be drawn any better. Regarding the general page layout, it would have been much more conventional to make the panel featuring the kiss the largest panel of the page. But I think it was an excellent idea to make the panel showing the moment just before that the most prominent one. For this panel, I asked Powree to redraw Viviana’s face since it just didn’t look as good in the inked version as in the sketch. The final version of it is very similar to the first sketch, maybe even a little better.

Breaking All Barriers #162
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 162

I was very worried about this page when I wrote the script for it. I didn’t find any really good reference pictures for the teleportation effect and I had only a vague idea about how it should look like. So I was more than happy when Powree delivered this beautiful and interesting looking page. Alissa and Ryn looked a bit glued on in the version that Powree sent me, but that was surprisingly easy to fix with a bit of Photoshop layer magic. I have to say that I don’t know how Powree exactly created the whirl effect.

Monster Cover
Gaia: Monster Cover

This is my favorite chapter cover so far. It is based on an illustration which artist Kirsten Moody drew for our Patreon supporters. While I’m not drawing the characters or objects, I play a much larger role regarding the final look of the artwork of the chapter covers than for that of the normal pages. You can have a look at the changes I made for the three previous chapter covers in this article. I made similar enhancements regarding the lighting and drawing details of this cover as well.

Monster #27
Gaia: Monster 027

Now that’s a gruesome (and awesome) page! The drafts for the whole fighting scene in the cellar and this page in particular required several iterations until they looked right. I thought that an isometric view could work well for this page which turned out to be correct in the end. There really are a lot of elaborated visual effects in Gaia for a comic that updates twice a week. They’re the main reason why I knew from the beginning that Gaia had to be colored since all these effects wouldn’t have worked nearly as well in a black-and-white comic such as Sandra and Woo.

Monster #79
Gaia: Monster 079

This page is definitely less spectacular than most other pages in this top 10 list. But I’m absolutely in love with Lilith’s glance at Eldor in the sixth panel. She looks exactly as I envisioned it. Eldor’s notes are taken almost straight from mathematicians Shinichi Mochizuki’s papers about “Inter-universal Teichmülller Theory” (page 1 of 4) in which he allegedly proved the famous abc conjecture. It’s such a bizarre and complicated paper that many math professors didn’t understand anything in it, not even the abstract. You can say that it’s a theory in the middle ground between math and magic, just like Eldor’s calculations on this page.

Monster #82
Gaia: Monster 082

Powree did an amazing job regarding the magic effect in the first three panels. It’s also an example that it’s often the little details that matter. For example, in the first panel, there already is a little hole through Eldor’s illusion to the left of the forefinger. In the first draft, the camera zoomed in to show a close-up of Lilith’s eyes in the last two panels. But that made her look too much like a completely deranged maniac. So we decided to zoom out instead and make her facial expression a bit more reversed.

You can also cast your vote for the winner from the post featuring the places 11 to 25:

Breaking All Barriers #139
Gaia: Breaking All Barriers 139


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. 😉