Website stats 2013

Sandra and Woo celebrated its 5th anniversary on 19 October 2013. That was not the only reason to celebrate for us, though, since October was also the best month for Sandra and Woo with respect to the number of visits per day (19,963) and page views per day (130,854). Gaia also saw the largest number of visits per day (9,682) so far. Click on the diagram for the full-size version of the image.

Visitors per day on Sandra and Woo and Gaia

I’d like to thank everybody who spread the word about our comics! Putting a link to our webcomic website(s) on your Facebook page, Twitter stream, blog or website is an easy and extremely effective way to support us!

New fanart

I found some new pieces of fanart for Sandra and Woo and Gaia. A thank you from me to all the artists!

Sandra and Woo fanart

Gaia fanart

How not to draw a comic page

Sometimes, the sketch for a comic page has a certain flow to it that is hard to conserve when drawing the final page with clean lines and more details. It is a challenge that every comic artist faces once in a while, and sometimes even the best artists fail. However, it is usually not quite as bad as in the following example posted by the artist of Alex ze Pirate, Tom Preston.

If you check the news archive, you will see that I have never commented negatively about the work of a fellow cartoonist. But I am still puzzled how a professional artist can make so many bad decisions that turn a really good sketch into a mediocre comic page. One also has to think about all the time that was spent on redrawing various parts of the page. Since one can also learn from bad examples and there are lots of comic artists among our readers, I decided to post my observations here.

Alex ze Pirate - Work-in-progress

Here is my opinion about each panel of the final page:

  • Panel 1: The boy’s pose looks much more dynamic in the sketch. Unlike in the finished page, he’s swinging the axe in a sensible way so that it has a considerable amount of momentum when hitting the trunk. In the finished page, the axe also seems unrealistically large.
  • Panel 2: This panel should not have been added since it adds nothing to the story and rather slows down the action. It also takes away valuable space for the swing of the axe in panel 1.
  • Panel 3: The composition of this panel is better in the sketch with the top of the trunk at 1/3 of the panel height and the center of the boy’s legs at 2/3 of the panel width. The different camera distance also adds a little visual variation.
  • Panel 4 + 5: The second sketch has the best version of these two panels. The progress from a larger to a smaller piece of wood is shown and the boy is pushing the knife with more strength, making the carving process look more natural.
  • Panel 6: I like how the boy looks with pride at his finished creation in the sketch. The artist is thus connected with his creation in a concise way. It also works particularly well together with the next panel in the sketch.
  • Panel 7: I like how the boy casually throws the created piece into the fire with an empty facial expression in the sketch. The contrast to the boy’s expression in the previous panel will certainly surprise the reader.
  • Panel 8: The smile of the woman looks funnier in the sketch. Giving her such a sexy pose in the final artwork also distracts the reader from the punchline. Some people may see it differently, though.

Comment rating system

Some of you may miss the comment rating system. But I have decided to not reactivate it yet, because it definitely costs some performance and I don’t want to gamble with the webserver resources again. Sandra and Woo and Gaia together had over 150,000 page views per day during the last two weeks, and Monday even saw a new all-time record with 166,960 page views for the English version of Sandra and Woo alone. Unfortunately, I have almost no chance to measure the resource consumption since I’m using a managed hosting service without access to the server itself.

Cause for webserver problems found

After two weeks without problems, I’m now confident that I have found and fixed the cause for the webserver problems on 25 and 26 September.

Two security plugins for WordPress were the offenders, “Acunetix WP Security” and “Ultimate Security Checker”. After the last update, the first one began to carelessly make many long-running database queries. Meanwhile, the second one had inflated WordPress’ crucial wp_options table over the course of time. I guess a webserver which is no longer online after a database crash is kind of secure…

This shows that some functionality that might be beneficial for a website with 1000 page views per day can be disastrous for a website with 100,000. Apart from deleting the two plugins, I worked on the website backend during the last two weeks to further increase its performance.