10 paintings hanging on my wall

Since it’s been a long time since my last blog post, I thought I could show you some of my favorite wildlife paintings. Except for “Gone Fishing” I found all of them on eBay. Six of the ten paintings are from Misti Hope Wudtke, who is not only an outstanding artist, but also a very friendly person. In 2007 and 2008 I bought around a dozen of her best paintings just in time before she retired as a full-time artist. Unfortunately, it has become harder and harder to find paintings of good quality on eBay in recent years and most other places are just too expensive.

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.

This watercolor (14″ x 11″) by Sandra Kärcher was the first original painting I bought. She painted it on November 2005 and put it on sale on eBay shortly after that. I think there is not enough experimentation with different painting techniques and picture layout in wildlife art, but this piece is a welcome exception.

“Gone Fishing” (22″ x 39, acryl, 2004) by William Silvers is my favorite painting. It was also by far the most expensive and complicated purchase. But I’m nonetheless glad that I bought it since I believe that it is the best painting of a raccoon that has ever been created. William wrote the following lines about this acryl painting:

“The raccoon was aware of my presences when I took the reference photo but wasn’t about to stop looking for clams. At one point the boat I was in drifted close enough for me to touch him but he kept going as if I weren’t there.”

This untitled etching (7″ x 5″) was done by Tom Browning in 1977. It is an “original print” in the sense that it is a one of a kind piece which was given by the artist to a friend in Oregon.

I already watched David Coalburn‘s eBay account for a while when he put “Eyes that Stare Back at You” (12″ x 9″, oil, 2007) for sale.

“Don Diego on the Hunt” (20″ x 16″, watercolor, 2008) is a painting I commissioned from Misti Hope Wudtke. This watercolor is based on a reference photo I took while visiting the small zoo Waldzoo Offenbach in 2007. On my visit, I was able to play with Don Diego, whose nose was bitten off during a fight as a cub, and two other raccoons. Sadly, there was a huge fire at the zoo last month which caused a damage of around €60,000 which is an enormous amount for such a small zoo. I plan another visit there this summer and promised to make a generous donation.

“Dinner for Two” (14″ x 11″, watercolor, 2008) is another watercolor I commissioned from Misti Hope Wudtke. She was free to paint whatever she wanted, as long as a normal colored and a blonde raccoon were in it. Of course, I was very happy with the result.

However, Misti’s favorite wildlife subject are not raccoons, but birds. With its dark mood, “Thought and Memory” (16″ x 20″, watercolor, 2007) is a somewhat unusual piece for her. She wrote this about it:

“In Norse mythology, Odin (more correctly “Othinn”) had two ravens, Huginn (“Thought”) and Muninn (“Memory”). According to 13th-century Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson, Othin would send Hugin and Munin out at dawn every day to fly over the world, and they’d return in the evening and relate to the god any noteworthy bits of news that they’d seen.

Although this painting originally had nothing to do with anything Norse, I thought the ravens’ names made a good title for this piece.

Yeah I know…there are five ravens in the picture…don’t know which two are Thought and Memory, though….”

Misti also created a good amount of watercolor paintings depicting songbirds that infiltrated her backyard, for example “November” (16″ x 20″, watercolor, 2007). She wrote about this piece:

“I’ve always been fond of blue jays (which are native to my home state of Wisconsin)—loud, obnoxious beasts that they sometimes are. I’ve had a good number of them lurking around my bird feeder in the last month or so; they always seem to come out in force when the weather gets cold.

The inspiration for the setting of this painting is the “back field” of our 27-acre woods, where my family used to have a garden. Everything’s quite dilapidated now—including the fence posts—and while it looks rather sad sometimes in the dim, golden-hued stillness of a November evening, it sure makes for great painting inspiration.

The background just turned out as a rather abstract mélange of dusky colors, but my brother, sister and sister-in-law seem to think it looks like northern lights. That wasn’t the intention, but I suppose “abstract” can be whatever the observer wants it to be, right? ;)”

“The Blizzard” (8″ x 10″, watercolor, 2007) is another watercolor by Misti of a songbird during winter, a black-capped chickadee among some jack pine branches to be precise. Misti was very happy the way this painting turned out:

“I used to make paintings in this style (that is, set on a cold, grey, snowy winter day) all the time, but I hadn’t made one in ages (that is, in about ten years), so I thought I’d try my hand at it again. I figured out a little better technique for creating random “snow” than I used to have, and I really like the way it turned out. In fact, I really really like the way it turned out.”

The thing I like the most about “Wood Ducks” (14″ x 11″, watercolor, 2007) is the background with its life-like branches and the vibrant colors of their leaves. When I commissioned “Don Diego on the Hunt”, I asked Misti to draw a similar background.


Mal and Chad vol. 1 Out Now!

Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever!The first volume of the Mal and Chad comic book series by Stephen McCranie is out now. The two main heroes of the adventure story previously appeared in the defunct webcomic Mal and Chad. The new comic book is unrelated to the webcomic and tells a completely new story. You can order “Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever!” at Amazon.com for $9.99. (It’s also available at Amazon.de and other stores.)

The Mal and Chad webcomic was a newspaper-style comic strip about the boy Mal and his talking dog Chad. When the little genius Mal was not busy wooing the love of his life, Megan, he invented teleporters and cute robots. Unlike most webcomics, Mal and Chad was a very light-hearted comic and suitable even for young children.

I’m confident that the first graphic novel featuring Mal and Chad will be as enjoyable as Zita’s first adventure. I have already ordered a copy.


Comment section less prominent

I have worked on the comment section since I was no longer happy with various aspects of it. In my opinion, comments are suppossed to accompany the main post, not to make up 90% of the vertical page size. But having to click through 10 pages of 5 comments is also very annoying. Our advertisers would also not like to pay for so many useless page views. Therefore the comment section is now hidden by default. To show it, a click on the “Click here to see the comments!” link beneath the comic description or the news post is needed. My mom, as ultimate authority, really likes the new system so I certainly will keep it.

All comments made during the last weeks are back online. However, I have to say that I’m somewhat annoyed with the reaction of some readers. I think it’s very unfair that I was heavily criticized for trying to improve two strips that many readers didn’t understand or liked. It is a sad fact that on the internet, criticism is often blown out or proportion (“WORST! STRIP! EVER!”) or descents into personal attacks very fast. I also got a very angry e-mail by a long-term reader and commentor who though I had banned him, although I have not banned anybody during the last weeks.

There are also some good news, though:

Sandra and Woo will update three times next week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

– I axed a large chunk of semi-funny ideas for future strips after the current storyline in my idea document, and replaced them with much funnier ones.


Results of the Fanart Contest

After a slow start, I received a lot of great entries for the first Sandra and Woo fanart contest during the last weeks.

Let’s begin the countdown of the best entries with the places 6 to 10 (in no particular order). All of these pictures would have deserved to win a prize, but unfortunately for their creators there were some pictures I liked even more.




by Garrett Williams



by Simon Ladd



by Tony Kinnard



by Tim Decker



by Willie O’ Brien

Place 5 and $10 go to Jonathan A. Ringor for this picture of Sandra and Cloud cosplaying as Yuna and, well, Cloud. I really like Sandra’s expression in this one.



Place 4 and $15 go to Andreas Nilsson for this nicely drawn picture of Sandra, Larisa and Woo enjoying a trip to a lake.



Place 3 and $25 go to Liliana Fernandez Mullins for the most interesting piece of the competition. Why is Sandra sitting on a bowl of water? Why is the tree hanging full of light bulbs? Maybe Liliana will enlighten us in the comment section.



Place 2 and $50 go to Alan Hong for the most dynamic picture that really manages to capture the speed of Sandra and Woo during their way downhill. I also like the shiny colors in this one.



But place 1 and $100 inarguably go to Solveig Hepp for this marvelously picture of Sandra and Woo going to a picnic. Sandra seems to have gone a bit overboard while packing, and Woo is not *really* helping her to pull the wagon up the hill.



All winners should send me an e-mail to novil@gmx.de with their Paypal account (or German bank account) information so that I can send them the prize money.

But let’s not forget the other entries. Several readers even send several pieces:

Thanks to everyone who participated!


New computer

There are always people who want to buy a new computer, but are not up-to-date with the currently available technology. I just bought a new one and did some research about the best, but still affordable components before that. I had a look at tech specs, magazine reviews and customer opinions. In my opinion it’s now finally the time to get a SSD as primary hard-drive for the operating system and applications since these bring significant performance improvements, especially regarding the starting time of programs. Adobe Photoshop is now ready to use almost immediately after clicking on its symbol. My new PC, which replaces a 7 year old methuselah, is also very quiet, so I’m very happy with it overall. So if your budget is around 1000€ ($1300) to get a really fast and reliable machine with a projected lifetime of six years, you should check out the following components: