Title: 'Just Gotta' contest prizes are all done
Author: Neko
Date: January 31st 2009

And today we have yet another new SoL. I also finished the last two prizes I promised to draw for the Just Gotta contest. Go me! And finally I also received another Sandy sprite from mimey. I thought you guys might like to know that mimey has decided to work on his comic again. It has started over and is now called Pokémon Frontier Challenge. And Sandy from SoL may receive a cameo role in it. Sounds exciting, huh? Get over there and show mimey your support! :)

Title: And here's yet another Saturday
Author: Neko
Date: January 24th 2009

The new SoL is up. I also have one of the last two contest entries I intend to make up in the galleries and I finished one of the contest prizes. And last but not least, I received a cute Blue Uncia sprite from Nekomata. :)

Have a nice weekend and don't forget to request your prizes if you haven't already!

Title: Let's talk about the future for a bit
Author: Neko
Date: January 17th 2009

New Saturday means a new update. I also have one new gallery entry and one new addition to the fanart gallery. Things have been pretty slow this week, but I'll get to that later.

Alrighty, so now here's what I wanted to talk to you guys about.
As you guys probably know, things have gotten pretty hectic for me lately. I'm no longer a regular student. After completing my masters, I started working as a PhD student. This is a great honor and a wonderful opportunity, but it is also a lot of hard work. And lately I've found myself less motivated to give it my all. In part, this is because I am very tired. Another reason probably has something to do with me not knowing how far along I really am. I have no way of knowing whether I am on, ahead or behind on schedule.
So then I started doing some thinking. What exactly is it that's making me so tired? Well, the answer's pretty obvious. After spending an entire day hard at work and making frustratingly little progress, I usually spend all my remaining free time drawing. Now don't get me wrong, I love to draw. I find it very relaxing. But there can also be too much of a good thing, you know? Whenever I draw, I find myself working towards some sort of deadline. My drive to draw mostly comes from a sense of duty, as well as from the actual pleasure. I think this is what allows me to work faster than most artists, but it's also starting to really tire me out.
So basically, my problem is not the fact that I draw a lot, it's that I am my own slave driver. And quite frankly, it's got to stop. I've found that a lot of other stuff I like to do has started to suffer somewhat. I've been wanting to clean out my room since forever now. I have about a dozen different unplayed games laying around. I have unread books gathering dust. I've been wanting to pick up story-writing for a very long time now. My website needs a serious revamp. The list goes on and on. The way I see it, the key to getting myself in a somewhat more happy and relaxed state, is to allow myself to engage in more diverse activities, not just art. I hope that makes sense.

So why am I telling you all of this? It's not because any of this is your fault. Like I said, I'm to blame for most of this. I've been on this art-frenzy for well over a year now. I am telling you this because I kind of need you guys to know that I intend to slow everything down a bit. Try to see the following as my belated new year resolutions.

Stuff of Legend
I intend to keep the comic running as it always has. Comic production takes up roughly three evenings per week, leaving more than enough time to devote myself to other activities during the rest of the week. Back in 2006 this is how I always spent my time, and as far as I recall, I was perfectly happy.
You should know however, that I really don't like SoL's snail's pace. I never have, and I know that deep down you guys don't like it either. I have been considering to simplify SoL's production process ever since 2006. I think I'm finally ready to try that out. I'm not happy about giving up SoL's current style, but at this rate I'll still be working on this comic by the end of this decade. Giving up a little bit of quality to gain some quantity may be just what this comic needs. And in the end, I think everybody likes having more updates, right? I'll let you guys know more as soon as I have additional information.

Art trades
Closed. I think I asked a couple of people to do art trades with me before the holidays. But they haven't gotten back to me yet. If the two of you still want to do art trades, let me know. However, I'm not going to do any more trades with anyone else for a while. This includes the ShinXChange. I love that event, but I just can't do it right now.

Closed. Even if I did want to do one, it would only be with my friends.

Very closed.

I'll probably keep making people gifts if I feel like it and/or feel inspired to do so. I like making people happy. :) Expect them to be sporadic, though.

Some of these tutorials have been on my to-do-list since forever. Most of them are requests. Don't worry, I still intend to do them. Just don't expect to see them done any time soon. Also, please stop requesting any more. I think we've already established that I can't really say 'no'. XD

Ah yes, contests. My greatest of addictions. I don't know why, but I nearly always feel compelled to join them, even if I don't particularly fancy the prizes. But lately I've become a little disappointed with the contests. It's not because I occasionally lose some of them. Heck, that's part of the game (and the thrill), right? My main problem with the contests is the fact that sometimes I manage to lose for reasons I don't really understand. Whining about it like a big baby isn't really my style, but it does feel like a big waste of my time and energy when I make a flipping huge entry and then manage to lose against something which looks like it might have been slapped together in an hour or so.
But that's not even my biggest concern. I've also become a little disappointed with some of the contests I did win. I won't name any people, but let's just say that a lot of folks still owe me art. I don't mind waiting for a while, but in some cases I've been waiting for well over 10 months.
I currently have two more contests on my to-do-list. One of them is about half-finished. I join these contests because I want to, because their themes appeal to me. That's it. After these two, I don't intend to do any more contests for a while. You would do me a huge favour by not asking me to join your contest, because you'd just be tempting me again. XD

Contest prizes
Ah yes. I still owe some people their art too. I don't like making people wait, so I will do these as soon as I can. There should be four prizes. I still owe Psychic her third prize from my contest. Please feel free to let me know what you want me to draw, ok hun? And since I also offered to donate art to the first three winners of the Just Gotta contest, they may also request their prizes from me.
All four of you, please don't hesitate to send me your requests, ok? I know I just said I wanted to cut back on drawing, but this is different. I owe you art, so I will make sure you get your pictures as soon as possible.

And finally my pet projects
You may already have noticed that I've put a good number of them on hold already. Well, I will continue to suspend working on them for now. Frankly, I've kind of lost the desire to work on most of them already. So I'll only do these whenever I actually feel like it.

So there you have it. My new year's resolutions. I hope this will help clear up my schedule, and restore my enthusiasm for my PhD research. I need you guys to be my witnesses on this one. While SoL will keep being updated, the stream of secondary art will probably reduce to a trickle. If you feel that I might be overdoing it again art-wise, feel free to remind me. ^__^

Title: Finally managed to update the frontpage too
Author: Neko
Date: January 10th 2009

Hey guys. I'm sorry I'm late. Today was a little hectic so, even though I did manage to update the comic this morning, I couldn't update the frontpage as well. Lots of stuff just popped up. It wasn't anything serious, but it just swallowed the whole day. Anyway, here's the frontpage update too. I also want to thank everybody for their sympathy and their kind remarks concerning Tiger. I have to admit that part of me is still having trouble accepting that he is gone, but I'm not depressed all the time either. So I guess that counts for something.
Anyway, I did manage to get some drawing done this week. So there are some new gallery entries (mostly sketches, though) and three new fan art pictures. Enjoy.

Incidentally, there is also some good news to report (good for me anyway). I finally managed to get my hands on an English copy of Solo's Journey by Joy Smith Aiken. This book was my favourite when I was a kid and it was the first story I ever tried to convert into a comic. I failed miserably of course, but it was a nice project which gave me my first great impulse to practice and improve my drawing skills. That was well over 10 years ago.

Title: In Loving Memory
Author: Neko
Date: January 5th 2009

Last night Tiger's situation started to deteriorate. Over the weekend there had already been signs of his situation getting worse. The most notable change was the fact that he was starting to lose his appetite again. His pain meds also did not seem to work very well anymore, even as I increased the dose.
This night Tiger tossed and turned in his sleep, because he couldn't find a comfortable position for his swollen leg. It was heartbreaking to watch him keep readjusting himself, while moaning in obvious pain. So I gave him another double dose of his pain meds and this seemed to help him settle down for a few hours. However, at about half past six in the morning, when Tiger tried to eat a bit, he immediately started vomiting. He continued to vomit small portions of whatever was left in his obviously empty stomach for roughly one and a half hours.
In the end, he just sat down and meowed, feeling very sorry for himself. So I took him back in bed with me and kept him warm, which finally made the vomiting stop. These events kind of proved to me, what I had already been suspecting for the past few days: that Tiger was suffering and didn't have much longer left to live.

I've already said it a lot over the last two weeks; it's very difficult to decide when to have your best friend put to sleep, especially if he's been by your side for most of your life. But as much as I knew that I would miss him, I also didn't want to watch him suffer any more. It wasn't fair to him and he deserved better than that.

This is why we took him to the vet this morning and Tiger was put to sleep. At first he complained about being taken there, because no pet really likes going to the vet, but he didn't put up much of a fight. I suppose he was just too weak. Besides, I had just given him a nice warm place on my bed to sleep, and I doubt he wanted to leave. But when we got there, he was quiet. He nestled his head in my hands as he fell asleep from the first tranquilizer. The final shot didn't hurt him at all. The whole process was quite calm and the vet was very nice and sensitive about the whole situation. I had been afraid that Tiger would respond the way our first dog did, when she was put down some 10 years ago. Aimée had really panicked through the whole procedure, but thankfully Tiger was calm.

It'll take some time to adjust to the Tiger-shaped void in my life. I may not spend as much time drawing as I used to, there's no way to tell. But I am very grateful for the 15 years of joy he gave me. I'm glad that up until a few weeks ago he was relatively healthy. In fact, he was as strong as an ox. I am also thankful for the fact that he was there to comfort me when things got rough in our lives. I don't know how unusual this is in cats, but I always felt as if Tiger could look into my eyes and tell what I was thinking and feeling.

Like I said, I know I will miss him very much. But at least he is now no longer in pain from a disease which worked very fast in his body. And, despite what some people may think, I do believe that animals have souls, just like we humans do. I think Tiger went straight to heaven, and when my time comes perhaps I'll get to see him again.

Title: Happy new year, and an update on my cat
Author: Neko
Date: January 3rd 2009

Happy new year everybody. To be completely honest, I didn't stay up until midnight myself. All the recent events, combined with the fact that I was already tired before the holidays even started, meant that on new year's eve I simply fell asleep at 23:00. Whoops...
Anyway, the new SoL is up and there are some new pictures in the galleries and the fan art gallery:

As for the cat, I'm afraid there's now more bad news. Those of you who visit my dA page probably already know about it, but I forgot to also post a message here. Last Monday we went back to the vet, who took another x-ray of Tiger's leg. This x-ray confirmed that he does indeed have bone cancer, and quite an aggressive form of it too. It has already started to creep up his leg, beyond the elbow. There was also some undetermined stuff going on in his lungs. The vet strongly suspected that they are early tumors as well. This means that the cancer has already spread and may even be in other organs as well. Amputating Tiger's leg will therefore no longer be enough to save him, and, truth be told, it wouldn't be a nice thing to do to an animal of his age.
I've spent the last few days getting used to the idea that Tiger doesn't have very long left to live. Right now he's getting double doses of pain meds, because as I said before, the regular doses just didn't seem to be helping him. But even with the double doses, he still isn't feeling very well. You can just tell by looking at him. And I think it won't be too long before the side effects of the pain meds start to show either.

So, long story short, Tiger basically has an unknown number of days left to live, until he loses his appetite. That would indicate that the pain meds have started damaging his stomach and that would mean it would be best to have him put to sleep. Part of me wonders if I should wait that long, just to have those pain meds make him sicker. Although he still enjoys to eat and sleep, you can still see he's not having a terribly good time. But then again, he has also been by my side for the better part of my life. Deciding when to end the life of your best friend is very difficult.
Every extra day I get now is a gift and a chance for me to say my good-byes, and Tiger doesn't seem to have that I-wish-I-was-dead-look on his face yet, but I don't know if I ever do want to see him looking like that. It's hard, you know?

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