Today’s volunteer is Liliy of ‘The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred‘. Liliy’s ‘About’ page says “The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred is a comic I created while taking two British Lit classes at the same time. Before I knew it, I had created two characters based on my favorite characters and there you go – slapped them together and you had a comic.”
With each Comic Brand-Aid article, we try to offer a practical look at branding and how it relates to comics. Rather than give you a broad explanation of the rationale and vaguely relatable examples, we take a volunteer and offer a critical but honest and constructive look at various components of their comic, site and creative that encompass “the brand”. Hopefully, you can incorporate these real world critiques into improving your brand.
Aspects we’ll review and make recommendations on are: Logo (name/design), Site (design/usability), Banners (design/congruency/probabilities) and Brand Recognition (differentials/memorables). I’d like to point out that I look at these critiques from the viewpoint of trying to BUILD a brand – not maintain it. We’ve got a lot of work to do, so let’s get started!
Pros: Distinct and unique name – logo uses the complete title of the comic. Fonts and image of sword relate a medieval feel for the comic.
Cons: This part of the critique may become very detailed (therefore long), because I think there is a huge opportunity with the logo. I’ll start with clarity – in particular, the fonts. Liliy credits the font designers (admirable) for VTKS Estilosa and Zenda. Using multiple fonts in a logo is acceptable, but I recommend using one and incorporating variations or tweaks to highlight differences.
In this instance, we have two characters that are different – very different. As in villain and hero. Again, it’s acceptable to use more than one font – I simply wanted to mention it because this is a scenario where the fonts are different, but similar.
Confused? I’ll explain.
Using medieval or gothic style fonts are great for effect – but they are not easy to read. Add in the use of dark text on a dark background (general usage on the site and some art in the deviantart store) with a light stroke make it “veeeeery” difficult to read. I would argue that the two fonts look more similar as a result of the color/stroke implementation. The great news here is – that’s an easy fix. If Wiglaf is the hero – use a color that’s brighter – more in line with a hero’s color. If you’d like to stick with a dark color for Mordred, I would add a light colored box behind the name to help it stand out – or move the sword behind that name.
You could point out that you might lose some balance by moving the sword – but I would play around with it. Legibility is more important than balance at this stage – and you can always work in other elements or improve the layout in response. Another challenge is that the names are difficult to spell – and affect a reader’s ability to recall and find later on – so clarity is key.
‘The Adventures of’ part of the title almost seem like an afterthought. For the sake of shortening it up, I would think about removing that aspect. Search results for “The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred” and “Wiglaf and Mordred” turned up the same listings (both had the actual URL of WiglafandMordred.com ranked third behind the portal site of Liliy.net where the comic actually resides). TItle recall and search results are important to consider because you definitely want to make it as easy as possible to return – outside of them actually bookmarking your site (which requires them to remember to check the bookmark).
One more item: there are several references to W & M (in American collegiate ranks that refers to the College of William and Mary), as well as liliy.net. I’d hate to keep beating this drum, but they are confusing and represent more clarity issues.
I love this layout. It is both creative and functional. I love the header where the characters are holding elements of the site.
Pros: I love this layout. It is both creative and functional – very nice job! Liliy also credits M. Sisk with coding the site. I love the header (outside the logo 😉 where the characters are holding elements of the site. The expressions and icon bubbles are great as well. The banners down the sides are very creative and unique (design wise).
Cons: There isn’t much to pick on here – except one major thing. In the side bars, the use of the creative and transparency aspect of having the ad banners blend in the banner design cause them to overlap in my browsers. If I’m an advertiser – and I am – that would drive me crazy – and it does. You can still have the same effect by adding some padding in there. The “About” page is more of a description of how the characters came about. The ‘Archive’ page is an excellent example of describing the comic – it’s just not intuitive that I’d find all this great information there.
Last but not least – I’m not a fan of the “I ‘Heart’ Comic-Sans” banner at the bottom! 😉
Pros: I like the tag in the 468×60 banner: “ALL THE TEASING – NONE OF THE PAY OFF“* I’m also a fan of the “I ‘heart’ (with the crossbones)”.
Cons: Smaller banners don’t tell me anything about the site – and the fonts are not consistent with the logo. I might remove the characters on the smaller sizes and work up something that sets the expectations a little better. On the larger banner, the “W&M” are consistent with the fonts, but don’t tell me what they stand for – and since they are black on a black background in the split second the viewer takes to glance at the banners, it looks like the logo is an afterthought. *Additionally the “payoff” (in the tagline) is one word – I would recommend fixing that ASAP.
Brand Recognition (differentials/memorables)
Pros: The characters and concept are solid. Unfortunately, I haven’t read through the entire archives, but despite its challenges, the name is unique.
Cons: As I’ve discussed in my last Dr. Banner article regarding Dawn Griffin’s ‘Zorphbert and Fred’ – Wiglaf and Mordred may be a great title for a comic – it’s hard to spell and causes confusion when I try and remember the name.
- Fix the logo – focus on clarity
- Make minor site tweaks
- Add padding to the top and bottom of the banners in the outer columns – make your advertisers happy
- Add content about the comic/story on the About page
- Fix font credit links (broken)
- Fix typo in 468×60 banner
I also hope this helps a lot more people with their brand. Did I come down to hard on ‘Wiglaf and Mordred’? Tell me your thoughts comment below!
Scheduling note: I had been running these articles once every four weeks – alternating with the Dr. Banner – the Banner Doctor series. For the time being – my fellow Alliance members have graciously allowed me to move the Dr. Banner articles to alternating Fridays so I can write up all the great comics that have volunteered for a constructive critique. Next up is ‘Crowbar Benson‘, followed by ‘Beartoons‘. If you’d like to volunteer your comic, send an email to rtswebmail [at] gmail [dot] com – make sure you put Comic Brand-Aid as the subject. Not all comics will be reviewed, but I will try to get to everyone.
Ken Drab (me) of RicktheStick.com has a small brain but a savant-like interest in branding, marketing and design. He better, that’s what he gets paid to do in real life. In make believe – he’s a webcomicker with a mediocre comic but a solid brand. Regardless, this is an ongoing series where we take a look at the concept of branding and how it applies to your comic. We’ll highlight do’s and don’ts as well as look at fixes. We’ll also be taking requests and take a critical but constructive approach to help real comic artists nail down their brand. So if you’re willing to put yourself out there – let me know. Email me directly at rtswebmail [at] gmail [dot] com or click here and add Comic Brand-Aid in the subject line. I’ll contact you if I think I can help you and we can help others by showcasing my recommendations.