Comic Brand-Aid: The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred

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!

‘The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred’:
Comic Brand-Aid Wiglaf and Mordred

Logo (name/design):
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.

Comic Brand-Aid Wiglaf & Mordred HeaderComic Brand-Aid WAM sidebar pointers

Site (design/usability):
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! 😉

Banners (design/congruency/probabilities):
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.

Comic Brand-Aid WAM Banner - 468x60Comic Brand-Aid WAM Banner 200x40Comic Brand-Aid WAM Banner - 88x31

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.

In conclusion:

  1. Fix the logo – focus on clarity
    • Fonts
    • Colors
    • Balance
  2. 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 at the dentist's officeKen 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.

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8 Comments

  1. Ahh! My turn snuck up on me. 😛

    Hmm. We’ll get to the log in a minute…

    The overlap on the banners – that’s intentional to help blend the advertisements into the website as a cohesive design. It’s something subtle that doesn’t affect the banner very much and integrates it more cleanly into the layout. Also, as an advertiser, I’d rather have my banner match and be fluid in a layout than be blocky and annoy the reader.

    Ah yes, the banners. Most of the information about the site is in the title text when you hover over the ad. I don’t even use those very often to be honest, they’re just there for friendly site linking. For advertising I use a larger banner with the text site abbreviation & a character highlight. So far they’ve proven very effective on the rare occasion I advertise- but not so great for handing out to other sites to link to mine.

    And believe it or not – ‘payoff’ and ‘pay off’ mean basically the same thing. The usage isn’t completely correct…but I like it more as two words than one so I shall take a creative liberty with the grammar. For the heck of it. Because I can.
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/payoff
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pay+off

    The logo. Nice suggestions. Might adjust the outlines/etc. for the next go around. The fonts will probably stick though – I’m rather invested in them at the moment and have grown personally attached to them & the logo itself.

    Oh, this isn’t really on the banners – but usually when I type out the abbreviation, it’s “WaM” – one of the reasons I chose that font for the small banners was the ‘&’ looks like a lowercase ‘a’ So not often confused with good ol’ W&M.

    Guess it wouldn’t kill me to add a comic summary to the about page. *shuffles feet at thought of work*

    On Comic Sans: It’s my favorite font. Has been since I was 10 and has sentimental value that I favor over biased design theories. XD Viva la Comic Sans!*

    *When used properly. Even I’ll admit you shouldn’t be typing entire documents in this font. XD

    And so ends my rushed reply during my lunch break at work. *dashes back to her REVIT model*

    • Thanks for explaining some of the issues I brought up in the article! Of course everything I’ve pointed out are my opinion which is subjective, based on my years of experience working in advertising and marketing. My goal was solely to offer you a constructive but critical review of your brand.

      Regarding the banners in your side columns: Personally, if I’m advertising on a site – I don’t want anything overlapping my banner. For instance, what if I had my URL at the bottom which coincidentally was the same color as your overlap? It would clearly affect the banner’s design and theoretically it’s effectiveness.

      Also – I’m kidding about Comic Sans. It’s not for me, but I love to pick on it!

      Good luck and thanks for volunteering!

      • And thank-you for the constructive criticism~ It is appreciated to hear a second point of view that’s not my own or a reader. 🙂

        Ha ha, I know. I tease as well with Comic Sans. I think people take that poor font too seriously. XD (But I wasn’t joking about it being my fav~)

        From a design standpoint – it would teach folks not to put urls at the bottom edges of a tall banner. 😛 (Not that it would be wise to squeeze one down there. I doubt you could get a normal url on there unless it was in a super tiny font. XD)

        Oh~ And I did update the ‘About’ page to get a comic summary in there. 🙂

        • Haha Keith!

          I just want to be clear that my condemnation of Comic Sans is in relation to the perception that it is a “creative” or “comicky” font. Just because it’s not Arial, Helvetica or Times doesn’t make it creative.

          There are plenty of great creative fonts out there that are available for free – and many are comicky!

          Comic Sans in my opinion is a flawed font. It does a poor job of natural kerning (spacing between letters) and when you analyze the integrity of the arcs of the letters they are poor. It’s more akin to a child’s handwriting than it is to being a comic type of font.

          I’d also like to point out that most people HAVE Comic Sans on their computers – and I see it everywhere – EVERYWHERE! What’s so unique about it if anyone can use it? Wouldn’t you want your comic to stand out?

          So on some level I’m really appealing to those artists out there that want to hone their craft to encourage them to make a big difference by upgrading from Comic Sans to a real font.

          • You make one good point here:

            **It’s more akin to a child’s handwriting than it is to being a comic type of font.**

            Since everyone associates comics with kids fare then maybe this why the font resonates comics with them, the name helps obviously.

            As for it’s overuse maybe I am not as font sensitive as others, but I don’t see it being abused more than say, the glare effect in Photoshop. And while there is a certain amount of hate for that, I don’t think it’s spawned whole websites devoted to bashing it.

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