This week we’ll take our second practical look at branding and how it relates to comics. Today’s volunteer is Antoine Gagnon of ‘The Drunken Fools’ (thedrunkenfools.com). At first glance, it might be easy to think ‘The Drunken Fools’ is an easy target because to some, the humor may be sophomoric, to others they may not see a polished artistic style. But to me I see the genesis of a good brand – and I’m not just saying that because I know Antoine. Read on and I’ll explain.
Antoine’s ‘About’ page says “When it comes to growing up, some are just stuck in the Party phase of their lives. That’s so true with Spike, Billy and Steve… But, it doesn’t end there for these guys. One of them has been assigned a Guardian Angel to right their ways… it just happens to be a very powerful skunk.”
Pros: Clearly states the title of the comic employing a creative font. The name also delineates the theme of the comic, you know what to expect from the title. I like the use of the characters as background elements – especially since it’s incorporating part of the storyline.
Cons: As mentioned the logo uses a creative font – but that’s the extent of it. Using free or common fonts for you comic is both good and bad. For instance, much to a lot of designers chagrin, Helvetica is a very common font in the corporate world – part of the reason is it’s clarity and legibility. So the good here with The Drunken Fools logo is that it is creative, but retains it’s clarity and legibility. The bad is that it’s simply the font that’s used creatively. There is nothing to distinguish the logo from the font. I would add some glossy effects, gradients and other shading to give the font further definition and characteristics. You don’t have to be a designer to make adjustments to your font – play around with editing software if you have it. If not, find a way to do it creatively – but make sure it’s unique and stands out! Another thing I’d like to point out is the size of the logo. I’m a proponent of keeping your comic as high on the page as possible – but in this instance, it overpowers the logo. If your comic is not well known, you need to make sure that your logo is featured in the header. That being said – use discretion – it shouldn’t dominate your header or your site – it should just be featured. I also noticed that Antoine uses his full domain at the bottom of the comic. I would leave off the “http://www” part and just use “thedrunkenfools.com”. Additionally, I would use a sans-serif font like “GASP”… Helvetica or Arial. The handwritten or comic dialogue font he’s using is not clear and lacks instant legibility as I’ve mentioned. NOTE: Please NEVER use ComicSans. Not for sarcasm, not for spite, not because you have nothing else. Actually nothing else is better. No one wins when you use ComicSans.
Which one offers better clarity and legibility? An added benefit is by keeping the URL short like that is you remain consistent with the title of the comic. I’ll be honest here and before I really got a handle on the comic’s name, I would go to drunkenfools.com all the time. Not good and definitely a challenge for Antoine.
Pros: If you’ve listened to the podcast, you’ll know normally I’m not a fan of Antoine, but I am a fan of ‘The Drunken Fools’ layout. I like the unique navigation to the right and the two column layout. The extras are on the far right so everything you need to do is close to the comic. The blog is easy to read and he’s added unique design to tie in the blog to the comic (character holding the post and pointing to the comic at the bottom right).
Cons: One thing I’m not a fan of (and a lot of comics use this – I think it’s the default in ComicPress), and that’s the pagination option at the bottom of the page. Since the pagination is essentially for the blog and not the comic – take it off the home page – save it for the blog. This keeps your home page shorter and the most important content front and center. I’m not recommending removing the blog – just keep it to a single post. If you don’t blog often, then it may not be relevant to what is current. Also – if you have a ad banner in your footer, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by having it closer to the top of the page and your advertisers will get more for their money.
Pros: I don’t have much to go by here, because Antoine doesn’t have anything on his site. The art and colors are consistent with the site (*see Cons).
Cons: No banners available on his site. I had to use his banner on the WebcomicAlliance.com site. Immediately I noticed that the font in the banner and the font on the site are different. This is a huge problem for brand consistency. The eyes in the word “fools” don’t really tell me anything – especially since the characters below it accomplish the same “drunken” effect (assuming the yellow eyes are intended to imply that). ‘Drunk since 2008’ doesn’t really tell me much about the comic. Additionally, there’s nothing to draw me as a viewer in (no pun intended), unless I’m attracted to the art style or want to know why there’s a skunk smoking a cigar in the banner.
Brand Recognition (differentials/memorables)
Pros: The name ‘The Drunken Fools’ is memorable* and Antoine carries the theme across all of his communications so if you have any interaction with him – you’re likely to remember him.
Cons: The name is a double edged sword. In my opinion, it’s memorable (and why I put the asterisk there), but adding “the” to the beginning makes just a little more difficult to remember. If you’ve seen Antoine on Twitter, he’s @drunkenfools, this creates opportunity for additional confusion (in our last article we highlighted the importance of having a different website as opposed to the comic’s title). If are lucky enough to get a domain that has your title in it – and it starts with “THE”, check to see if it is available without the “THE” and get both domains. For instance, if my comic’s name were “The Rick the Stick”, I would have gotten both ‘therickthestick.com’ and ‘rickthestick.com’. The point is that you’re making it easier to get to your comic – minimizing confusion.
In conclusion, I think Antoine is off to a good start. ‘The Drunken Fools’ is a memorable name, and other than slightly confusing the brand with his twitter handle, he’s done a good job illustrating and maintaining his identity. That being said, his comic’s slogan “Sobriety is Overrated” is great, but no where to be found – which is disappointing. Getting that up and promoting that is important and should be a priority. Also, if I had my druthers, I would recommend a more fun font used in the title. I’m guessing that Antoine is trying to match the font to the storyline (his character is currently ‘The Incredible Drunk’ – a monster of sorts) as opposed to a more comical, fun or “drunken” style of font.
I hope this helps a lot more people with their brand. Did I come down too hard on ‘The Drunken Fools’? Tell me your thoughts comment below! Thanks for reading!! Next up is Lilly’s ‘Wiglaf & Mordred’…
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.