Comic Brand-Aid: The Drunken Fools

Branding. What do you care about branding? If you’re planning on a future in comics or webcomics – you should care a whole lot. Sure it’s another “business” aspect we’re telling you to be aware of – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be creative.

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 Gagnon's 'The Drunken Fools'

Antoine has been critical of his own drawing, but the humor and his art style are very characteristic of a solid comic brand.

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.”


The site is titled ‘The Drunken Fools – ‘.

Logo (name/design):

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.

Let’s test this out. Here is how Antoine is currently using the address (bottom right of the comic pane).

Here is the updated version with ALL CAPS.

Perhaps this version with Mixed Case is clearer…

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.

Site (design/usability):

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.

Non-standard 200x160 pixels.

Banners (design/congruency/probabilities):

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 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. Woooa, Ken can be serious when he wants to!

    These are valuable constructive critics Ken and I shall cherish them! Too hard? I think you are going soft on me! 😛

    Few comments:

    Logo: I totally agree with you, I need something more solid for a logo, not just throwing a Font in there. But I’m a lazy ass and that is why I haven’t done anything about it yet. But also, every time I sat and tried to create a logo, it’s as if I wanted to do too much for a logo, maybe you are right and I should just play with effects a bit and get a different font. Added to my To-Do list!

    Site Design:: I’ve been doing websites for ages, and one thing I really wanted to achieve with the current design is to try to look as less as possible as the Comicpress standard layout. Looks like the Pagination thingy slipped my brain. I do have a question for you tho: I agree with you with the fact that if I don’t blog a lot, I should limit myself to one entry on the Frontpage. But What if I’m planning to blog more? Should I keep 2, 3?

    Banner: Yup, I totally lack banners. I need them big time. And to my credit, that banner on the Alliance was to file a hole in a rushed timeline 😛 Added to my To-Do list!

    Brand:: Okay, this is where I’m not sure if I agree with you. 1. When I created the Drunken Fools, the first thing I did was to check for drunkenfools(dot)com. Unfortunately it was taken and the owner is the kind of company in South America owning tons of domains and simply waiting to get a desperate person willing to pay a few thousands bucks for a domain.

    Then I decided to do “The” Drunken Fools. The reason? Let me explain: If you use “Drunken Fools”, it doesn’t specify which drunken fools we’re talking about, it can be ANY drunken fool. If I wanted to do a strip about random drunken shenanigans, without any main characters, that would have worked pretty well. But the thing is, The Drunken Fools are a group of friends, four to be exact(well originally). And now comes the importance of having “The” because now it shows that we are targeting specific drunken fools. Also, you may see it next year for the next Storyline, The Drunken Fools was originally supposed to be their Hockey team’s name and early 2001 will finally get a Hockey Storyline.

    As far as Twitter: Twitter is not the center of the universe. It is only a tool for networking. If people gets confused just because “the” is not part of my Twitter handler, well, I don’t no what to say. But I believe Twitter is the only place where I don’t have “The”. In the end, my brand is “The Drunken Fools”. There is nothing wrong in having “The” in a brand. Look at The Beatles as an example.

    But after writing all this, I realize you have nothing against “The”, looks like I misread 😀 But I’ll keep my comments because it sounds smart! In a nutshell, yes I also wanted drunkenfools(dot)com, but it wasn’t available.

    Slogan:: yes, I do have to put that there. Question: do you think I could replace “Updates every Sunday by Antoine Gagnon” by the slogan?

    Thanks for this Ken! It’s awesome!

    Who’s next?

  2. Whoo hoo~ I’m up next. XD

    Another good article. Not much else to add what has already been covered by artist above. *points*

    And ComicSans is like every other vice – good in moderation. And he’s the hero. <3

  3. This is a really interesting series of articles. I think it’s invaluable to have an honest critique of a site, it’s so hard to look at your own site with fresh eyes. Reading these articles helps me to look at my own site afresh… I’m planning to do my annual re-design over the holidays and this has given me food for thought.

    One thing I would like to see added is a conclusion section, where you’d give a short list of things you think really need to be fixed, changed, improved or whatever, rather than the pros and cons of what’s already up there.

    Nicely done!

  4. Pingback: ComicSans… the ugly red-headed step-child of fonts.

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