Dr. Banner – The Banner Doctor: 1977 the Comic

Patient name: 1977 The Comic
Age: Three years old
Patient Origins: Comic is based on four friends trying to become rock ‘n’ roll stars in the late 70s.
Patient History: Fresh off hiatus is re-energized and looking to update it’s brand, draw traffic and grow the audience.
Banners presented for initial review:

Doctors notes:
1977 The Comic’s banners feature distressed slogan mark, some character art and year in the comic title. Background employs blue gradient.

Initial diagnosis:
Aesthetically these banners are nice, but my immediate response was to wonder how effective they would be. We only have to look back at our last article where we spoke briefly about three words that will guide you towards more effective banners – and they are NOT “sex, drugs and rock and roll” as the banners would have you think, but “clear, concise and engaging”. If you knew that, then give yourself a gold star. If you didn’t know that, please refrain from making fun of the people with the silly gold stars.

Starting off, let’s begin with the obvious: engaging. Because I am a heterosexual male, I am immediately drawn (no pun intended) to the banner with the breasts, and on some level the slogan “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll” resonates with me because that’s a rebellious statement and I like to think I’m rebellious (I’m not, but I want to think I am). So to me, I would consider these engaging.

Moving on to the next obvious component is Clarity (clear). It’s important to remember the context in which your banner will be displayed. It will not be featured against a solid background with nothing to compete for your eye’s attention. With that in mind, the distressed white text against a gradient background does not help legibility. The unique font (non-breasted banners) also creates a slight, but still significant challenge, and finally “the comic” part is small. Try this exercise when you are putting together your next banner design. Reduce the image to 50% – if you can’t read all the print – it’s too small. If you think you need more space, you need to read the next paragraph.

Concise is an integral ingredient because we’re talking about communicating what is usually a large visual product in a small amount of space. That is assuming everyone reading this article publishes a comic larger than 468×60. Add in a marketing slogan or a witty remark, a web address and perhaps a call to action, then you’re talking about a lot of information in a tiny amount of space. The solution is be concise. We’ve all heard less is more – but duh – less is LESS! Wax poetically on your site – not in your banners. Unless you can do it concisely.

Recommended treatment:
Lose the gradient backgrounds. Solid backgrounds are an easy way to simplify your banners. Use a clearer and darker font. You can still have something edgy that is legible. Incorporate more of the characters. From the banner with the breasts, you may be setting the wrong expectations. I happen to know (because “apparently” I read it – joke;-), 1977 the Comic is not about breasts, but someone clicking on the banner may not. Incorporate the entire title equally. Someone may not click on your banner, but if you’ve created an engaging, attractive banner it’s possible they could search for you later. If you have a unique spelling or hard to recall web address, then use something memorable to help the recall. Finally, I would add a call to action (encouraging someone to click). Instead of simply saying ‘1977 the Comic’, you could kill two boobs with one stoner (yeah like you wouldn’t add a pun somewhere in here), you could try “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll. Trip Back with 1977 the Comic”. There are a ton of word plays you could use here. Double entendres are great for incorporating a call to action.

Follow up:
Byron went and made changes to his banners. Did he do well? Let’s take a quick look. Using what we’ve just discussed – does he incorporate ‘clear, concise and engaging? In my opinion, he’s maintained engaging banners while including his characters which would likely set better expectations from visitors. I still think he should reconsider the gradient backgrounds but I like the equal weight to all of the words in the tittle of the comic. I think a strong call to action would add a lot to improve his clicks. He’s reduced the amount of text in his banners which is great – not to mention he’s focusing on the real aspect of his comic.

I’ll let Byron share his results if he would like, but I think he made steps in the right direction. In a future article, I’ll actually put these practices to work and I’ll ask Byron to hand me the keys and let me throw something together on his behalf.

Additionally, if you’d like to hear our discussion regarding Byron’s banners, there are some other great suggestions that we share during our third Webcomic Workshop podcast coincidentally posted yesterday!

I’ll be taking volunteers to help improve their ads and we’ll ask readers for their feedback. If you’d like to volunteer your comic’s banners, send an email to rtswebmail [at] gmail [dot] com – make sure you put ‘Dr. Banner – the Banner Doctor’ as the subject. Not all banners will be reviewed, but I will try to get to everyone.

Ken Drab sporting the thin faced lookKen Drab (me) 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.

Posted in Business, Featured News, Helpful Hints and tagged , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Excellent stuff, Ken. I shall dig up my stats from those two sets of banners and get the numbers up later today. Off my head, the newer set worked better as I received more hits with less money spent on the Project Wonderful campaign as compared to the fist set, where I spent a lot more money.

    I will get you artwork and let you work up some new banners and we’ll give those a spin and get the results posted as well. Stay tooned!

  2. Hey Ken, Great Article, I am planning a relaunch very soon on tearsandpain.com and would love to pick your brain sometime soon if you are free.

    Thanks again for a Great Article

  3. Say what you will about the boobs not exactly conveying the overall message of the comic, but that was an eye catching banner.

    I’m not sure the others have that ability to draw the eye quite so well.

  4. Pingback: Webcomic Alliance - 10 Terrific Tips for Building Bad@ss Banners

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *