Dr. Banner – The Banner Doctor: Gin and Comics

Patient name: Gin and Comics
Age: One year old
Patient Origins: Gin and Comics takes a jab at everything comicbooks or pop culture.
Banners presented for initial review:

Doctors notes:
Gin and Comics banners feature a teal background theme – with an angled stripe. All the banners were animated and feature three or four frames that give the comic name, the comic tagline, its publishing days and the characters.

Initial diagnosis:
These banners are laid out well and do a good job of simply communicating the information, the color scheme is both organic and action oriented. The characters are cleanly drawn and the text is easy to read.

While the banners are nice, simply put, I have no idea what’s going on.

Trust me, I get each frame and I know what Ryan is trying to accomplish. But when we break these banners down, we have the luxury of examining them and comprehending the elements because we’re taking the time to analyze them. In the real world (browsing a website with one of these banners on them) you get seconds – not a 500 word article with interesting and witty commentary. πŸ™‚

But the reason I asked Ryan to get me these banners was because it gives us a good opportunity to break them down and build them back up. So what is about to transpire is not a personal attack on Ryan’s banners, but my personal opinion on what makes a good and effective banner. Additionally, I’d like to point out that there is NO formula for building the perfect banner, but based on my years of experience, I am trying to give recommendations to improve these banners performance.

Let’s take a look the title of the comic: ‘Gin and Comics’. Okay, that’s interesting and other than the olive in the logo – I have no idea how the ‘Gin’ pertains to the comic. The ‘Comics’ at least is backed up by the tagline “A little slice of the nerd life” (before I forget, you don’t need quotes around the tagline in most instances unless it’s in a sentence).

Getting back to the ‘Gin’ in ‘Gin and Comics’ – we’ve talked about setting and meeting expectations in previous articles. And if you haven’t read them – you should. It’s just good knowledge that yours truly is handing out. I’m a doctor folks, no where in the Hypocratic oath does it mention being modest. πŸ˜‰

Where were we? Oh. ‘Gin and Comics’. Right. Well based on the title, my expectations are that a little slice of nerd life is focused on booze. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something since there wasn’t any alcohol in the banners, so I went to the website and started looking at the comics from the beginning. I went through about thirty comics and there were only a few references to “beer”. Nothing about Gin. Even if Gin were a name, I don’t get the olive in the logo. It doesn’t relate. That being said, I like the title ‘Gin and Comics’. The point is, ‘Webcomic Alliance’ isn’t a website about doorstops. It’s about webcomics. And it’s an alliance of webcomic creators. I’d like to point out some quick irony, since I’ve recently vowed to stop using the word webcomic, but I have now four times in this paragraph. GAH!

So no booze. No gin in ‘Gin and Comics’. And that’s okay – it’s not a HUGE deal. I just wanted to point out that there may be an audience of people that click through on the banners expecting drinking humor and will see only comic/pop culture. If I need my booze lols, I’m likely to bounce.

Additionally, I don’t get the cat. He’s not a major part of the story, and I thought maybe it was a metaphor (hey, I was just searching for a connection – I’m no perv!), but I didn’t see much.

Again, I’m just pointing out that there’s a disconnect with the expectations your setting. No Gin and not much…kitty.

Recommended treatment:

So you see where I’m going. I just picked apart the first frame – which may possibly be the only part of the animated banner that I see before passing it up or clicking. People are incredibly quick scanning web pages for what interests them.

Moving on, ‘Gin and Comics’, the cat and published M-W-F shouldn’t be the focus of the banners. If I see your banner on a Thursday, should I try and remember to hit you up tomorrow? NO! You want them to come to your site NOW!! Tell them when it’s published when they get there. That’s not the banner’s job!

Animated banners are generally larger files. And if you’re advertising on my site with animated banners this size (and I notice you are today RYAN!) then you’re slowing down the load time of my page. I’m going to boot you. Sorry – but my audience comes first. In my opinion, you don’t need the animation. You can say everything you need to on one frame. This is good because you’re getting all your info in front of the viewer as fast as possible.

Regarding the illustrations – I like the ‘Star Wars’, Princess Leia, C3PO, Han Solo – that communicates the pop culture aspect. KABLAM! Now we’re working at setting expectations!!

Finally, I’d add a call to action. Invite the viewer to go look at your comic. While not perfect, why not something like: ‘Come Get a Little Slice of the Nerd Life’. You get the point.

Ryan has an interesting comic – I think he needs to just focus on communicating exactly what someone is going to get when they go to read it. He’s likely to improve the banner’s performance and get people to stick around as a result of giving them what want. Good luck Ryan!

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.

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  1. Geesh Ken! Seriously though, thanks for taking the time to go through these.

    You are right about there not being a strong tie to “Gin” or even alcohol based humor in the strip. It was instead a title I loved and became known by before the comic truly became established. That being said though, there are some plans in the work to bring that all full circle sometime soon.

    As far as Magoo (the cat) if you read the first 40-50 strips, you won’t see the little guy. In fact he joined the cast in December as part of the Christmas special and is now a pretty regular feature in the comic, in fact the next few strips revolve around him.

    I do get what you are saying about the animation and how I may need to rearrange some things. The one that really surprised me is the advice to remove the “M-W-F” from the banner. It seems second nature to want to advertise when it posts; but your right, I don’t want those people who are seeing it for the first time not to click over because it happens to be a Tuesday.

    Thanks again Ken, you weren’t gentle, but you were fair my friend.

    • I’m glad you appreciated it Ryan. It’s hard for me to communicate what I need to say in a PC manner – that’s not me. I’d rather be honest, I think that helps more.

      That being said, if you want more help – I can even mock up a design for ya – email me a PSD or something with just your artwork.

      If not, that’s cool too!

    • Ken is honest and straight-forward and I find that refreshing. He may not know what day it is, but when it comes to this stuff, he’s on top of his game.

      Critiques are hard to take in any form, but Ken does a good job of beating one up but not leaving them bloody. Having a second set of eyes evaluate your marketing is an invaluable tool and just chatting with him about my stuff from time to time has shown me many weaknesses in my handling of my comic’s image and brand.

      So, don’t take it too hard and apply some of what he suggested and experiment… you’ll find what works for you and the comic!


  2. I dunno. . . gin, olive. . . I think martini. Seems fine.

    But don’t end up on The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

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