On June 8, I moderated a panel at HeroesCon 2013 – the biggest and best comics convention in the southern U.S. – called “Design & Comics”. It featured five panelists that work in and around the comics industry and who each have a strong background in graphic design. The panelists were:
This is the second such panel that I’ve organized and moderated, but this time, rather than conducting a Q&A with the panelists about their own experiences in designing comic books and graphic novels, I presented a slideshow of images of great or significant examples of graphic design in comics and asked general questions about design concepts related to the images. We started with page composition and the combination of words and pictures on the page, then moved into publication design, logos and ended with cover design.
Some of the topics we got into were:
- Balancing the design of the page with the need to move the story forward
- The significance of Chris Ware and Chip Kidd both in and outside of comics
- The way cover design has changed over the past two decades, partly due to changes in the way comics are now bought
- Different approaches to using a cover to show you what is inside the book, looking at Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur covers compared to something like Jonathan Hickman’s Manhattan Projects covers.
As the moderator, doing this for only the second time but the first time with an accompanying slidehow, I found it a bit tricky to balance walking through the images while also keeping each member of this large panel engaged via my questions. A number of the examples in the slideshow were contributed by the panelists but most were my own choices. Next time around, I think I would try to tie my questions more closely to the visuals and maybe have them be a bit more pointed to entice some strong opinions from each speaker. It’s one thing to get a panelist talking about themselves but it’s another to get them talking about someone else’s work, especially if they are not necessarily prepared to do so.
Still, I think it went very well. My favorite aspect of the panel was having someone like Matt Stevens who is an accomplished designer but does not work in the comics field giving his outside perspective. Originally, there was going to be six panelists, but Tim Leong of Wired and Comics Foundry magazines had to cancel at the last minute. He would have been another, slightly outside the comic-making perspective to add to this mix and hopefully we’ll get him on a future panel.
This year, unfortuantely, the discussion was not recorded, however, the one I did in 2011 was and you can listen to it here. That one was very well received and might have been a more personal and interesting discussion. But, if you’d like to see the visuals we discussed this year, I’ve put them on Slideshare and you can click through them below.
I had a table again this year in “Indie Island” at HeroesCon in Charlotte. It was a lot of fun as usual. I was asked to do a number of sketches, the best ones I’ve shown here below.
Robot Olive Oyl
Krypto the Superdog
Conference display, landing page
Four Dispatch develops mobile apps for industries in need of dispatching work orders and routing. In 2013, they approached me to design an eye-catching conference display that would help attract prospects to their table to learn more about their 4D Fire application for the fire protection industry. The banner needed to stand out from what other companies in the industry were doing and it needed to quickly convey “mobile” to passers-by.
In addition, we translated the same design into a landing page so that prospects could sign up for more information.
While I am currently writing and illustrating a graphic novel, I consider myself primarily a comic book enthusiast and enjoy acting as an evangelist for all the great comics that are out there, especially these days. In that respect, I am happy to be joining mental_floss as a weekly contributor, writing about new releases and other bits of news in the comics world. I used to write a similar column for the now-defunct pop culture website YesButNoButYes.com. A number of writers from that site have migrated to mental_floss including their editor and chief. I’m glad to be reunited with them and with writing about this subject.
Back in the day I used to pick out 5 books that were hitting the stores that week and highlight them as the most notable books to look for. These days comics are coming at you from a number of distribution angles including the web, digital and even Kickstarter. I hope to highlight some great finds from those areas as well as the print comics that hit via the more traditional routes of comic shop and bookstore shelves.
If you’re not familiar with mental_floss it’s a pretty addicting website (and magazine) that describes itself as being “an intelligent read, but not too intelligent”. Which is a self-deprecating way of saying they present interesting facts in a fun to read manner. I highly recommend following them on Twitter too where the short format of that platform works really well for the trivia “soundbites” they like to send out.
I’m looking forward to being able to talk about comics to a more general interest audience like mental_floss has each week. My first article went up this past week and new ones will post every Wednesday since it is appropriately titled “Wednesday is New Comics Day.” You can read it here.
While working with the creative marketing agency, Wray Ward, I designed this landing page for AAA Vacations to be used to display dynamic pricing content and special offers.
Responsive sweepstakes landing page
While working with Wray Ward, I designed a new sweepstakes landing page for Wix Filters that could be used to house various sweepstakes throughout the year. The landing page was designed to be responsive so that the large number of entrants registering on mobile devices would have the same experience as desktop users.
Lin Media hired Rich Barrett to design and develop a responsive, WordPress-driven website for its new Lin Mobile division. This new website, consisting of a landing page and some supporting pages, needed to convey Lin Mobile’s mission in a way that highlighted it’s partnerships with premium networks and other media brands. With its focus on mobile media, we decided to use responsive design so that the website would format itself for desktop, tablet and mobile viewers. The website was also developed using WordPress so that it’s powerful and easy to use content management system would allow Lin Mobile to expand on and update the website on their own.
Visit the Lin Mobile website