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Storybook format for webcomics, does it work?

PulpTrashPulpTrash Registered User
edited December 2011 in Artist's Corner
Hey everybody, I'm new to this forum so hopefully I'm not breaking any rules and what not. I will tread lightly. Anyways, for my new project I decided to use a storybook format similar to a children's book. My question is 'does it work as a narrative' and 'do you think it can still be considered a graphic novel/comic book'? Maybe it's simply an illustrated novel, I don't know.
Here are three pages from the book, let me know what you think. I'm a masochist so bring on the harsh criticism.

PulpTrash on


  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited December 2011
    Hey, welcome to the boards!

    Well, tell us more about your project; what do you want to do with it? I suppose that you're printing it because it says "Staple here".

    I'll be judging purely the technical aspect of graphic design, so I'll skip what I feel about your project idea and focus only on the visual aspect.

    I'm not liking the over all appearance, it looks somewhat like Frankenstein's monster. There is no consistency in the style or elements that you're putting together. There is a black,squigly, uneven frame with a feathered edge and then crisp vectors that line up neatly. The images are also framed in a perfect square that's thrown off by the by the previously mentioned black, squigly, uneven frame. I'd replace the black frame for a cleaner looking one or give the same treatment to the rest of the elements otherwise it's gonna look like a jumble of elements from the web put together thoughtlessly. Why is the stripe on page 5 stretching way to the left but it is centered perfectly on the rest of the pages?

    This, however, is only part of my grief. The layout itself is boring. It's a letter/A4 style document with Garamond type. Garamond is a fantastic type face, but it looks strikingly similar to Times New Roman. This combination of page format and type face make it feel like someone just chose the default settings in a word processing program. As a matter of fact, this looks like it was done in a word processing program.

    Graphic designers need to justify their value by creating something that is beyond the skills of laypeople, if your layout can be accurately recreated in Microsoft Word or Power Point, then there is no purpose in having a graphic designer. This is my personal measure which I use to push myself to make me valuable as a resource.

    I'd experiment with different page sizes. Try making a giant squared page or something that is not a commercialy available paper size. I also encourage you to experiment designing on page spreads (i.e. one page next to the other) rather than single pages. Books are not individual sheets, they are spreads and sometimes what looks good as a single sheet doesn't look good as a spread.

    I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you built this in Photoshop (judging not only by the feathered frame, but also by how the type is rendered). If this is correct, I highly encourage you to give InDesign a chance. It's not as intuitive but if you're familiar with the workings of Photoshop you should be able to figure out what most things do. InDesign gives you a myriad of tools that you won't find anywhere else, the most relevant to you being the ability to make multiple page documents in single pages or spreads.

    I believe that if you try a different layout, give more thought to the arrangement of elements and use your typography more effectively this can look very good! I'd also avoid using black as a main background because you may end up with streaky black spots when you print... unless you're using a press, which will leave black resideu on your reader's fingers.

    MagicToaster on
  • PulpTrashPulpTrash Registered User
    Thanks a ton for responding. The story is kind of abysmal so I totally understand if you also had problems with that too. All good advice. I actually used indesign 1st, but didn't like the rendering of the images so I imported them to photoshop to get better detail. The reason the first image spreads out farther than the others is that it is actually a larger image. I noticed on my site that it made a difference in the detail and, since I'm using comicpress, the images came out the same size when posted. I was hoping it would conform to the same size here but, nope. The feathered wiggly edge is only for the online version, I thought it would give the page character but maybe I should just have the straight edges. The streaky black spots is a concern, I may have to change the background back to white. What font type would you recommend other than garamond, I was also thinking of maybe using Century Schoolbook, what do you think?
    Thanks again for the comments.

  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    InDesign's image rendering is, by default, set to work at a low resolution, though it's just a display property meant to save memory. You can change it by addressing the Display Performance option at View>Display Performance>High Quality.

    I'm confused, is this an online comic or a print project? I suppose it's both! I would't go with a vertical layout if you're doing something for the web, as most people have horizontal monitors. I would also not recommend InDesign for web projects.

    Now, I'm not saying get rid of the wiggly edge, I'm saying make things match. The edge looks very rough and hand made, while the rest of the things have a clean and sterilized look. You could change the edge for a cleaner look or you can change the rest of the page for a "wigglier" look.

    As for the font, Century Schoolbook is nice. I can see you like Serif typefaces, they have a very classic feel. I would also say, look at Clarendon, it is similar to Century Schoolbook with it's bracketed serifs, but it has more options such as Light, Heavy, Black, Condensed, also as a bonus there is a webfont version available so you can keep consistency in your style even on the web!

  • LyricalLyrical Registered User regular
    Those ultra crisp serif fonts are really clashing with the horror vibe for me.

    Using a seriffed font does make sense, but you might consider using something with a more distressed look.

    A few that come to mind:

    Also, I think the irregularity of the border works, but the feathered edge doesn't at all. The feathering is so regular that it destroys the gestural/expressive quality of the blot of black and reveals a bit too much about how it was made.

  • PulpTrashPulpTrash Registered User
    edited December 2011
    Thanks for the comments. All great options. I really like the hand-times font, thanks Lyrical, and it seems the options available for Clarendon will be super useful, if not for this project then for my next. After MagicToaster's comments on the wiggly line I decided to axe the wiggly line, since that's the easier of the two options, and to be honest, the pages do look better on my site minus the wiggle. The reason I went with the feathering is 'cause my images are all blurred and faded and I thought it would match the aesthetic, I guess it didn't work, oh well. Thanks again for the comments, it is always good to hear if things work or don't work.
    As for what I intend for the project, initially I wanted to print up pamphlets but then realized that using a print on demand service would be actually cheaper than printing copies at my local printer. Then I realized a POD service wouldn't be able to handle the low-key images in my book and most would be printed as pure black, not to mention the problem of ghosting and streaks. Now I think I'm simply going to have it for free on my website and as a pdf/kindle/other e-reader format, also for free. I kind of think that's the best option for this project.
    What do you guys think of the picture/prose format, does it flow, or would it be better as a comic book? It's kind of a weird question, I'm just wondering if a book like SANDMAN: The Dream Hunters by Yoshitaka Amano is as much a graphic novel as SANDMAN: The Dream Hunters by P. Craig Russell. I guess I'm wondering if Amano's version is actually simply a novella with illustrations, where P. Craig Russell's version is actually a graphic novel since it tells the actions in the story through sequential images. Maybe I'm over thinking it, I guess it doesn't matter, I like both versions for different reasons.

    PulpTrash on
  • BroloBrolo Broseidon Lord of the BroceanRegistered User regular
    Pulptrash, you don't have to report every post you like for awesome.

  • PulpTrashPulpTrash Registered User
    Hey Lyrical,
    I switched to HANDtimes font and it really improved the book, thanks. I'm always amazed how something like font can totally change the feeling of a project.

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