Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ads for the Diamond Distributing Catalog

For those not "in the biz" the Diamond Distributing catalog is the ordering bible for the specialty comic book marketplace. Each of the monthly catalogs feature, among other things, a couple of hundred ads (at least) devoted to various publications, knick-knacks, t-shirts, and collectables. I recently realized that I've been designing a majority of SLG Publishing's ads for that catalog for something like five years now and I thought I'd share a few that I like and some that failed in one way or another.

Here's an ad from 2004. As is often the case, I'm asked to create an ad for two or more products. With each assignment I try to be sensitive to the qualities that make each comic and graphic novel unique. I thought I was being pretty clever making the bottom half of the ad for Street Angel, a comic about a homeless teen crimefighter, look like a sign a dispossessed person might hold at a busy street corner. Conceptually, the idea was pretty good but it ending up being a bit weak in execution and, most importantly, the two halves of the ad conflict too much with each other. This ad doesn't work for me. (Click on the image to enlarge)

This ad from 2005 has two halves that are more compatible. I try to use fonts that help reflect and represent each publication but the individual projects lose a bit of their uniqueness when they share a space like this. (Click on the image to enlarge)

Evan Dorkin is an easy artist to design for. I just make the ad big and sassy. This ad from 2006 is almost a success. The colors and the headline grabs your attention. Unfortunately, I had only the tiniest of images to work with and ended up filling the space with too much text. (Click on the image to enlarge)

The earliest SLG ads -- this one is from 2003 -- were in black and white. This is a favorite of mine from those first efforts. (Click on the image to enlarge)

I like being able to design an ad devoted to one product, in this case a Rex Libris collection. Rex Libris' creator, James Turner, has a style that makes creating a striking ad easy as pie. This ad is from 2007. (Click on the image to enlarge)

I was just about finished working on this ad when I was suddenly struck by the desire to insert myself unasked into the design process for the cover of The Clarence Principle. That tale has been previously told here. (Click on the image to enlarge)

Here's the revised version of the ad as it saw print. It's from 2007. (Click on the image to enlarge)

And finally, here's one of my most recent (2008). The ad has too much text but otherwise it came out OK. (Click on the image to enlarge)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Space Aliens!

Here are some sketches I made for an un-produced t-shirt design that was intended to feature the little spaceman seen at the top of the right-hand column of this blog on the front and a space alien on the back.

The alien seen above got as far as the finished drawing stage before I decided I didn't like it. The final version (seen below) has a more retro look inspired (read: ripped off from) Wally Wood style aliens.

UPDATE: You can now find this little alien guy on t-shirts and such at my Zazzle store.

Monday, March 10, 2008

(Super) Marketing Tip

I was shopping yesterday at Trader Joe's, a funky grocery store I like here in California. In recent years when other stores offered a choice of "paper or plastic" Trader Joe's steadfastly stuck with, as far as I could tell, only paper bags. So I was unprepared yesterday when the bagger cheerfully -- but enigmatically -- asked, "how do you want your bags?" The question briefly threw me a bit of a curve. Uh, well-done? Brown? Now? I wasn't immediately certain as to what my choices were. There were no visual clues as only great piles of paper bags were evident as in previous visits to Trader Joe's (and like I said, I've never even seen a plastic Trader Joe's bag). In my ignorance all I could muster was a lame repeat of the bagger's question: "how do I want my bags?" The checker and bagger looked at me like I was appallingly simple-minded (guilty, sometimes) and then the bagger asked if I wanted paper or plastic. That was a question I understood.

And so here's today's customer relations/marketing tip: If you require a straight-forward answer, ask a straight-forward question.