May 04 2010

What do you think about this header draft?

Published by at 9:35 pm under Header Art

I’m getting ready to launch a separate website for my fiction work. Here’s a rough draft of the header for The Taxman Must Die. What do you think? (Note: it’ll probably be cut off because it’s wider than the viewing area. If so, you can click on it to see all of it).

Agent Orange, a Reptile with Sunglasses and Bulletproof Vest

I’m still waiting on the background and I think I can redo the text when I return home a few weekends from now.

30 responses so far

30 Responses to “What do you think about this header draft?”

  1. B. Macon 04 May 2010 at 9:56 pm

    I think Gary’s hand strikes me as too large relative to his face and a suit’s sleeve shouldn’t cling to the guy’s wrist when he’s holding up his arm. (It should fall a little bit). Gary’s shoulders strike me as a bit wide relative to the rest of his torso.

    I think Agent Orange turned out really well, visually speaking. Maybe not as goofy as I had in mind, but I think it’s effective. (I’m the sort of person that tends to overdo stuff like goofiness). I was thinking about asking Rebecca to give AO a bullet-proof vest. What do you think?

    In terms of the text, I like “A mutant alligator must use every secret of badassery to save America!” because I think it introduces us to AO and his wacky sense of what the plot is. However, I’d like to revise “Also, there’s an accountant. Hopefully he’ll die soon enough” because I want it to be clearer that (despite what AO imagines) Gary is the more important character. Maybe something like, “Also, my new partner is a useless accountant. Hopefully he’ll die soon enough.”

  2. Beccaon 04 May 2010 at 10:36 pm

    “Also, there’s an accountant. Hopefully he’ll die soon enough” made me laugh out loud! I think it’s great as-is. My only problem with the sketches is that you can’t see Gary’s face, like, at all. Maybe a bit more chin or downturned mouth would be good.

  3. B. Macon 05 May 2010 at 5:15 am

    Your hand would have to be pretty darn huge to obscure your entire face. I’ll ask Rebecca to make the hand smaller, which will expose more of the face.

  4. Steton 05 May 2010 at 6:28 am

    I like “Also, my new partner is a useless accountant. Hopefully he’ll die soon enough.” (Except strict grammarians might send email about ‘hopefully.’) My only hesitation is you suddenly introduce the first person, while the earlier sentence (and the header as shown) is in third. Unless AO is thinking of himself in third?

    “I’ll use every secret of badassery to save America!”
    “And this is my new partner. He’ll file the receipts.”
    Or: “And this is my accountant. He’ll do the math.”

    “A mutant alligator uses every secret of badassery to save America!”
    “Also, there’s an accountant.”

    I kinda like that last one, coupled with the title. Because it’s called The Taxman Must Die, I don’t know if you need to repeat ‘die soon anyway.’

  5. Steton 05 May 2010 at 6:58 am

    Also, I’m not sure if you’d lose anything by changing the subtitle to: Not Your Usual Office Comedy, and losing the ‘It’s.’

  6. B. Macon 05 May 2010 at 7:58 am

    I like Agent Orange laying out (what he thinks is) the premise in a third-person fashion. It feels less expository than having him say something like “I’ll use every secret of badassery to save America!”

    “A mutant alligator must use every secret of badassery to save America!”
    “And his worthless partner gets to serve as a battering ram.”

    “A mutant alligator must use ever secret of badassery to save America!”
    “Accountants are like paperweights, but they make worse bludgeons.”

  7. Luna Jamniaon 05 May 2010 at 8:56 am

    What they said. 😛

    Otherwise, ’tis awesome.

  8. Steton 05 May 2010 at 11:20 am

    Makes sense. And you get points for the phrase ‘mutant alligator,’ which is pretty irresistible.

    I’m editing today, so am nitpicky and annoying, but you seem pretty professional, so take this as intended, just a couple of mindblurts:

    Is AO using the -secrets- of badassery? Or the powers–or something else–of badassery? Trick, technique? “A mutant alligator must use his powers of badassery to save America!”

  9. A1Writeron 05 May 2010 at 11:35 am

    I’ll be the bad guy.

    I discovered your website quite by mistake. I don’t know what google search I typed, but I happened upon it. Hence, the banner was quite important to me. It tells me exactly what the site is with humor and great imagery. It was like you had followed your own advice.

    My first impression of the new banner was that there was too much text and not enough imagery. Once I’ve read it once (which I don’t think I would’ve done, I’m an extremely lazy internet reader), it’s not like I’m going to read it again yet it’ll be fixed there. I think I would prefer something like the current banner that is more rooted in image. This seems more rooted in the text. So, if I knew your work and got your site off your book or an interview you did, I’d probably still not be drawn to how much text is in there and how it overwhelms the images in proportion. Stumbling upon this, I’d have no idea how seriously to take anything in the banner. But maybe that’s irrelevant. The main traffic will probably be ppl familiar with the work.

    Then there is the dialogue. Your Superhero Nation header is much punchier. You explain what the site is about but keep it short. But then you end it with the accountant giving that great quote. Each character gets equal billing. In your banner the alligator gets top billing. You don’t see the accountant’s face which (to me) is problematic if he’s the protagonist (if he’s a secondary figure that stands in for “every accountant” than it makes sense to hide his face which individualizes him). Also, the accountant must die joke is redundant (and cliche) given the banner’s title. There is so much humor going on that it begins to seem forced. Every sentence could be a punchline. Also, the longest sentences are also the most explanatory. It has a sort of blatant recitative effect that I think diminishes the quality of the writing. I would be more likely to read your comic based on this site than I would based on that banner. But maybe I just don’t get it.

    I see in your last comment that the alligator is giving his idea of the premise. That’s an inside joke only a reader would get. I was more than prepared to think your comic was about a mutant alligator saving the world.

    Overall, I really think it depends on the audience. Your new site seems more built for someone who has read this site and is acquainted with you and your work and likes it all–a fan. I’d ask you how accessible do you think your banner is to the more typical internet surfer or merely curious visitor who may not be as forgiven? But again, that may not be relevant to you. Overall, I trust your skill and ability to implement what you want craft wise, so I’m willing to just chock up my experience as me just being slow and not spending enough time on it.

  10. A. Joneson 05 May 2010 at 5:59 pm

    This looks really good.

    The only thing I have a problem with is the text behind the characters that are not legible due to being blocked out by the outline of the characters.

  11. B. Macon 05 May 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for your suggestions, A1. I think it might help to give Gary the second speech-bubble to complain about the unhappy circumstances he has found himself in. Giving AO both lines of dialogue makes Gary too invisible.

    AO: A mutant alligator must use every secret of badassery to save America! (I agree with you, Stet, that badassery probably does not have secrets, but I think the expression shows his weird grasp of English. Is it hard to read?).

    Some possibilities for Gary’s line:
    Gary: An accountant must find a new partner to save himself. (Possible alternative: his sanity).
    Gary: I left the IRS for this?
    Gary: James Bond never had to put up with this.

  12. B. Macon 05 May 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Sorry, A. Jones. That text won’t actually appear in the final version. (It’s just script notes describing what Agent Orange’s and Gary’s expressions should look like).

  13. Steton 05 May 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I like: I left the IRS for _this_?

    Puts the focus where it belongs, and highlights a sort of ‘fish out of water’ element.

    I don’t think ‘secrets’ is hard to read at all. Just nitpicking.

  14. Milan Dareon 06 May 2010 at 5:47 am

    Another random internet lurker here. I reached the same conclusions as A1, but perhaps a different way. I wasn’t sure if the accountant was also the Taxman, so his relevance is unclear. The second speech bubble also seemed like an author’s opinion of accountants, and if he’s not the taxman, then it’s out of sync, one too many attempts at a joke.

    When you put the “I left the IRS for _this_?” it all comes clear for me! So there’s a mutant alligator with a hero complex, and a taxman. And an office. Perhaps America is also at stake, or perhaps (due to your subtitle) it’s just an office-based comedy, albeit with a smug sna– alligator.

    If the action does all take place in an office, then the subtitle is fair.

    “secret of badassery” does project an offbeat speech pattern. It gives the accountant a reason to hold his head. That may not be obvious. Perhaps ‘skerrick’ would be more ridiculous, but perhaps that’s not AO’s personality. If you’re not above puns, perhaps a more alligatory allegory? Teeth/jaws/tooth/cold-blood/… okay, perhaps better to be above puns.

    PS: I’ve checked into your site regularly for months, lots of great discussions and links! Thank you for building it.

  15. B. Macon 06 May 2010 at 9:33 am

    Quick question for our guests outside of the United States… when Gary says “I left the IRS for this,” does that make sense to you? (I would imagine the IRS probably isn’t as well-known as the CIA or FBI overseas).

  16. Beccaon 06 May 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I know what the IRS is, if only from comedians and late-night shows and stuff. But that probably works in your favour in this circumstance 🙂

  17. Ragged Boyon 06 May 2010 at 7:00 pm

    If it’s not too late I like the bulletproof vest idea. One with O.S.I printed on it would probably work well to show the nature of the O.S.I’s work.

    Overall, I like the header, but I fear I may be biased as I am already well acclimated with the subject-matter and already have an affinity towards it. However, If I were new to the sight I think the header is effective. I believe A1 Writer looked a little too heavily into the header and was disappointed. I feel the header is very effective in terms of introducing both character’s personalities and their relationship as well as the story itself.

  18. B. Macon 06 May 2010 at 7:50 pm

    “I believe A1Writer looked a little too heavily into the header and was disappointed.” Well, I think it has a way to go, myself. The SN header took at least nine revisions over the course of several months. Over time, I think it’ll get sharper, better-targeted to prospective readers, funnier, etc. For example, the version you saw today (a colored Agent Orange saying “A mutant alligator must use every secret of badassery to America!” and Gary responding “I left the IRS for this?”) has only been up for about two hours. Two days ago, I started with this.

  19. Milan Dareon 06 May 2010 at 8:44 pm

    As an Australian resident in Singapore, I find “IRS” very familiar from countless TV shows. In Singapore it is called the “IRAS”. Muahaha! In Australia there’s the Tax Office (ATO) but “the Taxman” would be used colloquially.

  20. Khat Fishon 07 May 2010 at 3:39 am

    The banner makes me wish I could click through to start reading. It looks good.

  21. B. Macon 07 May 2010 at 5:55 am

    Have you seen the five sample pages, Khat Fish? They’re pages 20-24, but I think they’re pretty easy to understand on their own.

  22. Asayaon 07 May 2010 at 4:23 pm

    It looks great! I agree with the others that Gary’s waist is a bit too narrow in proportion to his shoulders, but I also think the colors could be a dulled a bit, they seem too simplistic. Also, I think it would be cool (in my opinion) if you added a background behind them(like a battle-scarred office space or something). The shadow could also be more realistic in their gradation and placement.

    All in all, your banner looks pretty awesome! I can’t wait to read the first issue. I’ve made some progress in the comic-book series I was working on too, I’ve completely revised the first-issue storyline and the series synopsis, the characters, the factions, and the main setting. You could consider it a cross between the World Ends With You, and Supernatural(the more recent seasons).

  23. Lighting Manon 07 May 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Personally, I think it looks really fantastic, wouldn’t change a thing. Beyond the initial issue with the hand, which I think fits with the proportional stylization, I think the waist to shoulder ratio is pretty much perfect, if you consider that Gary most likely didn’t pay to have his suit personally tailored, and so it’s a little big on him, leaving the shoulders to fluff out a little, due to the size of the material and the size of his arms.

  24. B. Macon 07 May 2010 at 8:43 pm

    For the background, I was thinking about a bazooka or rocket-propelled grenade launcher propped up against a water cooler. That’s what I did for my draft cover of the first issue, anyway. (Please note that the title of the series has changed and I still have to have the characters resized so it doesn’t look like they’re preposterously tall relative to the water cooler).

    Comic book cover

    That’s sort of similar to what I did in the SN header (working an Army helicopter into the backdrop of a generic office).

  25. Steton 08 May 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I think that changing the relative sizes is excellent. Hadn’t realized, but the original makes them too physically equivalent. That’s a real improvement. And I like that ‘this’ is italicized.

    I don’t like the new layout of the text.

    A mutant alligator must use
    every secret of badassery
    to save America!

    is readable. Each line contains a complete concept.

    A mutant
    alligator must
    use every secret
    of badassery to save

    is not nearly as strong.

  26. B. Macon 08 May 2010 at 7:15 pm

    “Hadn’t realized, but the original makes them too physically equivalent. That’s a real improvement.” Also, our sample pages depict Agent Orange as noticeably taller than Gary (~7 feet vs. ~6), so it might look off if AO and Gary were equally tall in the header.

    As I get deeper into the revision process, I’ll take care of the awkward lining issues. That’s something I’ll need a letterer for, though, because I’ll need a differently shaped bubble. (I don’t do my own bubbles, usually–as you can see in the above example, my box looked kind of hideous).

  27. B. Macon 09 May 2010 at 9:03 pm

    I redid the lines and shrank the title & subtitle. Still waiting on the background.

  28. A1Writeron 14 May 2010 at 5:39 pm

    This has really come along. I now get the accountant is the center. Subtly, it’s the alligator referring to himself in a distancing third person and Gary in the immediate first that does this for me. Also, the dialogue reads as a one-two punch joke. Finally, Gary’s dialogue really layers the gesture of the hand on the forehead. It’s very clean and streamlined and the colors are crisp.

    I only have two things, a bigger thing and then a smaller thing. The “mini comic” doesn’t seem to go with the heading text. The Tax Man Must Die is a great tag line but it seems disjointed from the interaction between AO and Gary. If the dialogue balloons were empty and I had to fill them in, I would’ve assumed AO was going to protect Gary from assassins. I’m not sure how the two sections of the banner interact. The left is about saving America, but it seems the taxman is the one that needs saving. (Maybe one is the subplot of the other?) The little thing: the “It’s” staggers the flow for me, personally. There is almost too much of a pause from the first line to the second. Without the “It’s” you get to the second line much faster.

    I haven’t read any of the previous posts; sorry if this is redundant.

    I’m excited to see how the background factors in.

  29. B. Macon 14 May 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Hmm. I might be able to tie the two together (saving America and the role of the taxman) by adding a parenthetical phrase in semi-fine print. “A mutant alligator must use every secret of badassery to save America! (And his worthless partner).”

  30. B. Macon 18 May 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Okay. I added the bulletproof vest.

    A few months ago, I wrote a scene where the vest comes up. I’ve included it below.

    Agent Black is waiting for Agent Orange in a helicopter shortly before they go on a case.

    1. Agent Black is sitting in the helicopter, looking bored.

    2. Agent Black checks his watch.
    AGENT BLACK: What’s he doing?
    PILOT: Don’t know, don’t care. I get paid by the hour.

    3. We can see Agent Black and the pilot seeing Agent Orange come running out of the Office of Special Investigations building. His trenchcoat is unbuttoned and flapping wildly and we can see that he has a new bulletproof vest on. It says OSI in yellow letters on the front. (Like this).

    4. Agent Orange is now within talking-distance of Black.
    AGENT BLACK: Why the hell did you hold us up for a bulletproof vest? In case you haven’t noticed, you’re already bulletproof.

    5. Agent Orange draws his coat closed so the viewer can’t see the OSI letters.
    AGENT ORANGE: But now I can do this

    6. (Insert panel on panel #5) Agent Orange grabs his coat in a dramatic pose, exposing the S in the middle of his OSI vest. This should look just like Clark Kent pulling open his suit to reveal the Superman S.
    AGENT ORANGE: This looks like a job for–

    7. Agent Black looks annoyed and cuts him off.
    AGENT BLACK: A team of highly-paid intellectual property lawyers?
    PILOT, off-camera: It’s the American Way!

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