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"Misleading covers/banners", One week ago, 4:35 PM #1
kevintheradioguy

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I so often see an absolutely beautiful, unique cover or a banner for a webcomic, only to click on it and discover that the comic itself is absolutely different, and close it with disappointment, feeling cheated. Which is not a good thing, as the comic itself might have been amazing! And the only thing that drives me off is the fact that I expected to see this chubby, big-headed Steven Universe style, but found a sketchy bobble-eyes anime inside (I refer to no one in particular, so if it just so happens to be your comic and banner - it's not, I just came out with this from the top of my head).

I can see the reason - attracting people with beautiful art, even i you don't do that. But on the other hand, I can also see how this would turn people off from your comic, and other webcomics as well, getting the constant impression that you are being lied to.

Any pros and cons for using misleading and even commissioned art for the covers/banners?

edit: so many people argue about this thing that I have to make this clear: I don't mean coloured covers vs black and white comics; I mean different styles.
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One week ago, 4:39 PM #2
MK_Wizard

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I only see a con for misleading people. You are really hurting yourself with false advertising because the crowd you do want will never find you. There is a comic for everyone meaning there is a crowd that will read yours. You don’t need to false advertise.
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One week ago, 5:03 PM #3
snuffysam

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The question is, where does the limit lie? If your cover/banner is in color but the rest of your comic is in black & white (with pretty much the same artstyle throughout), is that misleading?

Like there's a sliding scale from "looks like an average panel" to "looks like what the author can accomplish at 100%" to "commissioned someone else entirely to do the banner art" that the line lies on.


There's also cases where the banner art looks significantly WORSE than the comic (either because the author hasn't updated it in a while or because they're not quite sure how to fully represent their comic). And honestly, I feel like that's just the other side of the same coin. Like sometimes I'll click on a comic with bad banner art and find out that the comic looks significantly better, but I'll often click away anyway. If the author doesn't care enough about their comic to create a good advertisement, why should I care about the story?

Alternatively, sometimes I'll see a comic where their banner art is better than the typical comic art, but the comic art is more interesting. Like I've seen comics where the avatar is some incredibly rendered background or character's face, but ultimately doesn't stand out. And then the comic ends up being this fun cartoon style that feels super unique.


So, I feel like it's more complex than just authors trying to con people into getting clicks.
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One week ago, 5:05 PM #4
BlueDragon

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Return to Labyrinth did this. The cover art was beautiful bishounen:

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Inside:



It ticked me off at first...especially since the story wasn't fantastic. I read it all the same. It was okay. Nothing to write home about. :/ While the art didn't stay as bad as the example in this first issue, it was super misleading. Granted, in the book store you can open it and see the art. If you're ordering online with no previews...this is super deceptive. Also...you'd think you'd want to put your best foot forward in the first comic.

This doesn't bother me with web comics *as* much, because you can read them for free (well, most of them.) I dunno...Sometimes it's also just a change in style: your art improves, you make new covers/banners. I'm in the process of updating my old acts....so people see the "nicer" art (it's still not fantastic) and then reach Act 2 and the shit hits the fan o_O

I guess if you commission someone to do the banner/cover and then have scribbles that might be annoying. If I can't read the visuals..I give up and close it. In the end, the people who do that are probably: too inexperienced to know better and/or only hurting themselves when they do it...so...Meh?


Edit:

snuffysam:If the author doesn't care enough about their comic to create a good advertisement, why should I care about the story?


I get what you're saying here...but *ahem I'm totally guilty of this* sometimes one just hasn't had time to update their banner :/ Especially if that person barely has time to update. I realize this is just a blanket statement, but my guilty conscience is making me comment XD
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One week ago, 6:18 PM #5
Jessie Blue
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On the one hand I don't mind if the cover is nicer or in color and the interior art is black and white, I understand paper printing cost and am old school enough to remember when color was a bonus that cost extra. But the art should still match. A cover should be nicer or more fancy or have more effort thrown in because it is the cover, but the style should be the same, it should be by the same artist. I once bought something random because an artist I really liked did the cover, and I was very disappointed that the art inside was utterly and totally different. Like the cover was sort of standard Marvelesk, but the interior was chibi Manga. And I do actually like Manga, but it was a jarring shift and kinda pissed me off. If it had advertised itself with a Shonen type cover I might have been more interested, but I was disappointed that they only grabbed the artist I liked for the cover and it didn't even freaking match the work itself!

I understand working in print is different, working with an editor who has the power to force stupid decisions on the artist is also different. I know a published writer and they don't get to pick the cover artist, their editor or whoever picks it or has a house artist that they use for everything. Which is why you can pick up a book and the cover art is a bunch of wtf? But here in webcomic-land we have total creative control and can make all our own art and do what we like so I don't feel like artists are doing themselves any favors to pull the cover switcharoo shenanigans that plague everyone else.
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One week ago, 6:32 PM #6
The Letter M
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This is always on the lists of things not to do, just like opening to a blog page and starting on 2 pages of text with no pictures...

Some people are commited to bad descisions.
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One week ago, 6:34 PM #7
ShaRose49

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I guess I might be somewhat guilty of this. I’ve kept updating the banner to be up-to-date with my ever improving/ changing art style, since the whole comic has largely been experimental artwise. I just don’t like having a banner that feels outdated. I hope it doesn’t turn anyone off when they see how different it was at the beginning.

Also to make the banner look mysterious and to show off Bluemist’s eyes, I drew them big and menacing in the background, but now people think he’s gonna turn to the dark side because of this. I’m not gonna give away any major spoilers, but I wish people wouldn’t just assume that just because his eyes can look creepy. Though maybe that was a poor choice on my account
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One week ago, 7:13 PM #8
Travis

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I've heard people complain about this many times, and I admit I'm not a fan, but I think that it's one of those things that people do in the hopes of "putting their best foot forward", often when they are starting out and don't know the stigma of doing so. Also, I have no data on how this type of thing actually effects traffic. So maybe it works better than it seems to anecdotally.
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One week ago, 7:26 PM #9
AgentFink
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Is The Walking Dead misleading people with their colored covers?
Was Bone?
How about Stray Bullets?

Blankets has limited color-- is that false advertising?

My covers are in color-- am I misleading people with a colored cover and B&W interiors?

My banner/covers are providing a mood to what the story is-- I don't think I am lying or misleading anyone.

If people don't want to read the comic because it's not in color-- then I guess they'll miss out on a story they might like.

** EDIT
As for people using art that is commissioned, and does not reflect the story interiors-- readers can see pretty quickly that it's not as advertised and can probably guess to the quality of the story.

I haven't come across it-- but I can imagine it's like anything else that does this in a LCS. Check it out, oh not what's advertised-- put it back. Did it accomplish what it set out to do? I guess it did.

Same can be said for variant covers-- it's doing what it should.
It's attracting potential buyers/readers.
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One week ago, 7:27 PM #10
heckos

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Some day I'll update my banner to reflect how I do art currently with graphite and digital color, but that'll have to wait until I have some free time. It's currently a relic from before I realized I hate digital lining.

IMO a banner in color isn't misleading for a b/w comic, since it's pretty standard to have a colored cover with uncolored interiors. Misleading banners tend to be really different stylistically and much more polished than the actual art, and are often commissioned by the comic creator because they're insecure or think it'll get them more readers. People are better off just being honest, I think obviously commissioned banners just create a sense of betrayal in your would-be readers.
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One week ago, 10:18 PM #11
dpat57
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A completely different, lesser art style than what was promised in an avatar or signature banner will raise an eyebrow and make me back out, but color ad leading to B/W comic is fine by me.
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One week ago, 10:49 PM #12
Owlsy

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snuffysam:The question is, where does the limit lie? If your cover/banner is in color but the rest of your comic is in black & white (with pretty much the same artstyle throughout), is that misleading?

Very good point! I thought of that example immediately and makes for an interesting discussion. Although I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a colored banner/cover for black and white comics, (and a lot of very good ones do this!) it can be a risk for turning people off initially.

I don't know if anyone else does this, could just be me. As a reader, I like color comics so there's been times where I see a thumbnail/banner/etc of something in color, but I find out the comic's in black and white, I check out pretty quick and don't give it much of a chance. Maybe it's just because it didn't match my expectation, which is a shame, because it could be a really good comic!

Ironically enough, when I see black and white thumbnails/banners/etc I know what I'm getting so I'm way more likely to give it a fair shot.
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6 days ago, 12:46 AM #13
Jessie Blue
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Owlsy:Very good point! I thought of that example immediately and makes for an interesting discussion. Although I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a colored banner/cover for black and white comics, (and a lot of very good ones do this!) it can be a risk for turning people off initially.


I don't think it is that misleading, at least in print comics lots of things have color covers and b+w interior art. Because color covers sell more or at least editors think they do, so pretty much most things will have a color cover even if non-colored art. Look at the entirety of Manga titles, color covers and b+w interior.

The only thing I find really misleading about cover vs inside is when someone farms out the cover to an artist with a totally different style making you think that is what you will get. Yes the cover should be your best effort, but it should match. Putting a glossy 3D model on the cover and then having the comic be cartoony would put off anyone who was looking for a 3D comic, and conversely, people who like cartoon style might be put off by the Uncanny Valley of the CGI. So you are losing twice, first by pulling in and then repulsing the wrong people and second by never reaching the audience that would actually like your style.
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6 days ago, 1:06 AM #14
Bear

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kevintheradioguy:I so often see an absolutely beautiful, unique cover or a banner for a webcomic, only to click on it and discover that the comic itself is absolutely different, and close it with disappointment, feeling cheated.
edit: so many people argue about this thing that I have to make this clear: I don't mean coloured covers vs black and white comics; I mean different styles.


Yeah, a real turn-off and you see that SO often ! For me it's like one step away from an internet/email scam !

Coloured thumby/banner for B&W comic is O.K., if B&W comic is nicely done, detailed and shaded.
If it's a "Kirby-esque" line art only thing, then it's not acceptable - that's basically an unfinished colour comic, just lazily left flat .

One step below that, though is the no avatar/banner at all !! Just a bit of text - they don't even get looked at !
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6 days ago, 1:11 AM #15
ewolf20

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whelp, i guess my banner counts as this

i'm a firm believer that a cover should match the things that happen inside. i don't like it when someone had ads showcasing really good as heck art only for it to be lackluster at best.
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6 days ago, 1:25 AM #16
SarahSophia
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A lot of the time it has nothing to do with "misleading". It has to do with a person upgrading their banner as their style changes. If you've been making comics for a while, your style evolves, and unless you expect someone to go back and re-do their first pages (a topic for a different thread), often time a banner drawn from their current or recent work will not bear a resemblance to the much older pages of a comic.
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6 days ago, 6:57 AM #17
Owlsy

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Jessie Blue:I don't think it is that misleading, at least in print comics lots of things have color covers and b+w interior art. Because color covers sell more or at least editors think they do, so pretty much most things will have a color cover even if non-colored art. Look at the entirety of Manga titles, color covers and b+w interior.

The only thing I find really misleading about cover vs inside is when someone farms out the cover to an artist with a totally different style making you think that is what you will get. Yes the cover should be your best effort, but it should match. Putting a glossy 3D model on the cover and then having the comic be cartoony would put off anyone who was looking for a 3D comic, and conversely, people who like cartoon style might be put off by the Uncanny Valley of the CGI. So you are losing twice, first by pulling in and then repulsing the wrong people and second by never reaching the audience that would actually like your style.


This was more my thoughts on webcomics and online banners/thumbnails, which I could have been clearer on, and my personal quirks with that. I don't think it's intentionally misleading at all. I mean, I have clicked on a comic ad/banner before with the preconception it was in color, but that was my own expectation, and doesn't necessarily mean I was misled. I don't know if others have had that experience or not; again, could just be me, haha.

Agreed on the style thing; it is really jarring when the comic art looks completely different from the cover art and your 'losing twice' comment is so true.
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6 days ago, 10:18 AM #18
GriffinAvid

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Hard to say.
I mean, the idea behind a stellar cover is to get you to open the book.
So the context is- you're somewhere and ONLY looking at covers...
And THEN you get tricked into opening said book- hoping it ALL looks like the cover.....


When, even in drawn covers, by the same interior artist, the cover doesn't always represent what happens in the comic.
Usually, the cover gets more attention. You know, it's the cover. Even the paper stock is usually better.


For EVERYTHING....music, the singles are 'better' than the songs on the album....
The trailer looks better than the movie......

BUT! We're going by just appearances....
In many cases, on the net, you're seeing the artwork first, sometimes character sketches or promotional art or panel/page pulls.
So I should (really) be seeing the cover ALONG WITH additional art.

Unless I'm cruising a virtual newsstand, I should be seeing MORE than just the cover.
And if the interior artist is the one sharing, they don't usually share the cover (when they didn't do it).

In that case, it's a nice bonus to already be hooked by the internal art and see nicely (painted/upgraded) cover when you get to the full book.
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I get the disappointment factor, but I'm also in heavy favor of the cover being better than the interior.
If the interior art isn't worth reading through, I wouldn't be picking it up anyway- even if the cover looked close to looking like the inside.

So I still see the win- in a few non-readers checking it out and then jumping for the group that might stay and keep reading anyways.
6 days ago, 10:31 AM #19
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I sometimes worry about this with my current comic. This is my front cover.

I thought it would be fun to do a pastiche of old sci-fi movie posters to match the retro sci-fi feel of the comic, and with a hint of humour that the front cover is very overblown and dramatic while the comic itself is fairly cerebral. I still like the cover and get a kick out of the concept, but I'm aware that plenty of people either dismiss it as a pulpy adventure story, or WANT a pulpy adventure story and are disappointed when a character spends most of her time wandering around, contemplating the nature of civilization and coming to terms with her mortality.

When I get it printed (it's going to happen one way or another) I'll probably create a new cover that's "classier" ;D
6 days ago, 12:52 PM #20
Eli Cosmanis

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sometimes I'll click on this absolutely amazingly gorgeous banner. And it ends up being my comic. such a let down.
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