Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Two Comic Shops - and a lesson in how to design a good advert .......

from Comics International last month:
The perfect illustration of what is right and what is wrong with comic shops.

First, Dave's Comics:

Obviously they've had a tidy up for the cameras, but you'd expect that.
The layout's lovely, the selection looks good, the shop looks clean, neat and inviting.
The shelves imply Waterstones rather than dodgy market stall.

The advert itself is nicely laid out, good design, simple and effective so you know exactly what it is, where it is and how to contact them. And finally, the selection of images at the bottom is designed to appeal to a wide range of customers, based on the idea that an existing comic fan will know that you sell X-Men, Bat-Man and the rest of the pervert suits (to quote Warren Ellis), so why not market to the people who don't know what you do?

Now, compare and contrast with The Mighty World Of Comicana. Take a deep breath..........

The first thing you notice is the complete lack of design. Whoever looked at this advert and thought it was a good promotional tool for the shop should find themselves alternative employment really quickly.
And if MWOC actually hired a professional to do this, could they tell us who it is so we can all blacklist them for the future.

From the top; The shop title flanked by two second string comic characters. Why? What's the bloody point of that? Either use the truly iconic characters (Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men etc) or choose something truly innovative and interesting - like Dave's advert did.

Then the second tier. What the hell is the point of the Z design here? Apart from deliberately trying to confuse the viewer that is. A rubbish Venom picture, a website disconnected from any other contact info and Spidey being skewered by an arrow.

And then we get to the bottom of the page. Oh boy.
It has the unmistakable look of 70s porn shop, with the painted in windows.
And of course, they've completely blocked in the other window with posters. Because why on earth would anyone want to look inside a shop? Let's not bother with making the place inviting and instead further reinforce the look of 70s porn shop.
And the posters? Mike Zeck Punisher and an Ultraverse poster. Which means either the photo was taken circa 85/86 or the window display hasn't been changed for 22 years.
Then look inside. I swear all I can really see through the doorway is walls of back issues and a bloody cardboard box. Brilliant.

And then, the absolute piece de resistance. Why, oh why, oh why did someone decide it would be okay to put the porno model in the bottom left hand corner. Not only does it look awful, setting the tone of the shop firmly in the gutter, but it's incredibly badly laid out on the page. It just looks like it's been fixed on as an afterthought, and an extremely bad one at that.

I'd shop in Dave's. I wouldn't even step into MWOComicana.

Mighty World of Comicana's website is here. And it's just as bloody bad.
But as if to completely spoil the nice things I have to say about them the website on the Dave's Comics ad leads to an error page. The actual website here is just a placeholder page. Bad show boys.


  1. I think MWOC's advert is actually a canny piece of targeted advertising. They know who their audience is and they know what they want.

    Actually, that advert is kinda nostalgic in a weird way, going back to the pre-DTP days. It says if you're the kind of comics fan who despairs of these new modern shops and wants something a little more seedy and nerdy then we're the shop for you.

    It's probably no coincidence that they're virtually around the corner from GOSH. Can't compete with them so they go to the other extreme.

  2. I should add that when I was a kid living in London in the 80s I used to love going to seedy comic shops in back street. There was something kinda dangerous about them. Of course I was young and stupid but there's something almost romantic (in a smelly way) about these shops that they don't want to look like Waterstone's. Musty 2nd hand bookshops have a similar kind of charm you could say.

    There's a place for this kind of comic shop as long as it doesn't promote itself and being the be all and end all of comics. As a niche it's pretty harmless really.

  3. Oh Pete, Pete, Pete, Pete .......

    Nah, I can see that point of view. I grew up trawling through crappy comic shops and, as a reasonably grown up grownup I love going through old bookshops as well.

    And yes, there is a niche, but it's a bloody tiny one and it's getting smaller as it's demographic gets older and very few readers are coming into it. Eventually the niche is going to become extinct.

    And that's what I don't want to happen to comics as a medium.
    For the last god knows how many years I've been all about trying to get new readers into comics. And time and time again the answer is in getting as much variety and diversity as humanly possible onto the shelves and attracting as many different types of people through the doors.

    You and I might like old bookshops but most people don't.
    Likewise, most people just wont bother stepping into MWOC, or if they do, they'll just turn around and leave, having all their negative stereotyes of comics reinforced on the way.

    The only way to get more and more people through the doors is to adopt a modern retailing method.

    Another way of looking at it, particularly apt in this case is the porn shop model.
    Old porn shops and Anne Summers. One serves it's niche well, the other is in every high street across the land.
    I think that proves something, but possibly not quite the point I'm trying to make.
    Brain not working....

  4. If this was the only comic shop in your town then you'd have a point, but in London there's room for MWOC, especially with GOSH around the corner and FP nearby. I don't think civilians are even going to notice it's there let alone think of going in.

    I think we're at a stage where that sort of comics MOWC represents and the sort of comics folk like us talk about are perceived to be radically different things.

    Your average reader is intelligent enough to figure out the difference between, say, Jimmy Corrigan and Witchblade, just as they can tell the difference between Se7en and Scary Movie III.

    Leave the nerds alone. They don't concern us anymore.

  5. Leave the nerds alone. They don't concern us anymore.
    Heh, I like that.