Comic book ads reveal “action” design

Comic Book Ad

I was looking at some old ads for comic books recently. In addition to bringing back boyhood memories, it got me thinking about what’s often wrong with ad design these days.

Comic books (and the ads for them) are all about action and adventure. The design creates this feeling with vivid colors, imperfect hand lettering, perspective, and angles.

Imagine what a comic would look like if the colors were muted, the letters were small and perfect, the images were flat, and all the graphics were linear.

It would look like many ads you see today. Boring and aloof.

What you see in the ad I’m showing here for the Human Torch (a member of the Fantastic Four), is what you could call “action design.” It’s purposeful imperfection, designed to give the feeling of action by presenting a slightly chaotic arrangement of elements on the page.

Yes, it’s over-the-top. And no, I’m not suggesting you create serious ads this way. But I am suggesting that you allow yourself the freedom of angling an element or two, varying your type size, and otherwise departing from an anal-retentive and linear style.

Making an ad look so perfect that it appears to be more a work of art than something people want to read, puts the ad at arm’s length and fights against the engagement you want. A little imperfection seems more human, more likely to draw the eye, and just plain more interesting.

Try handwriting a headline, tilting a photo, creating an ugly red URGENT stamp, using yellow highlight behind important words, setting a few words in BIG type, and other techniques to inject a bit of action in your ads.

Who knows, maybe you’ll boost results and end up a super hero around the office.

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