CMcL: Illustrations of Conversations
July 23, 2010 7:39 PM   Subscribe

CMcL: Illustrations of Conversations
Breaking my years of MeFi silence (but I've been lurking all along!), here's a photocomic made up of conversations added to my own photographs. I'm making some efforts in my life to be less neurotic about certain things, and I'm in hopes that sharing these photos and dialogues with y'all will not only entertain a little, but also help me stop being such a hermit and maybe deal with some Stuff.

Specific things I'd like feedback on: Are they hard to read? Is the background image too much? Does the navigation make sense? Should I provide more context for the dialogues? (I really don't want to; I'd rather let people use their imaginations.) Does it break for anybody? Anything else you can think of? Would it be terribly obnoxious to add a small "donate" button to the sidebar in case anyone's feeling generous? There is a FAQ that answers most of the questions I thought people might have, but you never know.
posted by Gator (11 comments total)

Sounds like a good project. I didn't notice any problems with how the site works. I like this one — there's something about imagining the alligator as the one belching obscenities at Mr. T. The pipe one is also nice, since it's kinda like the birds are talking to each other in that way that people do.
posted by dreamyshade at 11:55 PM on July 23, 2010

Thank you! That's the kind of thing I was going for on those. I chose that gator pic for that specific reason, in fact.
posted by Gator at 6:37 AM on July 24, 2010

No breakage, and I like the minimal context for the conversations. The pipe one dreamyshade points out was one I particularly liked, both for the setting and the story.

I found the opening page a little confusing, because having the comic and your first post appearing together made it seem like that was all the content available, since I was processing it like I would a standard blog, expecting to see 5-10 entries on the first page. I figured it out quickly enough, but my thought is that since you have a clear "about" page, the first post might not need to be pinned to the home page.

Have you played with different fonts or different colors for the different voices? I wonder if having that kind of signal about how the dialogue goes might open up some layout flexibility. The snake conversation was the least immediately intuitive read for me, but I think the layout works better visually than having the text boxes run down one side of the image.

I like the warmth of the image you chose for the background, but it does compete with some of the comics (though it complements others). Personally, I like the lower half of it better as a background than the upper part.

I like this - you take good photographs, I like the impression of eavesdropping or overhearing that I got from just getting the snippet of conversation attached to the photo, and the interactions between image and text are interesting.

(And yes! Me, too!)
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:33 AM on July 25, 2010

Thanks, EvaDestruction. A couple of other people told me they were confused by that post on the homepage too -- ComicPress differentiates between "comic" and "blog" posts and does that by default, but I'm sure I'll figure out how to change it or make it clearer somehow.

I hadn't thought of using variable fonts, that's an interesting idea. I'd be a little concerned that it might be distracting, but I can play with it and see how it looks. I do like staggering the dialogue boxes over the image in different ways, and placing them strategically so that (a) you can still see the interesting parts of the photo and (b) you can make sense of the dialogue (hopefully). Like in the snake one, I wanted to strongly imply that it was the snake saying, "I thought you were happy to see me."

I'm also thinking of darkening up the background image a little. I'm torn, I love that picture but whenever the comic is also a sunset photo, they're going to clash, I guess.

Thanks for the feedback!
posted by Gator at 11:49 AM on July 25, 2010

This is really sweet. In the 'lovely' sense, not the 'choice brah sweet as' sense. And it's the lack of context that makes it so.

One comment on readability: in this one (and in some others) it's hard to immediately work out the sequence of captions—it's counterintuitive to read English when it seems to go right to left.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:00 PM on July 25, 2010

Thanks! Yeah, I was afraid of that being a readability issue. I had hoped that "top down" would make sense since it's a single panel (I even put a note in the FAQ about it), but you're right, left-to-right is pretty intuitive and I can see how it might throw people off. I'll keep that in mind for the future, though I've got a few already completed that are laid out in this way.

I got the "show blog post on homepage" thing taken care of, and added "Archives" to the sidebar, so it's hopefully more clear now that there's more content available.
posted by Gator at 10:25 AM on July 26, 2010

I'm enjoying these, thanks. I first thought of A Softer World (I see you've addressed that in the FAQ!), but after reading a few, I realized that what your work reminds me of more than anything is Paul Madonna's All Over Coffee. If you haven't seen it before, I insist you check out immediately. He uses drawings rather than photos, but the work has a similar spirit to yours.

I am not sure about the font. If you have nice handwriting, I think using your handwriting instead of computer text could really add a sense of personality to these.

Sometimes the first word balloon is enough. You don't need to always finish the conversation or conclude the joke. I think the minimal ones work best.

Also, I really, really love this photo (with or without the text).
posted by oulipian at 2:56 PM on July 27, 2010

Thanks, that's some great feedback. I have seen several ASW-type sites, many of them pretty blatantly the same exact layout and humor style as ASW, and part of how I really wanted to set myself apart from that was the idea of dialogues as opposed to those little internal monologues. So I want to have at least two "voices" present in each one, but as I've continued making them, I've realized that some really are better without the "punchline," so to speak, so that's a really good point for me to keep in mind.

My handwriting is pretty bad, even when I make a conscious effort to print neatly. And the thought of hand-writing all these things makes me want to go lie down, truthfully. I'm still fiddling with different fonts behind the scenes, as per EvaDestruction's suggestion, still not sure if that's going to change.

I'd never seen that All Over Coffee stuff, and it's really awesome! Thanks for the link.
posted by Gator at 6:06 PM on July 27, 2010

I enjoyed them - are some of the pictures taken at the Key Largo bird sanctuary?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:38 PM on July 28, 2010

Thanks! No, I've never been to the Key Largo bird sanctuary. A few were taken at the Peace River Wildlife Center, a tiny little nonprofit that nurses injured wildlife back to health and keeps the ones that are too maimed to survive in the wild. The rest were pretty much all taken in the great outdoors, various nature parks and natural habitats.
posted by Gator at 6:00 AM on July 29, 2010

cool, it's funny, the one on Key Largo has a pond for injured pelicans that looks just like this
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:34 PM on July 29, 2010

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