Comic Cover Requirements Issue

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Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby AgentNein » April 3rd, 2018, 11:17 pm

I think this is the right place for a sort of complaint thread and feedback on site things? If there's a better place let me know and I'll move it, but anyways.

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My cover dimensions are 1125 x 1500 px which fits into the 3:4 dimension recommendation given on the page. It says nothing about a requirement to not have side bars or borders, let alone mention a penalty for being unlisted if the cover doesn't meet those standards. I haven't been able to find any formal rules for cover design anywhere that say I shouldn't be allowed to do this.

I happen to like the sidebars because it reminds me of paperback graphic novels that did the same, honestly I might even make them a little bigger because even though I tried them out because of the ratio issue, I like the mood and effect it gives in narrowing and trapping the characters, almost like doors are closing. The suggested cropping cuts off the characters hands holding knives which is to me an important aspect of the cover.

For the most part this seems to be a difference in opinion on what looks good and what's important. I'm incredibly uncomfortable with having these kinds of hidden restrictions taking away the artistic freedom I feel I should have as the author of my comic. So the feedback/solutions I'm suggesting is either formalize the cover design standards of the website, make them be specific and apply to everyone equally, and make it very clear and public what the rules and consequences are, or just, stop doing this kind of thing entirely.

( I thought it'd be best to bring the issue up here rather than continuing in private messages so that if other people had similar issues they could voice their thoughts as well, and just, generally have an open discussion about this. )
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby eishiya » April 3rd, 2018, 11:28 pm

I agree, this is unreasonable, especially since these rules aren't laid out anywhere public. However, I don't think SJ should even have aesthetic rules. It might be nice to have some recommendations for people who don't know how to design an effective cover, but these should not be enforced.

The bars on your cover look unattractive to me, but they're not distracting. At worst, I might just pass on the comic if I'm feeling picky that day. If a cover has some unappealing elements, the author pays in some lost potential readers, the same as they might with any other design decision. It shouldn't be up to the host (actual content violations aside).

And the bars on your cover aren't even high-contrast...? It seems mean to hide a comic over something like this. What the hell, Admin D: You're usually more reasonable/tolerant than this.

(Also, expecting extra work out of people to conform to such an unusual aspect ratio is a bit silly xP If the site's going to force a weird aspect ratio, it should be prepared to have people use some awkward techniques to make sure their covers are presented in full. That particular cover would not look good cropped vertically to 3:4 and would need to be horizontally expanded in some way anyway.)
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby Tehpikachu » April 3rd, 2018, 11:38 pm

Not to sound redundant, but I agree that it's a bit ridiculous. My comic pages don't fit a 3:4 ratio, and the cropping is horrendous if I submit the cover without some tweaking. Luckily, when I was asked to change it this time, the fix was relatively easy because the background is easy to make, but if it had been a more complex one, I would have been very out of luck.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby Admin » April 4th, 2018, 5:44 am

In this case, you didn't use sidebars because you like the look, you used sidebars to get around the 3:4 aspect ratio requirement. On your original posting of your cover, the sidebars are not present: http://milosfromhome.smackjeeves.com/co ... os-reboot/ If there was no quality control on the covers, the directory would be a mess.

This is what the cover looks like cropped to 3:4:
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If you can't live with that, rework the cover so it fits into 3:4.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby sentiashinou » April 4th, 2018, 10:04 am

I agree with the above posters that this doesn't make much sense. I'm struggling to see the advantage of enforcing this kind of rule.

In this particular instance, I personally like the cover with the sidebars. The cropped version that you posted, Admin, not only looks worse--it also cuts off an important element of the cover, as OP mentioned.

You make it sound like OP added the sidebars out of laziness or malicious intent, but it seems like a reasonable compromise to me? Am I missing something?
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby eishiya » April 4th, 2018, 10:39 am

I feel that low-contrast sidebars like that are an acceptable alternative to cropping off parts of the cover that are important, like those daggers. I think filling in the sides would be the ideal solution for this particular cover, and that low-contrast sidebars are a reasonable second-best option. Cropping might work better for other covers.

Again, SJ requires an unusual cover size, nearly everyone has to make changes to their cover to make them fit. SJ doesn't get to be picky.
I think it's fine for SJ to encourage artists to upload better-formatted covers, but hiding their comic until they do is unacceptable.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby Admin » April 4th, 2018, 12:06 pm

Here's a tentative list of comic cover rules:

  • If your cover is not in a 3:4 aspect ratio it will be automatically cropped to center. If any of the sides are visibly cut off at that point (i.e. text or significant details) the cover will be rejected.
  • Don't add sidebars or top/bottom bars to your cover to make it fit the 3:4 aspect ratio. Crop it, re-format it, or redesign it if necessary.
  • Borderless covers are preferred, but it is not a requirement. If your cover has borders, they should be even on all sides or otherwise look aesthetically pleasing (use your judgement). Framing is a bit different and is fine in most cases.
  • No NSFW content allowed on comic covers including nudity and sexually-charged content.
  • No self-described "Temporary Cover" type covers. If you don't have a real cover yet, just wait until you have one to upload it.
  • That being said, there's nothing wrong with using a simple design if you want to have something in place until your final cover is ready. Just don't label it as a "temporary cover".
  • When a cover is rejected, you'll be notified and have the opportunity to fix the issue and upload a new cover.
  • If you're unsure whether or not your cover is within the guidelines, just submit it! We'll let you know if it's not. You can also browse the directory to get an idea of what's acceptable.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby AgentNein » April 4th, 2018, 12:17 pm

It really shouldn't matter how I make my cover fit the 3:4 aspect ratio. You say it's to "get around it" but it doesn't get around it literally fills the requirement, just not in a way you like. Cropping an image is another way to "get around" the aspect ratio requirement, it just happens to be the one you prefer. It's a really weak justification, and design choices made to fill out requirements even if they weren't originally intended happen all the time. Sometimes it's happy accidents, sometimes it's unfortunately necessary compromise.

Since admin brought up that the bars aren't on the posted cover within the comic, I guess I'll address that real quick. No, when I drew the cover, I used the page ratio I use for literally every other page in my comic. Yes I modified it for smackjeeves I never denied that, all I said was I liked the effect. Incidentally, I did try reuploading with bars because I'd like it to match (though that sacrifices consistent page ratio) but something about the coding/page setup pushes the page out of the box and off centers it when I have a different ratio, so I put it back to normal.

There's some famous Batman comic where the artist knowing that writer's reputation for cramming lots of words into a page left tons of blank space to account for the words. There ended up being far fewer words and less dialogue than expected which turned out to give it a very different striking mood. That hadn't been the reason for leaving all that space, but it ended up working to their benefit.

That's a bit of a tangent though because I feel that no matter how much I defend my choices, it's not going to change the opinion that it's just a bad design and I'm lazy etc etc. The thing is, as the second poster said, if people don't like my cover, my punishment is they'll give it a pass. Many people however actually do like it the way it is (I'm actually intending on experimenting with it some, I want to play with the sidebars a little more but that's more design stuff.)

Which makes around to this entire point of "quality control." When I came to smackjeeves, it was with the understanding that this is a comics hosting website, open to anyone and everyone to post their comics and share, regardless of skill level or quality, it's about having a place to share things.

I would expect to be criticized and evaluated by a proper publisher who invests money into my work with the expectation that it will make a profit, and I would be paid for my work as well. That's their job, I would be entering that environment with full knowledge that's what they do and that I may be asked to change things before they're willing to publish me. That's just business.

This is not a business for me. I draw a Pokemon fancomic as a hobby. I'm not a professional, I don't intend to make a career out of this, my actual field of work is more engineering. It shouldn't matter if my design isn't up to some arbitrary standards I wasn't told existed when I came here. I do this for fun and so do tons of other people.

I was told that because of my "skill level" I would be held to higher standards than people who seemed to be younger artists who might get a pass, that I should know better by now. But I never agreed to these standards.

And because admin's just posted before I've finished, 'Use your judgement' over what looks aesthetically pleasing is entirely subjective. I think mine looks good enough, others don't, that's a matter of opinion. Disallowing temporary covers is also really questionable to me considering comics aren't shown unless they have them, covers change all the time, and again, a lot of creators like myself on smackjeeves? Are not professionals, this is a hobby and we figure stuff out along the way.

So I guess the other question is does Smackjeeves intend to remain an open creative comic platform as it has been, or is it shifting towards exclusivity?
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby eishiya » April 4th, 2018, 12:32 pm

AgentNein wrote:Which makes around to this entire point of "quality control." When I came to smackjeeves, it was with the understanding that this is a comics hosting website, open to anyone and everyone to post their comics and share, regardless of skill level or quality, it's about having a place to share things.

[...]

And because admin's just posted before I've finished, 'Use your judgement' over what looks aesthetically pleasing is entirely subjective. I think mine looks good enough, others don't, that's a matter of opinion. Disallowing temporary covers is also really questionable to me considering comics aren't shown unless they have them, covers change all the time, and again, a lot of creators like myself on smackjeeves? Are not professionals, this is a hobby and we figure stuff out along the way.

So I guess the other question is does Smackjeeves intend to remain an open creative comic platform as it has been, or is it shifting towards exclusivity?

QFT. SJ advertises itself as a host, not a publisher. Please don't act like a publisher. That's not what I'm here for.

Admin, I can see how you'd believe this is for the good of everyone, that making sure all the covers look good encourages more visitors to the site and therefore more readers for all the comics. However, that's not your role. Just s you don't kick people off for having crappy art, you shouldn't add difficulties for people whose covers don't play well with your chosen format. We'd pretty much all like to make covers that look great on SJ already! But we also have other things we need to do, and we don't need any additional punishment beyond the readers we lose and the knowledge that our covers could be better.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby Admin » April 4th, 2018, 12:53 pm

Having a cover rejected:
- Doesn't make your comic or its profile page inaccessible
- Doesn't exclude your comic from your fans' favorites list
- Doesn't de-list your comic from your user profile
- Doesn't hide your comic from the site search

All it does is make it de-listed from the public directory, i.e. the home page and browse lists.

And yes, my goal is to maintain an attractive directory. I believe the advantages of that are worth enforcing a set of standards for covers.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby Yenzala » April 4th, 2018, 1:37 pm

I like the bars. For me, it puts a nice balance on the wings.
Purely just my own opinion though.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby AgentNein » April 4th, 2018, 2:30 pm

All it does is make it de-listed from the public directory, i.e. the home page and browse lists.


The way this is phrased kinda, sounds like it's minimizing the issue. It's having a detrimental effect those comics for a reason that is very much questionable to me. That's reason enough for it to be an issue without the answer being "It's not a big deal, just do it, it's not that hard."

The reason de-listing is a problem is it essentially hides a comic from new readers. An unlisted comic still gets to exist on the site sure, but the only people who will know it exists are the ones that already follow it, or will go out of their way to look for it. It essentially shoves to work in a closet where the only way to find it is to ask for it. The entire reason we have covers is to advertise ourselves. I posted my comic on smackjeeves so that a new audience who might be interested in what I do could find it. This effectively prevents new people from finding it and inhibits audience growth.

These quality standards, again, feel more like a publisher. You have to follow this set of design guidelines to fit an aesthetic, or to specifically not have an aesthetic that's considered undesirable to the one publishing it.

I just want to make and share my comic in peace. I didn't come here to be evaluated and judged on aesthetic, then told my cover design is just too ugly to be shown and I need to change it this specific way. I'm not super comfortable with being micromanaged like this, so if that's how it's going to be, I'd really rather go somewhere else.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby eishiya » April 4th, 2018, 2:43 pm

AgentNein wrote:I just want to make and share my comic in peace. I didn't come here to be evaluated and judged on aesthetic, then told my cover design is just too ugly to be shown and I need to change it this specific way. I'm not super comfortable with being micromanaged like this, so if that's how it's going to be, I'd really rather go somewhere else.

This. I've been using this site for years precisely because it was hands-off and let me do what I felt was best for me, even if that meant putting a little less work into things than I'd like. I do not want to support a website with this sort of policy.

Being removed from the browse page is a big deal, especially over something so minor. The front page already has the spotlight to make it beautiful and enticing to visitors, and there's already incentive for authors to make their covers look great without additional punishment. Let people do what they wish, the overall quality isn't going to decline significantly.

I think the rule about temporary covers is acceptable since those covers are useless to pretty much everybody. Forbidding NSFW is fine (at least, in the absense of a NSFW browsing mode). Rules regarding borders, pillarboxing, etc are not fine. They're acceptable as suggestions to help authors design their covers, and no more than that.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby Admin » April 4th, 2018, 3:09 pm

AgentNein, you're free to do as you please. If you want to adjust the cover so it meets the requirements it will be re-listed. If you wanted, for example, to leave the bars in and extend the wings to the edges, that would work for me.

eishiya, it would be a shame to lose you over this, but I'm not convinced this is a bad policy. I see all the covers that come through that don't meet these requirements and I deal with them. I've already been doing this for over a year, and if I wasn't, the site would look a lot different. The vast majority of people who I contact fix whatever problem I bring up and the site is better for it.
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Re: Comic Cover Requirements Issue

Postby AgentNein » April 4th, 2018, 3:37 pm

Oh, I guess this is kind of tangent, but the thing with temporary covers for me is it seems a little difficult to judge what counts as temporary? Or it might be that I'm confused on how that would be defined in terms of not good enough to be shown.

On the one hand, I understand the frustration and wanting people to take their covers seriously, put some work into it and not have just, I dunno, a blank page with a title scribbled on in MSPaint. On the other, it seems a little difficult to make that call because it's still a judgement on quality, but now also intent rather than simply what it is. Obviously there's things that are clearly spam but, I dunno, I guess allowing for things to be hidden for having temporary covers seems really nebulous and easy to have it come down to just, personal opinion again.

I'm never going to make a cover that's going to be my once and for all cover, not until maybe the end of my comic when I simply move on. Saying every cover is temporary is how I'm able to make them at all, because trying to design a cover that sells your best points and encapsulates what your comic's about is Very Stressful for me. I'd rather not be locked into choosing one to stick with through the whole thing, especially while I'm still learning. Basically, if it's a useless cover, it'll suffer the same as a permanent bad one by not getting views.

Edit: Alright, as you like. I hope you intend on announcing all your rules and requirements to the site properly then at least so people know what's expected of them on posting. Cheers~
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