Smashing Magazine Comic Strip: Episode 1


A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Cartoons and Comic Strip Art1 and, to be honest, there was a good reason why we took some time to research on this topic. The truth is that we are pretty tired of the same kind of content appearing in the Web over and over and over again. During our winter break in December we came up with some new ideas, concepts, formats and projects that we will try to achieve with Smashing Magazine in 2009.

Discussing new formats for SM, we came up with the idea of creating a weekly cartoon that would cover recent developments in web design and in the Web in general. In December we stumbled across Paddy Donnelly2‘s blog, the home of a talented web designer and illustrator in Belfast, Northern Ireland and we’ve seen that Paddy is actually creating a comic strip on his blog. After a couple of e-mails we were pretty sure: we are going to have a regular comic strip, exclusively on Smashing Magazine and exclusively for Smashing Magazine readers.

In this post we present the first episodes of the new Smashing Magazine cartoon / comic strip. We are very excited about this new section in our magazine and we would love to hear your opinion about it! Please feel free to post your ideas, suggestions, remarks and critique in the comments to this post. Please also suggest story lines – e.g. what are the things that frustrate you most about the Web or web design? And, most importantly, have fun!


  1. 1
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The Smashing team loves high-quality content and cares about the little details. Through our online articles, Smashing Books, eBooks as well as Smashing Conferences, we are committed to stimulating creativity and strengthening the web design community’s creative forces.

  1. 1

    I like the first episodes, but it really could be funnier. It need more original ideas. Go ahead Smashing Man!

    P.S. Sorry if my english is not perfect ;)

  2. 52

    I dont like the idea of a superhero at all. Not in this “serious” way. And the storyline is kinda not interesting :(
    Regarding the artwork. It could do better but i dont have any bigger issues with it. It could work.

  3. 103

    The sycophancy in here is simply out of control. It’s just plain weird. Are these real people?

  4. 154

    Dont. Do. That. Ever. Again!

    Dear Smashing Magazine, please stick to things you are good in. Detailed articles or so. Leave the jokes to someone else. Please!

  5. 205

    It read a bit like a dirty joke from my grandmother… fell a bit flat. While the idea is solid I think you need to dig deeper into the web and subject to get something truly funny, interesting and unique. Maybe look to web animation or animation in general for ideas… not just comics. Homestar Runner may be a place to start? Remember silence can be as funny or funnier than spelling things out.

  6. 256

    I won’t be reading any more of these. They seem rushed, with poor writing and amateur-quality artwork at best.

  7. 307

    It’s either make a comic series and do them right or don’t do one at all. If you’re going to continue this line of quality, then I strongly suggest you abandon the idea. Otherwise, get rid of these and start fresh with HUMOR, QUALITY and ORIGINALITY in mind.

  8. 358

    I must admit: This is pretty terrible. Self-indulgent and very poorly drawn.

  9. 409

    Firstly, you forgot to add another option to the poll – ‘Totally Lame’

    If a comic was the best thing you thought of during the winter break then you guys need to think a bit harder. I don’t see the point of the comic on a site like SM – it was a real yawn.

    Less time mucking around with fluff like this and more time delivering quality content!

  10. 460

    I prefer the regular posts, make another section for “smashing” comics… or just drop the whole comic topic as the previous posts about it haven’t been that great either

  11. 511

    Floris Fiedeldij Dop

    January 16, 2009 3:04 pm

    Stick to blogging .. it’s obviously what you guys do best.

  12. 562

    In this case, I’d stick to the great articles and galleries you folks create. But being willing to take risks and try new ideas is a great thing.

  13. 613

    I didn’t like this one bit. I agree with an earlier commenter who said it was like hearing a dirty joke from your grandmother…it’s just kind of embarrassing for all. If you are going to insist on pushing forward with this comic strip thing, you should check out MAKE magazine…they do a good job of combining quality illustration with their educational, how-to material in a way that doesn’t seem self-indulgent or condescending to readers.

  14. 664

    Good Stuff, Love it

  15. 715

    I like the idea of a SM comic. This comic does need some major tweaks though, to be more relatable to the average SM reader.

    It should definitely follow recent design developments. I’m not sure I like the super hero idea though. I liked the first episode, as it was actually funny and interesting. The second episode was completely unrelatable, and went completely off track. The Internet sucks because of all the bad design, and that should be the focus of this comic. The readers of SM are for the most part, designers. I’m not sure how many of us are interested in Internet security.

    I hope the next episode doesn’t have any hackers, phishers or any of that. But if the next episode was able to somehow bring in design related problems like compatibility, usability, etc…I think the comic will be a success. That is what I was thinking episode 2 was going to be about, since the internet sucked because of all the bad design.

    As far as artwork is concerned, it is perfect. It is a comic strip after all. Just get us a better storyline please!

  16. 766

    haha good stuff

  17. 817

    Cool! but rada jayus :)

  18. 868

    Cool idea, poor execution and script… I would think about hiring a true comic artist.

  19. 919

    I didn’t expect this kind of lame content here. Boring, rushed, amateurish, too geeky, and totally unnecessary.
    You dont need to come up with new stuff as long as you keep doing what you’re good at. So why don’t just stick to that?

  20. 970

    Agree Bigge,,, this maybe the start of the end of SM for me.

    /sigh but my mother always told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say to not say anything at all…. So I think I will keep quiet from here on in.

  21. 1021

    Comic deals with various aspects in life, not just web designing. So why not remix some famous CC Web Comics like XKCD? I believe using comics and cartoon characters as a part of web design can become a trend in web enhancement.

  22. 1072

    Looks fuckin’ lame. First learn to draw properly before You publish something like this.

  23. 1123

    I agree with the few sane people who actually spoke their mind. I almost thought that SM was hijacked and these were posted. They are very lame. Something I wouldn’t post on my “bad designed”, sorry state of a blog.
    Why do you need comics? And even if people running such a leading design blog feel that they need to go that direction, why can’t you add something to it instead of posting something as tasteless as this?
    Am I being harsh? Of course I am! I’m also a disappointed and an embarrassed reader. Good luck.

  24. 1174

    “At the risk of being too critical for a first attempt, I wasn’t really that impressed. Granted, many of the webcomics out right now have had years to perfect themselves, but from a site like Smashing Magazine that presents so much spectacular work, I was quite underwhelmed.”

    Actually smashing does not have that much content of itself. Most is just lists of other peoples work.

    Having said that the lists are usually quite good and why I come here. This strip is garbage.

  25. 1225

    I love comics and I love smashingmagazine, but don’t like this comics! don’t know why, maybe I little childish…

  26. 1276

    Radical honesty:

    Cool idea that you want to have comics

    1.) illustrations are not bad but… considering this is a design-based site….. they’re… not bad and that’s the problem (whoever did them is cool though :P)

    2.) Not all that interesting.

    Put a dent in the universe with your next comic, it’s possible.


  27. 1327

    I vote to discontinue the “comic strip”. I don’t find it on par with what I’ve seen on SM previously. I was hoping for something a little more tongue-in-cheek, or even along the lines of “make my logo bigger”. Hats off to you for posting it, and if you do continue with additional episodes, I’m with the several people who suggest posting it in its own section. Despite this, I do hope us negative commenters haven’t killed your spirit, and if you’re really into the comic strip, take a second look and push the concept a little farther, design and copy-wise.

  28. 1378

    The strip is OK for a first effort, but there’s some definite work to be done both artistically and with the gag.

    Is there supposed to be a gag? Or is this a superhero parody? I wasn’t sure.

    As far as the art, I’m no designer, but if you’re gonna do a comic about how stuff looks like crap online, you’d better be knocking it out of the park in the art department.

    Good luck…

  29. 1429

    Forget the content of the comic strip. The point here is, if you have read the post carefully:

    a weekly cartoon that would cover recent developments in web design and in the Web in general

  30. 1480

    Improve the drawing skill, who is the artist anyway? It’s like done by unpro illustrator. The script is too straightforward, and it wasn’t cool, funny either.

  31. 1531

    ahahahah thats really nice :) good work will love to see more as well

  32. 1582



  33. 1633

    January 16, 2009 11:38 pm

    good work love it..


  34. 1684

    There are a bunch of fantastic and great artists here in the reply comments… quoting: crap online, strip is garbage, bad script, bad artwork, bad storyline, shitty comic, etc. Aw right! show the world your work typing your website addresses in your comments. Oh yeah! But it is easier to blabber well hidden in the depths of the internet.

  35. 1735

    sorry 1st, but just because u can, doesn’t mean u should…

  36. 1786

    Wow! I’m torn. I really love Smashing Magazine and I love the idea of having a comic. In fact, it’s just about time. I need to make that clear because what I’m about to say will make it seem otherwise.

    I think this idea was really badly executed! I see a lot of potential and will continue looking for new episodes, but I really think a lot more could have been done. In short, I am underwhelmed!

    First of all, this magazine is one of the best there is in its field on the Internet. This naturally translates to an audience expecting exceedingly and increasingly high standards to be met and maintained on every take. Reading this comic strip left me wondering how it managed to slip through the screening process. This is not to say anything about the creators. It’s all about the finished product.

    Here is my suggestion for how to tackle this problem. Smashing magazine is known for its lists of lists. Many really good designers have had their work featured and many more would love the opportunity. How about keeping with this theme of pooling ideas and invite readers to submit comic strips of their own using your characters? You can have a specific style guide outlining things like costumes, key physical attributes, etc, and have artists translate that to their own style. You can even have someone submit a script and other people translate it into the completed product. I personallty think it would be fun and interesting to see how different designers translate the idea.

    Alternatively, you could do as Sergio suggests and hire a professional. This is a tough crowd to please as you can see from the comments here. Just as you approach the field of web design with gusto and attention to even the minor details, so do writers and illustrators approach the concept of comic design. (By the way, Sergio KNOWS what he’s talking about. He is an AMAZING character designer.)

    As for the vertical vs. Horizontal debate, I think it comes down to personal taste. I am used to reading horizontal strips. However, I think this idea of making the strip vertical is rather interesting and works well with the page format and the space available. I support the idea of keeping it vertical. It may not be common practice but creativity is all about re-defining the paradigm.

    I also agree with Michael who said that the story is a bit too slow. There is too much of attempted “suspense” for a relatively small punch. This can be quite a useful tool in parody but only when executed well. Again, there are many things to be considered when designing a comic. Here are a few off the top of my head.

    1. The Character.

    There is a reason why they are referred to as “characters”. Question. What do you call a “character” without character? Make sure you create unique and easily identifiable features such as attire, posture, gestures, and probably most importantly, facial expressions. Look at the simple smilies you see online. They add character and personality to bare and simple text. Granted, they can be irritating and/or inappropriate in some situation but people tend to respond well to expressions of emotion.

    A bit of creativity is also key to character design. It is clear that this character was “inspired” by superman. However, it would arguably be better to create a new character even if you have to borrow ideas and elements from other super heroes. Remember, people will always compare you to the original and you will always fall short.

    In case you were going for the “parody” approach, make it such that he thinks he’s superman but he’s clearly not to everyone in his world. The little differences in themselves can be enough reason to quite literally ROTFL.

    Anatomy is REALLY important. Even Flubber can’t escape certain anatomical rules! Keep proper anatomy in mind even if your character is overly stylized.

    2. The Layout and composition.

    This is my personal opinion but I tend to think that if it looks good in black and white or before adding in the colour, it will (or can) look good once it is done. Closing my eyes to the colour in this story, I feel like the skeleton is not solid enough. A good foundation makes for a sturdy house. The same concept applies to all forms of design.

    In addition over-reliance on colour to make the impact, I feel like the “camera angles” employed here are very flat and boring. Imagine what it would be like to watch a movie shot on a stationary camera. Even if the story was a masterpiece, the final product would be lacklustre to say the very least. Look into things such as foreshortening if you are planning to go on with the superhero theme or just viewing the scene from different angles. I don’t really mind the background but I think there ought to be more happening in the foreground as well.

    3. The story

    I think short, sweet and simple works really well on the Internet. Funny is also well received. If you make the punch easy and clear, you will have more time to work on the quality. Again, if you are planning to do a parody or pay homage to comics and cartoons made in the sixties, let your whole style communicate it. A great source of funny punchlines about current issues is twitter. Remember to borrow ideas and not just plagiarize.

    I really think the idea of a comic is a really good one and you ought to pursue it. However, considering the quality of this site, you will need to step up your game. Sorry for rambling on. I’m looking forward to the next edition.

  37. 1837

    The good guy is white and the bad guy is … black !!!

  38. 1888

    If Smashing is to “Save the Internet” it should start by itself by getting rid of this 12-year old nonsense. Now, please provide me a button to save myself from ever having to see this crap again.

    In perspective, this is a free site so all who do not like it have to do is not look at it. Please provide that “feature”.

  39. 1939

    Cool, I love it

  40. 1990

    @ferdy: I’m with you. This looks like something done by a 12 year old. Didn’t liked it at all.

  41. 2041
  42. 2092

    Comment #29 says it all.
    “Ok” idea but bad execution (not necessariliy in regard of drawing skills).

  43. 2143

    Hmm, it’s not that bad, but it’s not the kind of I really like. Especially the character – does the guy have to be a superhero? Maybe it would be more fun if he would be another type of outsider, who has to learn something for himself? While a superhero mostly knows everything better, a guy who is just stumbling into different situations and challenges in his technical life compared with his social environment would be much more interesting, I guess.
    Look at Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, even Gary Larson or the more related comic in c’t (german computer magazine).
    So: better short and really funny, than long and lengthy.

    k.i.s.s. ;)

  44. 2194

    lol , Nice

  45. 2245

    well… everything is already said. Please don’t do it again, don’t force me to filter SM RSS feed.

    This … thing … is so lame, and it has zero reason at all to exists here.

    Please remove this utter crap stuff. Thanks.

  46. 2296

    Why are people ass kissing…. this was not funny and the graphics were kind of crap tbh… although i like the idea of you doing comics, i still think they should be funnier and graphically better….. then Id throw in the odd “lol” or “lmao” that people have so far.

  47. 2347


    its not great, but also noy bad… personnally I would of expected a more well rounded style, this was a litle shabby and rushed looking. I do not think it is a bad idea, just needs some development :o)

    Maybe you should have looked at you comic book article more closely as the work in there was far far classier. Please do not however give up as it may well develop nicely in time.

    Keep trying Sm you are really very good at what you do and are allowed to try things from time to time.



  48. 2398

    sorry but I think it’s really stupid.
    XKCD comics are clever, nerd and funny instead

  49. 2449

    It’s awful! Crap graphics, crap text, crap idea… What in the world were you thinking?!

    I read more than 20 comics per week. I could find more 50 if I wanted. Every single one of them is better than that. Heck, even I can do better!

    Next time your children ask to help you on your site, just say no.

  50. 2500

    He’s got to take down Comic Sans man, and then maybe his sidekick Papyrus boy.


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