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I'm new to the web design and web comic fields.

I'm a huge fan of The Oatmeal, and thought his tile layout was a good way to share the most amount of comics for given real estate.

So, following the "Power Grid" pattern from this site (the last option), http://designshack.net/articles/layouts/10-rock-solid-website-layout-examples/, and drawing from elements of my favorite comics, TheOatmeal.com, XKCD, etc... I created my comics site: Hitting Trees with Sticks.com

I recently received a complaint from an avid The Oatmeal fan claiming I've "totally ripped off and imitated The Oatmeal"... I asked the author, Matthew Inman, what he thought... and he said my site design and subject matter were quite similar...

While I'll agree the tile layout I currently have is like his... I think it's also a standard/generic enough template...

That being said, here are my questions:

1) Are the designs too similar?

The Oatmeal.com: enter image description here

My website: enter image description here

2) If so, what are some of the guidelines/rules of thumb on designing a website based on templates that are used by other comic artists? Do you think I should change mine? I mean, it seems like so many comics use the same "click-to-get-next-comic style... and I like The Power Grid/The Oatmeal's style... I feel there aren't many other ways for me to display the latest comics and most popular comics for the user to see... is that wrong?

Thanks!

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A lot of web comics use Comic press: comicpress.org –  Joonas Apr 17 '13 at 5:31

1 Answer 1

The problem doesn't seem to be the template (because it's different enough, considering the simplicity of the whole thing), but the typography. And maybe the way you combine typography with images (text on top, white background, images on bottom).

I'd be hard to answer to your second question based on what we can see here, because it doesn't look like a layout issue.

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I agree. A grid is a grid, more or less, but you've borrowed the color scheme and come pretty close to Oatmeal's font. Choose a different typeface -- in fact, try something not handwritten -- and pick a color or background texture. Those two items alone will go a ways toward differentiating the sites. –  Lauren Ipsum Apr 17 '13 at 10:26
    
@LaurenIpsum What do you mean "Try something not handwritten"? How can I do that and still keep the site with its comic'y feel? –  Growler Apr 17 '13 at 14:08
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@Growler So, break a rule. Is it a requirement that a comic's balloons must look hand-lettered? The problem is that you've chosen something so close to Oatmeal's that it looks pretty plainly like theft. You need to do something which is not what Oatmeal did. That's a fast way to do it. Once you have more of your own visual style on the site, you can go back and try something which looks handwritten but isn't so close to Oatmeal's. –  Lauren Ipsum Apr 17 '13 at 16:15

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