Nov 08 2011

Banner insecurity

Look up at the top of the page. Now back to me. Now back to the top of the page. What do you see? It’s a banner. It’s not a particularly nice banner (although made infinitely nicer thanks to the hard work of reader aspidoscelis, for which I am very grateful). I would very much like to have a spiffy banner. However, I have no graphic design skills to speak of. I am hoping I can prevail upon you, gentle readers, for some assistance in this regard.

I have no particular requests or ideas for what a banner would look like. I know that it must measure 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits… wait no, that’s idiotic. It has to be 728 x 120, and it has to have the title of the blog in there somewhere. My old site had the black power fist:

And this quote from Christopher Hitchens: “The stubborn persistence of chauvinism in our life and letters is or ought to be the proper subject for critical study, not the occasion for displays of shock.”

Either or neither of those things could conceivably be worked in. I throw myself upon the mercy of the internet.

Wow, that sounds like a terrible idea…

The person with the design I like the most will be rewarded in some way that I have not figured out yet.

EDIT: Reader Zugswang has helpfully provided me with this most awesome tweak to the image above:

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  1. 1
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    Look at your banner, now look at me, back at your banner, now back to me. Sadly, your banner isn’t me.

    (Sorry… I had to do it)

  2. 2
    Monado, FCD

    I think you need the Viva La Evolucion Che-style ape-man, preferably in red.

  3. 3

    What about a slight tweak to the black power fist?

    (If you guys like this, feel free to use it for whatever banner ideas you get)


  4. 4

    It’s a good image, but I am uncomfortable hosting a blog where I talk about racism whose banner image is an ape. Wires cross in ways that make me uncomfortable.

  5. 5

    I like small creative projects like this. Put together a simple banner with just the elements you mentioned and came up with this: {TCM draft image}.

    If you like it, it’s yours in exchange for some credit/recognition in some form. I am happy to tweak it a bit if it’s close to what you are looking for.

  6. 6
    Greg Laden

    I like the original banner. Maybe stick the fist there on one side.

  7. 7

    That looks really cool.

  8. 8

    An attempt: http://i.imgur.com/09uzb.jpg

  9. 9
    Sean Boyd

    I’m not a designer, but I put together a couple of things. It’s not dissimilar to what you already have…just added some texture, etc.

    seanpboyd1968′s photobucket

  10. 10

    Yeah I was thinking the present one is nice and distinctive in its simplicity.

    Personally I’d avoid the fist as well unless perhaps it was modified to be giving the finger

  11. 11

    What about throwing in a few Cyrillic letters in place of the usual Roman letters? It could give a nice Russian feel.


  12. 12

    Neat idea

  13. 13

    These look very cool

  14. 14

    I like it.

  15. 15

    The fist is meaningful to me, and relevant to the subject of the blog. I’d like to include it if possible, but am obviously open to ideas that may not include it.

  16. 16
    Michael Zeora

    Hi, I’m not an average poster (even on PZ’s Blog)

    But I have some skill and thought “Might as well give it a go”


    PSD can be provided on request. I’ll check back in a few hours or so to see how I panned out.

  17. 17

    Looks fantastic! I will wait for a couple days, as people have indicated that they want to take a stab, but are currently a bit busy.

  18. 18
  19. 19

    Another non-designer having a go. It’s nowhere near as good as the others but I figured I’d share it anyway….

    CM Banner

  20. 20

    A nice idea, but I’m personally a bit creeped out by it :P

  21. 21
    Herr Mann

    I love these banner requests… Here’s my try.


  22. 22

    I like the scroll bit

  23. 23

    A fresh and innovative take. Really cool.

  24. 24



  25. 25
    Herr Mann

    Looks like my browser oversaturates the colors of the banner, here I toned down the background.


  26. 26

    As it stands, I’d be interested in seeing some combination of MZeora’s design and the one by Herr Mann. I like the font choice and modified fist from the first, and the vibrancy and “kick” of the second.

  27. 27

    Ooh! Dramatic! I like it.

  28. 28

    if there’s an edit or whatnot you’d like, fire it off to me. glad to help out.

  29. 29
    Dorset Troll

    Communism does not work. I was taught that at school, and having taken time to read up on history I can say that is a fair comment. However, Capitalism unleashed, as we see today, needs a comeback of communism show the other side.

  30. 30

    But those aren’t our only options. A market economy balanced by a political system that is responsive to the needs of the people is what we should be striving for.

  31. 31

    Another call to arms – arts? Call to arts from PZ & Pharyngula. Transparent background, editable in any which way you wish (if you so wish it). :D

  32. 32
    Daniel R

    But the above examples using Cyrillic letters are pretty, but not so good ideas, after all, Russian implementation of communist not having been a success.

  33. 33

    Tony @ 4 looks very good.

    I’m not so good with the Hitch quote…I think a “you” quote would be better.

  34. 34

    Hitch is my favourite writer, the topic of the quote pretty much describes exactly what I try to do on this blog, and I might be conceited but I am nowhere near conceited enough to quote myself like that.

  35. 35

    The word Crom in your name, you should really go with a Conan the Barbarian theme.

  36. 36

    Thanks, Kamaka. My version goes for the simple/clean look.

    I’m impressed with others’ contributions – Morby’s #16 is a nice bold look, and michaelcrowley’s #6 is simple with a “pirate-y” look to it.

    I will off a version with the new A-fist tomorrow.

  37. 37
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Have you got a deadline? I’d like to try my hand but probably won’t have a chance until tomorrow.

  38. 38
    Daniel R

    Hi Cro,

    The management of subscriptions does not work. I subscribed to this post, and received e-mail for each new message posted, that’s OK.

    But I changed my mind and decided to remove that subscription and clicked to the “Manage” link. It told me to send my e-mail address to send me a link to access to my subscription management page.

    I received the link, but it does not work, and I understood why.

    It’s because it contains:


    instead of:


    When changing by hand “reasonabledoubts” into “crommunist” in the link address, it worked.

  39. 39

    Hitch is my favourite writer.

    The Hitch is one of the best writers ever. So you aren’t saying much.

    Conceited? Oh, please, presuming to blog is conceited.

    C’mon, give us a double-down hard-ass quote.

  40. 40
    Eric Atkinson

    How about the good old Серп и Молот?
    And a picture of good old uncle Joe?

  41. 41
    Spanky M

    I like #16 best so far.

  42. 42

    If you’re curious, you could head over here to look at different shareware fonts. There’s literally thousands of different fonts there, and you may find a unique one that you’d like to have in your banner.

    In the meantime, here’s a couple other banner designs:

    Link 1

    Link 2

  43. 43

    Heya, found your blog via a tweet by PZ Myers and thought I’d take a look around and have a go at a banner. Here’s my first effort:

  44. 44

    Here’s the same one adjusted to use a DNA model I did a few months ago. Dunno if it makes things too busy? http://img526.imageshack.us/img526/6971/crommunist4.jpg

  45. 45
    Diane G.

    (@ 8 ) Yes, except to anyone who knows Cyrillic. Because what you’re using for “r” is “ya,” for “a” is “d,” etc. ;)

  46. 46

    or this…

  47. 47

    Here is the one I made for my own amusement:

    I tried to make it reminiscent of old Russian propaganda.
    “A man is born free” is a quote from Stokely Carmichael. I felt it just fit better on a propaganda style banner and it ties in nicely with the Black Power fist.

  48. 48
    Eric Paulsen

    Just an idea. http://imgur.com/JS2Eg

  49. 49
    Justin Griffith

    This one is my favorite so far. Though all of them are pretty nice. You’ve got nice readers.

  50. 50
    Justin Griffith

    This one looks fantastic too

  51. 51

    Hey, here’s something I made up quickly, tell me if you like the style.


  52. 52

    Pronounced Syaommtsist Mdiifesto?

  53. 53

    I would say the Soviet Union was a totalitarian state far more than a communist one, and I don’t think there has ever been a state that closely followed the formal definition of communism. I do feel that something akin to Euro-socialism could work in the US. I do not think the US public, having never studied philosophy, political science, etc., is ready to try to wrap its head around the ideas of Trotsky, for example.

  54. 54

    I threw my hat, er, banner, in the ring.

  55. 55
    Michael Zeora

    Full Disclosure on the Fonts:
    the Top Font on my design is from 1001 free fonts (called Kremlin)
    the other is Lithos Pro which came with my current variant of Photoshop or Windows (I can’t remember which)

    More “Kick” I think I can do something about that.

  56. 56
    Ben Zvan

    It took me a good 30 seconds to figure out what you’d done. Good on you! Subtle, but iconic.

  57. 57
    Michael Zeora

    Taking points from below (ronaldriley) I decided to refactor the background…


  58. 58

    I really like the 3D rendering you did on the fist.

  59. 59

    I will probably not make a decision on my favourite ones until the weekend, and then I will likely throw open the selection process for you to vote on a handful.

  60. 60

    I really like the book. It’s a really cool idea, and if I ever DO write a book that will probably be what the cover looks like :P

  61. 61

    I like the second one the best. Not too busy – dramatic. It’s very cool.

  62. 62

    Simple. Clean. Very cool.

  63. 63

    It is a good quote. Interesting style.

  64. 64

    It’s a cool idea. I like the brick backdrop, but I’m not so much affiliated with Cuba (or Russia, or Texas… I’m not sure which red white and blue flag that is) :P

  65. 65

    What is that in the backdrop? It looks like crystalized maple leaves (or maybe that’s just a Canadian Rorschach test)

  66. 66

    Whoa. I like. The quill is badass.

  67. 67

    Well, thanks! If you decide on it, I can work the Hitchens quote in somewhere, though it may be more of a design element than something super-legible.

  68. 68
    theophontes, feu d'artifice du cosmopolitisme

    I cobbled this together: Linky.

    I don’t know where you stand vis-a-vis teh kittez (for my part they is to few on FTB). The quote is from somewhere on scienceblogs.

  69. 69

    Hahaha, cool. I’m fully anti-cat, but it’s an interesting experiment.

  70. 70
    Michael Swanson

    “Fully anti-cat”? Now I can’t trust your opinion on anything, as you’re obviously suffering from serious emotional and cognitive issues.

    Such a shame…seemed like such a nice young man…

  71. 71

    seemed like such a nice young man…

    Nice? NICE? Whose blog have YOU been reading? :P

  72. 72
    Patsy Monteleone

    Here’s a go at a banner design. I used an open-handed palm image (a scan of my own paw), which is a common motif in Russian Constructivist art. Feel free to use it if you wish! And thanks for putting up the good fight. ;°)


  73. 73

    Here’s take 2 that incorporates the A-fist. {Take 2}

  74. 74

    My favourite part of that image is the juxtaposition of the two ads on the page.

    The banner looks excellent.

  75. 75
    Michael Swanson

    Well, in all honesty, you strike me as a pretty nice guy who refuses to take shit from anyone, and who can become–forgive the religious overtone–righteously angry. It’s certainly possible to be both nice and assertive.

    But then there’s the problem of this simple formula: Cats = Awesome. Like 2+2=4, if a person has trouble comprehending that…well…it’s pretty hopeless, man. :)

  76. 76
    Michael Swanson

    For what it’s worth, this is my favorite one. It’s very clean, but has a sense of power.

  77. 77

    If up to a vote, I’d back vacuumslayer. Excellent work, very stylish.

    And it has no backwards “R”. Even having taken only one year of Russian many years ago, that still derails my mental train every time I see it used for sounds other than “ya”

  78. 78

    I think “Toys R Us”, personally.

  79. 79

    I have been trying to duck the appellation “nice” since high school, but apparently I will simply have to resign myself to “nice guy” status for the rest of my life. I prefer “good guy”, because a lot of being “nice” involves false modesty and tact bordering on dishonesty.

    Cats… ugh. Never seen the appeal. They’re needy jerks with no sense of personal boundaries, alternating between aloofness and clinginess. It’s like what I imagine living with a Pick Up Artist would be.

  80. 80

    I’ve done one simple and fairly ugly banner, just to contribute.


    There’s room for the Hitch quote, and I could replace the black power fist with the atheist black power fist. A very flexible banner.

  81. 81

    Here’s my humble offering.

  82. 82

    They’re all pretty good, but how’d they look in blue rather than red?

  83. 83

    My guess would be… bluer.

  84. 84

    Banners! Fun! Had to have a go at it…


  85. 85

    Okay, I said before that having my face on the banner would be creepy. NOT SO!

  86. 86

    It’s just some photoshop work and a few fractals I made in apophysis.

  87. 87

    This one is really nice!

  88. 88

    Morby @ 16′s good – bold but still pretty simple. Very cool.

  89. 89

    Wow! Awesome job!

    This is my favorite.

    I would, quite possible, get on my knees and beg you to do mine, even try bribing you with food, if I had a banner.

  90. 90
    Herr Mann

    It’s refreshing to see so many (different) banners… I really like #30, the one with the quill.

  91. 91
    Eric Paulsen

    It’s supposed to be a close view of the American flag (one red stripe next to a blue field nut below a white stripe) but since there was no context I completely understand the confusion. I wasn’t going for a Cuban feel but it kind of reminded me of that too when I was done.

  92. 92

    Thanks, Michael.

  93. 93

    These have all turned out so well! Excited to see which one you’ll end up going with.

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