Brian Andersen is not just an amazing comic book writer and 99designs customer, but has spent time working in the 99designs family at our office in SF — AND is a new dad! Having all these responsibilities could be a little more than tough, but Brian manages with humorous aplomb (and dirty jokes).

When writing his genre-busting and cleverly named comic book ‘Friend of Dorothy,’ Brian utilized 99designs to design a logo that matched the cheeky humor of his book. Luckily for us, Brian took time out of his busy schedule to answer a couple of our questions about what it was like to run a logo contest on 99designs.

Brian Anderson, author of 'Friend of Dorothy'

Brian is always lookin’ sharp

Why did you decide to use 99designs to run a logo contest?

When I realized I needed a super awesome, eye-catching logo for my indie comic book series ‘Friend of Dorothy’ I knew there was only one place to go for it: 99designs! I mean, clearly if you need a polished, amazing logo design you simply must to go to the best. 99designs is the best.

A logo says so much about your story, business, etc., and it was important that I have one that catches a geek comic book reader’s eye and compels them to buy the book. I believe I got that logo and then some!

Also, I loved the idea of being pitched a ton of really cool designs. It was so fun, thrilling and exciting to see all the creative people putting their unique spin on my comic book series via the über amazing logos they created. 99designs has some truly talented designers.

Having to explicitly explain what you were looking for in the brief; did you learn anything new about your vision for the comic book series?

Why yes, it sure did. You really learn a lot about your story and your vision when you have to boil it down to a simple few lines of text. No room for my usual long-winded answers (that you are presently experiencing and enjoying). It was a good exercise, it allowed me to view my comic book in a simple, digestible form, which was nice.

Were there any criteria your design had to match? What were you looking for?

Totally! I wanted a logo that was fun, colorful, eye-poppingly interesting while also being playful and strong and not too cartoony. So pretty straightforward (har har.) I realize this might be a confusingly tall order. Thankfully, attaching the images from my comic seemed to help convey the overall theme of the project. Thankfully the 99designs designers came through in spades!

Logo for 'Friend of Dorothy'

The winning design by THE GREAT

Did you have any kind of “aha” moment during the contest process? Did you see a particular design and just know it was perfect?

As Oprah would say my “aha” moment came right as the logos starting trickling in. It’s one thing to see your story in your mind, but once you jot down and sum it up and ask someone to create artwork for your vision you really see quickly if you are clearly expressing the images in your head.

The the tone of my comic is lighthearted but it also has elements of action and (to some degree) horror. I realized that what I intend my mind’s eye isn’t always want other’s perceive it, because certain designs would focus mostly on the lighthearted, cartoon-ish nature of my comic. Which isn’t a bad thing, because even those designs were amazing, but just not right for my book.

What kind of responses have you received from people on your design?

I received a tremendously amazing, super impressive response. A lot of designers were happy to submit more than one design, and used my feedback to tweak their work and make it that much better. I felt that the designers were having fun on the project.

A large number of designers submitted some very thoughtful, clever ideas. It was clear they soaked in the artwork, read and digested the design brief and really worked to capture my comic book in one, visually engaging logo design.

What makes Friend of Dorothy unique/special?

Uh, what doesn’t make it unique and special (haha)? I like to believe, perhaps erroneously, that my tale is the first ever superhero-esque character derived from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ mythos. On top of this the book stars a gay teenage boy who is unapologetically gay and also unapologetically very much a hero. His sexuality is just one part of who he is as a character.

I also aim to take a tongue-in-cheek term for a person gay — the ‘Friend of Dorothy’ — and am endeavoring to move the term from the humorous to the powerful. I want to take the moniker ‘Friend of Dorothy’ and empower it, make it one of strength and positivity rather than it’s the goofy, dismissive tone it might often carry with it.

Friend of Dorothy - Champion of OZ

Logo used on the ‘dark’ cover for the comic book series

How do you describe your typical reader?

My typical reader is a gay geek, and the ladies who love them. There are quite a lot of gay geeks out in the wild and we (I include myself among them) enjoy seeing ourselves in our literature of choice. Yes, I consider comic books to be literature — stuff it, English teachers.

Also, many of you lovely ladies have expressed to me how much you enjoy stories with gay lead characters, so this book is also for you. I suppose straight geeks can read it too, but they have to pay extra (haha!)

Personally, a good story is a good story and frankly, I don’t see why anyone and everyone — gay, straight, tall, short, geeky, serious — can’t enjoy the tale of the “Friend of Dorothy” battling soul-sucking scarecrows, zombiefied-flying-monkies, an evil Munchkin. Plus, there’s a talking descendant of Toto, named Dodo, a shirtless man-version of Glinda the good Witch, a flying broom that doubles as a sky surfboard, and magical ruby boots. See, something for everyone! Enjoyies!

Do you have any tips for fellow creatives who want to get started in the field?

Just one: Get off your rear end and do it. That’s really it. Just sit down (so get back on your rear end), write it out, draw it out, print it up, get it out into the universe. The End.

When will the book be released?

My incredible, amazing artist is hot on the drawing board now, busting out some amazing artwork. I just adore his pencil work (that Neftali Centeno is one talented artist) and he really captures my story so, so, so well. He can take a description of “and the ‘Friend of Dorothy’ kicks ass” and really deliver on the action, while also adding warm and humanity to a panel description that reads “and the ‘Friend of Dorothy’ is super bummed.”

Issue one and two are already out and available in print and digital and the third issue should be completed in a few months! I’m so excited I just might wet myself.

Friend of Dorothy - Champion of OZ

Logo used for the ‘good’ version of the cover

Anything else you’d like to share?

Only that your fine readers of this awesome blog should totally use 99designs for any and all logo work. I could not be happier with the final design I received. It’s Ah-Mazing!

And you can find updated info on my comic books on my official website. ‘Friend of Dorothy’ issue three should be completed in a few months, followed by a nice, graphic novel collecting all three issues plus a few new stories. Yay!

And you can also enjoy all my daily rants and goof-filled imagery on the Facebook page I moderate involving all things gay-geeky. The page is past 34k followers! Woot!