Saturday, October 17, 2009

Five comic book logos I dig

One of the cooler bits of comic book business around the Internet if you ask me is the semi-regular LogoStudies series that award-winning letterer Todd Klein features on his blog. Basically, Todd will take a character or franchise (recent ones have been Robin and the Legion of Super-Heroes) and look back at the history of their logos, analyzing and commenting from a place of great expertise.

Logos (like letterers) are one of the unsung heroes of comic books, as an eye-catching one can earn a book interest and perhaps purchase from a customer who might have thought nothing of it before heading to the store.

I figured trying to come up with a "Top however many" list of my very favorite comic book logos would be a bit tough, as there are thousands (maybe more) out there and I'd inevitably bump the number up to 50, spend my entire weekend compiling, and then in addition to not planning key details of my wedding next weekend also forget Warlock Chronicles or something and be upset with myself.

Instead, here are five logos I happen to find rad and why...

With all due respect to the talented duo of Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and company, I don't think I've read more than an issue or two of US&tFF (so many comics, so little time is all), however, from the moment I saw the first finished cover, I've told anybody who will listen that book had one of the coolest, most unique and most attention-getting logos I'd ever seen. Whereas most logos go in the direction of trying to be more 3-D or contemporary looking, this one stands out by embracing a flat feel with classic style and a great mix of colors regardless of what they are.
A lot of one-shot Halloween specials or limited run horror books will adopt some sort of spooky font in their logo for a short term value, but The Goon employs a neat lettering in its title monthly that fits the tone of the series perfectly and makes it stand out from most everything on the shelf (not unlike The Goon itself). The Goon logo is not a complex one, but I feel like it's one a lot of thought was put into and that comes off a little bit spooky, a little bit fun, and all intriguing.
I've always dug the classic Incredible Hulk logo currently flying on two ongoing titles (Incredible Hulk and adjectiveless Hulk) for a pretty dumb, simple reason: it has bricks. In its earliest days, the Hulk logo was pretty plain and even as it evolved to have more depth you couldn't really distinguish it, but adding the brick surface to the letters was a totally money move. Spider-Man has webs and Batman has bats (duh) that are naturally incorporated in their logos to their benefit, but nothing really pops as a symbol you'd associate with the Hulk (it's the same way in that old school WrestleMania game for Nintendo that Andre the Giant's power-up symbol was just a big hand); however, bricks are a cool generic "strong guy" thing that also happen to look dope on typeface, so hurrah for ingenuity!
Really the original super hero logo (for the original super hero) has endured for over 70 years with rare and never long-lasting deviations for simple reasons: it looks great and it's doubtful any changes would really improve it. It's amazing how modern the Superman logo looks with three-dimensional effects and strong typeface considering the template was established in 1938 and really has only altered in drips and drabs since then (the "S" is a little smoother, etc.). Obviously it's the most recognizable comic book logo in the world and that counts for a lot as well. For me, I've always dug the Superman logo, but it was seeing it blown up to gigantic size in Wednesday Comics that reminded me just how awesome it can be.
X-MEN (1968-2001)
There's no comic book logo I have spent more time drawing and tinkering with since childhood more than the quintessential block letter "3-D" X-Men logo that rode high atop Uncanny X-Men and its sister titles for 33 years. It's not that different from the Superman logo in a lot of ways, so obviously this bad boy came from a winning formula, but the X-Men header has always had more impact to me, probably a lot based on the role the book played in my youth and nostalgia, but also, I believe for tangible reasons that I can at least somewhat put my finger on. First and foremost, the letter "X" is a crowd-pleaser and putting it front and center makes for an impactful logo. Second, the way the other letters slope smaller as they move right is a Superman trick, but with less letters, "X-Men" is able to remain more compact and each character stays larger, so there's extra "oomph." From the Living Monolith grabbing it to Dark Phoenix destroying it (or even adding disco lights, the X-Men logo has been through a lot as the book's creators have gone to lengths and taken risks to make it memorable--just a cool logo.


Mart said...

I love hearing about people's favourite logos - mine include the classic Action and Adventure mastheads, with the border box (friendly and American); the original Wonder Woman cursive logo (unique and feminine yet strong); the first Avengers logo (weirdly random); the Fury of Firestom (it's burning and moving) and the long-running rainbow-shaped Superboy one (it just makes me happy to see it).

Ben Morse said...

All good logos, Mart, thanks for contributing. I almost went with the classic Avengers logo (not the original) for my list.

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Anonymous said...

These are Great logos!
Fun to know why you like them also! Good insight.
Wondering if ya have any "top favorite", single logos?
Ex: Superman hs his "S". Wonder Woman has here "Yellow with thw Red outlined Wings", Etc...
How about Villans only logos? Any ya lik?
I'm talking ALL comicbook Characters from all the companies any time line..

Thanks for your time