And Then I Read: JUSTICE LEAGUE 46

JL46Image © DC Comics.

The Darkseid War has gone on too long. Darkseid is apparently dead (for now), and his remaining minions are scrabbling for power. Then we have the Anti-Monitor and his minions, the evil version of the Justice League, some of the New Gods, and finally the Justice League itself, with some of their supporting characters like Steve Trevor. Writer Geoff Johns is good at finding character moments, and keeping these balls in the air, but it’s getting tiresome all the same. As for the art, I love the work of Francis Manapul, it’s charming and full of emotion and heart, but I feel it does not serve this kind of epic battle story well. He’s great on the character moments, but the rest feels unfocused and kind of soft. Wish I could like it more, but there you go.

Mildly recommended.

Logo Study: DEADPOOL

DeadpoolKleinSketchImages © Marvel.

In April or early May of 1992 I was contacted by a Marvel Comics editor and asked to design a logo for their character Deadpool, who had first appeared in THE NEW MUTANTS #98 cover dated Feb. 1991. A mini-series featuring the character was being planned. I was doing lots of logo work then for DC, Marvel and other companies, and creating logos by hand, as I had not yet purchased my first Apple computer. My usual procedure was to draw three sketches on white typing paper, first in pencil, then inked with markers. The sketch above is one of those, and the only Deadpool sketch that I can find in my files. It looks like I thought the character’s name was two words, and I stacked them. Marvel liked this sketch, and only requested one change, the addition of a hyphen because the name was one word. You can see it penciled in.

DeadpoolLogoKleinI next traced the sketch carefully in ink on Denril plastic vellum, my procedure at the time. This is a photocopy from my files of the finished logo that I would have Fedexed to the editor. That was the last I heard about Deadpool for a while. I wasn’t seeing many Marvel comics, as the company only sent me copies of ones where I lettered the stories, and I had no nearby comics shop.

dpcc_1nmIn the summer of 1993 the first Deadpool mini-series saw print. The cover of the first issue of DEADPOOL: THE CIRCLE CHASE is above. I’m not sure when I first saw it, probably not for a while. When I did, I was dismayed to see that my logo had been stretched vertically almost to the point of being unreadable, and it looked awful. In order to do this, someone had to trace my hand-drawn logo in Adobe Illustrator to create a vector file, which could then be stretched. The open drop shadow was not included, which is good. That would have made it even harder to read. A much better solution would have been to ask me to create a very tall version of the logo, but no one did. I would have made it look less distorted, at least. It’s possible that there was no time for that.

Deadpool1_1994A second mini-series in 1994 used my complete logo — still vertically stretched, but not as much. I don’t know that I ever saw it. In 1997 the character gained a regular series, and I did see issues of that occasionally. I must have been unhappy enough with the uses of my logo that I essentially forgot I had designed it, though. I have to admit that I’ve never to this day read any Deadpool stories.

DeadpoolTelescopedThe character grew in popularity, developing a fan following for his unlikely  combination of deadly violence and whacky humor (so I hear), and continues to star in his own regular series, mini-series and one-shots to the present day. Many variations of his original logo were developed. The telescoped version above was seen quite a bit. It uses the letter forms from my design as a starting point.

Deadpool27FCThere were also many clever parody covers like the one above mimicking DETECTIVE COMICS #27, the first appearance of Batman. Some of those also used my logo letter forms, some did not.

Deadpool34Nov2014Some covers have used my logo almost exactly as I created it. The most recent one I see in a quick search is this cover dated Nov. 2014.

DeadpoolMovieLogoHere’s the official movie logo for the about-to-open film. When I saw it, I felt there was something familiar about the letter forms, but I had to look through my files to confirm I had designed them. That’s when I found the original sketch and logo seen above. There are minor differences: some odd angles in the A and L, and the treatment is very Hollywood, but clearly the movie logo is based on my original design, though the movie logo designer probably didn’t know it. Hey, even I wasn’t sure! In 2014 I wrote a blog post about a NEW TREND IN MARVEL MOVIE LOGOS, where they seem to be bucking the usual bland Hollywood designs and going to the comics for inspiration. In that article you can see their use of my Doctor Strange comics logo as part of the promotion for the upcoming film, though if it will actually become the official movie logo is unclear. At least with Deadpool there’s no doubt that I have finally designed a movie logo — sort of!

When I wrote about this on Facebook yesterday, some friends suggested I was due financial compensation, or at least a credit line in the film. That would be nice, but it’s very unlikely. The contracts for logo design in comics state that the company owns all rights in exchange for a generous one-time payment. I knew that then, and have no problem with it. As far as I know, logo designers have never been given any kind of royalties, incentives or profit sharing for other uses. In 1992 I was paid $500 for the logo design, at a time when my story page lettering rate was about $25 per page, so it seemed like a good deal to me, and still does. As for credit, no one at the comics companies keeps track of who designed their logos. Much of that information is only in the hands of the logo designers, or is lost forever. That’s partly what my Logo Studies are about, as well as my “Logo of the Day” feature on Facebook. You can find my logo studies on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog, if you’d like to read more. Meanwhile, I have to say I’m modestly pleased that my design, in essence, is on the movie logo, even if very few people will ever know it. Now, you’re one of them.

And Then I Read: SUPERMAN 47

Sup47Image © DC Comics.

Superman finally has it out with Hordr_Root, a computer villain with a far less interesting name than Brainiac, for instance. Hordr certainly is odd and unusual, but I don’t find him very menacing. When forced to stand and fight, he’s not that impressive. The best thing about this issue is the use of Jimmy Olsen as Superman’s friend, in more ways than one. That made it work for me. On the negative side, the great diversity in art styles by different artists again pulled me out of the story near the end.

Mildly recommended.

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 30

AC30Image © Juke Box Productions.

The conclusion of a two-part story of an alien invasion from the viewpoint of a young alien boy, with the invaders being Astro City’s super team, The First Family. When Zozat, the alien boy, finds one of the dreaded enemy, the human boy Karl, injured and on the ground near his home, the two of them find they have more in common than either of them thought. And Zozat has to reevaluate much of what he’s always been taught. Writer Kurt Busiek brings insight and humanity to a story that resonates in today’s world when so many are fearful of those who are different, or might attack them and their way of life. Too bad most of the people who might learn from the story probably won’t ever see it, but perhaps a few will.


And Then I Read: JACKED 2

Jacked2Image © Eric Kripke and Glenn Fabry

Josh’s life has been revitalized by a nootropic drug he ordered online. “Jacked” is the brand name, and it seems to have given him youthful vigor, enhanced perception, and even surprising strength. We know there’s going to be a price to pay for all this, Josh does too, but he’s feeling so good, he can’t stay away from the pills. His family are giving him new respect, and he’s doing things for them he thought were no longer possible.

“Jacked” has not necessarily made Josh wiser, though. He has a thuggish neighbor with an annoying dog (see the cover), and while common sense would say stay away, Josh gets involved when the neighbor is beating his own wife. The repercussions of the encounter are already looking pretty dangerous for Josh.

I love the art, the writing is fine, and this book has been a nice surprise for me: not something I would probably have tried if it weren’t for the people involved, not really my kind of story, but I’m enjoying it a lot.