Category Archives: Logo Studies

Pulled From My Files #42: WEB OF SPIDER-MAN

WebSpiderman1

Images © Marvel.

Some time in 1984 I was contacted by Marvel editor Eric Fein and asked to submit logo design sketches for a new title, WEB OF SPIDER-MAN. This is the first of four sketches I did using markers on typing paper. It uses the webbing from a decades-old AMAZING SPIDER-MAN logo and a similar shape, but with different letter forms.

WebSpiderman2

Sketch 2 is in straight lines with another style. This would have taken the least amount of space on the cover of the sketches I did.

WebSpiderman3

Sketch 3 is very tall and would have taken up a lot of cover space. The style is based on the pointy Spider-Man logo revision I had recently done, which was in turn based on my Sabretooth logo for Marvel. This one is hard to read and the least successful, I think.

WebSpiderman4Sketch 4 is another straight-line design that’s also pretty tall. Not so easy to read, but I think it would have been easier in color. I like this version of WEB OF the best, and probably should have done the whole sketch like that.

WebSpidermanWhen the first issue came out it featured a logo by someone else, probably Jim Novak. I was not asked to do more work beyond my four sketches, and was probably paid a kill fee, usually about a third of a finished logo rate. So it goes sometimes.

Pulled From My Files #40: 2099 A.D.

2099AD_General.Images © Marvel.

Some time in 1994 I was contacted by editor Joey Cavalieri, then at Marvel editing the growing 2099 line of possible futures for Marvel characters. I had worked with Joey at DC Comics, so knew him well. Joey asked me to design a new version of the 2099 logo with the addition of A.D. (After Doom) for a crossover event he was planning. This was the general version to be used wherever it would work. All these logos were drawn by hand, and I made a second version “B” of each with the area around 2099 filled black. Version “A” left it open for color. I based my design on the existing logos, which I believe were all designed by Ken Lopez (not sure about all of them). My idea was for A.D. to suggest the metal plates on Doctor Doom’s mask. I gave it bevels for added depth. Joey was happy with this idea, and asked me to also do a few specific versions to better fit existing logos.

2099AD_Spiderman.This one was curved to match the SPIDER-MAN 2099 logo. The event ran for about 6 issues I think, here’s one:

SpiderMan2099_38_12-95The the 2099 A.D. didn’t really mesh that well with the logo, but at least it was curved to fit.

2099AD_XMenThis version went with X-MEN 2099, adding telescoping…

2099AD_Hulk…and this one with HULK 2099, a different perspective version and rough outline. I think that’s all the versions I did. It’s all I find in my files, at least. In 1995 I designed two cover logos for Joey using this concept: 2099 A.D. GENESIS and 2099 A.D. APOCALYPSE. Those were done on computer rather than hand-drawn.

Alex Jay on Joe Shuster and the Superman Logo

1934 Buck Rogers Disintegrator Pistol Replica 02Image from the box cover for a 1934 Buck Rogers toy gun.

Alex Jay has just posted a great article ON HIS BLOG about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s high school art and theater work, as well as their early science fiction fanzine, and also examines many possible influences on Shuster’s evolving designs for the Superman logo, example above. Alex’s examples of telescoped lettering reinforce the idea that it was a popular and much-used style at the time, not something that sprang from the mind of Shuster alone, though the Superman logo is where it’s best known today. Well worth a read!

Pulled From My Files #39: BLACK CONDOR LOGO

BlackCondor1

Images © DC Comics.

I have very little on this logo in my files, just two marker sketches. I like the Condor silhouette on this one, but the R looks too much like a B. That could have been fixed, but Curtis King and the editor must not have liked this direction for the revamp of the 1940s character in 1992.

BlackCondor2There must have been more sketches, but this is the other one I have. the triangle in the background is part of the character’s chest symbol. I don’t know where the idea for the rest came from.

Black_Condor_1Nor do I have a copy of the finished logo, but here it is on the first issue, and it looks like an exact tracing of the second logo sketch. Not one of my best efforts, but not bad.

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.