Category Archives: Logo Studies

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.

A Milestone

TriumphKlein

Image © DC Comics.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, I have a series of posts and photo albums there called “Logo of the Day.” Above is the one I posted today, with this comment:

Logo of the Day #1310: TRIUMPH designed by Todd Klein for the first issue dated June 1995. Photocopy of original logo from my files, image © DC Comics. I consider it a minor triumph to have reached age 65 today while still doing the work in comics I enjoy!

It does seem odd to me that I’ve managed to find a career in comics, or even in art at all, when that seemed so unlikely to me when I was growing up. It wasn’t even on my radar, to be honest. As a kid I loved to read, draw, play music, and lots of other things. If I looked ahead to a career back then, I thought I might possibly become a writer, but couldn’t foresee that as a secure living. In grade school, a vocational test decided I should become a forest ranger. I thought that sounded okay, I loved the outdoors. In grade school I did well in math and science, but less well in high school with more competition. I didn’t head in the Art direction until senior year when I finally realized art class was my favorite, and had been all four years. I went to art school for two years, then ran out of money and had to get a mundane job to support myself. I worked at several paperwork jobs, and at one was able to use some of my art training to design air conditioner user manuals.

In 1977, on a whim, I put together an art portfolio and applied for jobs at Marvel and DC. The Marvel job was for Art Director in the magazine division, and I wasn’t close to being qualified for it. At DC, my portfolio was looked at by Vince Colletta, who told me I didn’t have the skills to draw comics, but he must have seen something in those air conditioner manual paste-ups. He introduced me to the Production Manager, Jack Adler. Jack liked my portfolio, and he needed someone to fill in for a vacationing production staffer for two weeks. I was thrilled to accept! I took those two weeks as vacation from my current job, and had a wonderful time working at DC with people like John Workman, Bob LeRose and Bob Rozakis. At the end of the two weeks, the vacationing employee gave notice, he’d taken another job, so I was offered the position. I took it, and have been in comics ever since.

And here I am at 65, and still doing it! What a strange and wonderful thing.

Logo Study: DC Comics Cover Logos 1939-1949 Part 3

1947_ADateWithJudyAll images © DC Comics

In 1947 National Comics started a new licensed title that was a teen humor book based on a popular radio show. The logo style definitely says “humor,” and the word JUDY is large and well-designed. A DATE WITH is not so good, having uneven shapes and strokes, but maybe that was intentional, to make it more fun and jazzy. Continue reading

Logo Study: DC Comics Cover Logos 1939-1949 Part 2

1941_AllFlashQuarterly_AAAll images © DC Comics.

FLASH COMICS had been a success for All-American Comics, one of two sister companies under the DC symbol along with National Comics, and in 1941 they began a new title for the character. Officially ALL-FLASH, the QUARTERLY was short-lived as the title soon became more frequent. This is one of my favorite logos from the All-American roster. ALL-FLASH is beautifully rendered in a dynamic brush style that looks appealing and fresh, though it was probably not rendered in single brush strokes as it appears. QUARTERLY is equally masterful square-ended letters, and the entire logo is in “show-card” style, meaning the kind of hand-lettering then very common in many places, from movie-theater lobbies to department stores to advertising in magazines. I have no idea who designed it, it looks unlike any other logos from the company, but it’s tempting to think it could have been designed by veteran letterer/designer Ira Schnapp, who had done plenty of show-card lettering in the past. We have no way of knowing if Ira worked on any All-American logos, but he could have. The logo was slightly redrawn a few times for later issues, but always followed this model closely. Continue reading