Category Archives: Logo Studies

Pulled From My Files #17: PHANTOM STRANGER


Images © DC Comics, Inc.

Here’s the logo for The Phantom Stranger by Gaspar Saladino, created for his appearance in 1969 in SHOWCASE. In 1987 DC Comics decided to put out a new mini-series featuring the character, and asked me to do a new logo, but one very close to this version. They liked it, but wanted it tweaked in a few areas.


Here’s a pencil sketch version of what they asked for. The letters are all closer together, and THE overlaps the P of PHANTOM. The internal open areas of PHANTOM are a little wider than on the original, too. A rough outline contains the entire thing. I might have a photocopy of the final logo, but can’t find it at the moment.


Here’s the printed comic. The creator names were added below the logo and included in the rough outline, probably by Bob LeRose or another production staffer. The pencil sketch is what I pulled from my files, in case you wondered!

Pulled From My Files #16: MUSINGS

MusingsSketchLogo images © Steve Tice and Todd Klein.

In 1993 I was asked to design the logo for a fanzine created by Steve Tice. The content was to lean heavily toward SANDMAN and the work of Neil Gaiman. I loved the name, and came up with these three sketches. The center one was chosen for the final logo. The curlicues were inspired by the art of Frank C. Papé, in his illustrations for “The Cream of the Jest” by James Branch Cabell, a book and author Neil and I both liked. Papé often gave his delightful pen and ink illustrations handsome hand-lettered captions. Here’s an example:


If you don’t know the work of these gentlemen, it’s worth seeking out. I don’t think Papé illustrated a lot of Cabell’s books, but the ones he did are greatly enhanced by his work, which seems largely forgotten now.


Here’s the final logo, one of my favorites. The magazine only lasted a few issues, but they were good ones.

Pulled From My Files #15: Marvel Logos


Images © Marvel Characters, Inc.

My usual method of designing logos is to work out some ideas in small thumbnail quick sketches, then create full-size marker sketches, like the one above. This is the only sketch I saved for the assignment, so I’m not sure how many I did, but it was usually three to begin with, more if needed.


The finished logo is very close to the sketch, with the most obvious difference being the bottom line has thicker letters.


Here’s the printed book, which I never read. Was Mort a ghost or a zombie?


Occasionally I would work out a finished sketch in pencil rather than markers, especially when it required careful measurement like this one. You can see the curved guidelines that kept everything spaced properly horizontally, and the focal point of the perspective lines at the bottom.


The finished logo was made on a piece of Denril plastic vellum laid over the pencils and inked with my Castell TG-1 technical drawing pens. Corners could be made sharp, and any extra ink removed by scratching away the dried ink with an exacto knife.


Most issues had at least part of this very tall logo covered by art. Here’s one that’s nearly complete.


Logo Design: GAMBIT

Gambit 1 cover
covers and logos ©Marvel Publishing, Inc.

A short one this time, as I don’t have much material for it. Gambit, one of the X-Men, was created by Chris Claremont and first appeared in 1990. The Cajun card-throwing mutant proved popular, and in 1992 I was asked to design a new logo for the character who would star in his own mini-series the following year. I only have two remaining sketches, here’s the first one:

Gambit sketch 2

This is the one they went with, minus the ragged outer line and the four aces. The other sketch I still have is here:

Gambit sketch 3

I still like this one, though it doesn’t quite have the pointy impact of sketch 2, which was all the rage at the time. I don’t know what happened to sketch 1 or any other versions. My final, inked by hand on Denril plastic vellum, as was my method in the pre-computer days, ended up very large on the cover of the mini-series, but quite distorted — stretched vertically, and with a drop shadow created digitally, I think. At least, it’s not done the way I probably would have done it. And, on this first cover, printed in gold foil, making it a bit hard to read.

Gambit mini-series 1 cover

The other three covers of the series hid even more of the logo, but it did turn up again on another series in 1997, and on a continuing series in 1999, the first issue of which is at the top of this article. That version has been digitally traced by someone at Marvel, not me, and given a rounded outline, which I think kind of dilutes the whole pointy thing, but at least it’s fairly close to my original design.

Not much more to say about this one except that I had fun doing it.

Pulled From My Files #13: INFINITY INC.


Images © DC Comics, Inc.

When I was on my game designing logos in the 1980s, I would sometimes hit a design I liked on the first sketch. INFINITY INC. of 1983 was one of those. I don’t think I did any other sketches, I just brought this one in and they gave the nod to go ahead. I was trying to work in an infinity symbol, the large one on the left was tried, then covered with white paint, but the marker has since bled through. The small one on the right would have worked okay, but was apparently rejected.


Here’s the finished logo drawn in ink on Denril plastic vellum with technical drawing pens. As in the sketch, I added some light blue pencil to show where the shading should go, as the logo was a little unclear without that. Some of the perspective lines were adjusted, and in fact faked a little to give each vertical stroke at least some shading. The original idea was to have the centers of the letters be open, allowing art to show through.

Infinity Inc. 14 BigInfinity Inc. 14 Big

In practice, this was very hard to read, and only tried a few times, not very successfully.


Instead a solid color usually filled the open letters, as here. Worked fine, and was much easier to read. Colorists often got the shading wrong on the INC, though, as here. The section inside the C and below the diagonal of the N should be the shade color, in this case blue. Not a big deal, and probably noticed only by me.