The Batman logo created by Kez Wilson from the font Belwe Bold, in this version with a large B, slanted, open for color and with a slim drop shadow, continued on the cover for quite a while, sometimes with the bat shape first seen on issue 426 (see part 3), more often alone, as in the cover above, issue 430. Dennis O’Neil, the editor at the time, seemed to be fond of these type-heavy designs, and I think this was an early example of the general trend in comics logos and covers to move away from the hand-drawn logo look of the past toward a more mainstream magazine style. Part of the push toward legitimizing comics as entertainment for adults as well as children, no doubt. I can certainly understand the impulse, but on the other hand, I feel all-type designs like this are missing out on part of what makes comics appealing. There’s room for lots of different approaches and opinions about comics cover design, of course. Sometimes this logo was used in combination with more graphic story arc titles that sort of bridged the two styles, like this one on Batman 452:
I believe Curtis King, new DC staffer in charge of cover design, put this one together. It’s certainly an interesting combination of styles and angles, and I really like the “Dark City” lettering.
For issue 466 a new bat shape was introduced, this one similar to Batman’s chest symbol, with each side of the shape curved to fit into an oval. I think Curtis did this one as well, and I like it. It’s more compact than the old bat wings, and the tie-in to the chest symbol mirrors the same tie-in the original bat shape had to the original chest symbol. It’s sometimes pointed out that this particular chest symbol is a rather foolish one for a character like Batman, though…it’s a sort of obvious target for a gunman, especially with the yellow oval around it. Somehow the character managed to survive anyway.
This symbol could even work as a thin outline, as shown here, allowing more of the cover art to show, but still carrying the logo concept.
For issue 500, Curtis King commissioned a new Batman title from designer Alex Jay. Curtis told me that he and others had tired of the slab-serif logo, and wanted something more pointed. Alex has cleverly rethought the original Batman logo from the 1940s, relettered by Ira Schnapp in the 1960s, as seen in part 2 of this series. It’s hard to view well on this particular cover, so lets look at issue 503.
Alex took the art deco letterforms of Schnapp, added very small pointed serifs, and gave the crossbars on each A a slight tilt. He also spaced the letters tightly together, made all the inner corners sharply pointed, and gave the whole thing a nice drop-shadow (here in red). I think this is quite effective, and works particularly well with the Kelley Jones cover art of the time. I prefer it with the bat shape behind it, but here that would have been in the way of the Batman figure in the art.
For issue 515 a new bat shape was introduced, still in the style of Batman’s chest symbol, but this one has a much smaller “body” with taller head and points. Unfortunately this picture (and maybe the printed cover) cut off the ears and upper points, so let’s look at issue 519, where the shape is complete:
As you can see, the shape still works fine as a thin outline, and actually fits this lettering better than the old one, so it’s a nice combination that I think is very effective. But, as usual, it didn’t last long. A new influence from the Batman films was about to emerge.
While the film “Batman Forever” garnered much laughter and distain from comics fans, it did have some nice graphics. An entire font was designed in the style shown here, and there was also a new take on the Batman symbol. These graphics were available to DC, and someone decided they should go on the Batman covers.
Curtis King put together this beveled version of the movie bat chest symbol with the new Batman movie logo. I actually like this quite a bit. The font isn’t terribly new and original, but it does have appeal. I like the way it pushes the word out horizontally, and the points on the right side of the B are interesting. The bat symbol also stretches out horizontally to match the type. One advantage of this design is that it leaves more room for the cover art, always a good thing, yet is still quite readable. And the bevelling on the symbol gives it some texture missing in these bat symbols for a while.
We’re coming into the home stretch. Part 5 will bring us up to the present, and then I’ll discuss a few Batman spinoff titles as well.
More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.