All images © DC Comics, Inc. except as noted.
While the monthly WORLD’S FINEST comic ended its long run in 1986, the concept of the book, usually as a place to team up Superman and Batman, stayed alive in various mini-series and one-shots. The first was this one, a terrific three-issue series written by Dave Gibbons, art by Steve Rude and Karl Kesel. The cover features all commercial fonts, including the logo. I asked DC’s Curtis King if he worked on it, and he told me he didn’t, but Curtis did identify the logo font as Radiant Condensed. Curtis has a great eye (and memory) for such things, and he was spot on. In the link you’ll see many of the letters from the logo. I wondered if Dave Gibbons was involved, too. Though he was the writer, not the artist, I know he has an interest in logos on his projects. I asked Dave, and he said he had nothing to do with it, but he liked it! Me too. Dave helped promote the move toward using more commercial fonts on comics covers with his designs for WATCHMEN (with Richard Bruning), and while I like hand-drawn logos on comics, sometimes type is just the thing, as here. The solid red letters with black drop-shadow look very good against the painted art. Brian Pearce has pointed out that Dale Crain is listed as the publication designer on the trade paperback collecting these issues, and it’s likely Dale did the type design on the original covers as well. Thanks, Brian.
In 1994 another three-issue mini featured this attractive hand-drawn logo and creator credits by Nancy Ogami. Nancy has been designing logos for DC since the early 1990s, but is perhaps best known there for the current Wonder Woman logo. In the design world at large, she’s perhaps better known for the logo on the “Dracula” film by Francis Ford Coppola. Nancy also designed the NOCTURNALS logo for Dan Brereton, the artist of this series. I wish I could direct you to a website of her work, but she doesn’t seem to have one.
In 1996 I was asked by DC to submit designs for another mini to be called WF3, subtitled WORLD’S FINEST THREE, to star Superboy and Robin. I don’t remember now why the “three,” but I’m sure there was some reason. I had been working on my Mac computer for about a year then, developing my own fonts, and using commercial fonts and effects for logos, and I approached this project that way.
I sent in these three versions, with 1 and 3 using commercial fonts for the WF3, while version 2 was one of my own. The subtitle fonts were also mine. And I was into the metallic effects then, so all three versions use some of those. Robbin Brosterman, who was commissioning the logo, like versions 1 and 2 the best, but wanted to see both head on, no angle, and with the character names above. Here are those versions:
This one uses the font Fansilla for the WF3 (I can’t find it online separately, but it’s available in inexpensive font packages).
And this one is mine. I showed a variety of styles on the characters and subtitle, but in the end Robbin wasn’t happy with them, and asked me to just submit the main logos:
Robbin went with Version A, using Fansilla, and she added some commercial fonts of her choice for the character names and subtitle:
I’m not sure what the font is on the character names, but the subtitle is Washington Bold, the same font I’d choose a few years later for the America’s Best Comics logo. The main logo was intended to be very strong and very wide, and since it has only three letters, that was easy to do without taking up much cover space, even with the added titles. And, while the metallic effects don’t always work for me when I look back at them now, in this case I think it looks pretty good.
“Elseworlds” is the name DC gives to projects about their main superhero characters that show alternate versions of them, like Batman in Victorian times or Superman growing up in mediaeval England. (Extra points if you can name those!) In 1997 someone had the good idea to do one called ELSEWORLD’S FINEST putting Superman and Batman in a 1920s pulp magazine adventure. Designer Alex Jay was asked to submit ideas for the logo, and he’s once again graciously offered to share his notes and sketches from that time. Alex writes:
“DC designer Robbin Brosterman offered this assignment to me. On April 1, 1997 she faxed Kieron Dwyer’s cover sketches, numbered 1 through 8; number 7 had been chosen. He had sketched a larger version of that design.”
“In my conversation with Robbin she wanted the logo to have the look of the 1920s or 1939 World’s Fair so I noted that on the fax. Two days later I received a fax with a tighter rendering of the cover.”
“Robbin instructed me to allow room for the Elseworld logo which would be in the upper right-hand corner instead of below the DC bullet as drawn in the sketch. Another detail that had to be worked out in advance was the arc on “Finest”. I believe Robbin talked to Kieron about the shape of the oval. I was told to use a 50 degree ellipse for the arc.”
“After researching type designs of the 1920’s and 1939 World’s Fair, I did sketches on April 3 and 4, and faxed them on April 7. Robbin chose sketch number 1 with a minor change to the “N” which would be straight instead of curved. Work on the final version began on April 9 and was it delivered soon afterwards.”
Thanks, Alex. I think all his designs are terrific. This last scan shows his final working version with all the guidelines in red, a good example of how one works out a geometric logo on paper. Alex also sent this poster from the 1939 New York World’s Fair he used for reference:
© holder not known.
You can see the influence of the font on the poster in some of the letterforms of Alex’s final design. The poster type is an example of an Art Deco style called Streamline or Moderne, popular in the late 1930s.
Here’s the printed cover, looking very classy. I don’t know that I would have guessed “1920s” for the look of the characters, but it all works anyway.
Next time I’ll wrap up this study, bringing the WORLD’S FINEST franchise up to the present. Other chapters and more logo studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page.