All images © Marvel Characters, Inc.
There’s an odd thing about working for Marvel Comics these days. I usually don’t get to see what I’ve done in print. Marvel stopped sending complimentary copies of their entire line quite a few years ago now, and creator copies, usually one or two, are supposed to be sent by the editors, but a lot of times they forget, or don’t get around to it, or don’t have enough for everyone. I don’t mind this, really, except when I need to refer to something I’ve done, then it would be handy to have a printed copy. Logos I’ve designed for Marvel are seen in print by me even less. Creator copies don’t go out for logos, and the Diamond Previews catalog almost never has covers with logos on them. The nearest comics shop is about 45 minutes away, and I have no real reason to go there anyway, so many times I don’t see much of Marvel’s printed output, except once a year in San Diego, whatever happens to be out at that time. So, it was with some surprise that I first saw the above cover logo recently. I’d designed it, but had no idea it was on the covers.
In 2007 I was contacted by Marvel about designing a logo for a new book to be called “Son of Hulk,” with the emphasis on Hulk. I was happy to take the assignment. The editor suggested I use the “rock blocks” logo from the 1990s as a starting point for at least one design, and I thought that was a good idea, as I always liked that the best of all past Hulk logos.
I began with a marker rendering of that logo, not an exact replica, but pretty close for the word HULK, then SON OF in the same style, but smaller, of course. I wanted to keep it as bulky as possible, which meant the openings in the Os would be pretty small, but I thought it still worked.
The addition of black telescoping, which is really the rest of the original logo filled in solid black, gave the design more weight, an improvement.
For my second design suggestion I recycled an old Hulk logo sketch I’d done many years earlier, one that had been rejected then, but I thought I’d give it another try. I doubted anyone now at Marvel would have seen it anyway. I had the HULK, just needed to add SON OF in the same style above. One problem with it is the staggered letters created some odd gaps between the two lines, so I just filled them in black. Still looks a bit odd, though.
ADDED: Kurt Busiek has pointed out that this logo WAS used on the 1998 series THE RAMPAGING HULK, which ran for six issues, cover above. Blame my faulty memory, and thanks, Kurt! And here I was saying no one at Marvel would have seen it. Is my face red!
My third marker sketch idea was loosely suggested by another old Hulk logo, though I added a rough, notched look to the letters and gave them a shallower telescoped drop shadow. For variety I added SON OF in two lines at the left side instead of above. This would leave more room for cover art. One slight oddity is that, when I did the drop shadow, I found it looked better with straight edges rather than rough ones, helping to give the logo a more finished feel.
Those three ideas were sent in, and a while later they asked for one more sketch, one with a medieval or barbarian feel, along the lines of Conan. I did this fourth version completely on the computer, starting with a font of my own, adding notches and gray effects to HULK, and putting SON OF in a notched banner.
More time passed, and I was told that they now wanted the character’s name, SKAAR, in the logo. I gave them this version of my previous sketch with that addition, but following this layout made the name too big, I think, and they didn’t go for it.
Adding the name to this sketch actually worked much better. It still allowed HULK to be strongest (and isn’t he always?), and the design was still not too terribly tall, leaving some room for cover art, though not as much as before. Marvel liked this, and the editor said he’d get back to me. More time passed, and I heard nothing, though I did get paid, so I was fine with that. When they never asked for a final finished version, I thought they might have just gone on to some other designer and didn’t need mine anymore.
Well, as you can see, they simply used my scanned marker sketch on the book. And, actually, I think it looks fine. There’s a certain energy in it that might well have been lost if I redid it in ink. Marvel was happy, I got paid, everyone wins. Would have been nice to have heard what they decided to do from the editor, but now I know, and so do you.