Logo Study: AQUAMAN Part 3

aquaman1_1986

All images © DC Comics, Inc.

After lacking a solo book for eight years, a revamped AQUAMAN miniseries appeared in 1986, courtesy of writer Neal Pozner and and penciller Craig Hamilton. Neal was a DC staff designer at the time, working on cover design, and he created this new logo for his book. I was also on staff at the time, and doing a lot of logos, but Neal understandably wanted to do this one himself, and labored long and hard on it, using DC production staffer Al Aiola as his “hands” to make many small variations and changes until he had what he wanted. I like it a great deal. The slightly serif letterforms are similar to the ancient ones created in Roman times and called Trajan because the best examples appear on Trajan’s Column in Rome, but with modified curved cross strokes on the A’s that add an appropriately wave-like element. All the letters are the same height except the Q, which has wider strokes in the circle, and a magnificent long swash below ending in a realistic wave that also serves as the cross-stroke for the final A. The entire logo except for the end of the wave has a heavy outline that helps give it weight and impact. A fine job, both classic and modern, and a good complement to the new look for Aquaman himself.

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A tiny version of that new Aquaman was created to fit into the space above the Q swash, but didn’t appear on the covers of the mini-series, only on some inside splash pages, and I think some house ads for the book. I imagine it was drawn by Craig Hamilton.

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While I liked the new look, I think it met with resistance by long-time fans. The mini-series does not seem to have been successful enough to encourage DC to relaunch a solo Aquaman title, either. In 1988 the new logo appeared one final time on this Special, where Aquaman seems to be returning to his original costume.

aquamanspecial1_1989

In 1989 DC tried another AQUAMAN SPECIAL with another new logo. This one was designed by DC Production Department staffer Steven Bové, who writes:

“As you may remember I was an Aquaman nut and even was allowed to do the Aquaman piece (in the blue wave suit!) for an issue of Who’s Who. A few years later I got the opportunity to design a logo. I was pushing at that point for larger logos that had presence and strong graphics. My complaint at the time was that logos were not very bold on the DC covers. The problem with Aquaman as a logo was that the only organic letter in the bunch was the Q. That issue was handled well in the 60s version. I eventually decided to push the regal and majestic angle of Aquaman as The King of the Seven Seas, a concept that often seemed to be forgotten at times. Design-wise, strong peaks and a little flourish on the Q. I do remember that I was unhappy with it in the end only because it didn’t mesh with the new interpretation of the character.  I remember Keith Wilson and Mark Waid were involved in the logo design as well. We all liked it on the ‘Legend of Aquaman’ cover but on the mini-series it was not so great. My logo did end up on a postage stamp though.”

I agree this logo looks great on the cover above. It puts the emphasis back on the initial A. The double curve, top and bottom, also makes the final N larger for balance. The form of the Q is a legitimate alternate one used in some older fonts, and its two wave-like components add that watery tie-in to the character well. The serif letterforms are a good touch, with the larger serif on the first A having almost a trident-point look. In all, very effective.

aquaman1_1989

Steve’s logo was also used on a new AQUAMAN mini-series in 1989. It still looks good, but without the topline “THE LEGEND OF”, there’s a large void above the logo that seems to need something in it. The overall shape of the logo also made it hard to fit into the standard DC cover format of the time, too, without cropping off the extended points of the A and N. Despite that, I think it’s a successful logo, dynamic, readable and effective.

In 1991 a new monthly Aquaman series was being planned, and DC staff designer Curtis King asked me to submit some logo ideas. The final result turned out to be more of a collaboration between the two of us than usual.

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Here are the three initial hand-drawn sketches I turned in. All three used curved, wave-like shapes, with the first one closest to what had gone before, but with very thick open letters. each stroke ending in a wave-point, and no cross-strokes on the A’s. The second used thinner letterforms and emphasized wavy cross-strokes on the A’s and Q. The third used thicker, more rectangular letterforms in a double curve.

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Curtis liked the first one best, but thought it needed further work. He drew up this modified version and showed it to the editor…who didn’t like it, and suggested something closer to the original Ira Schnapp logo from the first AQUAMAN solo series:

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Curtis then combined his previous idea with that logo for this version:

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And sent both back to me as suggestions for another try. Here’s what I came up with:

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The bottoms of the letters are quite close to the Schnapp logo, except for the Q. I avoided the circular openings, though, and at the tops of the letters used the kind of wave forms Curtis had suggested. An open drop shadow helped pull it together, gave room for a second color, and improved the pop off the cover.

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That one met with everyone’s approval, and I inked up the final version.

aquaman1_1991

Here it is on the first cover. It’s not one of my best efforts, and the curved shape again didn’t always work well with the rest of the cover lettering, as here, but it looked okay, I think. This relaunch of a monthly Aquaman title only lasted about a year, though.

Next time we’ll continue with a new monthly Aquaman series.

More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.

3 thoughts on “Logo Study: AQUAMAN Part 3

  1. Jim Kosmicki

    I can remember when that Pozner/Hamilton mini-series came out. I loved the new logo and the new costume. It made so much sense, especially as camouflage. I could see the green in the original costume but never quite got how Orange was sea-like. (it is rather unique though, as there are few heroes with orange in their costume — maybe that’s why people remember it so distinctly).

    The second on-going series only lasted a year or so, and there’s several sites around the internet (including Comic Book Legends revealed, i think) that talk about why it only lasted 13 issues or so, but it was a good series. I was working in a comic shop at the time, and there was NO interest in this series when it began, but sales actually increased each issue for the first 7 months or so. People liked that version of the character. They liked the Peter David version that came later even better, but it always bothers me when people characterize that Maclaughlin written series as a total failure based just on the length of its run. This series did a lot to bring the character into people’s minds as a viable character and set the stage for the better known Peter David run.

  2. Said Atala

    i liked your third pitch the best (“klein 3”, the double curve one)

    i really enjoy these logo studies. how about a lobo logo study? i wouldn’t take more than one post 😉

  3. Daniel Preece

    As I recall, originally Peter David was just going to take over the title. It was DC that made a big deal out of David’s arrival and did a limited series and a relaunch. Point being, had the numbering continued I don’t believe people would talk down the MacLaughlin run so much.

    I actually like the Maclaughlin run better. I dropped the David series with issue #2. Couldn’t accept a “pirate” Aquaman (or “Arrrr-quaman” as I call it).

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