Logo Study: CAPTAIN AMERICA Part 5 (final)

cafalc1_2004

All images © Marvel Characters, Inc.

In 2004 Captain America rejoined his former partner, The Falcon, in this new mini-series. Cap’s logo is the one I created using the font Serpentine, in one line, with an outline and a drop-shadow. Falcon’s logo is also derived from a font, though I don’t know which one, with AND THE in bold sans-serif type all handled in a similar way. As in the past, the two character logos don’t relate to each other well, and Falcon’s logo doesn’t seem particularly appropriate for him. The best thing about this version is that the entire logo area is compact and not very tall, allowing more room for cover art.

ca21_2004

The other Captain America title then running, under the Marvel Knights imprint, changed logos with issue 21, going back once more to the popular logo from the 1960s. One new thing, not really part of the logo, but part of the trade dress (all the type and logos at the top) is a nifty little banner symbol with Cap’s shield surrounded by four stars. I always felt Cap’s shield would make a good logo element for him if used right. The one I tried in 1995 didn’t work well, but this one might have. This title would end in 2005 to make way for a new relaunch.

ca1_2005

CAPTAIN AMERICA restarted from issue 1 once more in 2005, and for the logo they went all the way back to the first Joe Simon one from 1940, though using the redrawn version from more recent times. Looks good still to me, and gives a nice bit of continuity to the character and the logo.

ca14_2006

Issue 14 went even more retro, with the top half of the cover recreating (or imitating) an issue from the 1940s Golden Age run of the comic, complete with the second Joe Simon logo. I wonder how many contemporary readers recognized these logos as those from the original Captain America comic?

ca22_2006

The title was interrupted by a Marvel company-wide event in 2006, substituting this type treatment using the font Trajan for the usual logos. And at the conclusion of the event something earth-shaking happened: Steve Rogers, Captain America since 1940, was shot and killed.

ca25_2007

The series continued in 2007 with Bucky, Cap’s original sidekick, himself somehow resurrected from the dead (we’re talking about comics here, let’s remember, where no good character dies for long), takes on the role of Captain America. The logo was again the original Simon one from 1940.

ca34

Bucky’s Captain America got a new costume (designed by Alex Ross) with issue 34, and the logo again returned to the second Joe Simon logo from the 1940s. This particular version has an ugly red inline inside the letters, making all the angles look weak and rounded, and reducing the interior space in a way I don’t care for…

ca36_2008

…but that was only used once. The rest of the issues of this run utilized the #2 Simon logo as originally created. I think the contrast of the old logo with cover art showing the new, ultra-shiny costume and a photo-realistic approach is interesting. And it still works!

ca600_2009

Another interesting nod to the title’s history happened in 2009 when the issue following #50 was numbered 600. Apparently if you added up all the issues from regular Captain America series over the decades, this issue would be the 600th, so Marvel decided to celebrate that by picking up the old numbering there. This cover shows the new Cap in front of the old one, a nice touch.

cawhite1_2005

One other Cap mini-series from 2005 is worth comment here. The cover design and logo are by Comicraft’s JG Roshell, who tells me he drew the logo in Adobe Illustrator, while the supporting type is from the fonts GoldenGateGothic and MotelGothic from the FontFont type foundry. He says, “The logo is not a font — at least, not yet!” The art by Tim Sale and the entire cover treatment has a nice 1940’s war poster look, and it’s great (and so rare) when a designer or a designer/artist team is allowed to use a single theme or approach on everything. Nicely done, JG and Tim!

And that’s where I expected to end this logo study until just the other day when, in a Marvel press release, I saw this:

captainamericareborn_01_cassadaycover

A new series will be out soon, CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN, heralding the return of Steve Rogers. (Did any longtime reader ever doubt it would happen? Come on, true believers!) The new logo is fresh and artfully designed, and I thought I detected the work of logo designer Rian Hughes. I contacted him, and sure enough, it’s his work.  Rian was kind enough to share some of his design development process with us, beginning with these versions of the logo letters:

rhcareborn01

This first one begins with letterforms very similar to the first Joe Simon logo from 1940, with the addition of well-placed stars. The larger A’s are also a nice touch.

rhcareborn02

Here the idea of stencilled letters emerges.

rhcareborn03

At this point REBORN takes the lead, with CAPTAIN AMERICA on one line. The icon above, combining a star and the wings from Cap’s headmask add a lot of interest.

rhcareborn04

The stencil idea is reintroduced in a different way, and the star now has an A that bisects it in stencil-fashion, too. The wing shapes are stronger and more winglike.

rhcareborn05

In this version the entire logo scheme is starting to come together, though in this layout it takes up a lot more space than in the final. Rian says,

“The Cap logo itself is an update of what has become the “classic” Cap logo design. It’s like Superman – both seem to have evolved one iconic logo. Batman, on the other hand, has a wide range.

The stencil effect and dripping paint reflect the fact that Cap is a military project – so we have military style stencilling, the kind you might see on a top secret crate or piece of hardware. The dripping paint of course also resembles blood. Above the type, the A is combined with the stylised wings – two of Cap’s signature costume elements – into an icon.”

rhcarebornlayout1

With the shield now behind the logo, and with the white star from it the one in the icon, Rian shows the layout he had in mind for the entire series. Rian says:

“I wanted to have a linking overall layout for this big event series rather than simply a logo. The idea was to have a banner across the top of each, on which would sit the logo, as above. This was the first mock up, which was forwarded to the varous artists so they could see what the plan was.”

rhcarebornlayout2

“When the art started to come in, however, I needed to adjust the size of the logo to accommodate the arms and heads, etc that were coming up over the banner, so the logo began to shrink…”

rhcarebornlayout3

“…and the last art in, Joe Q’s beautiful illustration, unfortunately left very little room at all!. So, working back from Joe’s art which dictated I use a smaller logo, I then attempted to match this size and position on all the other issues with varying degrees of success. Consistency is key across an event like this. Good design applies a rigorous grid to its layout, not only on an issue, but from issue to issue across a related series. Bad design will just arbitarily place logos, type etc without any underlying consistency and logic.

Trying to apply some kind of retroactive logic here, the logo was positioned top right. Then, of course, when the art came in for the second issue and its variants it was necessary to move the logo again, across to top left! Hopefully it looks intended. It still seems to fit the overall design, so I don’t think it looks too inconsistent. If those artists could just stick to the original plan, haha!”

Thanks, Rian. Now, here are my thoughts on the final design.

carebornlogo

For the title letters, Rian has used a somewhat military stencil-style font that he created, based on the first Joe Simon logo, in white here, with a red drop shadow that has lots of texture and dripping blood added. It’s a better use of that stuff as a drop-shadow rather than on the main letters — it adds detail, texture and interest without interfering with readability. The cool symbol above starts with the white star from Cap’s shield, adds a stylized A with the crossbar breaking the star into two sections, continuing the stencilling theme, and stylized wings, which to me represent both the wings on Cap’s headmask and perhaps Cap’s military and wartime connections, as a winged star has long been a symbol of the U.S. Airforce. (Don’t think that was intended by anyone involved with the character, but I see a connection.) Behind is the rest of the shield, highly distressed and spattered, adding lots of texture and layers to the entire logo treatment. This is cutting edge design, combining easily-read letterforms and strong symbolism with the kind of complex graphics that many new logos employ, and making it all work beautifully. And I knew there had to be a way to get Cap’s shield into the logo. Works great here, and doubt I it will ever be mistaken for part of the cover art. Well done indeed, Rian!

That brings us not only up to date but a bit into the future! Hope you’ve enjoyed this logo study, I’ll be back with more when I can find the time.

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

9 thoughts on “Logo Study: CAPTAIN AMERICA Part 5 (final)

  1. Rick

    thanks for the great logo study! Cap has always been a favorite of mine. I started reading in the mid-70s, so I’m kind of partial to the arched red white and blue logo. But that’s just nostalgia, I agree that the original Joe Simon logo from issue one is the most iconic and am glad that it’s being used again. Hopefully when Steve Rogers is back in the role the logo will revert from Joe’s #2 logo back to the original.

  2. Kris Johnson

    I always enjoy your logo studies, but I especially enjoyed this one because Cap is my favorite Marvel character. I don’t often buy individual issues anymore, but one of your logos graced many CAPTAIN AMERICA covers back when I was actively collecting and remains—to me, at least—just as iconic and representative of the character as Joe Simon’s original design. Thank you.

  3. Dru Tan

    Thanks for taking the time to write these articles. I am not very artistic and I don’t know much about fonts, but I really find all of your logo studies to be very informative. It’s like magic being explained to me, and I feel smarter just for reading everything you wrote!

  4. Mark

    Nice study and great article. I couldn’t help but thinking however that the last few look quite ‘Soviet / Eastern Bloc’ in style. A deliberate ‘irony’ or completely accidental?

    Thoughts?

  5. Moored

    I have read a whole lot of your logo studies, and I am surprised every time how much time and thought goes into each logo, and even how many more of them are never even used. Makes me think that the absence of any historical notes on the logos of yesteryears points to the fact that there are many designers and designs that are lost, completely.

    Thanks, as always for a great read.

  6. Gerard Syms

    Whoa! Great articles, Mr. Klein! I stumbled across your blog by chance just 3 or 4 days ago – following the evolution of the Batman logo – and Boom! What a wealth of knowledge and experience I’ve been privy to! I’ve always loved the art in comics, but now, as a ‘student’ of design in general, I really appreciate what you’re sharing. Earlier this year I happened upon the Reborn art at Marvel.com. At first glance I could tell that some serious, deliberate thought went into it and here I can see it unfold before me! Brilliant design work by Mr. Hughes! This is identity or branding work (which I’m very much interested in) at its best! Keep up the great job and thanks again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *