Images © Marvel Characters, Inc.
In 1964 Marvel launched a new title and character, Daredevil, created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett with character design involvement by Jack Kirby. In the Daredevil Wikipedia entry, Joe Quesada is quoted on the origin of the cover:
When Everett turned in his first-issue pencils extremely late, Marvel production manager Sol Brodsky and Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko inked a large variety of different backgrounds, a “lot of backgrounds and secondary figures on the fly and cobbled the cover and the splash page together from Kirby’s original concept drawing.”
As I’ve said in other Marvel logo studies, the original cover logos from this period were designed by production manager Sol Brodsky and finished or inked by letterer Artie Simek. As far as I’ve found out, no one knows exactly who did what, but the credit can be given to those two for this logo, and in Quesada’s statement above, Brodsky’s involvement in the cobbling together of the entire cover is clear. Certainly the lettering on the tagline THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR looks like other Simek story title lettering, and I think it’s a safe guess that he lettered all the words on the cover, and there are plenty of them!
ADDED: Marvel maven Mark Evanier writes:
I think you’re wrong about the cover to #1. Simek obviously executed the logo and the “MAN WITHOUT FEAR” line but the rest of the lettering is Sam Rosen. Also of interest is that Simek lettered the first page of the story, including the lettering credit for Rosen, who did the rest of the issue.
Thanks, Mark, I bow to your better eye on the styles of the two letterers. Obviously they worked together closely, probably helping each other on staff with tight deadlines.
The word DAREDEVIL is standard open block lettering slanted to the right, and with a wide curve to the top edge, leaving room for HERE COMES… while still keeping the entire logo in the traditional rectangular shape of most cover logos of the time. This curve results in the oddest thing about it: the first letter is the smallest, the opposite of many comics logos. An open, telescoping drop shadow is added with the perspective going down and to the left. This is also a bit odd, since having it go down and to the right would have reinforced the impression of left to right movement given by the slant and the small speed lines (similar to those on DC Comic’s FLASH logo). It reads fine, though, and I don’t find those oddities detract from the overall effect at all. HERE COMES is in the same style as DAREDEVIL, while THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR has no slant, and letterforms that are squat and wider at the top generally, a technique that looks back to the 1950s to my eye. One small oddity is the square center opening in the A’s, probably to keep them from filling in with color, as the usual triangles might have. There’s nothing particularly distinctive about the logo, but it does echo the styles of other Marvel logos well enough to draw in readers, as I’m sure the images of Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four were also intended to do. It’s interesting to see that the large D on the character’s chest is not in the style of the logo, but considering how the cover was put together in such haste, not really surprising.
In 1968 this new logo first appeared, and now we come into the long period of Marvel logo history that is largely dark to me, I don’t know who designed most of the logos. This one seems different enough in style from the first one to be by someone new. The most interesting feature is the division of the character’s name into two lines with a hyphen. I can’t think of any other cover logo from the period, or even through the 1970s that did so, but it sure makes it easy to get the letterforms very large, usually a good thing! The style follows the original in some ways: the rightward slant, with drop shadow down and left, but this drop shadow is not telescoped. Another interesting feature is the small triangular extensions on the upper left corner of all the letters except VIL. I wouldn’t call them serifs, really, it’s more of a style motif that gives the letterforms a bit of extra interest. The lower left corners of the D’s and E’s are cut off at the same angle, a style addition I don’t like quite as much, but at least the letterforms are a bit different from standard block letters. THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR is simply that, very standard, and very regular. It could be type, but is more likely hand-lettered.
That logo only lasted three issues, with #47 this less interesting one replaced it, going to very conventional open block letters in the same layout. Again, very large and easy to read, but otherwise not distinctive.
In 1970 this new logo returned to the style of the original in many respects, but without the topline HERE COMES, allowing the word DAREDEVIL to be strictly horizontal. the tagline THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR! seems to be the one from 1964. Again, nothing wrong with this logo, it’s clear and readable, the open telescoped dropshadow allows a second color for added contrast to the cover art, but to my eye this version is kind of boring, even compared to the first one. Marvel must have been happy with it, it stayed on the book for a few years. Oh, see the extra line in the A? Not sure why it’s there, but it wasn’t on later issues, perhaps it’s a design error that was corrected after this first appearance.
In 1972 DD began sharing his book and logo space with The Black Widow, the two characters being given equal space with AND THE very small between. DAREDEVIL uses the same letterforms as before, but much condensed vertically. BLACK WIDOW is in a rough style that has a lot more energy, and while it’s kind of an odd choice for the character (would have been perfect for The Torch, for instance), the contrast between the two adds a lot of interest to the cover, as do the two character figures on either side.
In 1974 DD went back to sole possession of the logo space, except for the figure of Black Widow, and his logo from 1970 returned unchanged as well. And that’s how things stayed through the 1970s.
We’ll continue into the 1980s next time. Other logo studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page, by the way, including the remaining parts of this one once they’re published.