Logo Study: JUSTICE LEAGUE Part 4

JLI 51 cover
All images © DC Comics

The year was 1993, and logo changes were in store for two of the existing Justice League titles. First up is this one, which changed its title from JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE to JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL. Both the original logo and the revision were by designer Alex Jay. Once again, here are Alex’s notes and process scan:

On January 25, 1993 Curtis King (DC Cover Editor) called and explained that Justice League Europe was going to be retitled as Justice League International. What he needed was “International” rendered in script.

JLI logo Alex Jay

For this assignment I used newsprint, a brush and black ink. I lettered the word “International” a few times. Next I picked the letters I liked and pieced them together. As you can see the capital “I” was made of three pieces; the spacing was adjusted between each letter; white paint was used to touch up the stroke’s weight. A photostat was made of the lettering and delivered as final art to Curtis on January 27. Justice League International reappeared as issue 51.

Thanks, Alex. I’m particularly happy to see this scan showing how he put the word together. The wide brushed letters are masterfully done, clear and readable yet full of texture and life. I’ve used a similar technique a few times, but the results never turn out this well. I can see now one reason is that I should have been using a scissors and paste! It’s too bad the final result is so small on the actual logo, but as a logo it works pretty well. The contrast between the heavy block letters of JUSTICE LEAGUE and the graceful script is great, though the size difference is a bit too extreme. I would have made the shield wider to allow the last word and the stars to be larger. Note that the first two words have lost their stencilling breaks, but they’re still very attractive.

JLQ 13 cover

Over in JUSTICE LEAGUE QUARTERLY, Alex’s original logo was replaced by this one put together by Curtis King. He used a vertically compressed version of the JUSTICE LEAGUE letters by Alex from the previous title, and a similar font (looks like one called Eurostyle to me) for a smaller but still substantial QUARTERLY. Works fine, but my favorite part is the open shield, allowing background art to show through. This shield design returns to the look of the original Ira Schnapp one, combined with the stars from the Ed Hannigan design of 1984. It gives the logo a unified yet modern look that I think works quite well.

Also in 1993, the Justice League franchise expanded again with the launch of yet another title: JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE. Alex Jay was once more asked to design the logo, and here are the notes and sketches he’s graciously provided:

On January 27, 1993, I delivered artwork to Curtis King and talked to him about two logos, Zatanna and Justice League Task Force. He gave me a fax from Task Force artist Sal Velluto who suggested a logo design:

JLTF logo Alex Jay

Curtis wanted “Justice League” in the same style as its predecessors, and he gave me free reign on “Task Force” which also had to incorporate a globe.

JLTF logo Alex Jay
JLTF logo Alex Jay

Sketches 1 and 3 were attempts to get away from the (previous) “Justice League” look while sketch 4 followed that look. The globe in sketch 2 used too much cover space. The sketches were faxed on February 1.

JLTF logo Alex Jay

In his February 9 fax to me, Curtis combined “Justice League” from sketch 3 with “Task Force” from sketch 4, with a deep drop shadow added to both, and a globe similar to the one in Sal’s design. A tight rendering  was faxed on February 15 and approved. The final artwork was delivered on February 16.

JLTF 2 cover

The logo ran for 16 issues. On issue 17, the globe was replaced by an “O” that was drawn by a staff member.

JLTF 19 cover

Thanks, Alex. Incorporating a sphere into a logo that is mostly slanted rectangles is a tricky task, and between them artist Velluto and designers Jay and King worked together to find a great solution. While some of Alex’s sketches went in other directions, the company probably wanted to keep the continuity of his original JUSTICE LEAGUE letterforms. Having the stencilled effect in TASK FORCE was another good tie-in, and Curtis’s added deep telescoped drop shadow allowed the depth of the sphere to fit in perfectly with the rest. The replacement of the globe later is puzzling, and removes the best feature of the logo in my view.

JLA 90 cover

Over in the main JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA book, Alex Jay’s original logo had become somewhat diluted. His letterforms for JUSTICE LEAGUE had lost their stencilled effect, and here look thinner than his original, perhaps redrawn? In any case, as part of another company-wide event, a new logo was introduced beginning with a 1994 issue 0:

JLA 0 cover

This logo was designed by Curtis King. The odd gray color here is actually silver ink which has not reproduced well in this scan, but we can still get the idea. Curtis told me his one regret was that he didn’t put the letters in JUSTICE LEAGUE tight together, as in AMERICA. I have to say I don’t care much for this design (sorry, Curtis!), and I don’t know that closing up the spaces would have helped. In fact, I think it has a somewhat cramped feel, and I’m not crazy about the wide diagonal cuts on the corners. Perhaps wider black outlines might have improved it, I don’t know. The logo is certainly bold and readable (though less so for AMERICA, where a wider outline would certainly have helped) and it stayed on the book for a while.

JLA 109 cover

Here’s another look at a later cover where you can see the outlines more clearly, and they do read better with this kind of contrast.

JLTF 23 cover

Over in JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE, a new logo replaced Alex’s design with issue 23, using the letterforms from Curtis’s Justice League and a new TASK FORCE designed by me. Here’s a better look at it:

JLTF logo Klein

While an interesting experiment, I don’t think this worked well in the long run. I got a little too cute with the T and F, they don’t read well. I like the beveled edges, but now think they should have been a little wider. The letters are aligned at the top and have staggered heights at the bottom, an interesting look that suggests something a bit rough-edged, which seems to go with the art, but TASK FORCE and JUSTICE LEAGUE don’t go together well at all in my opinion. I think the idea was to minimize the Justice League connection for this book, but if so, it didn’t help sales, and the title folded not much later.

All those Justice League books, all those long titles. Next time a refreshing relaunch with a new logo design by Alex Jay that would require only three letters!

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

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