This and all images ยฉ DC Comics

For issue 280, October, 1981, DC wanted a new logo to celebrate the return of Superboy to the book, and probably also to replace my previous version which, because of the backward slant of the letters, didn’t go well with cover lettering above it. I designed this logo around the large L, which was a legion symbol at the time โ€” in fact, you can see it on their headquarters and flag in the background.


Here’s the logo from the DC files. Since the L had serifs, I also gave the S and H serifs, but kept the rest of the letters sans-serif, in a square style with some rounded corners, not too different from the previous one. It’s a very long name, and I was happy with the way I got everything tucked in together, though I never liked having THE in the L. Behind the letters is a very deep telescoped drop shadow receding to a single perspective point below. I went the full telescoping route, drawing in all the connecting lines from all the corners. The result is too busy, but if colored well, that was less obvious. (Wasn’t colored well on that first cover…). This logo lasted for a few years.


When artist Keith Giffen was drawing the book, he created this giant embattled logo for issue 293. Pretty cool, and I’m glad I didn’t have to design that one!


And for the final issue of this run, Keith asked for a special logo to fit into the art down lower on the cover. Keith is always thinking of something different to try, and it’s kind of surprising that he was allowed to do this one, since the title of the book was usually required to be at the top in those days, but perhaps having Paul Levitz as his writing partner helped him sell it. Gaspar Saladino lettered the logo on this one.


The book didn’t cease publication, though, it just changed names, and I lettered the new topline, TALES OF THE to the existing logo. This added two more words to an already long title, but it fit in well, and at least I finally got that THE out of the L. While TALES OF continued with new stories for its first year, after that it was a reprint book.


I’m adding this logo in this spot thanks to information supplied by Lee Carey, who told me it was used in advertising for the new Legion book on higher grade paper that was about to be released (see below). The logo is by Gaspar Saladino, and it’s a handsome one, if rather tall. It was done for a house ad, an in-house DC advertisement for one of their own books. Lee writes, “No actual image was used, just a comics shaped rectangle featuring the above logo and the DC Bullet, being overlapped by a black and white copy of the cover of issue 313 to advertise a subscription for the two new titles.” Thanks, Lee, you’ve solved the mystery of this logo. It was done just for that ad, but someone put it in the logo file in case it was ever wanted again, where it lay, forgotten, until I unearthed it on my recent trip to scour the DC logo files.


Launched that same month, August 1984, was a new Legion title printed on better paper, and with higher production values overall, one of DC’s line of offset comics designed to appeal to fans and sell through comics shops rather than on newsstands. I designed this logo as well, though it doesn’t show up very well on this scan because it was printed in silver ink on the first issue.


Here’s the original logo, drawn in ink on Denril plastic vellum, and angled to just fit on the small size vellum page I used. I was asked for a solid black logo at first, and I went with a very geometric type-like design, quite different from most comics logos of the time. Little did I know that comics logos would later evolve away from the hand-drawn look and toward type in the coming years. Perhaps this was an effort to suggest a more mainstream and adult approach for this comic, though the flamboyant costumes kind of works against that. Hard to see, but the letters SUP are a pasted-on photostat. I guess the spacing between the P and the E needed to be smaller, and that was the easiest way to do it in those non-computer days.


Once they saw the solid logo in print, DC quickly asked for an outline version, to read better against Giffen’s often-busy cover art.


I did two versions, one with a heavier outline. These were probably just traced over the solid version on vellum.


Here’s that heavier outline on a very effective cover by Steve Lightle.


In 1985 this hilarious one-shot made fun of the entire Legion concept in the way only Keith Giffen could have done. My logo got an edit from someone, probably Gaspar.


The Legion was selling well, and very popular with fans, so in early 1986 DC put out this miniseries featuring the three original Legionnaires from that first appearance in 1958. I believe the logo is by Gaspar Saladino, a very creative design that makes great use of the L, incorporating a lightning effect, and tying it into the giant 3.


Here’s the original logo from the DC files. The letterforms are sans-serif, but using rounded shapes effectively for contrast, and I love the angles on the NN, which echo those on the stroke below. The open drop shadow helped pop the main letters off the cover and made room for a second color. Well done.


Also in 1986, another cool cover by Steve Lightle required a special logo version, a shattered one. Still pre-computer, the only way to get there was to have someone draw it, and I was asked to do that.


Here’s the shattered logo from the DC files. I probably worked from Lightle’s layout. Kind of fun to trash something you designed for once…


At the end of 1986, another Legion mini-series spun out of the LEGENDS event. I believe Gaspar also designed this logo, this time using more square block letters and having a great time with those giant C’s at each end. Another very creative and interesting design, and the one point perspective adds to the symmetry, while a small, subtle black drop shadow gives the letters enough weight to read well against the art.

There was one more Legion spinoff before the end of the 1980s, an ongoing series this time. We’ll continue with that in the next part of this study.

Other chapters and more logo studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page.

7 thoughts on “Logo Study: LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Part 3

  1. gorjus

    The two “main” Legion logos here are my absolute favorites–and not just because I grew up with them! I just think that they perfectly encapsulate the concept of the Legion, especially the more “modern, we’re growing up” one.

    I always love the logo studies and this one especially. Thanks for the insight into your process and the “damaged” one in no. 28!

  2. Michael Rawdon

    I think the logo from LSH #280 above is the best logo the Legion’s ever had, and probably in my top 5 logos in comics history. I really only say “top 5” to avoid hyperbole; I can’t honestly think of another logo I like as much. I remember when I first saw it thinking, “Wow, this is the logo the Legion should have had all along!” It was hard to believe it wasn’t some classic Legion logo brought back for the occasion, since it fit the team so perfectly (though as I collected most of the Legion’s run over the next few years obviously I learned that it wasn’t).

    By contrast, the logo from the deluxe series is one of my least favorite; it just seems so bland; the slanted logo from the last entry has more character. Although it does meet John Byrne’s criteria for being clearly visible and readable. (Admittedly, I may be down on that logo because I think the Legion had jumped the shark by this point; I wasn’t really a fan of Levitz’ second run on the book, especially once Giffen changed his art style. Although I did love Steve Lightle’s artwork, one of several early 80s creators I loved whom I thought never got his fair due – another being your run writing Omega Men, Todd. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Say, any chance we could persuade you to do a logo rundown of Planetary? Since its last issue is out this month (today, I think), and it has a different logo every issue, that could be pretty entertaining. On the other hand, since it did have a different logo every issue, and IIRC you weren’t involved in it at all, I’d certainly understand if you’d rather not! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Todd Post author

    I might look at Planetary someday, but I have more fun with older titles, or ones with a longer history. Thanks for the kind comments, Michael.

  4. Graeme Burk

    The Legion 280 logo is probably my favourite as well– it’s one that seemed…majestic always seemed the word to me. It captured the majesty of the Legion concept. And thanks to your commentary Todd, I also see all the funky ways it totally deviates from that concept, making it both majestic and futuristic at the same time. I knew there was a reason why I loved that logo so much– it sums up everything I love about the Legion!

    Oddly enough, the baxter book logo is my second favourite Legion logo just because it looks so clean and futuristic. Though I remember thinking even in 1984 that it was not a patch on the ‘regular’ Legion logo!

  5. Martin Gray

    I didn’t like the first Baxter logo at all, at first, thought it was too flat, but it grew on me. I prefer it to the #280 look, though, all that telescoping hurts my eyes.

  6. Martin Gray

    There’s a tiny tweak to your Baxter logo in the new Adventure Comics – I only noticed it on #3’s Lightning Lad/Polar Boy splash page . . . it’s just an extra border thing, but it looks great.

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