Logo Study: PLOP!

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Images © DC Comics, Inc.

Here’s a short logo study about an unusual comic. PLOP! was very odd for publisher DC, a mix of humor and horror with some of the most grotesque covers by Basil Wolverton ever published over a frame of tiny cartoon figures by Sergio Aragones. Sergio was the creator and driving force behind the book, also contributing all the framing stories and many others as well. Between were stories of comic horror or dark humor by comics greats like Berni Wrightson and Nick Cardy. I assume Sergio also came up with the name; perhaps he just thought the word was funny. As a comics reader I found the title off-putting, suggesting bathroom humor, and the Wolverton art unappealing (I like it better now) and I never picked up an issue, thereby missing some enjoyable content.

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Sergio also designed the logo, according to his friend Mark Evanier, who asked Sergio about it for me. Mark reports that Sergio “did the PLOP! logo and doesn’t think anyone changed what he did in any way.” Editor Joe Orlando must have enjoyed Sergio’s humor and art, giving him lots of freedom on the book, including with the logo. Above is the original from the DC files. My guess is that Sergio designed it to go well with the weird cover art of Woolverton, as it uses some of the same sort of rounded shapes and shading made up of small ink dots that Woolverton favored. In blue pencil at the top is a tagline, “Can You Still Laugh When Everything Goes…” This certainly sounds like Sergio to me. It was never inked, and is crossed out in blue pencil, so I guess it didn’t go over well with someone, and instead they put the lower tagline at the top on the finished cover. It may also just have been a matter of height, with the logo pretty tall already.

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Here’s a detail from the logo showing some of the dot shading and tagline. It’s hard to say what the drawing tools used were. I’d be tempted to say markers, except that marker ink tends to turn blue over time, and this hasn’t. So it’s probably india ink applied with pens of some kind.

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Here’s a later issue with a reconfigured trade dress adding three character heads by Sergio of the hosts: Cain, Eve and Abel, all borrowed from Joe Orlando’s other mystery/horror books. The tagline is now part of the top banner. Replacing artist Basil Wolverton on later covers was Wally Wood doing his best to keep the grotesquerie going, though his drawing skills show through the weirdness.

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The last few issues used this different version of the logo, more cartoony and balloonlike, and not as interesting to my eye, while the cover art reaches for a MAD magazine painted approach. In all, a pretty long run for such an odd book, especially for DC at a time when they would often cancel books after three issues when they didn’t seem to be selling well. Sergio’s idea must have been appealing to some readers! And certainly his humor and art are still popular today.

6 thoughts on “Logo Study: PLOP!

  1. Your Obedient Serpent

    I was the target audience for PLOP! at the time — I was 9-12 years old during its run, and already enjoyed the DC horror comics starring its hosts.

    I loved it.

    It probably had a lasting impact on my sense of humor (along with my discovery of Edward Gorey during the same period).

  2. Jim Kosmicki

    I, and my friends, were also the target audience. We loved this book, but soon graduated from it to MAD (and Cracked and Sick and, and, and). You could buy this off the regular newsstand with your regular comics and not have the clerk question if you should have it. (Try being 10 in a small town of 700 or so – EVERY purchase got reviewed for appropriateness). Plus, it was quite a bit cheaper than MAD for a kid on a serious budget.

    If I remember, this title also experimented with no or very few ads so that there was a lot of content for the same price as a regular comic.

  3. Johnny Bacardi

    Bought it regularly myself, back in the day. At the time, I liked how it seemed to be a continuation of what was appearing in the DC Mystery and Horror books of the time, what with Berni Wrightson and folks like that doing stories, except with a skewed sense of humor and of course those clever, clever framing scenes by Aragones. I still love his versions of Cain, Abel and the Old Witch, and I think if I ever had the chance to get a sketch of his, it would be one of those characters.

    Before long, though, the stories became kinda bland and generic as I recall, and I stopped buying it before it was cancelled.

  4. Todd Post author

    Thanks, Stan, good to hear from you! Do you think the blue-pencil tagline above the logo is also Sergio? Mark thinks it might be by Joe Orlando.

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