Logo Study: ROBIN Part 1

comic-detective-38

All images © DC Comics, Inc.

In 1940, about a year after his own debut, Batman introduced a new partner, a young boy named Dick Grayson who he had taken under his wing. Grayson was trained as a circus acrobat, and after the death of his parents, came to live with Bruce Wayne as his ward, and joined Wayne’s alter ego Batman in many adventures. Robin’s first appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS 38 also featured his first logo. Robin creator Jerry Robinson says both the character and the logo were inspired by Robin Hood, a favorite character of his, and the Old English Blackletter style of the logo certainly reflects that, and Jerry confirmed with me in a recent conversation that he did design this logo. The attractive R is a decorative capital with small openings in the wide vertical strokes and squared serifs on two strokes, a fanciful ball on the third. The rest of the letters attempt to simulate Old English Blackletter, but perhaps without a good understanding of how those letters were created originally with a wedge-tipped pen. Extra and unnecessary stems stick out on all the letters in odd places. Despite that, the overall look isn’t bad. The tagline THE BOY WONDER, on the other hand, is lettered poorly, much like the rest of the cover lettering on this issue. It was probably all done by whoever did the cover art, which despite the Bob Kane signature was Jerry Robinson.

Throughout most of his history, the character named Robin has remained paired with Batman. The Robin role has been filled by several young men other than Dick Grayson, who took on the identity of Nightwing for some years, and is currently filling the role of Batman. I’ll save Nightwing’s logos for another study, this one will focus on Robin.

detective54_1941

The elaborate Robin logo from Detective 38 wasn’t used often. Inside the book, this Batman and Robin logo pairing began in DETECTIVE 54 in 1941. Here Robin’s name is in more standard block letters with serifs, with the one oddity being the jaunty angle of the right leg of the R. It’s interesting that the simple block R in a circle on the character’s costume was never referenced in his early logos. This one was probably produced by Jerry Robinson as well; he told me in a recent conversation that he designed this Batman logo, so it would make sense that he did the Robin part, too.

starspangled65_1947

In STAR-SPANGLED COMICS 65, 1947, Robin began a long series of solo adventures, and for this he needed his own solo logo, though it rarely appeared on the cover, as it does above.

ssc-robin-logo

Here’s a much better look at it from the splash page of his first story in that issue. The word ROBIN is in attractive open letters with slab serifs on most strokes, and the letters have a nice bounce to them, with the upper ends on different heights. The strokes vary some in weight, not a lot, but enough to add to that bounce. THE BOY WONDER is in a showcard sans-serif style with squared stroke ends, and the strokes are made obvious where they join in the B, O, Y and D, adding interest. Behind is a short-eared bat shape to remind us that Robin is tied to Batman, but the yellow and red colors are those of Robin. This logo is well-crafted by someone with showcard lettering experience. I don’t know who designed it, but most likely someone working for Bob Kane again. It’s possible it was created by Ira Schnapp for DC, though Schnapp wasn’t on staff there yet, so I think that’s unlikely.

bbkidflashaqualadrobin_64

In 1964 this precursor to The Teen Titans appeared in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #54. The character logos are by Ira Schnapp in one of his standard open sans-serif block letter styles. Initial caps are larger on each, and both Kid Flash and Aqualad at least suggest the logos of their partners, but Robin’s has nothing distinctive about it. Despite that, I think this logo showed up in other places a few times. And these characters would be together again in THE TEEN TITANS about a year later, also beginning in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD.

detective381_1968

In 1968 this logo for the Caped Crusaders appeared for a few issues of DETECTIVE COMICS, beginning with issue 381. I believe the logo is by Gaspar Saladino, early in his time as the main logo man for DC, having recently replaced the retiring Ira Schnapp. The approach is squared open block letters with some rounded corners. The letterforms are a bit uneven, with the N in ROBIN wider than the rest, but probably that was done to make it come out equal in width to the N of BATMAN. The slight tilt to the character names is a nice touch.

batman230_1971

In 1971 this dual logo appeared for a while on BATMAN, beginning with issue 230. The overall logo is again by Gaspar, who certainly did the BATMAN letters. The ROBIN letters are very square block letters, and as MW Gallaher pointed out in the comments to this post, they’re the same as the BRAVE AND BOLD letters from about issue 100 of that title. I found that logo in the DC files, and those heavy, square letters were done with Letraset (0r similar) Presstype, not sure what the font is, but it’s close to “Superstar.” WITH and THE TEEN WONDER are definitely standard sans-serif type, probably done on the Varityper Headliner machine in DC’s Production Department. This blocky logo for Robin did show up on licensed products at the time. As you can see, DC was letting Dick Grayson grow up, and he was now promoted to “teen,” tying in with his appearances as a regular member of The Teen Titans.

batmanfamily1_1975

In 1975 this spinoff title began a 20-issue run, with Robin featured, often paired with Batgirl. Robin’s logo didn’t appear on the covers, but for the earliest issues, as was pointed out to me by Joey Doe and J. Kevin Carrier in the comments to this post, Robin’s stories used this logo:

robin_logo

Thanks to Kevin for this scan and the following information. Kevin writes: According to the letters page in issue 3 “This logo was designed by longtime reader and fan Nicholas Pascale of New York City and redrawn by artist Al Milgrom. Milgrom was a fan turned comics pro just a few years earlier, and Pascale was a well-known letter-writer and fan. The head and cape on the logo, no doubt mostly the work of Milgrom, aren’t bad, but the logo is pretty weak, though I have to give Pascale credit for trying to work in wings on each end, referring to the secondary origin of the character’s name, which some writers said came from the American Robin bird.

batman_family_12-291Later inside stories featured a new logo drawn and designed by John Workman, then on staff in the DC Production Department. John did the art for the figure and mask shape as well as the letters, and told me he had a bit of a fight with then art director Vince Colletta, over the Robin head. Colletta wanted the face to look adult, and changed the pencils to reflect that, while John had drawn it younger. John reports: “It’s possible that I risked the wrath of Vinnie by taking down the size of the jaw that he added to Robin. It’s still larger than what I’d originally done, though it’s not in Jay Leno territory.” Workman’s open letters for ROBIN are attractive, and I like the use of upper and lower case. The shape of the N is particularly good, and I would have guessed it was done by Gaspar Saladino if John hadn’t told me it was his work. the lettering for the tagline, THE TEEN WONDER, is not as good; rather uneven and not very effective, but the overall design is excellent, especially the way the cape and mask are combined. John’s logo first appeared in issue 7, and was used for the rest of these stories, often paired with a matching Batgirl logo he did.

In 1991 Robin finally got his own solo title, and the story of that logo is a good one. I’ll continue with it next time. More logo studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page.

7 thoughts on “Logo Study: ROBIN Part 1

  1. Joey Doe

    There is a second Robin logo from the “Batman Family” era you missed. It had Robin’s head and cape covering a logo where the R and N had bird wings.

  2. originalcomicart

    Hmmm, let’s see. A fight between John Workman and Vinnie Colletta? My pick-Colletta by TKO in the first round.

  3. MWGallaher

    I’d guess the Robin logo on Batman #230 is indeed type, since the style appears to be identical to the logo on Brave and the Bold circa issue 100.

  4. Todd Post author

    Good spotting. I did find the original of that Brave and Bold logo in the DC files, and those heavy, square letters were done with Letraset Presstype.

Leave a Reply

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