As Marvel entered the booming 1990s, change was in the air. A new, young generation of artists was gradually taking over from the old guard on flagship Marvel titles. A new, edgier style was in vogue. The first evidence of this in the Spider-Man books came in 1992 with the release of SPIDER-MAN 2099. The logo for this book, designed by Ken Lopez, makes use of many sharp points and a bolder outline than previous logos for the franchise, with the main nod to the past being the curved shape.
Most of the other new Spider-Man titles were still using variations of the original logo, though, like these from 1993:
Even the most popular and well-known new title, the adjectiveless SPIDER-MAN launched in 1990, with art by Todd McFarlane, used the same old logo:
Lots of brand recognition there, but nothing original. And, without the classic webbing, these logos lacked anything that really tied the logo to the character, other than tradition. Marvel staffers began to think about making changes.
In late 1993 I was contacted by the Spider-Man office at Marvel and asked if I’d like to try updating the Spider-Man logo. They weren’t too sure how far they were willing to go with it, wanting to preserve the brand identity, so I suggested I revise the traditional logo for them, keeping the basic style, but giving it a more polished, bolder look. They agreed, and in January 1994 I turned in these versions:
The main difference from the original logo is the much heavier outline on the letters. I’d also made minor changes in some of the curved shapes, the P, D and R, and given all the corners sharp points. The title add-ons were on a separate piece, with indications of where the corners of SPIDER-MAN should go for each one.
The editors seemed happy with this, and I was paid well for it, but others at Marvel must have felt it was not enough of a change, and I don’t think any of these were used. Instead, a got another call about a month later, which went something like this:
“Todd, remember that SABRETOOTH logo you did for us in 1992? Well, one of our toy licensing companies used that style for a Spider-Man logo, and everyone here really likes it. Only problem is, it isn’t very well executed. Could you do another logo revamp for us using the Sabretooth style?”
The logo I designed, shown here, had lots of jagged, dangerous points, which I thought perfect for the character and the word. To be honest, I never would have thought of going there with Spider-Man, but if that’s what they wanted, I was happy to do it. In March of 1994 I turned in these new versions:
It was exactly what they wanted. New, edgy, pointed, dangerous. In a short time, this logo was on all the Spider-Man covers across the line, as well as all kind of licensed products.
I hadn’t been asked to do anything with the webbing on either of these revamps. When the new logo debuted on issue 395 of AMAZING, behind it was an attractive new web with a single origin point. Looked quite good to me.
SPECTACULAR had gone from it’s original logo to the traditional Spider-Man one for a while. It gained my new logo at the same time as AMAZING, with the same new webbing, as did all the Spider-Man titles, I think. This logo is still the one I see all the time on licensed products, and I’m happy to have been able to design it, even if it took some nudging from an unknown licensee designer.
More next time!
More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.