Logo Study: THE HULK Part 4

All images © Marvel

In 1999 Marvel replaced the long-running INCREDIBLE HULK title with this new one, restarting the numbering at 1. The book featured a new logo, one that looked like it had already been smashed by the title character, with large breaks and cracks in the three-dimensional block letters. This time only the word HULK is used, making the logo short and allowing those four letters to be very large, always a good thing in my book. I asked penciller Ron Garney about it, and he recalls doing a rough layout which was turned into a finished logo by someone on staff at Marvel. The letters follow the squared forms of some earlier versions, but with beveled edges. Thick telescoping adds depth to the forms, which are in two-point perspective; the fronts of the letters recede to a vanishing point somewhere above, while the telescoping recedes to another below. Hard to see in the background is another real shadow in black, suggesting the entire letterforms are floating against a flat background, an interesting touch, but one that gets lost in the cover layout. The cracks and breaks are full of detail, but somehow don’t seem as convincing to me as the ones in the old Steranko logo or even the details on the Trimpe logo; they look more like an afterthought, but that could just be my take on it.

With issue 12 the title reverted to THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and returned to a digital rendering of the stone block logo by Herb Trimpe that had been running for years on the previous incarnation of the title, somewhat vertically compressed but still looking as good as ever to me.

In 2002 artist Kaare Andrews painted this homage to the Jim Steranko smashed logo cover from 1968 discussed in the first part of this study. It’s a wonderful job, bringing a new level of rocky realism to the letters at the top and bottom of the image. The word HULK follows the basic design of the Steranko cover, with tightly fitting letterforms and the bottom of the L under the first stroke of the K. As with the earlier version, the letters are pretty funky, but since they’re being smashed anyway, it works fine. Actually, now that I look closely, the letters aren’t as smashed as on the Steranko version, and look more like Hulk is just holding them up there, but I think his intent is clear!

Marvel must have liked the concept because on the next and many subsequent issues this redrawn but very similar logo appeared. Here it’s more complete, missing the surrounding rocks of the Andrews logo, and has a finished rocky depth at the bottom, but is clearly meant to be the same logo treatment.

Later versions were even more fragmented and veering toward downright ugly. On this cover some scrawled handwriting is part of the art, and used for THE INCREDIBLE above the logo as well. That scrawled version stayed, making a very poor match for HULK, with the entire logo now a mere caricature of the Kaare Andrews version.

Here’s one from 2003 that’s almost unreadable, but inexplicably, it remained on the title for several years.

In other Hulk news, the first Hulk feature film came out in 2003, and I think the logo took cues from some of the comics versions, using thick, bold sans-serif block letters with shiny bevelled edges and telescoping drop-shadow. While movie logos often go for metallic and shiny, this one at least gives a pleasant nod to some of the comics ones, most recently the 1999 version at the beginning of this post, minus the cracks and such, and condensed vertically.

Also in 2003 this mini-series was released with logos by Comicraft’s John Roshell, who often works with the writer/artist team of Loeb and Sale. The series and the logo look back to Hulk’s earliest days in 1962, with the notched letterforms having a nice retro feel. The logo shape varied some on the covers, but the art by Tim Sale left plenty of room for it.

In 2004 Marvel planned another solo book for She-Hulk, and Marvel staff designer Patrick McGrath was tapped to do the logo. He’s kindly provided these early versions, and writes:

It was one of the first logos I designed for Marvel in 2004 and it went over really well with the editors. I remember them telling me there would be a more comedic tone to the series so I stayed away from the distressed type and brick motifs of earlier Hulk and She-Hulk Logos. The bulky but clean “Hulk” and a script “She-” were part of the design from the beginning. I worked from the fonts Gill Sans Ultra Bold and Kaufmann Bold as a base. Once I squared the “U” it seemed to work. I tried to sell it without the hyphen but it needed to be there for legal reasons, I think.

Thanks, Patrick! Here’s his finished logo design. I like the contrast between the styles of the two words, and the curves of the K are a nice echo of the ones in SHE. I also like the way SHE sits over the shorter UL of HULK. Like some earlier logos we’ve looked at, this one is in two point perspective, but with an outer shape joining all the letters together and forming a solid block for the telescoped drop-shadow. Well done.

Here’s the first cover. Rather a lot of the logo is covered by the character’s head, but by this time most potential readers knew the character well enough that it wasn’t considered a problem, I’d guess, and it works fine.

Over in INCREDIBLE HULK, this new logo, also by Patrick McGrath, finally replaced the almost unreadable one that came before it. The design closely follows the one on the very first Hulk comic from 1962…

…but with a more digital approach, and with the letterforms heavily outlined and closer together. A very thin black shadow inside the open letters of HULK adds some interest, and a slightly thicker one behind the outlines helps pop it off the cover art. A big improvement over the previous logo.

In 2007 The Hulk was the focus of a major crossover event at Marvel, and this mini-series, WORLD WAR HULK was at the center of it. Once again credited to Patrick McGrath, he writes: I remember that being a collaboration by a bunch of the designers at Marvel and I put the final piece together. I think I remember Joe Quesada doing a sketch of the globe exploding in the “U” but I haven’t be able to dig up anything. It’s not my favorite logo but it was what they asked for and I think we did a good job executing the design.

Thanks again, Patrick. I think it’s a fine design. I like the way the explosion from the globe just barely suggests the letter U, and the very thick and vertical strokes of HULK work well here. I’ve always liked logos that incorporate iconic art, and I think this is a good example.

In 2008 Marvel launched a new title simply called HULK, and using the digital version of the Herb Trimpe stone block logo last seen in the second image in this post, but with a major revision: a new telescoping drop-shadow adding depth, but now receding to a vanishing point above the letters. the letters have also gained a heavier outline, and have been pushed close together. What remains of the Trimpe design is the actual letterforms and the front block shapes. This version is by John Roshell of Comicraft. The design is still strong and looks great to me.

2008 also saw the release of a second Hulk film, and the logo for that was again reminiscent of the comics, but leaned more toward a typical film type treatment.

I’ve already covered the logo design I did for this 2008 Hulk spin-off title elsewhere, so I’ll just LINK to it.

In 2009 the main Hulk title apparently returned to the original numbering with issue 600. The logo retained the letterforms of HULK, but without either of the rocky telescoping versions. THE INCREDIBLE now has the appearance of distressed and dirty sans-serif type. More recent issues have built on it with PLANET HULK and WAR OF THE HULKS and WORLD WAR HULKS, all using logos we’ve already covered here. I think it’s interesting to see how Herb Trimpe’s very strong logo design from 1968 has continued to resurface in slightly different forms, proving that a good design can remain relevant for a very long time.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this logo study. More chapters and other logo studies are on my LOGO LINKS page.

5 thoughts on “Logo Study: THE HULK Part 4

  1. Tom Muller

    Thanks for this Todd, another Logo Study. Glad to hear you voice your disliking of the sub-par HULK logos inspired by Kaare Andrews’ design.

  2. Arrrggghhh

    Really enjoyed reading this.
    Always interesting seeing and reading about the design process over the years. This also shows the power of a design like Herb Trimpe’s logo – so simple yet so powerful as an icon for the character.
    Would love to see more studies like this . . .

  3. Sand Soon

    I read Hulk during Peter David’s 12 year run and Trimpe’s logo is still my favorite one out of all of them. Hulk is one of my favorite comic characters, especially the green Hulk with Banner’s intellect.

  4. Kplan

    Hey, Todd!

    I was incredulous at your assertion that the Kaare Andrews altered logo with the scribbled “The Incredible” appeared over and over and had to see for myself.

    I went here: http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?tid=215921&pgi=51 (if that link doesn’t work: it’s the site indicated there: Incredible Hulk, 2nd series, issues 51 to 100).

    Looking at the evolution, it seems that, at first, the scribble was used simply b/c it fit that particular cover, as you point out. A cursive “Incredible” first appears in issue 41. It becomes a scribble in 42, reverts to blocks in 43, then the scribble is repeated in 44. It returns intermittently for a while, until — it seems — someone just got lazy. From 50 until 77, with only a few interruptions, THAT’s when it becomes the main logo. And before ish 88, is the one they used w/the above-mentioned ish 77, which brought back the block lettering treatment for “The Incredible” with an interesting treatment as they’re really packed together tightly. Take a look!


Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.