Logo Study: X-Men part 5

X-Force 1 cover
This and all covers and logos ©Marvel Characters, Inc.

1992 saw the launch of another new X-Men team spinoff, X-FORCE, with mostly new characters created by Rob Liefeld, a more militaristic group led by Cable. The logo for this book was created by Alex Jay. Here are his sketches.

X-Force sketches by Alex Jay

And here are some of his notes on them.

Bob Harras called and briefed me on a new title, X-Force. Work on the logo began in mid-October 1990. Tight renderings of designs 1-A and 1-B were completed on November 18. There were talks with Bob on the 21st and the 26th; the project was put on hold.

During the first week of April 1991, I began work on a new set of designs. Sketch 2-A didn’t break any new ground. The “X” in sketch 3-A would be extended even more in the next set of designs. I have to admit that this design was influenced by the logo of Foam-X, a manufacturer of foamboard. Sketches 4-A, 4-B, 4-C and 4-D were the basis of the eventual logo; 4-C was essentially the logo. Since Steranko’s X-Men logo had a vanishing point on the right, I designed the X-Force logo to vanish on the left. Even though the letterforms were plain, it was the perspective that made the difference. All of the designs were faxed to Bob on April 8. The next day I got the approval to finish the logo. On the 15th I delivered the art.

On June 18th Bob called and said he wanted me to redo the logo with a bolder outline. I completed the revision on the 24th, and faxed it to him on the 25th. A few days later I delivered the finished art.

The first version of the X-Force logo appeared on issue 1; the second, bolder version appeared on issues 2 through 43.

Here’s the bolder version, the first issue on which it appeared in full.

X-Force 13 cover

Looking at the sketches, they all use basic block-letter forms except version 2, which has an interesting variation on the letter R that I’ve never seen before. The giant X has now become a trend, and I think a logical one, helping to sell the franchise. I can’t think of another comic book franchise which can be identified with a single letter, once again pointing back to the inspired choice for the original team name. Of course, other companies tried to horn in with books emphasizing X in their name somehow, but none of them lasted long.

The final version, as seen on cover 1, does not have the classic appeal of the Steranko design to me, but it certainly does the job, with wide, forceful letters and telescoping. The revised version with thicker outlines works even better.

X-Men 2 cover

Also in 1991 a new non-adjectived X-MEN title began, using this vertically stretched version of the revised Steranko logo, also seen on some issues of UNCANNY X-MEN around the same time. You’d think they would have gone back to the Steranko logo instead, as it has a more pleasing design than this one, which LOOKS stretched. I found out why they didn’t do that a few years later when they asked me to do a new version of that Steranko logo because they didn’t have a good copy to use. At the time I didn’t know Steranko had designed it, and was simply told to trace it off one of the Neal Adams covers that I owned. Here’s my version:

Steranko X-Men logo redrawn by Todd

I believe this was done in 1994, and drawn by hand, just months before I got my first Macintosh desktop computer and began creating digital logos. I imagine someone at Marvel made a digital version of it soon after.

Excalibur 50 cover

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself chronologically. Next up is this 1992 redesign of the Excalibur logo by Alex Jay. This one brings the look into the same arena as the Steranko logo, though with a more modern rounded shape to the block letters, and an open drop shadow of the kind pioneered by Gaspar Saladino over at DC in the 1970s.

Of this one, Alex says it follows the design of Steranko’s X-Men logo as requested by the editors so no new ground was broken. I agree, but I still think it’s attractive.

X-Men Adventures 5 cover

In 1992 I got my first X-Men logo assignment for this book, X-MEN ADVENTURES, based on the animated series that began airing that year. The logo associated with the show was the Steranko design, though in an airbrushed metallic version:

X-Men Animated logo

I offered three marker sketches to the editors…

X-Men Adventures sketches by Todd

…and they picked the one closest to the Steranko version, which is what I expected, though I would have loved to see them use version 2, where I pushed the merging of the letters to an extreme. Probably too extreme, really, as it’s a bit hard to read.

The chosen logo still has much fatter letters on X-MEN than the Steranko inspiration, and follows the trend pushing the X to giant-size. The telescoping on ADVENTURES gets overly busy because of all the small facets needed, but when colored, it works okay.

X-Men Unlimited 1 cover

New X-titles continued to roll out with increasing frequency during these boom years for comics sales, with the next one being X-MEN UNLIMITED. I designed the logo for this book, which was originally going to be called:

X-Men Quarterly sketch by Todd

Notice the odd triangle to the right of the big X? The editorial staff wanted to have a hyphen to the right of the X, which I resisted, as I thought it was unnecessary, and threw off the symmetry of the design, so I created that piece to go into the appropriate hole below the X as a stand-in for the hyphen. I don’t think it was ever used, though, which is just as well.

Note that the cover art for the first issue of Unlimited, above, was obviously designed for a more traditionally-shaped logo. I’m not sure why they didn’t get the artist to do something that would work better with the logo they commissioned from me, but there you go. My essentially square design was always a tricky fit, but sometimes it was just the thing for a very character-filled cover, like this one:

Uncanny X-Men 319 cover

In 1994 another new X-Men team book came out, this one part of a series of future-Marvel books all taking place in the year 2099.

X-Men 2099 1 cover

The logo design by Ken Lopez (who did most of the 2099 logos) follows the Steranko model, but using futuristic letterforms that are broken into stencil-like sections. It’s interesting to see how this remains completely readable despite that, I think because the basic design is so familiar. Nicely done, though “futuristic” is an ever-changing target, and if created today, would probably be very different.

More new and revised logos next time!

More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.

2 thoughts on “Logo Study: X-Men part 5

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