Logo Study: X-Men part 6

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

It was all so simple in the beginning: one title called X-MEN. By 1995 there were X-MEN, UNCANNY X-MEN, EXCALIBUR, X-FACTOR, X-FORCE, X-MEN ADVENTURES, not to mention lots of other spinoffs, one-shots, team-ups and mini-series. Was that enough for all the X-Fans? Apparently not! in 1995 GENERATION-X began, sort of replacing NEW MUTANTS, as the young team-in-training book. I designed the original logo shown above, once more playing off the X in a circle on the characters’ belt buckle. As I recall my original idea was less tall than this, but they asked for it to be REALLY tall. As used, it was a bit of an eye-chart. Good thing the X was unmistakeable.

Generation X 5 cover

For issue five this new logo was created by Comicraft, utilizing their font called Aztech. Comicraft was also lettering the book, and I believe did the trade dress (the other type on the cover) as well as the rest of the cover lettering. It all goes together well with the Chris Bachalo artwork, though I have to say this version is not much easier to read than mine. It does have good bounce and energy, though.

X-Men 46 cover

Over in the adjectiveless X-MEN, they returned to the original Jim Steranko logo design, using the newly recreated version I had recently drawn for them. Still looks great, doesn’t it? Elsewhere, new logos were popping in all over, as someone had the bright idea to temporarily rename the books as part of the Age of Apocalypse storyline. Here are two that I designed.

Astonishing X-Men 1 cover

Amazing X-Men 4 cover

Though technically mini-series, I’m including them since they replaced the regular titles while they were being issued. For this design I went back to the very first X-Men logo for inspiration, trying to rework it in a way that was up-to-date and exciting. The letters are blocky but very thick and close together, with the X having the ragged ends of the old one, and I added the circle behind it, continuing that theme. This is one of two ideas I submitted. Here are some sketches.

Astonishing X-Men sketches by Todd

Amazing X-Men sketches by Todd

I still like the alternate they didn’t use, but the one they chose works for me, too. In fact, I think it may be the best X-Men franchise logo I’ve done. Too bad they decided not to use the top lines I created, replacing them with the rather over-used font called Serpentine, which you can find on more than one magazine and book cover in any location you look for it today, I’ll wager. My top lines were inspired by the work of Gaspar Saladino, and I guess they were deemed too retro. Oh, well.

x-Force 44 cover

Over in X-Force, Alex Jay’s very 3-D logo was replaced by this very flat one, still emphasizing the big X, and now adding the circle behind it. I’m not sure who did this one, though I suspect it might be by Comicraft. I’m sure Richard Starkings or JG Roshell, the founders and principal designers there, will let me know if it is. In any case, it’s easy to read, certainly forceful. I would have made the center horizontal strokes in the F and E wider, but otherwise I think it’s fine.

X-Factor 112 cover

X-FACTOR also got a new logo in 1995, with issue 112. This was another of my designs, but I wasn’t happy with the way they stretched it vertically. Here are my sketches.

X-Factor sketches by Todd

As you can see, they went with the second of these, which I thought was plenty tall enough, but someone didn’t agree. The distorted proportions in the stretched version really don’t look good to me at all. I think they went back to my original design on some of the covers. The unused designs expressed an idea I’d been wanting to try, putting the secondary word OVER the X. Unfortunately, it was then impossible to keep from reading it as “FACTOR X” instead of X-Factor.

The editors liked the concept enough to ask me to come up with a variation on it for Excalibur.

Excalibur 87 cover

For this one I used rounded letterforms with serifs. I like the way the X worked, but looking at the rest of it now, it seems uneven, and I think not very successful. The U in particular bothers me…should it have had equally wide verticals? The B is also not right. Lots of things there I’d do differently now, and this is probably my least favorite of the X-Men logos I’ve created.

Whew! All that just in 1995! They certainly shook things up, didn’t they?

Adventures of the X-Men 1 cover

The comic based on the animated X-Men TV show received this revised and reworked title and logo in 1996, created by Comicraft’s JG Roshell along with all the other type and trade dress on the cover. This is a good example of the kind of 3-D logos that were just becoming popular, especially at Marvel, all created on the computer with programs like Adobe Illustrator, and special effects plug-ins like KPT Vector Effects, which created the metallic telescoping here, and probably the bevelling on the letters as well.

I did some of these, too, though I now think the look is way over the top, and I prefer simpler logo approaches. But we were exploring new tools and exploiting new toys, and the companies were buying them. As Richard has said, “those were the days, my friend!” Indeed they were. And we didn’t even know it.

Professor Xavier and the X-Men 14 cover

This title also began in 1996, using a variant of the Steranko design that has lost some of the proportions of the original, particularly in the MEN, where the strokes are now all odd sizes, no longer even. Don’t know what happened there, or who did it, but the remainder of the logo suggests a Comicraft font to me, so it may have been done by them.

Lots of titles…perhaps too many. The comics boom was on the verge of a bust, as an overload of books flooded the market and eventually turned off buyers, who could no longer keep up. The X-Men franchise lost some titles, but did keep chugging along, though. More next time!

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

9 thoughts on “Logo Study: X-Men part 6

  1. Skipper Pickle

    Two of your sketches of X-Factor logo have the “Factor” belted across the X. i find that i’m tempted to read them as “Factor X” and i’m curious as to how much this sort of thing comes into play in designing logos. What sorts of considerations do you have to make in solving the sort of problem that symmetry creates?

    i sort of suspect that you might rely on coloring, or that perhaps you might solve it by making sure the left margin of the “X” (the first thing that should be read) lands left of the margin of the “factor.” But i also suspect that it’s just me who would perceive it that way and that i have no idea what i’m talking about.

    Enjoying this. Thanks!

  2. Todd Post author

    Yes, as I said, they didn’t read correctly, which is one reason why they weren’t used. It would work fine on a title where the X came last, but the X-books usually had the X first so that all the books would be shelved together alphabetically.

    Symmetry isn’t always used, but when it is, I try to keep true to it, which is why I didn’t want to have a hyphen after the X in the square X-Men logo design I showed in part 5.

  3. Skipper Pickle

    Oops. i got so engaged in looking at the sketches i missed some of your description.

    i’m struck by your alternate versions of the Amazing X-Men, Astonishing X-Men logos. The jagged bottoms of the toplines seem really eye-catching.

  4. Martin Gray

    Another great instalment – you should call this feature Logos a Go-Go! You could even design a logo to go.

  5. Richard Starkings

    Once again, the GENERATION X logo here was not treated the way I would have liked — it was my intention to distinguish the X in the logo with a color that made it pop out of the logo and therefore increase legibility. In this instance the logo preceded the font — we didn’t create the font until the logo was done. The swooshing circle behind the X was inspired by the INTEL INSIDE swoosh. I really wanted our work on the book to look punkier and break free of the Orzechowski style of X-MEN lettering and display type.

    The X-FORCE logo and XAVIER/X-MEN logo are indeed the work of Comicraft’s logomesiter John JG Roshell — I remember that Bob Harras’s constant direction on X-FORCE was “make the X bigger!”

    Rich!

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  7. Kate Willaert

    Yeah, I’m bummed they removed your “Astonishing” and “Amazing” to do those kind of drab-looking lines on top…I remember seeing colored versions of your originals in an early AoA advert and thinking they looked better.

    Also, loved that you went with the jagged X, since the storyline was all about a possible alternate path…here I thought it was a suggestion from Lobdell perhaps, like “what if logos were based on the original rather than the Steranko?”

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