For decades comics books featuring Walt Disney characters had been produced by companies who licensed the properties, paying Disney a fee, and surrendering all artwork rights, but in 1990 or so Disney decided to pull the license from Gladstone Publishing and put out some comics themselves. I began freelancing for the new Disney Comics line, both lettering and doing logo designs, on books featuring traditional characters like Donald Duck, and newer ones like Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid.
In 1991 I got a call from Art Young. I’d worked with him at DC, where he was an Assistant Editor to Karen Berger in the early days of what became the Vertigo line. He’d been hired by Disney to put together a line of comics for mature readers, as an alternative to their cartoon comics. It was a good choice, Art had lots of contacts in the comics scene, especially in England. He asked me if I’d design a logo for the line, and logos for the first few titles he was planning. The line was to be called Touchmark, playing off the film company Touchstone, Disney’s similar home for more mature films. I was happy to take a shot at it.
Here’s the first thing I faxed to Art. I wasn’t working on the computer then, so all my design work would be by hand. I began with these small versions to get a feel for the sort of thing he might like. Note that several have a scribbled “mark” under the name, which I thought would be a good visual tie in. And, though they’ve dropped off this page, there were small xeroxes of my fingerprint in the place of the O in two versions, too.
Art liked several of those ideas, and I did larger versions of some. He thought the fingerprint idea was good, but suggested it go at the beginning of the logo instead of in place of the O. And the scribbled mark, which was done in grease pencil on heavily textured water-color paper, he thought could run across the logo letters in a different color. The letterforms he chose were from my original sketch 6, though I made the T and K larger than the rest for the final. (Hmmm…just realized those are also my initials!) Since I couldn’t do the color combination thing myself, I simply delivered the three pieces, with a hand-colored layout showing how it should go together.
And here it is in print for the one and only time, in an 11 by 17 inch color ad-sheet Art put together. He and I both thought it was pretty cool. The fingerprint and scribble together made “touch-mark”, and I liked the way Art had his art department run the scribble behind some parts of the letters and in front of others.
On the other side of the ad-sheet, left half, the logo now has the black reversed out in white, again looking quite nice, and the first of the three book logos I did, for SEBASTIAN O, is also present.
On the right half of the same side are the other two book logos I designed, for ENIGMA and MERCY. Soon after this was printed, Disney decided to cancel the entire idea, and no books were printed, but Art eventually brought all three of these projects, and some others, over to DC’s Vertigo line, where they were published a few years later. Two of the logos I did were used for the Vertigo versions. Here are all three:
The MERCY design went with a font, but the other two were mine, which was a good thing. I always wished Disney had actually published at least one TOUCHMARK title, though, so I could see that logo in on a comic, my fingerprint and all. Ah, well, at least the projects found a good home.
Note that all images are © by the respective copyright holders.
Thanks for the view into a project that never happened. The ad looks familiar. Do you know if it was run in Previews or elsewhere?
Enigma is one of my favorite books from this period of Vertigo. Interesting to see that it might have been published by Disney!
Don’t know if it appeared in Previews, but it’s quite possible. I wasn’t seeing Previews then.
Nice to see those alternate takes Todd, I always liked that logo. The folded leaflet was a give way at SDCC in 1991, Touchmark had a small stand and most artists and writers in residence at one stage or another. I think the only art completed for any of the projects were those used on the leaflet, mine was completely faked!
Thanks for the comment, Duncan!
I gotta say, that N at the end of SEBASTIAN, and the A on ENIGMA remind me a lot of the TARZAN logo from the Sunday strip that you showed us in your Tarzan logo study. Touchmark did sound like a neat idea coming from Disney, and I think the logos you designed for it were really great. It’s a shame it never materialized.
I’m reading all of your logo studies and truly enjoying each one of them. I really appreciate the opportunity of looking at this side of comic-book history that you don’t usually get the chance to see otherwise.
Best regards from Patagonia!
Thanks Gonzalo, I’m glad you’re enjoying it.