Recently Anthony Tollin, who I worked with in the DC Production Department in the late 1970s-early 1980s, wrote to me on Facebook:
Hey, Todd, it occurs to me that your COMICS REVUE logo has probably appeared on more issues than any other logo you designed. It’s appeared on around 352 covers (290 regular issues, 80 double-issue covers plus two CR Annuals). Offhand, are there any other logos you designed that have appeared on more covers?
This is something I’ve noticed myself every five or ten years when I realize the magazine is still being published! It’s been rolling out regularly from Rick Norwood’s Manuscript Press since 1983 and has always been a hefty collection of comic strips, some reprinted from the glory days, some more recent.
My 1985 logo first appeared on issue #11, above. I know I was contacted by Rick Norwood, but didn’t remember how we connected. I asked Anthony, and he said he recommended me to Rick. Anthony was a fan of the magazine and started doing color guides around this time, and was the editor for a few years. I was on staff at DC, and therefore not allowed to letter comics stories for competing companies, but logo design work was okay, and I had already designed a number of logos for Fantagraphics and other companies and individuals met while at DC. I don’t recall anything about the process on this one except that I wanted to use press-down letters for the subtitle using the font Cooper Black, and I designed the title to work with that. I also thought it should have a retro feel to match the older strips and characters often used on the covers.
I never received any free copies of the magazine, which I was fine with, Norwood’s budget was small, and he was licensing all those strips, so it always surprises me when I see a cover like this one reminding me it’s still coming out, and still using my logo, minus the subtitle. With issue 281-282, Norwood began doing double issues, allowing more strips per issue but less frequent releases.
Here’s the most recent issue, out this month. Wikipedia reports:
As of 2020, it has published more than 350 issues, making it the longest running independent comic book (beating the record of Cerebus the Aardvark). It reprints comic strips such as Alley Oop, The Amazing Spider-Man, Barnaby, Batman, Buz Sawyer, Casey Ruggles, Flash Gordon, Gasoline Alley, Hägar the Horrible, Krazy Kat, Lance, Latigo, Little Orphan Annie, Mandrake the Magician, Modesty Blaise, O’Neill, Peanuts, The Phantom, Rick O’Shay, Sir Bagby, Star Wars, Steve Canyon, Tarzan, Akwas, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
And nearly all of them with my logo on the cover! I guess Rick Norwood likes it…!
It’s comparatively rare for a comics logo to last more than a few years, though there are certainly exceptions. Ira Schnapp’s revision of Joe Shuster’s Superman logo first appeared on issue #6 in 1940, and on every issue to #385 in 1983. The Milton Glaser studio’s revamp has appeared on nearly every Superman comic since, and both have appeared on many other titles too, putting the cover appearances of each in the many hundreds, perhaps over a thousand. Another long survivor with many spin-offs is the ARCHIE logo. In the early days of comics, logos were rarely revised or replaced, but titles often did not last more than a decade. By the 1960s, a new logo became one way some companies tried to interest new buyers, though I doubt that ever succeeded. It did mean more logo design work for people like Artie Simek at Marvel and Ira Schnapp and Gaspar Saladino at DC. When I started doing logos in 1978, it was often for one-shots, short-lived series, or ones that were struggling and didn’t last much longer.
One of my first logos, for DC COMICS PRESENTS, designed in 1978, was an exception, it lasted for 89 issues before being replaced. Of course, I only designed the COMICS PRESENTS part, the DC was created by the Milton Glaser Studio.
Still, it was a good run, and I like the logo. The only DC Comics logo I can think of that had more cover appearances is this one:
There were a few spinoffs that used the logo, and I think it’s the one by me with the most DC cover appearances. I also did other versions later with slightly different titles. By the 1980s, logos were often revised or replaced, sometimes with dizzying speed.
The only logo design of mine that comes close in number of cover appearances to the one on COMICS REVUE is this design from 1994. Marvel had commissioned a logo from me for the X-Men character Sabretooth:
It was the era of pointy and dangerous logos (and characters), and Marvel loved it. So much that they asked me to do something similar for Spider-Man, and the result is above, the pointy Spider-Man logo which ran on all the titles featuring the character for some years, and is still sometimes in use today, though with a somewhat modified logo. I also did a version without the curve, which I’m including, as it’s really the same logo. Going through the Grand Comics Database, I get a rough estimate of 250-300 cover appearances of my pointy Spider-Man logo, depending on what you want to include, and the number might well be higher. I think COMICS REVUE holds the record for most logo appearances, though, and clearly does for most consecutive appearances on one series! Thanks to Anthony Tollin for reminding me.