STEVEN BOVÉ’S DC LOGOS Part 2

Images © DC Comics, Inc. except where noted.

In 1988 Steven Bové was on staff at DC in the Production Department, where as I know well from experience, design opportunities often come up. Apparently, even more so after the arrival of Keith “Kez” Wilson at the company. Steve writes:

“Keith Wilson’s arrival as Assistant Art Director at DC changed everything. He spent more time in Production than Editorial and we would team up to create several logos through the years.”

And about this logo, Steve continues:

“Batgirl was a design of desperation. A special was planned, someone dragged out a dated logo for her and I said she needed a new one. I was told there was no money for the project but I said I’d do something anyway. I had the “B” shape in my head (based on electrical symbols that I would see drawn on the streets in Astoria). The next day Keith saw my initial sketch and asked to modify it, and overnight I rendered the final. DC did end up paying me for the work. Just recently I saw that logo on a young girl’s t-shirt and it still holds up well.”

The most striking features of this logo are the overlapping points on the B and the R, but also important is the overlap of the A on the B. That helps keep the word compact, as do the joined pairs of letters AT and RL. The design is an interesting mixture of serif and sans-serif letters (those with and without pointed additions to the stroke ends). The uphill tilt also adds interest.

That tilt wasn’t used on the BATGIRL SPECIAL, but the logo looks good all the same, particularly for a rush job.

Others must have liked it, too, here’s that t-shirt Steve mentioned!

Also from 1988, Steve might have worked on the design of this logo with Keith Wilson, or at least created the final rendering. Steve reports: “I may have done the logo for Doc Savage (with Keith Wilson) or Spelljammer (with Curtis King) but since I never really kept sketches or finals I couldn’t say.”

© Bantam Books and the respective copyright holders.

The logo is based on the one used on the covers of a long series of paperback books about the character, with memorable covers by James Bama, but the DC version is considerably different, giving the S in SAVAGE much more importance. The upward curve and backslant of the DC logo is not as interesting to my eye as the paperback’s flagwave curve and 60’s-rock-poster style, but it does the job.

1989 saw one of Steve’s best logo designs, in my opinion, this one for a new Aquaman one-shot. Steve writes:

“As you may remember I was an Aquaman nut and even was allowed to do the Aquaman piece (in the blue wave suit!) for an issue of Who’s Who. A few years later I got the opportunity to design a logo. I was pushing at that point for larger logos that had presence and strong graphics. My complaint at the time was that logos were not very bold on the DC covers. The problem with Aquaman as a logo was that the only organic letter in the bunch was the Q. That issue was handled well in the 60s version. I eventually decided to push the regal and majestic angle of Aquaman as The King of the Seven Seas, a concept that often seemed to be forgotten at times. Design-wise, strong peaks and a little flourish on the Q. I do remember that I was unhappy with it in the end only because it didn’t mesh with the new interpretation of the character.  I remember Keith Wilson and Mark Waid were involved in the logo design as well. We all liked it on the ‘Legend of Aquaman’ cover but on the mini-series it was not so great. My logo did end up on a postage stamp though.”

I think the logo looks terrific on this cover, which is clearly designed to go with it. I love the shape of the Q and the trident-like point of the initial A. The double-curved shape has lots of energy and flows nicely, almost splashing out on each end like water, yet the letterforms are sharp and exciting. Even the color choices here add energy and tie in well with the character’s costume.

Steve’s logo was also used on this 1989 mini-series, where it wasn’t such a good fit style-wise, but I think still looks fine despite that.

Oh, and here’s that postage stamp, from the 2006 series of DC heroes and hero covers stamps issued by the U.S. Post Office. Pretty cool!

Also in 1989, Steve designed several logos for DC’s SECRET ORIGINS, the first being this one for Poison Ivy. It’s another logo with an insert done on an overlay, in this case the leaf pattern inside the boxes for IVY:

Steve reports:

“Poison Ivy was done quickly for Secret Origins. I think this one shows that I was looking outside of the industry for inspiration and direction. It worked well, though it could have used a bit more research. The “Poison” and “Ivy” don’t work together very well.”

I have to disagree on that last point. While different letterforms are used for the two words, with IVY having slab serifs instead of pointed ones, the styles are similar, and I think they work together well. One thing I find kind of amusing is that the leaf shapes are not typical of any ivy I’ve seen (poison or otherwise), but rather suggest another kind of plant, a controlled substance in this and many countries. The boxlike frames for the letters in IVY with the leaves inside suggest a greenhouse as well as something in confinement, which I think is quite appropriate for the character.

Here’s the cover the logo appeared on. I don’t know if it’s been used since, which I think is rather a shame.

Steve’s final DC logos in Part 3, next time. More Logo Studies can be found on the LOGO LINKS page of my website.

3 thoughts on “STEVEN BOVÉ’S DC LOGOS Part 2

  1. Kez Wilson

    Steve definitely worked on the Doc Savage logo with me, but as it was with all of our logo collaborations he did most of the heavy lifting while I fiddled as art director. I recall that we were aiming for something reminiscent of the Bantam logo, but also unique. Ultimately I don’t think it worked very well, which is no reflection on Steve’s work on the logo. I blame the art director. We eventually went with a logo inspired by the original pulp logo until the end of it’s run. I’m not sure why we didn’t use the Bantam version, although there may have been some legal issue involved.

    I’ve always been a huge Doc Savage fan and a little obsessed with the Bantam covers. For example, your “Bantam” sample cover is one of my goofy Doc Savage Fantasy cover mash-ups (in this case a Bama/Gogos combination) of Doc stories that will never be. I started those a few years ago as a lark but it turned into a bit of real work for me. Now I do the title lettering for the Doc Savage Bama cover reprints from Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum books, and for a series of Doc Savage audio books from Radio Archives.

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