I watched the first episode of this new CW show last night, based on the Vertigo comics. There have been a number of TV shows and movies adapted from comics I worked on, but this one is unusual in that I lettered the entire series, so I was curious to see what I’d think. I liked it a lot, and there are definitely connections to the comics, though not as many as there might have been.
First, let’s consider the logo. It’s crude and distressed, in a familiar style these days especially for horror, but there’s also a little humor in it. The letters are slightly cartoony, and the bite out of the first one is amusing. Seems like a good logo for the concept, and I think better than the one on the comics:
I don’t know who designed the comics logo, but it’s more generic and not as entertaining as the TV one. I’m glad they kept the lower case i, by the way, I always liked that, but it’s more obvious in the TV logo. In the comics one all the letters were lower case. Note that there’s also a bite out of the last letter, but it’s easy to miss.
The main character of the show looks very much like Mike Allred’s version of her in the comics. Creepily similar, I’d call it. The pale complexion and shadows around the eyes are effective, and yet not so different as to be alarming to the normal people she’s with. In the comic she was named Gwen, in the series it’s Olivia, or Liv, and different last name. Not sure why the change, unless someone was thinking of Gwen Stacy from the SPIDER-MAN movies. Liv’s personality and ironic voice-over seems similar to the comics, but in most other ways her life is different. Different origin, different home and family situation, different friends, different job. Despite that, she does definitely remind me of the girl in the comics. None of the other characters introduced so far seem to be from the comics. The writing style is entertaining and fast-paced. I’ve heard comparisons to “Veronica Mars” and “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” neither of which I’ve seen.
So, Liv works in a morgue and gets her brains fix from the corpses she and her boss, the coroner are working on. (Ellen bailed at the brain-eating scene, so I’ll be watching this alone, but I thought it was all handled well without excess grossness.) When she’s eaten some of a crime victim’s brains, she gets flashbacks about what happened to them, much as in the comics, the other main story connection. Here, this leads to her becoming the “psychic” sidekick of a rookie police detective, and soon out chasing a murderer. Okay, I’m not a huge fan of police shows, but this one worked pretty well, and there was just a little Zombie fantasy involved to make it more interesting.
The other visual tag to the comics involves the opening animated title sequence which uses Mike Allred’s art to recap Liv’s origin and current life, complete with lettering! I thought this was pretty cool, and the lettering used in that opening sequence was very well done. It almost made me feel like I had some influence myself!
Another example with an obvious error, one that signals a designer unfamiliar with comics lettering: the use of the serif I inside words. That’s the one with the crossbars at top and bottom. This is meant to only be used for personal pronouns like I, I’m and I’ll. In other words, one uses the I without serifs, in the lower case i position on the font keyboard. Since it was right in the animation, I’m guessing a different person did it on the episode credits. Oh well, can’t win them all.
Even with that mistake, it was nice to see this credit come up. Yay Chris and Michael! Yay Vertigo! By the way, I think I’ve tracked down the font, it’s a free font designed by Neale Davidson under the studio name Pixel Sagas, and called simply “Comic Book” or “Comic Book Normal,” depending on where you find it. I don’t like the actual font that much, but I have to admit it looks fine on my TV screen, so I guess a good choice. Throughout the show, new scenes are introduced with lettering in captions, and the image morphs from a drawing to live action, nicely done.
I hope the series does well, I enjoyed it and will be watching more of them.