Friday, 6 February 2009

Comic Book Logo's & Titles

After designing the logo for my movie, I decided that I want to design an 'older' logo for the comic book I want to try and squeeze into this month long project. Because I have set up a universe within a universe for this project, I think it is important to pay attention to all of the details: no matter how minor.

The story goes that a young 'out-of-college' director stumbles across an old comic book that only ever had one issue made and makes a 'blockbuster' film out of it. The reason this comic never made it past the first issue is because people were disgusted by it and nobody bought it. This is a self referencing mechanism for the reaction most people are likely to have at hearing the word 'pervert' (I will be doing another post about the connotations of words shortly).

So this research is to primarily look at comic book logo's for famous characters and stories and see how I can turn my shiny movie logo, into a pale and slightly worn looking comic book logo.

When I was a kid I wasn't into comics, but out of interest I bought a stack of comics from a car boot sale for a quid. They ended up in the attic, but I dug them out and now I am completely enamoured with them. They feel like glorious gateways into the past. A lot of them or black & white and from the 70's, some are early 90's and a bit more recent. But the stories are all so wonderfully far fetched that you can't possible not enjoy them. They are also full to the brim of advertising for ridiculous products like, fake tattoos or costumes of the characters. They really are a great thing to own. I have about fifty of them and I have chose a few of my favourite logo's to dissect. Here they are:

These three comics are from the late 80's. I have found, overall, that a lot of the logos no matter how old they are, have quite a similar look. The lettering is all BIG CAPITAL LETTERS and very often the logos don't directly relate to the character at all. It would seem the that to make people know they are buying a superhero comic all you have to do make a logo with big bold letters.

'The Avengers' logo has changed a lot and I can see a broad range of them across the decades from just the few comics I own. It would appear the previous owner was a big fan of The Avengers. I quite like this logo design, its got a lot of appeal. It's very bold and recognisable, just like The Avengers.

The 'Kickers Inc' logo looks like an American Football teams pitch logo...but that is for good reason: the comic is about Superheros that play football. I had never heard of this comic or these characters before, but I recognised the logo as quite sporty, which means that it served its purpose.

'The West Coast Avengers' it probably the most awful logo I've ever seen on a comic book. It's incredibly bland and boring. I think most of this logo was done on a very early computer, so chances are the designer used a very early form of word art. The ones from the 70's are hand drawn and they look great but I'll come to them later. It seems strange that the

These logos exemplify exactly what I expect from Super Hero comics. Big Bold 3D titles that as powerful as the characters and content within.

The Avengers logo here is from 1976 and it is awesome. This is where 'word art' was born. The big bold letters bend around a central point and bold contrast between black and yellow is used well: it isn't warning us away, its drawing us in. I love the stark (Comic book geek joke intended) difference between the Conan log below. It is bold and has cracks as if it has been carved out of rock. Grrrrr Conan is gritty and from an older time!

The Guardians of the Galaxy logo is my absolute favourite logo so far. The logo really is GIANT and towers above the reader. It gives me confidence in the Guardians and makes me believe in them, just because their logo is so Uberific. This is from 1968 and the drawings throughout this very large comic are lovely. They look as if they have used a very early three colour printing technique here: something I would love to do a bit more research into.

These three examples are all from the 1980's apart from the 'Captain America' comic.

The paper that the 'Marvel Age' and 'Thor' comics are printed on are of a higher quality than the earlier ones. The covers in particular are printed on a coated paper and do add a nicer sense of quality to the product. The top two logos are both from the 80's and there seems to bit a little less thought put into them than the 1970's 'Captain America' comic, which is more obviously hand crafted. I think the Captain America logo perfectly sums up his character with the use of the old Red, White & Blue. Patriotic and kick ass! The Falcon's logo underneath is also very telling of his character. The letters are sharp and both and the slight italic of them gives a sense of speed and precision: all things related to the creature and the super hero.

These examples are all much more modern. Late 80's and early 90's. By this point the logo's seem to have got quite generic. It is a shame to see, but the content is still quite exciting and the cover art is still very attractive. 'The Silver Surfer' logo is very basic, but at least it does the job. It looks like his board has left the logo behind and gives a sense of speed and direction.

The 'Spider-man' logo has got nothing to do with Spider-man though...and the use of red and yellow doesn't really make it any more exciting. I guess by this point, the audience was more interested in the drawings that the logo, so more money was being spent on a good piece of cover art, rather than hiring someone to create a logo. The other thing I suppose it should be given credit for is that a lot of the comics don't seem to have consistent logos...its almost like the artist got to re-design it each issue. This seems strange because surely a company as popular and smart as Marvel would have realised that you need to give a brand a recognisable logo. Perhaps the characters were so memorable themselves that they didn't need a logo.

Onto a couple of modern examples. In recent years, comics have become much more targeted at specific audiences. They are no longer generically aimed at anyone interested in the drawings. The plots, drawings and content are often more adult and the violence has moved from cartoon violence into gore. This is a new generation of comic books. There seems to be a large divide: comics for kids and comics for older teenagers and adults and this has what has kept the comic book industry going: moving with the times.

The top comic, 'Bad Boys' is a recent series that uses, Simon Pegg's face for one of the main characters. There is sex, nudity, swearing, gore and extreme violence. The plot is quite corny in a sense (But that is whats so lovable about comics), but it is very appealing and grabs you right from the beginning. The Boy's are a group of Super Heroes employed by the American Government to make sure that other 'Super's' don't step out of line and mis-use their powers. When they do, The Boy's go in and very often brutally murder them. The logo is quite basic. It says what it needs to say: this comic is violent and dangerous. The way it is written: 'The BOYS' emphasises the important part of the comic, subconsciously you know exactly what it is about.

The Preacher is another modern series about super natural beings. It has a hard sci-fi edge to it and concerns a lot of modern religious practises. It still takes on the good ole' Good vs Evil style of comics, but in an interesting and gritty way. It is very gory and very addictive: the lead character is very well written and the storyline twists and turns constantly, meaning you want to keep on reading. The logo is great because it is so telling. All the dialog is written as it is said in a southern America drawl accent, this gives it an added sense of 'realism'. The lettering is that of an old WANTED poster because the story begins in the Southern States of America. The colour is faded and looks like a dusk sky: a perfect setting for this gruesome tale. It is a very BIG title: something you don't see too much on older comics, The cover doesn't always necessarily explain very much like a lot of the other comics.

These two comics are actually books of the comic books. A modern way of issuing a series is to turn them into a book of comic books, instead of issuing them individually. It is a money saving device and it means that the books can be printing on nicer paper with better inks.

As I previously mentioned, when I was a kid I wasn't really into comic books: but I wanted to be. I was more interesting in moving cartoons and video games and I never really got into comic strips. But my interest in them is an all time high and online comic strips are very, very popular. I tend to find my favourite ones are the ones that deal with things I am interested in, like current affairs or hobbies such as video gaming. Comics about slandering video games like ctrlaltdel-online.com are great fun and often make me laugh out loud. There is a new German online comic due out next month that pictures Captain Beefheart as a Super Hero, that I am definitely going to chase up.

Comics have grown up and got more adult since they began...but they have retained that awkward sexual tension throughout the ages. You know the one I mean: Men and Women in tight clothing bouncing off one another. As things age, they have to move with the times, it is inevitable, its just a shame that times call for gore and smut, rather than fun cartoon violence and clever humour. The time of paper and print is definitely coming to a close. It would seem comics, much like animated cartoons are making the move onto the Internet as well, further pushing me to believe that I might be correct about the inevitable transition of both mediums. For me, it is a very sad thing. But progress will always be made and it is a cartoonists job to give their audience what they want: even if they don't necessarily think it is 'right' themselves.

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