Saturday, April 22, 2006

Come on baby, do the logo-motion

That Thor cover in yesterday's post really did remind me how much I love comic book logos. I don't think we think too much about the masthead logos of periodicals in general: with the exception of historical icons like Time or Life, most folks probably don't remember distinctly what the logo of a magazine looks like.

Comic book fans are different. We not only recognize and remember the logos of our favorites, but we have distinct tastes about which ones we like and which ones "don't work". That odd uncomfortable feeling you got lookin' at that "Thor!" logo? That's our logo-sensibilities at work, telling you that's not a Thor logo. That's not even a weird 1990s Thor logo. It's like Peter Parker's spider-sense, tingling to tell us all's not right in the four-color world.

I'm a big fan of interesting and unusual comic book logos that I haven't seen before. Most of these are DCs from the 1970s or before (I've been a Marvel fanbull for a long time but I'm not as up on my DC history), so sometimes it's a fun discovery when I first see an elegantly-designed, elaborate and symbolic logo like this, from a DC comic I didn't even really know existed:

Let's do the Time Warp again

Cool, huh?

Lotsa comics logos are almost as familiar to us as the superheroes inside the books. Who doesn't know this logo?:

Superman #1 logo

...which, aside from a relatively recent temporary, intentional, and kinda ill-advised metamorphosis...

Superman #123 logo

...remains pretty much the same in 2006 that it was in 1938:

Superman #225 logo

On the other hand, DC's other big superhero has an iconic look that is recognized the world-round. But unlike Superman, he hasn't had a consistent logo to his comic over the past 67 years. This original logo persisted with a few subtle variations for several decades:

Batman #1 logo

This 1970 logo revamp (six years after the 1964 debut of the "New Look" Batman) worked the same concept but with a much more modern design:

Batman #220 logo

But by 1972, it had evolved into this version which was the familiar standard for the next fifteen years. It's similar to the 1939 original yet modern and dramatic:

Batman #252 logo

This somewhat generic 1987 post-Crisis logo was clear and bold, but not especially Batmanesque:

Batman #410 logo

Premiering just a few months before the 1989 Batman movie, this gothic redesign reflects the Anton Fursting of Gotham City and the Dark Knight:

Batman #443 logo

An across-the-line logo overhaul in 2000 reflected a new noir look for the series that tied all the various Batman books together:

Batman #592 logo

The big bat silhouette reappeared in 2002 and has been the standard right through Infinite Crisis:

Batman #638 logo

Even with all these logos, I'll bet that that Batman logo most recognized by the general public is the one that doesn't come from a comic book at all:

Batman TV logo

Golly, that's weird and kinda-bad typography by design standards...but it works, it's instantly recognizable from across the room, and it elicits an immediate response-c'mon, who didn't think to themselves when seeing that logo "Na na na na na na na na...Batman!"

Next up, sometime this weekend: a look at the design and evolution of a classic Marvel Comics logo...and why, as Ben Grimm might say, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

(Images from The Grand Comic Book Database)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Logo Mjolnir!

I'm a big gushy fanbull for weird, unusual, alternative and forgotten comics logos, so when I was lookin' for covers for "Leggo Mjolnir!," I was surprised to find this:

Thor King Sized Special #4

Now there's a logo you don't see often, and as far as I could tell, this is the one and only time in Thor's run that it was used as the main title on the front of the book. It pops up on internal pages as early as Journey Into Mystery #87:

Journey Into Mystery #87 splash

And it made a later rare cover appearance on Journey Into Mystery #99:

Journey Into Mystery #99

I'm not certain who created the logo for JIM #87 (possibly letterer Artie Simek?) and I suppose despite its tryout, Stan may have thought it didn't convey the grandeur and glory of Marvel's golden-tressed Asgardian powerhouse. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'd say at first glance it doesn't look like a Marvel comics logo. Even if you weren't familiar with the usual Thor logo, this looks much more like, say, a Charlton logo. That woulda been a heartburn to Stan.

As far as I can tell, it isn't seen on Thor covers aside from King-Size Special #4 and JIM #99. It's kinda a shame: it's a nice, dramatic, dynamic logo that leaps right out at you from the spinner rack at Pop's Chok'lit Shop, but it's a little more cartoony (thanks to the exclamation point) than the usual jagged-rock Thor logo that was the standard (until the early Walt Simonson issues). Whatever was the thinking behind using this logo on King-Sized Special #4, we'll never know it. But it makes a nifty thing of wonder to gaze at and ponder, and when you can do that with a comic book logo, you know you're a true fan, because it's not only the stories and the characters that make comics fun--it's the history and mystery behind them.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Leggo Mjolnir!

Jeepers, Mister Thor! You might wanna consider puttin' a bike lock on that thing or something:

Thor #126

Thor #286

Thor Annual #1

Thor #109

Thor #338

Thor #112

Avengers/JLA #4

(More Ten of a Kind here.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Leggo Mjolnir, por favor s'il vous plait!, or: Civil War, Swingin' Seventies Style!

Fantastic Four #536 (2006):
FF #536

Thor #183 (1970):
Thor #183

I guess this must be why I looked at FF #536 this week and thought "Been there, done that."

And just for fun, sometimes I like to pretend Thor and Doctor Doom, the two best trash-talkin' pontificators in the Marvel Universe, are spouting their usual wordy Spanish French! [EDIT: Ooh la la! "Anonymous" in the comments points out my foolish mistake: That's French, not Spanish!]

El Thorro

(Well, for one thing, Doctor Doom has a more cheerful interior decorator in his Spanish French estate.)