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Comics logos, more honorable mentions

2011 February 24

While I try to organize further thoughts on a recent comics-related design of my own, I may as well finish this series of thoughts on other comics designs. I’ll round out my responses to Todd Klein’s top ten comics logos with two more picks from my own collection which, in some way, seem worth a moment’s recognition.

Starman logo

Ah what many of us wouldn't give to see that logo on another issue or two

Starman logo

Okay, the James Robinson Starman series is another favorite of mine, but really, only two of the five logos I’ve selected come from particular favorite series, while I’ve got plenty of other faves which aren’t represented here.

It does occur to me that I have no idea what other versions of a Starman logo appeared before the Jack Knight version of the character; hold on while I have a shufti. Yeah okay, the 1980s version looks… very much like a 1980s-era logo for something called “Starman.” And… I guess that’s about it; apparently the Golden Age Starman didn’t have a series published under his own name.

So it was a pretty wide-open field when Starman was relaunched in the 90s, and I think the result is very pleasing.

I don’t want to get too far into reminiscing about the Robinson/Knight Starman series, but good, memorable visual design was certainly an important part of the series and its appeal from the beginning. The series’ first artist, Tony Harris, was a big part of this with his increasingly-elaborate page layout and decoration. Having John Workman’s distinctive lettering around in the early issues didn’t hurt, either. And the series’ recurring “Times Past” feature was inseparable from an element of design thinking, as each Times Past issue was a break from the series’ regular artist and thus invited consideration of different visual styles to match a given time period.

And then there was Jack Knight himself: tattooed hipster and devoted connoisseur of old stuff. Knight’s life as picker/dealer/collector of antiques, particularly of artifacts from 20th century pop culture and consumer products, is a clear influence on the Starman logo. As is the art-deco fantasyland architecture of his fictional home, Opal City.

Look at the Starman logo and one can see hints of lettering from any number old products from the 20s through the 50s. Cars, radios, kitchen appliances. This logo is its own thing, but happily celebrates its retro influences.

The logo is also a bit awkward in spots, perhaps, if you keep looking at it long enough. Some of the letters, on their own, seem a little clunky or oddly proportioned. The relationship between the letters and the crossbar running through them doesn’t seem completely certain. Or, for that matter, the issue of what exactly that thing is; it kind of suggests the 90s Starman’s signature weapon, except that the cosmic rod has a different shape. The star / compass rose at the end of the logo is basically the design on Knight’s jacket.

This is a logo, however, not an atlas or a magic eye puzzle or something else that normal people might stare at; it’s meant to make an impression that’s positive and memorable. And it does. (Or did. Alas, Jack Knight, we hardly knew ye.)

Deathlok logo

1990s Deathlok series logo

I've kept a few issues of this series

I’m not even entirely sure why this one stands out, to me, but I really do like it. The ’90s Deathlok series had an interesting “high concept,” which was however probably more appropriate as premise for a limited series than as “storytelling engine” for an ongoing. Writing was often decent while artwork was usually mediocre and/or otherwise unlikely to appeal to typical prospective readers (if there were any).

But that Deathlok logo, the shapes just intrigue me. Some of them, like the “E,” aren’t especially interesting on their own, but that letter “O” for example sure is odd. The whole thing fits together a little uneasily but the complete design just fascinates me. I think that some of the letterforms, like the “D,” “L” and “O” in particular, look like they could refer to machine-optimized type, like the numbers on checks (if anyone remembers checks). Except that everything has been done with right angles (and then skewed several degrees to the right).

Basically, then: weird, but suggestive of some real thought, effort and talent, and quite possibly at least as interesting a creative work as the entire series for which it was designed.

Or, looking at it one more time… maybe it just looks Transformer-y in some indefinable way… I do like Transformers. Hmm.

2 Responses
  1. February 24, 2011

    Never cared for the Deathlok logo myself. The stroke weights seem very inconsistent, especially with the “OK” — it makes the “K” look like it’s just dangling on the end by itself. The “LO” combination looks incredibly clunky and the “AT” kerning could stand some tweaking as well. Some characters have serifs; others don’t. And that “E” is atrocious! The longest horizontal stroke is on top, while the shortest is the bottom? Who does that?

    Nope. Never liked the Deathlok logo.

  2. Matt permalink
    February 25, 2011

    Do tell. 😉

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