A look at the design of comic book logos & their covers
NO GO: HAPPY
The only reason this is a no-go for me is that, whilst the cover is perfectly fine (in that it does the job of showing you the title without too much superfluous elements), it looks exactly like a MillarWorld book if it weren’t for Grant Morrison’s name above the title.When one creator brands his books in a consistent manner (and colour scheme), the last thing you should do is emulate it. Unless this is a very clever ploy to confuse readers and buy into the Millar hype.

NO GO: HAPPY

The only reason this is a no-go for me is that, whilst the cover is perfectly fine (in that it does the job of showing you the title without too much superfluous elements), it looks exactly like a MillarWorld book if it weren’t for Grant Morrison’s name above the title.
When one creator brands his books in a consistent manner (and colour scheme), the last thing you should do is emulate it. Unless this is a very clever ploy to confuse readers and buy into the Millar hype.

UPDATE — GO: NOWHERE MEN #1 COVER

I wrote about Nowhere Men 2 posts down, but just discovered two things: a) the covers are designed by Fonografiks, and b) the actual cover for issue 1 is a wraparound design homage to Lawrence Ratzkin’s jacket design for “The Beatles: The Authorized Biography” by Hunter Davies. The 2nd image is an variant design released for the Thought Bubble comic convention.

Another great example of comics looking out from their walled garden at music design/packaging (see also Rian Hughes’ great Ghost Box inspired Iron Man covers).

GO: Multiple Warheads #2
Brilliant piece of collage/found image based cover design by writer/artist Brandon Graham for his Multiple Warheads series where he scanned a page out of a discarded Chinese calendar, then adding his own art to it.

GO: Multiple Warheads #2

Brilliant piece of collage/found image based cover design by writer/artist Brandon Graham for his Multiple Warheads series where he scanned a page out of a discarded Chinese calendar, then adding his own art to it.

GO: Nowhere Men
I might be jumping ahead here as the book hasn’t been released yet, but this — what I assume is the cover for the first issue — looks incredibly promising. The promo material I’ve seen so far for this series is dressed in a very modern, minimal design reminiscent of Segura’s The Filth covers and, obviously, American Modernism. Not a bad thing at all. Its an interesting, if slightly off-balance logo lockup, and personally I would have done more with the typography instead of just setting it in Helvetica Neue 75 because its easy to make something look good without too much effort — but nonetheless its quite refreshing to see something this unapologetic on a cover.

GO: Nowhere Men

I might be jumping ahead here as the book hasn’t been released yet, but this — what I assume is the cover for the first issue — looks incredibly promising. The promo material I’ve seen so far for this series is dressed in a very modern, minimal design reminiscent of Segura’s The Filth covers and, obviously, American Modernism. Not a bad thing at all. Its an interesting, if slightly off-balance logo lockup, and personally I would have done more with the typography instead of just setting it in Helvetica Neue 75 because its easy to make something look good without too much effort — but nonetheless its quite refreshing to see something this unapologetic on a cover.

GO: INJURY

Comic covers as gig posters is the best analogy I can come up with here. Only four issues in total, and each cover has a very distinct look and design. Great use of colour, custom type and layout.

GO: Black Dynamite
As far as design references go, the cover for the Black Dynamite comic can do nothing wrong in my eyes. Its incredibly difficult to do a proper pastiche or retro design using current tools: more often than not the design gets clouded by a idealised/stylised idea of what we think it should look like. Usually this translates in using too many period fonts, and ravaging the design with faux dust and paper creases, which is luckily kept to an absolute minimum here. 

GO: Black Dynamite

As far as design references go, the cover for the Black Dynamite comic can do nothing wrong in my eyes. Its incredibly difficult to do a proper pastiche or retro design using current tools: more often than not the design gets clouded by a idealised/stylised idea of what we think it should look like. Usually this translates in using too many period fonts, and ravaging the design with faux dust and paper creases, which is luckily kept to an absolute minimum here. 

GO: Marvel NOW!

I’ve been holding off on writing about Marvel’s big reboot because cover previews were coming through at a very sporadic rate making it difficult to get a grasp on the bigger picture. I’m sure that as of writing this we still haven’t seen the last of them either, but at least I can form more of an opinion on it NOW. Before I dive into this, two things: Initially I was planning to split the covers in a Go and No-go post, but, looking at all the covers together I couldn’t really find any glaring faults that would warrant that, personal preferences aside. Hence a catch-all ‘Go’ review if you will. Secondly, because Tumblr only allows 10 images in a photo set I can’t show every single NOW cover, so I’m focussing on the ones I believe are the most interesting — good and/or bad.

Three months ago I wrote about the Uncanny Avengers logo, and while giving that logo a negative review, I’m glad to see a new version of it gracing the covers. Albeit still flawed in places (some very weird angles and curves on the letters G and S in particular) its a vast improvement on the initial design.

Generally speaking, I’m giving the redesigns a thumbs up. Most logos are typographically strong, but suffer from FX overload. I don’t think the Iron Man logo will ever escape bevels and metallic effects for long, while The Hulk logo will forever equally look like a bad case of filter overload. Style wise, there’s little consistency across the titles. While some logos clearly belong to the 90s — The Fantastic Four could be a Heroes Reborn title for all I know, others clearly lean towards 60s pulp fiction (FF, and most of the X-titles) filtered through cartoons and contemporary design sensibilities. I like the Captain America logo in particular because of its graphic simplicity, keeping the typography close to the 40s logo. Even titles like Deadpool and Guardian of the Galaxy, while really playing up to expected tropes work for some reason, even though its not to my personal taste. The weaker ones of the bunch would be Thor and Thunderbolts. Both fall victim to too much effect treatments (Thunderbolts in particular I’d say), and it would have been nice to see an updated take on the Thor logo.

Standouts for me at the moment are the (New) Avengers, and recently unveiled Superior Spider-Man logos. Both very different in design, but both extremely effective. The almost monolithic A is — especially after the film — all the book needs, and the dirty, stringy, web-like treatment of the Superior Spider-Man is a really clever update from the decades old webbing device.

Another interesting contender is Avengers Arena, who thanks to Dave Johnson’s striking design for issue 1 are pushed into genre homages of thematically linked (pop) culture references like Battle Royale and Lord Of The Flies. While this works for the  first issue, the BR style bullet feels out of place on the 2nd issue, and it would have been nice to see an approach similar to Warren Ellis’ Planetary, where the logo design adapts to the cover art and theme.

Objectively speaking, I can’t really find any glaring faults with the logos. Some are very modern and fresh takes on old ideas, while some almost deliberately become a pastiche of themselves, if only they would use less superfluous effects.

One of the things that I’ve been going back and forth on is if it would have been necessary to have more uniformity across the line. Yet again we get a series of relaunched titles sporting a new logo. Nothing new there. Thematically some are grouped (your X-Men titles, Fantastic Four family, Avengers etc) so there are some loose secondary tenuous links: try to find a connection between X-Men, Uncanny Avengers and X-Force for example. One could argue that a company-wide treatment for  titles would be a very good thing, especially in terms of brand building — but in doing so you wipe decades old heritage off the table, not to mention the individual voices those books have built over the years. Looking back at DC’s New 52, you can see the same problems. The Marvel NOW! push isn’t a total breath of fresh air, but there are some very interesting things happening here and there — hopefully a sign of things to come.

NO GO: Amazing Spider-Man 700
I’m torn here, because conceptually there’s a great cover hidden here. To celebrate the milestone 700th (!) issue of the series, the cover displays the names of all the creative teams (artists & writers) who have contributed to the series. A great idea, even though the idea of a word (or tag cloud) isn’t new — executed correctly a text-driven cover can have great impact. Instead we get, as far as I can guess, an artist who delivers a solid cover and in post production the names get wedged into the cityscape silhouette. Far from ideal. With some time and extra care the names could have formed the buildings — actually, I don’t think it needed the NYC skyline at all (every fan and regular reader knows it as the default story location anyway). The designer had to make do with the art he got, and as a result we get a very gap-tooth layout where form awkwardly follows function.

NO GO: Amazing Spider-Man 700

I’m torn here, because conceptually there’s a great cover hidden here. To celebrate the milestone 700th (!) issue of the series, the cover displays the names of all the creative teams (artists & writers) who have contributed to the series. A great idea, even though the idea of a word (or tag cloud) isn’t new — executed correctly a text-driven cover can have great impact. Instead we get, as far as I can guess, an artist who delivers a solid cover and in post production the names get wedged into the cityscape silhouette. Far from ideal. With some time and extra care the names could have formed the buildings — actually, I don’t think it needed the NYC skyline at all (every fan and regular reader knows it as the default story location anyway). The designer had to make do with the art he got, and as a result we get a very gap-tooth layout where form awkwardly follows function.

TERMINATOR POSTER COMPETITION

Another short detour from comics (kind of), but I’m running a T2 poster competition and I’m giving away some limited edition comic goodies!

hellomuller:

HELLOMULLER TERMINATOR 2 poster competition!

As a thank you to the fans for the support, we’ve put together an awesome giveaway for everyone who buys (and has bought) a helloMuller T2 poster.


1 year ago - 9

chrisarrant asked: Seeing you featuring IRON MAN #525 and how bad it is reminds me of the brief moment Rian Hughes was designing that same series' covers in 2009/2010. So sad.

I also remember my failed attempts at pushing through a non-metallic logo…