Todd Klein is a multiple Eisner-award winning letterer, known for his work on DC/Vertigo's "Sandman," "The Invisibles" and "Fables," as well as "Shade, the Changing Man," the original "Suicide Squad," "Batman," and many more modern comic book classics. He has contributed to "The DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics" and has created logos for many publishers, including both Marvel Comics and DC Comics.
A version of this article originally appeared on Todd Klein's blog, KleinLetters.com
Recently, Comicraft logo designer JG Roshell sent me a link to this image promoting six future Marvel films with the excited message, "Looks like they’re using my Inhumans logo and your Dr. Strange!" We were both happily surprised by this. Even though there’s no guarantee these logos will continue to be used going forward, it was cool to see.
For many years, most films based on comics have been promoted with logos that stay far away from the look of the comics themselves, like this 2011 Thor logo which uses the extremely popular and over-used font Trajan. Lately Marvel is really cranking up their film plans, and the newer logos give evidence that the company is looking to their comics logos more than they ever have before. Of course, many past Marvel films have been licensed out to other studios, where decisions about logos and promotion are made, so films franchises like Spider-Man and X-Men may not have had much input from Marvel itself.
For about the past 25 years, most action movie logos have included at least some of the following qualities:
1) Metallic with glistening highlights
5) Must look good on a black background.
You’ll see many of those qualities above.
But over the past year or two, Marvel movie logos have been getting more varied and more interesting.
While it doesn’t look like any of the logos on the comics, this one has, for me at least, the feel of a comics logo, or at least is in the same neighborhood. I like this trend, and really, it makes sense to avoid following the crowd of Trajan and Helvetica lovers and make Marvel movie logos more distinctive and memorable. So, let’s take a closer look at the new ones.
The new Captain America film uses the logo style from the very first comic on the character’s name:
It was designed by Joe Simon, and the movie logo follows it closely, if not exactly. For "Civil War" they’re using tall but undistinguished block letters that actually are an improvement on the comics logo…
…which is the font Trajan again. The previous Captain America film used another early Joe Simon logo as starting point, too.
The Avengers movie logo, like the previous one, is based on this…
...a design by Gaspar Saladino that first appeared on issue 96 cover dated Feb. 1972. It’s been modernized, but the idea is clearly the same. The rest of the movie logo looks like horizontally stretched Trajan, but this one gets high marks from me, and I think most comics fans.
The Thor movie logos have gotten much more interesting since the first one, and while not based on any comics logo, it’s quite appealing to me, especially what looks like an elaborate decorative design inside the Thor letters.
The Captain Marvel movie logo is the least metallic of the group, though it does have the distressed and three-dimensional check points.
It’s also appearing on a new comics series that began this year. As Tom Muller has pointed out in the comments below, it was designed by Jared K. Fletcher for the comic, but it looks pretty good to me on both. Marvel’s Captain Marvel (as opposed to the Fawcett one) has had many logos over the years, and this is far from the worst.
We’re looking pretty far into the future for this Inhumans release, which means there’s plenty of time to rethink the logo, but I really like this one, based on the 1998 design of Comicraft’s JG Roshell:
Even with all the movie logo gimmicks, it still works great for me.
Finally there’s Doctor Strange, based on a 1988 design of mine:
There are some strange things about the movie logo, though. By leaving off the drop shadow, and just tracing the inner open shape of the letters, they’ve made some parts look too short: the right leg of the R and N, the left leg of the A and all of the G. I admit that was true in my design, but it’s less obvious. This logo may well be just a place holder, there are several other Doctor Strange movie logos out there on the web already, so I suspect they’re still working on it. Cool to see it promoting the film, all the same. A first for me.
JG also found this recent movie logo, which is again based on his design:
Not an exact match but very close, and isn’t this much more interesting than the average action movie logo these days? JG and I sure think so! Good going, Marvel.
JG also commented, "Would be nice if we could get paid again…" Now that’s a real Hollywood fantasy, Mr. Roshell!
Reprinted with permission. Article text © 2014 Todd Klein. All logos © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.