MIKE GOLD: Stupid Logo Tricks
Sometime around 1987, DC Comics’ then-publisher Jenette Kahn told DC’s next publisher Paul Levitz that it was time to change the DC logo. Paul protested and pulled me in – I gather I was handy, or perhaps I was least likely to look like a plant. I chirped in “No, too soon. Branding takes time. Some people have just started to spend money on that logo with Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen.”
It was painful for me to say this because I hated the DC Bullet. It was designed by Milton Glazer, and those in-lines of his were everywhere. But on cheap paper with those silly putty printing plates, his in-lines either dropped out or boogied up like a crack fiend drawing an arrow with his feet. Still, I supported Paul’s decision. If it worked for Coca-Cola for some 110 years, it should work for DC Comics for 30.
That’s about how long Glazer’s Bullet was in, and on, action. It was replaced by the one you see at the upper left-hand of the graphic above. Even after 30 years, many fans initially hated it. But I think even the most cynical liked it on the big screen… and even on the teevee screen. After a short while, it dawned on me that this was probably the best DC logo ever – except that, even though it is worthy, that particular distinction wasn’t much of a compliment.
Some five years later, DC is being rebranded. No, I’m not talking about The New 52: that’s rebranding in the sense that M&M added blue candies to their package while removing the light brown ones. The DC Spin has been sent to the glue factory, to be replaced by that which you see on the upper right of the graphic above.
I’ve started at it for a couple weeks now, taking time out for meals and New Jersey Devils games. And three words come to mind:
Boring. Stupid. And Needless.
Not to be eclipsed, the folks at Bongo Comics – represented by the logo in the lower left of the above graphic – decided to do DC one better. Their new logo is boringer. Stupider. And needlesser.
Both logos replace something that incorporates a bit of the energy and feel of the product itself. Both logos are bland at best; Bongo’s looks like an old Whitman title from the 1970s, and DC’s… well, I don’t know what the hell that thing is. It reminds me of the old toy I had back when milkmen still walked the Earth: it was sort of a pad with one plastic sheet on top of a black something or other. Kids scribbled on it with a wooden stylus, and when we got tired we’d pull the plastic sheet up off the black background and the scrawlings would disappear.
The most meaningful line in any movie was uttered by the character Governor William J. Lepetomane in Blazing Saddles: “Gentlemen, we’ve got to protect our phony-baloney jobs!” That sentiment is what makes the world go ‘round. If designers and art directors left well enough alone, we would have less work for designers and art directors.
Comics should stir some sense of wonder within the breast of the reader. These logos do not. They probably look real good on the thick glass doors that front their reception rooms, they certainly look real good in the corporate annual report (should Time Warner actually acknowledge they publish comic books), but as a device that inspires attention and attraction, they suffer from the worst sort of sanction: death by dullness.
THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil
Holy crap is Bongo’s new logo garbage. The old one is great, in my opinion.
Damnit, I read a lot of Bongo these days…I’m gonna have to keep looking at that crap.
Yup, boring, but I can live with it. The company logo doesn’t have an effect on what I purchase, as long as I can recognize the logo. Personal taste is funny though Mike. I agree that DC has only had one good logo, but it wasn’t the swish. I’ve always preferred the bullet. Although there was a test of an update on the old “Superman” logo that I have on an early issue of JL/I, from ’87 or so, that wasn’t too bad. I only ever saw it the one month though.
THEY ARE SO AWFUL!!!! They’ve both lost their marbles!
I was one of the people behind that test — I believe it was on two or three different books. DC’s newsstand circulation director, with whom I was tight when I was at First Comics and he at Marvel, said we were doing covers all wrong for newsstand sales. I suggested a test and management went through with it. Even at that time, overall newsstand sales were negligible, and not worth double-covering all the newsstand titles (ironic by today’s standards). I don’t believe the newsstand sell-thrus were significantly improved. But it was a fun test. I think by the time newsstand sales numbers came through, we all forgot about it.
Unshaven Comics’ logo was designed on a whim, and changed once. We simplified it (removed a silly hat that I thought would brand me beyond the beard which is good enough). At every convention, we get compliment after compliment on the logo. Even if they don’t read comics, or like us. Suffice to say, we won’t be changing it anytime soon.
Yep. Imagine if they altered the Superman logo.
Oh, yeah. Right. They did. Gee thanks, Neal.
A friend of mine said he thought the new DC logo looked liked a public toilet seat half-covered in toilet paper.
Oh, jeez. How did I not see that? It totally does!
Me neither. But if you put a chain coming down from the upper right, you’ve got it nailed as a toilet.
Well, since I usually commit my heresy over on MichaelDavisWorld.com, it’s time to commit a little here.
Maybe it’s time for Warner Bros to bite the bullet (ahem) and replace the DC Toilet with the Warner Bros shield. They can run the DC Comics banner across the shield the way they do with the other divisions. It’s the most honest solution: it brands the product for exactly what it is.
I can’t see the ‘D’ in the new DC logo. When it comes to logo design THAT’S a problem.
The redesigned DC logo looks like Dual Star, the Mary-Kate and Ashley company.
I don’t care what a companies logo looks like as long a the quality is good. In the case of Bongo– I love Sergio Aragones’s Funnies was the best new titles of 2011.
Wow, I hate to say this, but Sergio’s new book is just exactly the same stuff I’ve been reading for… well, ever. I’d love to see something different from the ridiculously talented man who also did Bat Lash, Jonah Hex, and a really interesting issue of Jon Sable Freelance.
Yep. I’m reading Sergio’s book cuz he’s been one of my favorite comic creators since I was a kid, but not every issue is fantastic. The stories about his life are really interesting, but some of the fictional shorts not as much.
I must agree, the new DC logo is bland AT BEST. I know there’s a trick of the eye in there, but my eyes just don’t catch it, unless it’s just to say “oogly.” Sure, I’ve seen the many different variations of how they intend to syle the logo but why? It’s no longer a standard at that point and isn’t from title to title. Then again, the NuDC isn’t, either.