Mike Gold: Hokey Smokes, DC, You Gotta Be Kidding Us

DC new logoI remember back around 1978 when DC Comics publisher Jenette Kahn thought it might be time to replace the Milton Glazer “bullet” logo. Paul Levitz – who may or may not have liked that logo – said consistency is critical to branding and the bullet was only two years old. He turned to their marketing and promotion guy, who at the time happened to be me, and I chirped in agreement.

I wasn’t happy about saying that. I disliked the logo because it boogied up when it was reduced, particularly with those Silly Putty plates World Color was using back in those sing-along days. But Paul was right, and the Glazer logo stuck it out until 2005.

It was replaced by that italicized swirly logo which looked great on the big screen – better than some of their movies. That lasted only a few years and was replaced by the one they are using this week… but not next.  Afterbirth is coming. It’s the whole new DC Comics of the week.

logo-dc shoesThe new logo decorates the top of this column. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. My initial reaction was “damn, these people have the shortest attention span in the history of publishing.” My second reaction was “damn, this logo really sucks.”

My third reaction was it looks a lot like the logo used by a company called DC Shoes, maker of, well, shoes but not comic books. They also make skateboards, which is a bit closer in spirit to comics. Is it close enough to litigate? Probably not, but this is why Unga Bunga invented lawyers. However, the new logo is most certainly short on originality.

Here’s an idea. Maybe Warner Bros. should stop messing around and just put their logo up there, with a “DC Comics” in the banner that runs across the shield. DC is Warner Bros. It’s not just owned by Warners, it’s part of the company.

WB1937Oh, and that Warner Bros. shield? They’ve been using it since 1929 with only slight changes. Like, say, doing it in color. And a bit of spiffing up here and there.

That’s pushing on ninety years. It has graced the works of James Cagney, Bugs Bunny, Bette Davis, James Dean, Robert Redford and Matt Damon. And Christopher Reeve.

To be fair: there were a very few years when Warner Bros. didn’t exist – they merged with Seven Arts and the logo was altered accordingly. They didn’t make a lot of memorable movies. And when Warner Communications was created, they had a different logo that was used on their stuff for a while, often in conjunction with the famed WB shield. But class won out, and the brand’s brand returned to its glory.

There’s a lesson to be learned from that.