Friday, June 11, 2010

The Distinguished Competition: June 1976 Cover Logos!

After our 3-installment examination of Marvel Comics' cover logos hitting the stands in the late spring of 1976, it seems only fair to see what DC had on the spinner racks at the same time. One thing you'll notice right away is that while Marvel was boldly announcing that their mags were "Still only 25c!", DC had already made the switch. That, coupled with the fact that many books you'll be looking for simply aren't here (bi-monthly publishing schedule) will make this somewhat of a different adventure than the one we shared a couple of weeks ago.

Doug: I've always liked the Action Comics logo. It's dynamic, familiar, etc. The red on this particular cover is striking. What I don't understand, though, is why the same logo is reprinted in the banner across the top of the comic. Marvel merely printed the name of the book so that it could be seen in the spinner racks. This seems like unnecessary duplication. Another gripe (remember, I said I liked this) is the addition of "Superman's" to the logo. Hello... unless you've been on Planet X for the past 50 years, you know Superman is in Action Comics! Also as part of this cover is DC's penchant for giving the buyer two stories in one book, as evidenced by the plug for the Mr. Mxyzptlk yarn. Personally, I always felt like this was the main reason why characters at DC were so flat. When you've got problem/solution/resolution all going down in only 10 pages, it's no wonder there was little character development!

Karen: I hardly ever bought Action, and the logo probably didn't help inspire me to give it a chance. It just sort of sits there.

Doug: Next to the Iron Man logo, this one's about as good as it gets. I especially like the nod to the Golden Age name, the Bat-Man, by separating the compound word. Perfect!

Karen: Yup, just about perfect. The bat shape and head really is what makes it work.

Doug: Which brings us to our next entry. While I don't have a real attachment to the B&B logo, it's OK... I'd like to focus in on the Batman logo here. I think this one's a bit older -- maybe hearkens back to the television show days (?) -- but awesome nonetheless. While I think I like the logo above a bit better, this one's awfully good, too.

Karen: Agreed, the B&B logo is yawn-inducing, but I like this Batman one.

Doug: Ouch. 40% of the cover devoted to this?? Man, this would drive me away from Hawkman, Adam Strange, etc. Whose idea was this???

Karen: This reminds me of those old Marvel Triple Action covers I think we looked at long ago, where two-thirds of the cover was logo! It also reminds me of the time period in the 70s when Marvel was using a framing device on covers, which again cut down on the art.

Doug: Why, oh why, when you have the classic logo and a Neal Adams drawing beside it all up on the banner at the top of the page, would you slap this boring monstrosity (that again gobbles up much of the cover space) front and center? I need to find out who the marketing guru was at DC in this period. It's no wonder Marvel was kicking their rear ends.

Karen: Craptastic.

Doug: This logo has been around since the Showcase #4 revival, so going on 20 years by the time this hit the stands. It's OK, not great. Marvel's logos looked more like they were actual fonts; DC's seem to look more hand-drawn. Which is not to say they weren't or that's bad; but it is to say that Marvel's lettering had more of a polish to it. My opinion... Also notable on this cover is the fact that there's a Green Lantern story. Why, you ask? For some reason GL's own mag, which was bi-monthly at the time, did not have a June/July issue. So the Emerald Guardian showed up over here. Go figure.

Karen: Another one that does absolutely nothing for me. This brings back all the feelings I had as a kid -that Marvel was dynamic and cool, and DC was run by a bunch of boring old guys.

Doug: The first of many of the DC non-superhero titles. I never, ever got into DC's war/horror/romance/science fiction comics. It just wasn't my bag. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy those genres of entertainment in other forms like movies or television -- but for my 10-year old brain, comic books were where the superheros were. I do like this logo -- I like that it's tattered and looks to be shaken up a bit. The red/yellow combo is a bit much. Something more subtle along the lines of brown or army green might have been more appropriate. It would have stood out on the racks, though -- I'll give them that.

Karen: Aside from Batman, this is the most interesting logo we've seen so far. Somebody actually put some effort into this one.

Doug: Another book I never bought. Which is a shame, because some of these titles had great creative talent working on them. My loss. I love the logo, however, and the tag line "Do you dare enter..." is great. Good stuff -- well thought out.

Karen: I bought some of Marvel's horror and sci fi titles, but never any DC. This logo is a keeper.

Doug: Maybe you're thinking, "What? Why didn't you crop this one, ya lazy so-and-so?!?" Well, if that's what you're thinking, then you are not a true fan of DC comics (from any era), my friend! Why in the world would I want to crop this and remove the GORILLA?? Because we all know everything's better with gorillas. This has always been one of DC's better efforts. The design, color scheme, tilted angle are all excellent. The roll call of which characters can be found inside is wonderful as well. Not only is this particular cover ridiculously cool, but the overall design is outstanding and indicative of the time it was published.

Karen: Gorillas! Yes! Now if only I could find my copy of DC Super-Heroes Battle Super-Gorillas. That stuff was like gold when I was ten. As for the JLA logo -a classic! I love the slant of the words, the stars, and the red,white, and blue motif. To me, "Justice League" should always be followed by "America" - it's just so awesome.

Doug: This brings us to the conclusion of the first half of our jaunt through June 1976, DC-style. We'll have nine more covers to look over a bit later. And to exit this post, we have another nice logo. The style is good, the banner beneath the title is good, and Kirby gets some love (although by now he'd been back at Marvel for awhile) with the Kamandi portrait at the top of the cover. Good job!

Karen: Nicely done, and sort of reminds me of the Ka-Zar logo we looked at.


Terence Stewart said...

Yay! More logos.
The Justice League logo is definitely the highlight, and the headshots across the top works beautifully.
I'm one of those strange people who actually likes the frames Marvel was using on their covers in 1972(DC also used frames at one point); much like paintings and photographs need frames to narrow the focus on the art, instead of the eye wandering to the sides, I feel it works on covers better than full bleed.
I also like headshot/roll calls that run down either side of the cover - those always made me more interested in picking a comic up of the shelf and sold it to me. I'm not a big fan of covers that rely purely on the art; blurbs, word balloons and other cover furniture sell comics, in my opinion.
Looking forward to the next installment.

Mart said...

Interesting, fun piece. Hal was in Flash cos the GL book was cancelled at the time - it came back with #90 in August 76, so this may have been the last Flash back-up.

The Batman logo you like first appeared around 1970. I heart it too,

Like Terence, I love borders and, like everyone, headshots.

I agree, 'Superman in/Superman's' really isn't needed for Action Comics. Ditto for 'Batman's Detective Comics' which did indeed look awful.

'Marvel's logos looked more like they were actual fonts' and had more 'polish'? Given some of the apparently-hand-drawn-in-two-minutes' monstrosities you've showcased - Son of Satan, Iron Fist, Super-Villain Team-up - I say they nay (in a nice Ira Schnapp font). There were good and bad at both companies but on the whole DC seemed to try harder to give every comic a distinctive, appropriate design.

(Verification word - unarse. Yikes)

Anonymous said...

The extra name in the top banner was to help the buyer know the titles on a crowded newstand shelf -- not every store used spinner racks. The one I shopped at in my hometown had a classic newstand; one one side of the aisle were the comics and the otherside of the aisle were the magazines.

If the comics weren't in the first row, much of the cover was obscurred by the row in front. So the DC banner was an attempt to be seen.

I have an art book that is nothing but a collection of ever Detective comics covers, and yes, during this period, DC was trying out a new logo about every other issue. That Batman face is just hideous; luckily it only lasted 1 or 2 issues.

Karen said...

That makes sense about repeating the book's name in the banner, so it could be seen more easily. Thanks for the info, Mr. Anonymous!

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