25 July 2007

[logo_design] DC Comics-Spot the Common Elements

878. Nicked from the Wikipedia article on DC Comics, which I stumbled onto for no reason I can quite recall:

I love logos, and I especially love displays like this one (I sent off a letter to KGW-TV asking if they'd had some kind of "logo history I could comment on, or at least images, but they haven't answered me yet. I'll try again soon). The viewing of a logo's change over the years has a lot to say about what the company who owns the logo sees as important elements to the image, as well as the sensitivity to company image history that the designer has.

When I see a display like this, I like to play a mental game I call "Spot The Common Elements". This is a fairly simple case, but here's what I come up with:
  1. The "footprint" is a circle. This is even true where the letters DC were moved outside the circle (as in the one where Superman occupies the circle).
  2. Bold treatment of the initials DC, that usually dominates the design.
  3. The initials remain mostly in the center.
  4. Consistent treatment of those letterforms: they are consistently serifed, then consistently sans serif.
  5. For the majority of the existence of the logo, the good ol' American 5-pointed star is somewhere in the design–usually more than once.
The most recent version, in the extreme lower right, is a masterpiece of updating while still respecting the past. The DC has lost its military 'blockiness' to become slick and modern, but still dominates the center of the design in a bold (and bold-faced) way; the letterforms seem futuristic but not in a way that's trying too hard–a way that probably won't look dated five or ten years from now.

The star has broken free from the design, taking the circle with it, to become a sort of cometary tail; but the abstracted circle and star still plays well with the letterforms, keeping unity. The old design was locked down, stable and contained–this one is alive and full of energy. The old one was completed; this one is unfinished, but in a very, very good way.

The Wikipedia author says to credit Brainchild Studios' Josh Beatman and DC's Joe Brunning for this one. Done and done.

A Word On Words: Names that Seem Redundant But Aren't...Well, Not Really

The astute student of DC Comics' history will probably not look upon the inclusion of the word "Comics" alongside the letters "DC" and get the same sort of feeling one gets from hearing terms like "ATM Machine" or "ABS brakes". Many others will.

It's a matter of public memory that the DC signified the publication Detective Comics, for many years the company's flagship publication and the print home of that legendary hero Batman. The company didn't start out that way, however: it existed under a number of names and was at first only informally known as DC Comics. It has since adopted this name as its official name.

However, in this context, the letters DC are not considered to stand for anything; they are an atom, a single token of meaning that pays homage to Detective Comics. It is therefore not a redundancy; it does not expand to "Detective Comics Comics". It remains inviolate, recalling the famous publication, but standing in only as a pointer.

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