Rian Hughes on DC’s New “Peel” Logo

Rian Hughes is one hell of a designer, and also an incredible artist. I was fortunate enough that he found time to work with me on DAYS MISSING, where he designed the logo and trade dress for us. I respect him, his work and his opinion immensely, and I was really happy to get his take on the new DC Comics/Entertainment “Peel” logo as he’s done plenty of work for DC in the past.

He posted the following on his facebook page (the bolds are mine):

Re: DC’s new logo…

Here’s the thing – a comic book logo has got to fulfill two quite different criteria that often pull the design in different directions.

It has to represent a forward-looking professional and modern company.
It also has to communicate what the comics are all about.

My main comment on the last DC Comics logo reboot was that it looked too… well, a bit too *comicy*. Outside of the comic ghetto, in the wider real world of design, it looks distinctly cheesy.

This one I applaud for taking a more clean and modern approach. More legitimate and, well, more *designed*.

What I would say, however, is that it’s not the most iconic and memorable logo I’ve ever seen. It’s OK. Not bad. But not “YES! Perfect!”, which is what one aims for in an identity mark.

I also question how well it’ll work in context on covers, where it may jar uncomfortably with the art styles.

The perfect logo, I believe, would have two things:

First, a sense of punchy dynamism and excitement – a reference to the action/adventure core values of comics, WITHOUT being a derivative pastiche of some kind of so-called *comic style* (read: no dot screens, sound effect style lettering, speech balloons, explosions).

Secondly, it should work on screen and print, be relevant to comics in the iPad digital realm, and able to stand next to other high-end publisher’s logos without embarrassment. Legitimate, modern, clean, without being too dull and corporate.

I think DC has tried to move the logo from the first category (the swoosh one) to the second category (this Landor version). The swoosh version was too comicy, this one just looks too corporate. Dull, Lacking in dynamism and punch. On the covers, it reminds me of a logo from a blander umbrella corporation that just happens to have a comics division. What we really need is a mark that somehow covers *both* categories.

The variations – the versions with the imagery in – lift the design, but I know that in practice these versions, nice as they are, rarely get used. The fall-back logo – the basic, no-frills version we’ll see on spines, and covers – has to stand on it’s own without these fancy polishes.

A logo has to work “bare”, as it were, stripped of colour, stripped of fancy Photoshop effects. That’s the measure of an iconic logo. This one fails in that respect.

Not an easy brief, I know.

So, an interesting effort that I can understand the reasoning behind, but feel it’s not iconic and punchy enough to hit the mark. Two steps forward, one step back.

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