|New “Witchblade” logo by Todd Klein|
The advent of new and affordable graphic design technologies has in the last 15 years or so ignited an enormous interest in comic book lettering and production, evidence of which can be seen in this century’s ceaseless flood of high quality indie titles, and more especially in the incalculable number of Webcomics. However, there is one specific aspect of comic book-making that remains decidedly overlooked by comics readership (and press) (and perhaps every medium’s readership/viewership and press), and it is one of the Comic Book’s most crucial and omnipresent components: logo design.
One of the best and most celebrated letterers and logo designers in modern Comics is Todd Klein, who’s won nearly every Eisner Award for Best Lettering since the category was created. An industry veteran of 30 years, a very, very short list of Klein’s most memorable comics logos include those for “The New Teen Titans,” “Ambush Bug,” “Batman: Year One,” “Justice League International,” “The Sensational She-Hulk,” “Hawkworld,” “The Demon,” “Lobo,” “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” the revised Spider-Man logo in the 1990s and the entire line of Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics. For a complete list of credits, fans are encouraged to visit Klein’s hugely comprehensive website.
In anticipation of the revitalization of its core titles with the ambitious “First Born” crossover event, Top Cow Productions commissioned Todd Klein to redesign one of the 1990s’ most distinctive comic book logos, that of “Witchblade.” CBR News spoke with Todd Klein as well as Top Cow editor Rob Levin and Marketing & Sales VP Filip Sablik about the new “Witchblade” logo, its origins, its process, and what it means for the publisher’s flagship title, which just hit its 111th issue and has served as the basis for series of live-action television, manga and anime.
“We knew we wanted 2008 to be a revitalization of ‘Witchblade’ and a time to welcome in new fans and possibly change a few perceptions of what the title is about,” Filip Sablik told CBR News. “With the new creative team of Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic, the re-branding of the trade paperbacks and the added attention from the anime, it seemed like the perfect time to revise the logo and give it a more updated look.”
|Original “Witchblade” logo|
The original “Witchblade” logo was designed in a period of comics history that was brimming with energy and creativity, but not always with fundamentals. “The [old] logo is a cool logo, but I wanted something a little more iconic and a little more readable,” Rob Levin said. “We went to Todd and said, ‘here are the current comics, anime and the old TV logos. We’d like you to take the old logo and modernize it.'”
“I think the main difference between the original logo and my new one is that I began from a standpoint of making it readable first and cool second,” Todd Klein told CBR News. “I have a feeling that the original put those two factors in the other order.”
Readers of Todd Klein’s logo studies on his blog know the letterer is skilled at designing new logos and typefaces by hand, and Klein approached the Witchblade project similarly, turning in several different versions. “I began with three hand-drawn marker sketches, using the cover logo as a starting point,” Klein explained. “I felt that ‘Wtichblade’ should have a logo that used the visual element of blades, and was dangerous and scary, as the original had been.”
|Hand-drawn “Witchblade” logo sketch by Todd Klein|
“But they wanted to see another version with a W closer to their original logo, to resonate with longtime fans,” Klein continued. “They also felt the B and D were still a little hard to read, so I adjusted the left side vertical strokes there. And they wanted it less tall, to leave more cover space for art. Version 4 had these changes, and was quite close to the final version, though there were several rounds of further sketch ideas and tweaks along the way.”
|Todd Klein’s new logo debuts on the new “Witchblade” volume 1 trade paperback dress, on sale in January, 2008|
The final result would appear to be precisely what Top Cow ordered: a modern, cleaner version of the iconic “Witchblade” logo that loses little to none of its classic flare. Additionally, Klein’s logo lends itself to potentially limitless applications across multiple formats and styles. “Todd’s a master when it comes to both tyopgraphy and design, and the thing I like about this logo is that it’s not only great as is with no flourishes added, but you can alter that puppy in Photoshop or Illustrator and make it sing in any situation,” Levin said. ” It’s going to lead to more dynamic covers and a stronger presence when you conjure the image of Witchblade in your mind.”
The “Witchblade” assignment was particularly challenging and rewarding for Klein, as he’d never actually read a Witchblade comic before being asked to create the series’ new logo. “I always enjoy the challenge of creating logo designs for characters and companies I haven’t worked with before, and Top Cow was fine to work with, thanks mainly to Rob. And I’m happy with the result, hope the fans will like it.”
For a much, much more detailed look at Todd Klein’s process of designing the new “Witchblade” logo, check out his latest logo study on his blog right now.
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