Monday, June 22, 2015

Anatomy of a Logo: The Question

The Question logo was commissioned by Robbin Brosterman, a designer at DC Comics, who said a book, compiling the 1987 to 1990 comic books by Dennis O’Neil and Denys Cowan, was going to be published. During our meeting, Robbin suggested using a brushstroke or brush lettering.

I started rough designs on October 1, 1991. One idea was placing the title inside a brushstroke. Another sketch had the question mark in the letter O, and one had part of the question mark as the tail of the Q.

On sheets of newsprint, I used a brush to write out the title. I used newsprint because the ink dries quickly. I’ve reconstructed, as much as possible, the five sheets of newsprint which had been cut up to create the final logo art.

I did a number of circular warm-up strokes. I changed the angle of the tip to make the strokes rough and streaky rather than solid. On the sheet below, the title with the Post-it Note is composed of several pieces of lettering.

On this sheet, I cut out and used the O, part of the N, and tail of a Q. It wasn’t necessary to write Question as a whole word.

“The” was lettered horizontally and vertically. I also lettered the Q without a tail which was drawn separately and added later. 

Here I tried a rectangular Q. The amount of ink in the brush affects the roughness and streakiness of the stroke.

From this sheet part of the E was used elsewhere.

After about fifteen minutes, I stopped lettering and began assembling the logo by combining the letters and parts of brushstrokes.

The following photographs of the above samples show how the various pieces were fitted together. The Q was in three pieces; the E had two parts; TION was repositioned; and a different N was used.

A Q from another sheet was used with the rest of the lettering.

This scan shows the size and scale of the lettering. The vertical versions of THE were lettered as a single units without adding any pieces. 

Here was how all the pieces, for this logo, were put together.

I faxed these four designs to Robbin. She also liked design number four over the others and suggested some adjustments to the Q and O.

I made photostats of the O then added a new tail to make the Q. Post-it Notes were very handy substitutes for white paint.

I didn’t turn in the newsprint artwork because it was too fragile. Over time the newsprint would have turned brown and brittle. I submitted a photostat of the lettering as final art. I made another change to the logo by moving up the O and N.

Months later, I found out from Robbin that The Question book had been cancelled because of insufficient orders from the comics stores. So, my logo was never used. 

(Next post on Monday: British Printing Ink Advertisements)

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