Monday, April 19, 2021

Anatomy of a Logo: Wolfpack


The Wolfpack logo was created for Marvel Comics. An entry in my 1987 appointment book said I spoke to Ann Nocenti on Thursday, June 18, to meet the following day about two logos.

At 11 am, Friday, June 19, Ann showed me the in-house designs for The Fall of the Mutants cross-over series. She asked me to come up with some designs. Then she talked about the Wolfpack graphic novel by Larry Hama and Ron Wilson. Ann wanted a graffiti style logo but did not provide any visual reference material. She left the design up to me. 

My reference were the images I saw in the urban landscape. I moved to New York City in Fall 1977 and was fortunate to witness the blossoming of graffiti. Graffiti was a welcome sight at the dreary train stations and on dilapidated trains. I have the 1974 book, The Faith of Graffiti, and several issues International Graffiti Times (purchased at Forbidden Planet). 

Here are my initial design sketches.





The next step was to refine the letterforms and explore alternate letter designs. This version is on two lines.







For the following version I did a coloring guide. 



Here are the logo designs on one line. 







On Wednesday, July 1, I had separate appointments with Ann and Bob Harras about the status of the logos. Ann chose a The Fall of the Mutants design. Then I showed my Wolfpack sketches to Ann and she chose the design that was on one line. She expressed some reservation about the arrowheads because a graffiti artist used them on his tags. I assured her the arrowheads wouldn’t be a problem. 

On Sunday, July 5, I finalized the Wolfpack logo design and proceeded to do the final art. The letters were refined once more on tracing paper which was placed a light box. I peeled the paper from the illustration board and placed it over the tracing paper and started inking. I used a Rapidograph technical pen, French curve and several ellipse templates. 


I used rubber cement to reattach the paper to the board. You can see the rubber cement stains. 


On a piece of prepared acetate I inked in the shadow lines. 


A separate piece of prepared acetate was inked for the highlights. 


The Marvel production department added an overlay for coloring the interior of the letters. I think the adhesive caused the photostat and acetate to wrinkle. 


At 4pm, Thursday, July 9, I delivered the Wolfpack logo art to Ann’s assistant and filled out a voucher. The next day Ann called to say she got the Wolfpack logo art and signed the voucher.

The Wolfpack, Marvel Graphic Novel, was published in the second half of 1987.


The Wolfpack comic book series ran twelve issues from August 1988 to July 1989. 


Monday, April 12, 2021

Comics: A Timely Move Begets a Timely Name


Martin Goodman was the owner of Timely Comics which became Marvel Comics. The Wikipedia profile of Goodman charts his business locations from Lower Manhattan to Midtown Manhattan. Goodman’s business addresses are mentioned in the profile of Lincoln Hoffman at Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists

Goodman moved from the RKO Building [at Rockefeller Center] to the McGraw-Hill Building (at 330 West 42nd Street) on April 15, 1939 (sourced from a Writer’s Digest issue by comic-book historian Will Murray) where Timely had their offices until the move in 1943 onto the 14th floor of the Empire State Building.
At the McGraw-Hill Building Goodman launched several publications. Michael J. Vassallo, in his blog Timely-Atlas-Comics, explained when Timely was first used. 
... [In 1939] Goodman mimicked the successful Reader’s Digest format with his own Popular Digest, a collection of condensed and already printed articles, but that experiment ended in failure. ... There is an important comic book connection to Popular Digest because the sub-publisher for the releases was Timely Publications, the very first time Goodman ever used the word Timely and the only non-comics title to do so. The interior sub-title was even “Timely Topics Condensed”. The first issue was dated September 1939, one month before the publication of Marvel Comics #1 (Oct/39). So Goodman got both his comics company name/brand and the sub-publishing entity for his comic book debuts from Popular Digest. ... 
Why did Goodman choose the name Timely? Perhaps he was influenced by the McGraw-Hill publication Timely Ideas. McGraw-Hill occupied over half of the space in its building. In the lobby there may have been a display of McGraw-Hill publications. Maybe Goodman was on the same floor as Timely Ideas. Whatever the case, I think it’s likely Goodman was aware the magazine title. 

Timely Ideas was a technical magazine aimed at operators of electric equipment. I don’t know when the magazine debuted but it was published as early as 1936. Who’s Who in Engineering, Volume 7 (1954) said Rue Miller Shoop was the managing editor of Timely Ideas from 1936 to 1939. The January 29, 1938 issue of Electrical World (a McGraw-Hill publication) published an advertisement with the Timely Ideas logo. 


Electrical World, April 11, 1936



Electrical World, November 20, 1937



Electrical World, January 29, 1938



Another Timely Ideas staff member was Louis James Dennis who signed his World War II draft card on October 16, 1940.


Timely Ideas was mentioned in the magazine Electronics, October 1941, “Photoelectric Door Opener Saves $30 Per Day”. Timely Ideas was an established trade publication. 

A remote possibility is Goodman got the Timely name from Timely Topics, first published in 1897.


When Goodman chose the Timely name he was in the right place at the right time. 


(Updated October 16, 2021; next post on Monday: Wolfpack)

Monday, April 5, 2021

Comics: Searching for George Herman and Finding Ray Herman, the Right One


George Herman was the twin brother of Ray who was a comics editor, writer, publisher and businesswoman. Both of them are in Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. According to Who’s Who George did production work at Orbit Publications, and that’s all that was known. Ray, on the other hand, has a detailed profile, by Dave Saunders, at Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists. The profile is meticulously researched but there are a few errors.

Saunders said “Ruth Rae Herman” was born on June 9, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York, where she died on December 26, 1996. I assumed I would find George, with the same birth date, in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) but he wasn’t there. So I searched for him in the New York, New York Birth Index at Ancestry.com. In the section for 1920 births in Brooklyn there was not a single person with the Herman or Hermann surname who was born on June 9. So who was the woman born on that date?

The SSDI has a Ruth Herman who was born on June 9, 1920 and died on December 26, 1996. Below are screenshots of her Social Security application and SSDI.



As you can see, Herman was the married name of Ruth Schleyer. Saunders used the birth and death dates of the wrong woman.

That brought me back to the New York, New York Birth Index which had two May 25, 1920, Brooklyn births for Joe and Ray Herman. Joe and Ray were not their full names.

The Social Security application for Ray Ruth Herman said she was born on May 25, 1920 in Brooklyn, and her parents were Harris (his middle name) and Fannie Herman. 


Saunders identified the Herman family in the 1925 New York state census: the parents were Aaron and Fannie, and their children, in birth order, were Abe, Beckie, Bennie, Sam, George and Ruth. The last two are Joe and Ray from the birth index. The address was 1474 Park Place in Brooklyn. The father’s full name, “Aron Harris Herman”, was on his World War I draft card. 

Saunders said George and Ray graduated from high school in June 1939. In June 1938 George graduated from the Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn. The yearbook had his name as Joseph Herman who lived at 1474 Park Place (below). At this time it’s not known which high school Ray attended and when she graduated. (A note to researchers: In Ancestry.com’s collection of school yearbooks, The Rochellean 1941 yearbook was erroneously linked to Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn. That yearbook has a Ruth Herrmann, born in 1923, who graduated from New Rochelle High School and aspired to be a commercial artist.)



On July 1, 1941 Joseph George Herman signed his World War II draft card which had his May 25, 1920 birth date, Brooklyn birthplace, and mother’s name, Fanny. His address was 1474 Park Place, Brooklyn. 


Saunders said the father’s death was on March 10, 1941. He gave no source for that. The New York, New York Extracted Death Index, at Ancestry.com, has a Harris Herman who was born around 1873 and died on December 17, 1947 in Brooklyn. The SSDI said Ray passed away in February 1980, in New York City.


Ray was laid to rest next to her father at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Fairview, New Jersey. Find a Grave has a photograph (below) of their gravestones. Aaron Herman died on December 17, 1947, which is the same date in the New York, New York Extracted Death Index. Ray Herman was born on May 25, 1920 and died on February 25, 1980. She was about three months shy of her sixtieth birthday. 


Ray’s oldest brother, Elliot Abraham Herman, was a real estate lawyer who died on July 13, 1984. It’s likely he made the funeral and burial arrangements for Ray. The Hartford Courant published his obituary and mentioned three surviving siblings, George, Ben and Betty, who all lived in Los Angeles, California. (Find a Grave has links to his “parents”, Harry and Fannie, but it’s incorrect. Their birth years make them too young to be the parents.)

According to the California Death Index, at Ancestry.com, the mother died on January 7, 1980 and George on June 10, 1985. Ben died on October 12, 1991. Betty died on November 1, 1995. She married Justin Antin in December 1932, according to records at Ancestry.com (below). Ray used her sister’s married name, B. Antin, in the second issue’s indicia of Toytown Comics. B. Antin was mentioned in Mark Carlson-Ghost’s “The Forgotten Super-Heroes of 1944–45” which was published in Alter Ego #164, May 2020, on page 44. In the same paragraph Mark said Ray’s brother, Samuel, was attributed as publisher of Taffy Comics #2, June 1945. Samuel died on June 23, 1977 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 



Further Reading and Viewing
Sometimes Ray spelled her name Rae. Many of her comic book credits are at the Grand Comics Database

Alter Ego #117, June 2013 and #164, May 2020, published a photograph of L.B. Cole, Ray and Jack Grogan. In issue #164 Mark Carlson-Ghost wrote about the comic books published by Rural Home. Ray’s role was examined on pages 43 to 45. 

Comic Book Marketplace #30, December 1995, published two photographs of Ray. On page 29 is L. B. Cole, Ray and Jack Grogan. On page 30 is the Continental staff with Ray seated on the right. 

Women in the Comics
Trina Robbins and Catherine Yronwode 
Eclipse Books, 1985
On page 66 Ray’s comic strip, Hep Cats, is mentioned and Ray being a publisher. 

Roger Hill
TwoMorrows Publishing, 2019
Ray is mentioned on pages 41, 129, 130 and 131. 

Golden Age Holyoke Superheroes 1940–1948
Scroll down to The Hood where Ray/Rae Herman is mentioned as a recurring character in Cat-Man Comics numbers 23, 24, 25 and 26


I did an earlier post on Rae Hermann with the incorrect birth and death dates. 


(Next post on Monday: A Timely Move Begets a Timely Name)