Comics

I Can’t Believe They’re Doing a Watchmen Pre– Who Am I Kidding. So What?

Goddamn, that Adam Hughes can draw a sexy cover.

If you hadn’t heard, DC Comics is publishing a mini-series prequel to Watchmen entitled Before Watchmen. You can peep the covers over at DC’s blog.

As you can imagine, Alan Moore spits his grumpy old venom all over this and pretty much anything that DC does that’s remotely related to any of his previous work. We’ve heard it before. At this point, it’s kind of pointless to ask his opinion because we know it already. DC did him wrong and can do no right. We get it.

It should also come as little surprise to you that there’s a good portion of the internet who spits their own collective venom all over this project. This is the same crowd that thought a Watchmen film was a terrible idea and I must admit, I was one of them. In the end, the film was a big disappointment. It forgot that it was supposed to be a movie. I actually didn’t mind the changes that were made, but the overall experience was a big meh. Not enough to throw a good old fashioned nerd riot, just meh.

While I understand the vitriol against this mini-series, I can’t get worked up about this. I could spend hours going into great shouty detail about all the things that DC is doing wrong including a very energetic rant against that fucking condom logo. But honestly, I just don’t give a shit about this mini series. It has nothing to do with Moore, it has nothing to do with DC going back to the well, it has nothing to do with my typical knee-jerk reaction against anything new. I just don’t care about the characters.

Alan Moore created a cast of deeply flawed and ultimately unlikable individuals. When I think about them as people, I don’t really care enough about them to read further adventures based on their early exploits. The glimpses we get of their pasts throughout Watchmen are enough for me. I don’t really relish the thought of reading about the early days of a racist, murdering, psychotic rapist nor the early exploits an emotionless, womanizing, atomic smurf. This mini-series fills in holes that I don’t really care about.

To me, that’s the brilliance of Watchmen. I can’t fucking stand the characters, and yet whenever I pick it up, I can’t help but care about what happens to them. It’s a weird kind of magic that can’t be duplicated easily.

Ultimately, I think Before Watchmen won’t nearly be as bad as people think. It’s going to look gorgeous. You’ve got Adam Hughes and Jae Lee doing interiors. Goddamn, those two can draw. And you got some really great writers. It’s probably going to sell well. But I just don’t care.

Oni Press’s New Logo is For the Birds

Apparently, I have some sort of comic death wish. I spent a good deal of energy picking apart DC Comic’s new Condom Wrapper logo thereby ensuring that I will never work for the publisher ever which is kind of sad because I’d love to work on a Bat anything sometime in my career. And now I’m going to tear apart Oni Press’s logo, a publisher that I’d love to work for but would probably never give me a second thought after reading what I’m about to write. But the new logo hurts my eye balls and makes me sad in the brain.

I loved Oni’s mask logo. It reduced well, was instantly recognizable from a distance, looked great on trade dress. The little mask on the spine makes Oni trades really stand out on a shelf. Simple, elegant, well balanced. The lettering is kind of kitsch but it works so well with the mask icon. The Oni mask is a solid logo that stands out among its comic peers. And then they broke it.

This is Oni’s new logo, the sign post. It looks like something you’d stick in the ground for an open house. God, where to start. This thing is a jumbled mess. There are just so many elements competing for your attention. Your logo shouldn’t fight with itself.

The Mark

I know what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a close-up shot of an Oni mask. But it looks like a weird, chubby bird. It’s kind of a shame that didn’t incorporated the original mask. I mean, it would still look like a mess, but at least we’d have a well drawn mask to look at. The full version of this one would look like it’s wearing way too much eye shadow.

The dot in the top right corner throws the balance off. It makes the section look like a weird puzzle piece. I understand that it’s supposed to reflect the dot in the forehead of the original Oni mask, but it looks off. My eye is drawn to that section instead of the entire mark.

Maybe if there was some hint of horn it would read better as a mask. The first thing I saw was a chubby bird. Unless the dual meaning was intentional, the mark fails the clarity test. It should instantly be recognized as a mask.

The Red Window

The mark doesn’t work alone so it must be supported by the type. I actually don’t have too much problem with the ONI letter forms. I miss the playfulness of the original, but the new type treatment of the ONI works well enough. And at least “Press” isn’t in Arial. The problem is introduced with the red window.

Besides the horrible pun, we’re introduced to another type face that doesn’t relate to the “ONI” letter forms or the “Press” or URL bits. The trade dress uses the same type as the “Press” and URL which we will bitch about in a moment, but when using the new tag line (fucking PUNS), it’s a third type face.

Now, rules are meant to be broken. There’s sort of a typography design rule that you shouldn’t use more than two fonts in a logo or business card or poster blah blah blah. It’s not an arrest-able offense (the only people who really notice are typography and design nerds), but if you break the rule, you should do it well. The type used for the tag line was probably chosen so it could squeeze into that space. It feels like an after thought, not at all related to the logo.

The window idea kind of works in the trade dress as shown here:

The issue number and price are the same type face as “Press” and the URL. So on the trade dress, the bloody thing follows the rules.

There’s a version of the logo with the red window removed entirely which further reinforces the idea that it’s extraneous. It works much better without the red window.

The entire thing could lose both the red window and the URL. It would look so much more clean with just the mark and the ONI Press word forms.

Also, puns. Fucking PUNS!!!

The Arrow

The arrow at the bottom of the box throws the entire thing off. Why is it there? Is it supposed to reflect a word balloon tail? It makes the thing feel like it’s going to topple to either side at any given moment.

It looks terrible on the cover, especially when it’s placed at the bottom right. Maybe if it were placed at the top of the covers, but it would still feel awkward, like it’s about to fall. Maybe moving the arrow more to the left or the right would make it read more like a word balloon. But as it stands now, it kind of makes the whole business feel like a really awkward top.

Puns! FUCKING PUNS!!

Goddamn puns.

Again, no makes a comic buying decision based on trade dress or logo design. The content is king. Readers care about the meat inside the books, not the silly dressing on the outside. Oni puts out a lot of amazing work. It makes me sad to know that I’ll never see that awesome Oni mask on another book, but it won’t stop me from picking up their books.

So, what do you think of Oni’s new Sign Post?

DC Asks Us to be Heroes

Alright, so the new logo is shit and the new 52 lick ass. I feel like I’ve kicked DC quite a bit recently. So it’s only fair to give them props when they do something right. And man, when they do something right, they go all out.

To help combat the terrible drought and famine that plagues the Horn of Africa, DC and the Justice League are raising money for Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps. These three NGOs are onsite to deliver aid. DC Entertainment will match 100% of donations and 50% of the purchase price of any products bought through the site.

From: We Can Be Heroes

Peeling Back the DC Condom Wrapper

A server upgrade ate two of my posts yesterday that cover the same subject so I apologize to all the RSS subscribers if this sounds like much of the same thing. But hopefully, I will bring an added level of unreasonable vitriol that shall entertain you for the brief moment you skim over this screed. So here goes.

Back in 2005, DC Comics decided their brand needed a refresh. They came out with a new logo which I refer to as the Swoosh Star. It fell very much in line with the web 2.0 aesthetic with its clever swoosh, it’s perky star, and that subtle gradient that came to define an era of questionable design. Throw in an “edgy” type face with sharp corners and aggressive curves and you’ve got a logo that looks terribly dated, as if it jumped from the screen of a design student in the 90’s. I hated it and made fun of it back when AZM was a webcomic:

Angry Logo

With the entire reboot of the DC Universe, I was wondering whether or not we’d get a new brand identity. Sure enough, DC has been working on a new logo for the past year and this week, they unveiled it in all it’s multi-colored glory:



You can see more treatments of this thing at DC’s blog, the Source.

So what’s the deal? Why the peeling? Why the different treatments? Why does it look like a condom wrapper? From the blog:

DC Entertainment worked with Landor Associates, one of the world’s leading brand consulting and design firms, to develop an identity that creates a visual connection among the company, its three brands DC Comics, Vertigo and MAD and its vast array of properties as well as celebrates the power of the company’s stories and characters. The design of the new DC Entertainment identity uses a “peel” effect – the D is strategically placed over the C with the upper right-hand portion of the D peeling back to unveil the hidden C – symbolizing the duality of the iconic characters that are present within DC Entertainment’s portfolio.

Duality of the wibbly wobbly what the fuck?

It looks like a condom wrapper and will now be referred to as such. So, does the DC Condom Wrapper work as a logo?


Typography Fail

The type face of the “DC Comics” component is Hoefler & Frere-Jones Gotham. See what they did there? It’s super clever because it’s Gotham and Batman and ha ha it’s so NO.

NO.

The type looks like an afterthought, as if some executive said, “Well, shit, no one’s going to know what company this Condom Wrapper represents. Why don’t you tack on ‘DC Comics’ just to be sure.” The fact that the letter forms of the C in the icon and the C in the type don’t match further alienates the words from the mark. The type makes an awful “L” shape bellow the mark that throws off the balance. The placement is no better on the cover trade dress next to the mark. Below, beside, above, around, it’s clunky and doesn’t work.


Mark Fail

A strong mark evokes an idea or emotion that embodies a brand. Marks that are representational forms can easily convey figurative concepts. Nike’s swoosh is the strongest mark in sports branding. It evokes movement, speed, action, qualities that are embodied by Nike.

Marks that are literal draw focus away from the brand. DC Condom Wrapper looks like a condom wrapper. It evokes no emotions or ideas or anything remotely related to the concepts that are central to DC’s brand. In fact, it has to be dressed up in fancy colors or kitschy accessories before it starts to say anything.

When I look at the Nike swoosh, I see myself running. When I look at the DC Condom Wrapper, I see a condom wrapper.


Squint Test Fail

A successful logo is instantly recognizable from miles away. If you can’t get up and walk miles away from your computer monitor, the squint test is the next best thing. Strong logos have distinct silhouettes that don’t rely on color or glitz or any fancy dressing. They look good blurred, big, small, black and white.

When I look at the first set of colored logos, except for the yellow and orange ones, I completely lose the peel. It looks like a chopped up C. The squint test also reveals the horrible balance of the type. Together, it looks like a weird C monster with a unusually long foot.

The logos with the illustrations are even worse. I can’t even see any of the dark ones, and the ones with the bright colors loose the C shape. They look more like lopsided D’s.


Do the Logo Motion

Executive Creative Director Nicolas Aparicio of branding consultant Landor says that this logo is for the digital age:

It was our goal to capture DC Entertainment in a dynamic and provocative identity. Our solution is a living expression which changes and adapts to the characters, story lines and the ways fans are consuming content. The new identity is built for the digital age, and can easily be animated and customized to take full advantage of the interactivity offered across all media platforms.

That may very well be. I have yet to see it animate. Who knows, it might look like hot sex. I could see having a lot of fun peeling back the D on some kind of branded iPhone app. As a static logo, as something that will be plastered on trade dress of comic covers, as something that will come to embody DC print comics, it’s just not strong enough.


The Logo as a Platform

I understand the desire to create a form that can be used as sort of branding platform. I like the idea. It’s like a blank Munny platform toy. You can customize it all you want, but you still recognize that it’s a Munny.

But for a platform to work, it must be strong enough to stand on its own. DC’s Condom Wrapper isn’t strong enough of a form to stand alone. The initial black and white concept is quite dreadful and amplifies all the problems previously discussed.

Blech.


Who Cares?

It’s an interesting design argument, but in the end, does it really matter? No one makes comic purchasing decisions based on logos. The trade dress matters very little to what’s on the inside and that’s what readers or potential readers really care about.

It’s fun to rag on their new shiny toy, ultimately, it won’t make much of a difference. DC has far worse problems than a questionable rebrand.


TL;DR

Bottom line, I hate it. I’ve had my long winded say. What do you think of the new Condom Wrapper?

Where Heroes Shop

For organizations like the Future Foundation or individuals like Bruce Wayne who have access to vast quantities of material wealth, it’s only a matter of imagination and check writing to get the latest and greatest crime fighting gear. But where does the budget minded crime fighter get those wonderful toys? AZM Ally Henry Marx spotted the Brooklyn Superhero Supply company which serves the needs of the everyday super hero.

Like any proper super hero, the Superhero Supply store has a secret identity. By day, it is the non profit writing lab, 836NYC, which provides workshops and tutoring to aspiring writers ages 6-18. By night, it is a one-stop shop for all your heroing needs. You can buy powers, secret identities, guide books, costumes, the usual hero stuff. And just to be sure you’re not planning any shenanigans, you must recite the Vow of Heroism with every purchase. Best memorize it now for faster check out:

I [YOUR FULL NAME], also known as [YOUR SUPERHERO NAME], promise always to use my super powers for good.

I promise that I will use the items I’ve purchased here safely and in the name of justice.

I promise to remain ever vigilant, ever true.

The only thing I dispute about the vow is the safely bit. Superheroing isn’t safe by any stretch of the imagination. And if you intend on superheroing with items purchased at the supply store, you’re certainly not going to be using them safely.

So the next time you need to buy some extra powers, head on down to the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company.

From: Untapped Cities

What Geeky Things Are You Looking Forward to in 2012?

2011 kicked everyone right in the balls. We still seem to be digging out a big financial fuck you. The Arab Spring kicked that part of the world square in the jaw. On the home front, our government is a fragmented mess. But even in this chaos and strife, 2011 was a pretty damn good year for us geeks.

This was a great year for comic books. Captain America and Thor tore up the theaters. X-Men First Class was actually pretty damn good. Though I’ve hated most of the new titles, DC’s new 52 made a lot of headlines in the mainstream press. Craig Thompson’s Habibi hit shelves which is probably the most important comic of 2011. We got us a Black Spider-Man.

Movie and Telly screens were graced with lots of sexy fantasy and sci-fi goodness. Game of Thrones kinda grabbed viewers by the tit and had them begging for more. The final Harry Potter film capped off the franchise and helped usher in the Pottermore Era. Attack the Block reminded us to never fuck with South London, believe! The Amy Pond show returned with the Doctor to thrill and frustrate us. Kung Fu Panda returned with the first female director of a full-length animated feature.

Music? Um… well… at least I know some people making some awesome indy music. So that’s awesome.

With the hype machines for Between Batman, Prometheus, Ghost Rider, and Avengers already running full tilt, the new year is already promising a huge summer movie fest for us geeks.

So, fair AZM faithful, what geeky things are you looking forward to in 2012?

It’s Okay, Yamagata, You Don’t Have to Look

Oh boy! There’s another Akira related photo posted which means, you guessed it, more happy fun time news about Steve! ugh.

Angry Zen Minion Bijan Houshmandzadeh sent over news of some more casting hopefuls. This is a list of people that Warner Bros is considering for the role of Tetsuo Shima who is apparently now Kaneda’s brother.

  • D.J. Cotrona (Detroit 1-8-7, G.I.Joe 2: Retaliation)
  • Logan Marshal Green (Devil, Prometheus)
  • Toby Kebbell (RocknRolla, Control)
  • Richard Madden (Game of Thrones)
  • Rami Malek (The Pacific, Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2)
  • Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire)
  • Paul Dano (Cowboys & Aliens, There Will Be Blood)
  • Alden Ehrenreich (Tetro)

Oh, and get this, apparently Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter already have parts. I’m guessing Oldman is the Colonel and Carter will be Lady Miyako. Well, I guess Miyako is awful damn pale so it makes sense for–NO IT FUCKING DOESN’T!

Well, there you have it, folks. There is nothing that anyone can say about this movie that will convince me it’s something worth spending money on.

I’m sorry, Japan. Next time, keep the rights to you stuff. Sure, it’s a nice pay check. But Hollywood will just wipe away anything remotely Asian about it.

Source: Slashfilm

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