2019, Korero Press
“The man who’s done more for comic book design than anybody else, ever,” boasts the back cover of Logo-a-gogo, quoted from talkaboutcomics.com by way of Grant Morrison, who also pens this book’s lionising foreword. That’s barely a subjective statement: one only has to flick through this gorgeous hardback’s 570-odd pages to appreciate that Hughes’ portfolio covers almost every major comic book series released in the past twenty years. If you’ve read more than five different comic series from those last two decades, you’ve probably read something adorned with a Rian Hughes logo.
The real joy of a book such as this comes from opening it at random pages, to either revisit an old favourite or discover something unfamiliar. Hughes’ work includes rebrands of such staples as Judge Dredd, Tank Girl, Valiant’s revamped insignia, that controversial reworked Marvel logo, iconic logos for modern titles including Outcast, Gotham Academy and the 2013 Fantastic Four reboot, and work for many a forgotten series such as DC’s The L.A.W., Kid Eternity and the wicked design for Milligan and Hewlett’s Hewligan’s Haircut. That’s not to mention his many collaborations with Grant Morrison, such as Multiversity, Seaguy and Invisibles, with which Hughes is able to capture the seminal scribe’s eccentricity and drug-fuelled concepts without compromising that certain sheen readers of the Big Two have come to expect.
Hughes’ body of works extends far beyond comics and magazines, to toys and brands both global and local, and even recognisable staples of geek existence such as the logos for Forbidden Planet and London-based crime bookstore Murder One. That last mention is sadly long gone, but the fuzzy feeling I got from seeing the old haunt’s bold red label is testament to Hughes’ clean design and knack for conveying the distinct theme or character behind whatever his work represents.
Most of the designs are allocated a double-page spread and accompanied by preliminary sketches, alternative concepts and brief but insightful notes from the artist, as well as photographs of the finished products. There’s a fascinating efficiency with which Hughes tests several completely different ideas, pushes those concepts further, then combines their best elements into a final form. His candid notes detail issues with clients, the reasons for seemingly perfect concepts being rejected, and often reflect a drive for simplicity. As a graphic designer myself, I’m often disappointed that so few similar books compile their content in such a clear and logical manner. This is a book by designers for designers, though artists and comic aficionados will certainly get their money’s worth.
The ease and playfulness with which Logo-a-gogo presents logo design as a vast and complex visual language makes it something truly special; a valuable resource for professionals and a veritable bible on the creative process for the student.
I’m a sucker for glossy artbooks, but I’ll be the first to confess that most I buy or review eventually end up on the bookshelf behind my study space, rarely to be refenced again. Rian Hughes’ Logo-a-gogo will be taking its rightful place on my drawing desk, besides those precious few books that I know I’ll be reaching for time and again. Simply put, it’s a must have for comic fans, typographers and artists alike.
Logo-a-gogo is out now from Korero Press, priced at £34.99.