JayJay here. Jim is in the city all day today and hasn’t gotten today’s blog written. But when I was digging through old files yesterday, looking for those Marvel ad rate cards, I ran across some of my old logo sketches from our VALIANT days. I think I was able to do some ok designs in spite of Jim’s direction. Heh.In the very beginning of VALIANT we had a lot of discussion about the cover design and wanting to give the covers a distinctive look. I don’t think I have any of those very
early cover designs, but there were many. Jim’s final decision was to make every logo into a box at the top of the cover. At the time I was opposed it, but as usual he was right. In his way. We weren’t winning any awards for graphic design, but you could spot a VALIANT book a mile away. Jim, the big picture guy, has consistently been able to see things on a whole ‘nother level from most people, me included.
Here are some sketches for the Harbinger logo. We spent a lot of time refining that bird, huh?
|Early type explorations
|The final logo
Here are three X-O sketches. I think we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted and I was just doing refinements at this point.
I was in the process of creating the final artwork for this Geomancer logo when we were fired from VALIANT. I still have the incomplete art, so I think it was never used for anything.
Jim should be back to the blog tomorrow, but… Shhh! Nobody tell him I took over!
Hi Jim Shooter, my name is Thomas Nichols and i am a huge fan of your work on shadowman. You definitely created my favorite hero of allllll time. From art work to the writing, its very cool to be able to even send you a friend request lol. Do you do comicbook conventions? It’ll be an honor to meet u and get a autograph on my issue zero of Shadowman. Thanks for the great stories and great relatable character. Also i wanted to know, what is your definition of the shadowman logo? The man in the doorway, how and why was that chosen to be his logo. The meaning of the logo
"I'd especially like to know who came up with the graffiti-style Star Seed logo."
[MikeAnon:] So would I…so I could give them a nice, solid whack in the head. HORRIBLE logo, especially given the content. Would have been more appropriate on "Street Seed."
Regarding the Layton era. I stayed with VALIANT until the bitter end. The quality of the post-Unity storytelling depended largely upon the consistency of the creative teams on the individual books. I didn't really sour on VALIANT books until after the Chaos Effect crossover, but it's when Birthquake hit that things *really* went downhill. "Bring in the big names!" seemed to be the rallying cry then, only I don't think the big names had any clue who the characters were or what to do with them, and nearly every title that got a new creative team went horribly off the rails. [–MikeAnon]
I'm 100% convinced that if covers stood out and were capable of attracting attention to themselves, that comic shop owners would order enough to cover any demand that could be created. One problem today is that everything looks the same. Most comics are static poses looking at heroes from different angles. You have to stare an extra few seconds to figure out who published the comic. Publishers don't create a strong branding on their product so that you can pick it out quickly. When I was 12 years old, I looked for that bar across the top of Marvel Comics that said "Marvel Comics Group". It stood out and on new comics day, those always caught my eye first. They had a flashy logo with a 3D effect and they grabbed the consumers attention.
It's great to hear from a VALIANT veteran! Greater still to see that you're still active in comics.
I was writing about myself and guessing that my situation wasn't unique. I buy almost all comics online — often without even looking at the covers. I rarely browse at comic stores anymore. Here's what happened the last time I bought a comic solely on the basis of its cover.
"In an age when most readers might be buying comics on the basis of catalog listings and online previews, the craft in logos and cover designs has gone into decline. That craft has to come back if covers are to "jump out to catch the attention of the reader."
I think this was a very good point Marc. My local comic shop ordered to sell out in a week. Cover design is SO important to catch the eye of a browser like me, but what if it isn't even on the shelf, because it A)sold out or B)was never ordered?
In an age when most readers might be buying comics on the basis of catalog listings and online previews, the craft in logos and cover designs has gone into decline. That craft has to come back if covers are to "jump out to catch the attention of the reader."
I see a lot of flat logo's and branding that might a well be camouflaged. It doesn't jump out to catch the attention of the reader.
I never noticed that Box Logo idea until you mentioned it. 🙂
I liked the VALIANT logos and the books did stand out on the racks.
If anything, like Jim Shooter posted about a few weeks ago, in the New DC 52 the logos seem to be over the top. And the logos on various books now are distracting and being made to fancy.
Is it really 'blasting' Bob Layton to simply report what he did? I think not.
It does, however, show that that you should never turn your back on Bob, for fear of getting a badly drawn dagger shoved in your back.
…To me, it hurts a bit when I hear Jim blasting Bob on here, as I've been bouncing e-mails back and forth with Bob off and on for years, and I've come to respect and admire the hell out of both Jim and Bob. Jim got buggered without even the benefit of a spat of K-Y or even a thank-you kiss, but it's one of those things where one hates to get caught in the middle of a feud where it's suicide to take either side no matter how much evidence each side has against the other.
…That being said, to totally derail the above train of thought before it gets out of the tunnel, is it just me, or does j-squared's Geomancer logo remind one of the old DC "Go-Go Chex" they ran at the top of their mastheads just about the time Jim was discovering girls? 😛
Hey, Bob is the king of burning bridges in style. The wisdom I learned is that if you are going to burn bridges, you'd better be a good swimmer. Perhaps he is.
There's been a lot of talk about Big Bob here, so you all may enjoy this: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/11/18/bob-layton-swears-off-marvel-forever-over-iron-man-forever/
Karma, as it turns out, is indeed a bitch.
Mr. Jim Shooter start writing comic books again. A perfect example is Robert Kirkman. A writer who has his own creator owned / co-creator owned universe and a large following at Image Comics. Emulate his business style and start writing, creating/co-creating and owning/co-owning your own comic books. I know it is easier said than done but you are a great writer and the comic book world misses new comic books from you.
Mr.Jim Shooter start writing comic books again. It seems that you will never work for Marvel or DC again and I don't thing anyone is going to give you $50 million to start a new company. You stated earlier that you have not had paid work in months. You have to start making creator owned comics that you own and control. There isn't much money at the start but with time you can create and control your own comic book universe and own it like Mike Mignola, Todd McFarlane, Mark Miller etc., the biggest problem would be finding an artist(s) who you would have to pay or they would be co-creators, co-owners and co-partners( meaning they would work for free at the start like you would). You have a large and loyal fanbase and with good quality comics that fanbase would only get bigger allowing you to sell more comics. The best way to shut up your critics would be by making great comic books again. IMHO.
I couldn't remember the exact time frame on the TPB's. I wasn't sure exactly what was in process at the time of the great debacle.
We (the fans) need you to download the Starseed #10 script on the right side of the blog. In your spare time (for fun), just sketch out the pages and ink them. Forward them to JayJay so she can color them (just for fun). I'm sure a fun spirited letterer stops by occasionally!!! Do not think of it as work. Just think of it as fun. I just have a really difficult time visualizing strings of symbols (words?) without nice pictures to accompany them.
[At this point I look upward, move my head back and forth & whistle innocently]
That VALIANT TP was published after my time. I never would have done that bizarre cover. I have no idea why the bird from the Harbinger logo, colored blue, is overlying the cover image. The circle it's in has bad conflicts with Pete's head, Torque's face and Flamingo's feet. It's really bad.
As usual, JayJay understates things. Real story coming later. Bob Layton twice demanded paid vacations — no one else ever did. The company had no money, but we were so hard pressed and so undermanned that we couldn't afford to have Bob quit. Where he would have gone, looking back, I don't know. No one else wanted him. But, credit where credit is due, he did provide valuable services to VALIANT, mostly as a sort of an art production manager — he made the "knobs" crank.
So having working credit cards, twice, I, personally, came up with $5,000 to finance Bob's weeks off. No, I was not reimbursed. Or thanked.
JayJay isn't making it sound anywhere near as horrible and vicious as it was. I'll tell it like it was later.
Oops, he saw it! >_<
JayJay "designed" the VALIANT, Solar, Magnus, Harbinger, X-O, UNITY, DEFIANT, Warriors of PLASM and Fatale logos in spite of my direction. : )
Were you and Jim ever an item?
The loyalty and respect for each other is easy to see, and must have made for a great working relationship. Just wondering if there was ever anything more.
Hi Jay Jay,
I'm just wondering why you and Jim sometimes refer to the Valiant staff as "knobs", and what is "knob row"?
I've just been wondering that for the past 10 years since I picked up a pile of Valiant comics at a local comic shop!
Defiant 1 said:
The thing that really amazed me in the Layton era stories is that Jim left so many seeds for future plots that it was unreal. If Layton had just taken the ball and run with the plots Jim had initiated, I'd have been happy for years. Instead, I watched Valiant throw every single plot lead away and go off on a completely different (and stupid) tangent.
Well, if you read X-Factor, you wouldn't have been surprised. That was the most incomprehesible concept ever. I did like Bob's Hercules stories (and his Iron Man stuff) though.
Keep posting Jay Jay, we'll watch your back. 🙂
Roadrunners are never easy to work with. 😉
We were all under such bullshit pressures. I wish for a nicer situation, one day. =)
Love you Art! You are awesome. Damn, I miss working with you. Even though I know I'm not the easiest person to work with. lol.
The hours sucked. The office on 21st was the most horrifically uncomfortable place in the winter, where I would spend so many nights not sleeping at my place, wearing a winter coat while working at the drawing table, watching how much of a steam cloud my breath was expelling every time I exhaled. Trying to draw with fingerless gloves was a real pain.
Space heaters would work for 4 minutes until they tripped the circuit breaker, and the power would go out. Then there was the aggressive mice. They were everywhere. When you heard them squeak constantly, you knew one was caught in a sticky trap. I'm not gonna say how I disposed of the mice after that. I don't need PETA up my ass.
Because of the huge things we were trying to accomplish, all in such a short time with very limited resources, everyone put in the most ridiculous hours. We just kept going and going, all the while being miserable in that hellhole of a loft. One night, Jade Moede fell asleep on this small couch. He looked like he died, so I took white tape and made my own 'chalk outline' around his body on the couch.
Janet said I slept in my own bed "sometimes". That was accurate, as I spent the majority of my time at that office. Bob was always there, rarely ever staying late with us, condescending and always being a bullying ass-hat, acting like he was better than everyone. It's not a surprise that he did what he did to Jim.
Working at that office was a goddamned nightmare. Still one of my fondest memories ever, though. Closest thing I had to a family. Still about the most fun I ever had.
Okay, I'm back to lurking. Thanks for maintaining this great blog, JayJay.
I like the exploration.Its awesome.
The thing that really amazed me in the Layton era stories is that Jim left so many seeds for future plots that it was unreal. If Layton had just taken the ball and run with the plots Jim had initiated, I'd have been happy for years. Instead, I watched Valiant throw every single plot lead away and go off on a completely different (and stupid) tangent. It was like Bob intentionally wanted to erase Jim's stories so Jim wouldn't get any credit for Valiant's success. The transition from Jim to Bob was perhaps the biggest bait and switch ever pulled on comics. Valiant was popular because of the stories that Jim wrote. When new readers flocked in and bought the comics they got total crap produced under Bob's helm.
I thankfully abandoned ship early, but I watched how the readers responded to the stories. I don't know any customers that were still reading them by 1995. People were buying them to keep their series intact, but when I asked people if they read them, the answer was usually no. Valiant had a lot of hype around the Visitor character and the Harbinger character. It created a little buzz. After a year passed, I asked some customers who the Harbinger character was and who the Visitor character was. People who were buying the comics couldn't even tell me. I dug up the back issue in the comic book store and figured it out myself (without buying them). There was about a dozen of us laughing out loud about the answer for an hour.
JayJay or Jim,
What is the story behind the "Blue" TPB's at Valiant? A few years ago I discovered that Charlton used to have Bluebird branded comics that were released with shoe store ads on the cover. The logo made me wonder if Valiant was inspired in some way by that.
Charlton Bluebird logo
Valiant "Bluebird" TPB logo…
It just seemed odd when I discovered it.
Flying Tiger Comics
The begging donation thing looks really bad. For the love all that's holy just whack a project wonderful ad up there instead.
Isn't it interesting that VALIANT, under Evil Shooter and his cronies who were not big on work or deadlines, became the number 3 comic company in the matter of a few years?
And that once the people who were not cronies, and were, presumably, big on work and deadlines, it cratered in an even shorter time?
You'd almost think that somebody was lying to himself and the world, hoping that somebody, somewhere might believe it.
Great stuff, Jay Jay. I've always had a "thing" for logotypes and have designed some of my own as well. It's funny…my son is now studying graphic design at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) and he's very good with type and overall design, as well. Genetics are weird like that! I'm going to pass along this post to him; I'm sure he'll dig it.
Bob Layton, what a class act!
Well, that's partly true. Jim hired Bob and he took more vacations and time off than anyone beside Massarsky. I think I took 3 or 4 days off a couple of those years to go home for Christmas. Other than that I worked every day, 7 days a week, usually working past 10 PM and sometimes all night. We came so close on some of the deadlines that Jade was still pasting up word balloons in a cab on the way to the late night FedEx. Debbie, who also worked seven days a week even though she lived outside the city up in Nyack, would buy food and come in on Thanksgiving to cook everyone who was working a Thanksgiving dinner in the office microwave. Bob was not present for those dinners. Jade worked hours as long as any of us and still came in early to clean the office for a little extra cash. Art Nichols moved into an apartment he found 2 blocks from the office so he could sleep in his own bed sometimes. Everyone took their turns on the office couch… the couch we "knobs" scavenged from the street. lol. Some of the guys who lived upstate stayed over at my house more than once when they worked past the time the last train left. But Bob wouldn't know, he wasn't around the office for most of that since he tended to leave a bit earlier. But he was there for all the office wheelchair basketball games!
JayJay's account of Valiant's acts that day are pretty sad.
But entirely believable to be treated that way.
I don't remember any of the Valiant post-shooter honchos even acknowledging that JayJay ever worked there or her contributions. Shooter they only referenced in negatives. Not trying to start anything, but I believe that the only time Layton's ever made even a possible oblique mention of Miss Jackson was when he said in an interview, "Jim surrounded himself with people who were very loyal to him, but not big on hard work or making deadlines."
JayJay, I don't think I'll look at Archer or his pistol-crossbow the same way ever again, now!
I'm curious about the Dark Dominion logo. I never encountered the Defiant books before at all (I had stopped buying comics sometime in high school, and as Defiant was launching I was starting university, so I was paying NO attention to comics at all that year or the next — no time, no money), so Jim's Ditko stories are really my first close look at the books.
And the DD logo is great! It looks like a Silver Age logo, a bit cartoony, and yet still conveys the seriousness of the book at the same time.
As you didn't claim that one, who did it? And was my reaction the one that was intended?
If anyone we worked with stood up for us, I'm not aware of it. But, I would think they would keep their heads down and do their work if they wanted to stay. I saw a couple of former co-workers after we left, just once or twice. I had been wanting to use Jorge Gonzalez for a painting and he let me photograph him for reference.
The Geomancer logo was meant to convey a variety of ancient cultures such as Aboriginal, Aztec, Celtic. I'm pretty sure we had always thought that the earliest Geomancers were Australian Aborigines. If I remember correctly. The "G" is busy, but we would have held the interior lines in a color to improve the readability.
Thanks for the story, JayJay.
I wish I could say it's incredible that people would be treated so badly by an employer, but when the people in charge have no ethics it's bound to happen. Looks like Massarsky and Co. decided to get rid of anyone who would show Jim some fidelity and were likely to be upset at the way he was treated. That may mine morale at the Brand New Valiant Under New Management. Better to pretend that those people who invested so much time, effort and talent in Valiant "decided to pursue other interests", hypocritically wish them well, and fire them. I've seen it happen elsewhere.
Did any of your colleagues protest?
The VALIANT thing… Benoît, when Jim started VALIANT I left Marvel to join him (I was only freelancing at that point, anyway) and his old friend from Pittsburgh, Debbie Fix, came to work with him too. Jim and I had been friends since '83 and he and Deb were friends since back when he lived in Pittsburgh. He even wrote her into Star Brand! It was no secret that, as long-time personal friends, we both were very loyal to Jim. The same morning that Jim was called to a board meeting outside the office and fired, Debbie and I were being fired back at the office as soon as we arrived for work. Debbie had to pack up Jim's stuff since he was never allowed to come back to the office and they had hired armed guards to stand in the reception area.
I was told I had one hour to pack up and get out, which was impossible since I had brought in many, many books, supplies, furniture and all sorts of things to the office. We worked long hours 7 days a week and VALIANT was practically home.
If Jim's old friend from Pittsburgh, Ken Klaczak, had not been staying with Jim at the time I wouldn't have gotten hardly anything out. He showed up at the office, having no idea what was going on, and helped me move as much as I could down to the street, pack it into 2 cabs and take it home to Brooklyn. I had to leave some stuff, but I got the most important things like my drawing table, art supplies and books. I only left behind some random things, party stuff, an ice chest and sadly, some artwork that was in files that I had no time to go through.
Come to think of it, maybe the armed guards were on account of me. lol. I do own a LOT of weapons, including the pistol crossbow that Archer's was based on. It's hanging over my drawing table right now.
The 'G' in 'Geomancer' reminds me of the style of the Book of Kells. Was this intentional?
I designed the VALIANT logo, the Solar, Magnus, Harbinger, X-O, Unity logos. Also The DEFIANT logo, did sketches for Warriors of Plasm, and I did the Fatale logo at Broadway. With an actual tube of lipstick! lol.
Steve, I worked on a role playing game once! A little one no one's probably ever heard of called Treasure of the Lost Temple. I did the logo and the fancy interior borders and the playing "board" and pieces. I also used to draw illustrations for Steve Jackson's magazine, The Space Gamer at the very beginning of my career. I played D&D at the time. I still like RPG's the best. 😀
Very nice work as usual, JayJay.
I am curious about the firing from Valiant thing. Were you ousted by the pirates because of your good working relation with Jim, or did you resign in protest?
All the best,
Keep 'em coming, JayJay!
I dabble in book layout and logo design for role-playing games. I wish I had your chops. (gets back to be kerning)
"in spite of Jim's direction" — ouch! LOL.
Thanks for these VALIANT artifacts!
The many designs for the Harbinger bird remind me of Stan Lee's many sketches for the "4" of the Fantastic Four uniform logo. One would think, "a bird is just a bird and a four is just a four," but no …
I think the "G" in Geomancer is too busy and that the other type and design elements are sufficient to convey an ancient feeling. Maybe the "G" could have been filled with one type of motif instead of several. I used to imitate logos a lot as a kid and my philosophy is that logos people can more or less recreate from memory are the most effective: e.g., the other VALIANT logos. (By that I meant the ones from your period. Are they all your designs? Did you design the DEFIANT and Broadway logos as well? I'd especially like to know who came up with the graffiti-style Star Seed logo.)
Shhh! Nobody tell him I took over!
I'm not talking. But I am typing …
"JayJay took over …" (Suddenly loses Internet connection. Never tell on a Blog Elf.)
Roger Owen Green
Your secret is safe with me.