The Design of the Doc Savage Logo
In GIRVIN’s history as designers for theatrical marketing and advertising,
we’ve got legacy, a heritage of literally hundreds of motion pictures —
starting with kickoff logo studies for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,”
to nearly 400 other logos over time.
As a renegade design consultant [not having an office in Hollywood,] we come in as specialized design resources for directors, movie stars, producers and production teams and motion picture studios and their agencies. That led to direct alliances with advertising agencies and key talent to work on films — which usually began with site tours and meetings with the production designers, then directors and sometimes their key stars in producing solutions to build the brands of movies.
The work in this marketing space — working on movies — came as a point of curiosity and linking up early in my career, the late 1970s and early 1980s on movie logo designs. I was as shocked with my first call from the office of Coppola’s request for graffiti renderings of the concept of “Apocalypse Now,”
as I was in a call from
Clint Eastwood, decades later,
to talk about redemption
and the thematic intentions of “Unforgiven.”
Mostly, it’s about research, study and digging-in,
which is what I thought immediately
in hearing of “The Rock’s” role as Doc Savage.
Like my earlier forays with Stan Lee, Nancy Goliger and Lucia Ludovico before their retirement from Paramount Studio’s advertising offices — “how could you transition the legacy of Iron Man to a major motion picture series —
what would the design strategy be,
in partnering with Marvel and
syncing up Paramount as lead producer?”
I had history with IronMan — as
a young person, being enamored with the whole package of Tony Stark.
What I did then, and what I’d consider now, in studying logo solutions for “Doc Savage,” would be to reach back to foundational material — all of it from our rare book collections — to examine how to take legacy and reboot it.
So I started here, look back, look deep:
The design strategy of the Doc Savage legacy:
How the design system worked for branding Doc Savage:
Comic renderings of Doc Savage’s storytelling:
It’s been said that, “Doc Savage is the first real superhero,” as noted in a historical abstract on DocSavage, “Doc Savage is a fictional character originally published in American pulp magazines during the 1930s and 1940s. He was created by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L. Nanovic at Street & Smith Publications, with additional material contributed by the series’ main writer, Lester Dent.
The illustrations were by Walter Baumhofer, Paul Orban, Emery Clarke, Modest Stein, and Robert G.Harris.
The heroic-adventure character would go on to appear in other media, including radio, film, and comic books, with his adventures reprinted for modern-day audiences in a series of paperback books. Into the 21st century, Doc Savage has remained a nostalgic icon in the U.S., referenced in novels and popular culture. Stan Lee has credited Doc Savage as being the forerunner to modern superheroes.”
As with anything, I dig into what I know, and what I don’t — and should know — and organize strategies and the tactics to make them real.
So I look to history.
Below, a collection of the classic James Bama
cover-designed books from my early years.
What I was struck by was the magnetic dynamism of his compositions, and the portrayals of the otherworldly character of Doc Savage, of whom Dwayne Johnson describes as a strange superhero.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Despite what the name would suggest, Doc Savage is far from some untamed beast who represents the animalistic side of heroism. But neither is the comedic “F*CKING HILARIOUS WEIRDO” that Dwayne Johnson declared him to be when announcing that he would be playing the character in the upcoming Shane Black-written big-screen reboot of the character.”
Looking back into the history of DocSavage art, I improvised in a set of large scale drawings — done with brushes and large-scale markers, reaching into the memorial character of DocSavage storytelling from my early years.
I went dynamic, I went big.
But I kept coming back in my mind to memory —
and the original jackets and illustrative forums and began to walk around
the notions of solutions that linked
to an original design language and ethos to
the brand storytelling and positioning of Doc Savage
We slimmed and condensed, tailored and tuned to add some other detailed tracks to the markings of a DocSavage brand — going back to the 70s, yet pushing to the now — and Dwayne Johnson as Doc Savage.
And this, really, is only one approach. Surely there could be others, but after hearing about Johnson’s role, Shane Black’s written and directorial enthusiasm,
it’s a start in one positioning.
Where that leads,
You might have some thoughts, as a brand strategist or designer,
about where you’d go.
For us —
grasp the past
to know the future.
Girvin movie logos.
Explore as you shall.
Tim | GIRVIN Queen Anne Strategic Magic Studios
G I R V I N | DESIGNING MOVIES
THEATRICAL BRANDING + ENTERTAINMENT
IMAGINATION: AND THE TOOLS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
Girvin Movie Brands at ScreamOnline: http://goo.gl/GUr4VW
Check out Jim Sterankos Doc art and graphic designs
Love that work — super cool.
I love the Bantam Doc “swoosh” logo, and I appreciate your logo at the end, as it is so similar (why completely re-do the brand?). One suggestion, I understand you’re going for the distressed-t-shirt look, but the white dot on the “c” in “Doc” makes the “c” look like a “g” and it looks like “Dog.” I’d take away that white splotch or move it to somewhere else in the “c.” Just my suggestion. Thanks.
Thanks for your suggestions Mark, always willing to listen.