“In 1945, National Periodical Publications (later simply known as DC Comics) trademarked Superman’s symbol, allowing the ability to print his stories in perpetuity, rather than allowing the printed material to become public domain after 75 years, as was the norm at that time. The ability to license and merchandise the character created another source of income for the comics industry.”

Clark Kent first appeared between 1934-35.

Superman Clark Kent original

In 1944, the trademarked version of the symbol appeared in Superman 26.

Superman 26

“Superman’s symbol has become recognizable all over the world. However, at one time it wasn’t very consistently drawn — and that is the crux of this article. Prior to having trademarked the symbol, it went through a great deal of change. Here is the story as we know it.”

Superman Fleischer sketch

View the full archive on Brian G. Philbin’s MetropolisPlus.com.

Superman shield evolution

Comments

The first few look very weak and the next ones are very cartoony and playful, almost not very superman-ish. Where’s the bold, strong, powerful slab serif?

When you concentrate just on the S logo it appears much wonkier that when it’s on Superman. Weird, I thought it was much more precise than appearing hand drawn.

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