Monday, May 16, 2016

Style Counsel

Before the animated Legion of Super Heroes TV series got off the ground in 2006, a style guide was commissioned by the producers so that animators and colorists knew what sort of look to adhere to.
    The guide was put together by Spoon+fork Studio and featured designs by revered comic book illustrator Mike Zeck, most well-known for his work on Shang-Chi, Batman, and the Punisher.
    The product was in the form of a CD and came with a handsome booklet which was essentially 12 images folded up like a concertina into a CD-sized package.

The style guide and its booklet.

    The content included character art, graphic design elements, turnarounds, fonts, banners and iconography. 
    The initial concept featured only five Legionnaires: Superman, Lightning Lad, Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf and Bouncing Boy.

    Once the animated series got off the ground, more members got added to the core group, notably Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl.

    Artwork for the animated series was generally handled by James Tucker, who modelled the Legionnaires after Zeck's ideas. Tucker also produced several Legion designs of his own.

Some of Legion animator James Tucker's designs

    Indeed, it's licensing work which has kept Zeck busy in recent years, instead of drawing for comic books, and he has been responsible for the guides for several DC animated shows. 
    As well as the Legion, he did style guides for Teen Titans, Batman, Brave and Bold, Justice League Unlimited, Super Friends and Krypto. Not a bad portfolio, and that’s just the DC work!

    Included in the style guide for the Legion were logo designs for the individual members. These were eventually adopted for use in the McDonald’s Happy Meals release of Legion figures a year after the animated series began.

McDonald's Happy Meals cards which use logos as designed by Mike Zeck in the style guide.

    As the guide was only distributed to industry members connected to the show, copies of this item are difficult to obtain, although a couple have turned up on Ebay over the years.
    See below for some examples from the guide. 

Bits Boy runs the comprehensive Legion completists’ site Bits of Legionnaire Business.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this! It's a shame all we really got as far as merchandise was the McDonald's Happy Meal promotion.

    Maybe I read it wrong, but didn't Tucker do the animation designs, and then Zeck interpret them for this style guide? That's the way it usually works.

    A lot of the "modern" comic Batman style guide you see nowadays is also by Mike Zeck. Beautiful stuff!