The Collector’s Edition For Rejected Superheroes

I guess it’s that time of year again where this poor blog gets neglected for weeks at a time. The most recent reason for this was my project for Elastic Creative, which I blogged about in the concepting stages but never posted about during development and construction. That’ll just have to come another time!

Courtesy of International Society of Typographic Designers

But for now I am just working on the next big project that will be shown at the degree show – ISTD (the International Society of Typographic Designers, for any folk out there not cool enough to know about it). It’s an anual competition in the same vein as D&AD and YCN, but with a focus on typography and traditional design structure and layout, as you might have guessed. A few weeks ago they posted their briefs for the 2014 competition. The brief I selected challenged students to create a typographic piece in any medium conveying everything about one very specific topic. The subject matter was entirely up to the student, as long as they looked at it in ruthless, uncompromising detail.

I had a whole gammot of ideas for this brief. In all fairness it was left pretty wide open. They included a TED-like event pack for Alzheimer’s Research UK, a collector’s anthology for Miles Davis, a ‘free-thinkers’ free newspaper and a book on the first dinosaur bone ever uncovered.

In the end I thought about how would this project fit into the real world? I needed an idea that would exist as part of a product or have some sort of real-life purpose or demand. It struck me that typically “special edition”, “collector’s kit” type products exist to inform somebody of everything about one specific thing. By nature they fit in with the brief and are completely feesable as a real-world entity. These “special edition” kits have become especially successful where fan culture works in overdrive, such as the video games industry or the film world. Fan culture is perhaps strongest, however, in the world of comic books.

Batman Arkham Origins Collector’s Edition proves the extent to which some franchises go. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Games

Over the past few years the themes of comic books have changed, thanks to the way they are now consumed and percieved by the public. After the very dark and brooding nature of some heroes such as Spawn and the Punisher in the 80s and 90s comics have become more self-aware and self-satirical. Franchises such as Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim and even the films Super and Defendor show superheroes in a very different light.

To reflect this I didn’t want to just make a DC or Marvel collector’s kit, for which there will exist a thousand iterations. Instead I want to produce a collector’s edition for rejected superheroes. The real underdogs. And boy are there a few doozies out there.

Time to prove that comics are better than comic sans.

Time to prove that comics are better than comic sans.

This should take into consideration the stock, colour and visual traditions of comic books but give a contemporary and stylish twist to the typical typographic aesthetic. The collector’s pack will contain a main publication documenting at least ten of these superheroes and their creators, a pack of trading cards, strickers and a wall poster. It’s one hell of a task, but I’ve got a good feeling about the whole thing.

For ISTD’s various submission requirements they need me to write up a summary of my concept, so you can be sure to see that coming over the next couple of days. Thrilling, thrilling stuff. On with the research for now then…

Listening to: You’re Not The One by Sky Ferreira


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