Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag

By | Monday, December 13, 2021 2 comments
Here's the original art for Marvel Treasury Edition #13, also known as the "Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag."
The pencils are by Gil Kane with inks by Joe Sinnott. You can see "Seasons Greetings" and the Marvel banner material has been pasted on top of the line art, but there's been some room left for the "Grab-Bag" logo. Let's see what that looks like when we drop in the actual logo that someone in Marvel's production department (possibly Sol Brodsky) came up with...

It becomes the "Giant Superhero Holiday somethingsomething". Daredevil's arm flows nicely between the "O" and the "L" in "holiday" but he, along with Thing and Iron Man, block most of the "Grab-Bag" text. What to do?

Here's the final so you can play count-the-differences...

What's immediately obvious is that Daredevil has been eliminated entirely. And Iron Man has been moved down and his angle changed, so that his left arm doesn't cut off as much of that "A". It's also a little hard to see but the Thing's hand has been angled down a bit so it's coming up more between the "A" and the "B" and not just completely covering the "A". While the letterforms are still partially covered, there's still enough showing with enough context to let the reader fairly easily deduce the full text. Also worth noting is that Thor's cape has been redrawn so that it no longer breaks into the logo at all. While it wasn't hampering legibility much, it did add to the overall busy-ness of the logo area. Finally, a bit more snow has been added above the price tag and Treasury banner.

Bear in mind, too, that all that was must have been done using photostats and paste-ups. The production crew likely took a stat (kind of like a super-high-quality photocopy) of the original art and manually cut out Daredevil using an Exacto knife. Then cut out and re-positioned Thing's hand. Then cut out and repositioned Iron Man, followed by re-drawing his right hand, half of which wasn't originally visible. Then cut out and re-drew Thor's cape. All of this cutting would have had to follow the inked lines precisely, so they could slide the logo underneath all of it and make sure there weren't large gaps between the figures and the letters.

I can almost guarantee you that the production folks on this cover were doing more than a little cursing at all the changes that had to be made after Sinnott turned in his inks! Yuletide greetings, indeed!
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Matt K said...

Getting rid of "Marvel Treasury Edition" seems like it would have been a better design solution

Well, this was 1976. I'm sure one of the senior editors (probably Wolfman, Conway, or Goodwin depending on when precisely this was being put together) felt that the series title was key to ongoing sales. They were hardly marketing or branding experts, and simply used conventional logic of the past several decades of comics publishing -- that the title was more important than the content. Like how "Venus" switched between a superhero comic and horror and romance and an Archie-style comedy.