Established in 1997 in Portland, OR, Oni Press is a small-ish independent comic books publisher known and respected for its innovative and out of the mainstream titles, including the popular Scott Pilgrim series as well as more nerdy ventures like bringing to comic book life Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen character. In Japanese folklore Oni refers to demons and devils and their logo originally featured an Oni trinket illustrated by Watchmen’s Dave Gibbons. The new logo was updated in-house and released last week.
“The original Oni Press logo was designed by the amazing Dave Gibbons and based on a small trinket that publisher Joe Nozemack’s brother had brought back with him from a trip to Japan. It’s an iconic image that has served us well for a long time. We can’t thank Dave enough for contributing such a significant piece of our company’s brand and identity.” […]
Throughout 2011, [Art Director Keith Wood] worked with Cory Casoni (Director of Sales & Marketing), Joe Nozemack (Publisher), and myself to narrow down the pool of potential designs and refine his initial concepts into the modern, versatile, and downright awesome logo that will soon adorn all of our new comics.”
— Press Release
The original logo looked quite a lot like an independent comic book publisher should look and even though I don’t like the typography one bit nor the way the logo is locked up in that odd holding shape, the thing was appropriate — plus, not everyone can boast of having a Dave Gibbons-designed icon. The new logo is a nice evolution of it, with the Oni redrawn to look more aggressive and less with a “Oh my God, I wonder what lies behind that ‘D’ sticker in the DC Comics logo?!” look. The extra tight cropping also gives it an air of mystery and creates a lot of tension in the logo. The typography, though, is a bit of a mess. The “ONI” square lettering is a little flimsy, too tightly spaced, and not very imaginative nor representative of indie comics — pairing it with ultra spaced Helvetica below it doesn’t help at all. Perhaps a cliché, the logo is held within a speech bubble, but at least the hard-edged execution of it doesn’t make it so evident or cloying. Overall, this was a great icon redesign but the typography could use a refinement, or twelve.