Okay, up front I’ll say this isn’t a serious, in depth post about the the type of people we consider to be heroes or what we should strive for as individuals or anything like that. Yes, that could be a discussion that could go forever, including the resent happenings with Lebron James, because in some circles people see him as a “hero.” No this is entirely on what the imagery of a superhero and what people perceive and recognize as a hero, from a graphic design point of view.
The background is this: I was commissioned to design a superhero wildcat for Bath County Middle School, using my previous wildcat design I created for their yearbook as the template, to be used as a promotional piece for the coming year’s theme, of being a hero. So, after working and tweaking the look, the pose and everything, I went with the design shown. Trying to keep the feel of a teenage, I kept the “attitude” look I had used previously, went for what I would consider a teenagers superhero pose, one that communicates more attitude, with arms across the chest, rather then the fists on the hips ala Superman. I took the idea of the current Superboy, Kon-El of wearing just jeans and a t-shirt; which was what I already had the wildcat in, as his “superhero costume” with the goal still wanting to be translated as this character is a teenager. Finally I added a cape, something that I would consider a universal icon if you’re wanting to project a character as a superhero. You can basically take anyone, anything, slap a cape on it, and it becomes a superhero, right? RIGHT?!
Well apparently I’m dead wrong! One of the people involved with making the final decisions decided that the cape was a terrible idea, and went with the imagery of a shield instead, not even giving me the opportunity to redesign the wildcat again, but this time holding a shield. Apparently my concept of wearing a cape insulted this woman to such an extent she decided she wasn’t going to use anything I was going to do, and came up with her own design, just using a bland shield.
Now, I realize, everyone should follow the moniker “the customer is always right” but come on! Someone thinking a shield communicates a superhero more then a cape?! Really?! Who else besides Captain America is a mainstream superhero that carries around a shield? Why, when you have Superman, Batman, Thor, etc that wear capes, that are well known superhero icons, would you consider a shield a better communicator of a superhero over that of a cape? A shield doesn’t say “progress” to me, which is what the whole HERO theme is to be a symbol of, but rather says protect, or shielded off. I personally don’t see it communicating what the school is wanting.
Regardless, the decision is anyone’s but mine, and I realize I’ve used this space online as a soapbox to voice my frustration, but considering it’s the week of the San Diego Comic Con (which I WILL attend one of these days!) and I’ve used this space to show designs before, I felt it was reasonable to post about this as well.
And as a bonus, what was to be my first submission for the full design is below.