Monday, November 9, 2009

The Best Price Font Ever

Over the past few months I have tackled a number of hot button issues, such as the depiction of women in comics and the self destructive tendencies within comic fandom. I've talked about some of my favorite comics, interviewed legends and commented on the art history of Marvel. But now, finally, I'm ready to tackle perhaps the most important issue ever, as I discuss... The Best Price Font EVER.

Now, I know what you're thinking: dude, ever is a long-ass time. And this is true. It's also equally true that with the millions of comics published over the past 75 years, many of them with hand-lettered and therefore unique covers, there's no real way that I could actually have viewed every single price font in the history of the medium. But in my efforts to study comics and the design of comics I have had the chance to look at many fonts in may different price points, from 10 cents all the way up to $6.95 or more. And after careful consideration, I am now prepared to render judgment upon this topic.

So, here it is: the Marvel Comics font for their 20 cent price point is officially declared The Vault's Best Price Font Ever.

Now, there was some serious competition for this honor, not just from other price points, but from within the 20 cent bracket itself. DC's boldly huge 20 cent font is one that has aged like a fine wine; aggressive to the point of being obnoxious when it first came out, over the years it has gained a certain patina of strength that has caused it to become a bit of a cult favorite:

And, of course, branching outside the 20 cent era, Marvel has also fielded a number of beautiful fonts, most notable perhaps being the price within a circle design used in the period of transition between 10 cent and 12 cent price points:

And indeed, the final 12 cent price font is very close to the one used for their 20 cent era:

Yet, while the two fonts share certain characteristics, such as serifs, the more elongated 12 cent style lends the font a certain old fashioned quality when compared to the more compact and stylish 20 cent iteration. And that newer, fresher look was perfectly suited, of course, to the new regime in place at Marvel when the price point debuted in 1971: with Roy Thomas as Editor-in-Chief, and a new group of creators like Len Wein, Steve Englehart, Mike Ploog and Gerry Conway coming in, the era was ripe for a new design, a new aesthetic and, yes... even a new font.

How much of the 20 cent font's allure is due to its association with that heady era of experimentation is difficult to say; it's a bit like the chicken and the egg, trying to figure out whether the font is considered great because of the comics or whether the comics are considered great because of the font that graced their covers. But whichever side of the debate you fall on, everyone can agree on one central truth: that is a damn fine price font.

A price font that on this day, has finally earned the recognition it has so long deserved.

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This may be the most awesome comic blog post EVER! And EVER is a long-ass time.


I always liked the font used for the issue number and the published month on the Marvel books until they changed it in May 1974 when the price increased to 25 cents. I've never been able to find out what font they used. Does anyone have any idea?