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Giving Valiant a new look: A conversation with designer Rian Hughes

Valiant Entertainment does nothing by half measures, so it’s no surprise that when they were thinking about a new look for their relaunch of four classic Valiant series from the 1990s, they went with a top designer: Rian Hughes, whose credits include not only design work for corporate clients such as Virgin Airways and Penguin Books but also comics design and illustration; he drew a number of series for 2000AD and designed the UK edition of Love and Rockets, among other projects.

We talked to Hughes about his redesign of the Valiant logo and cover elements for this year’s new series. Hughes also talks about some of the other covers he has designed, including Iron Man and Howard Chaykin’s Challengers of the Unknown. And font freaks (you know who you are!), check the end of the interview for a special challenge!

Robot 6: What is your association with Valiant Comics—did you read them in the 1990s? If so, when did you start reading–what “era” seems the most important to you?

Rian Hughes: I confess I didn’t pick up many comics at all in the ’90s, as I was going through a period where comics simply weren’t one of my main interests. I’d become a bit burned out working on 2000AD for several years, and was pursuing work in mainstream illustration, advertising and graphic design, so the ’90s are a bit of a blank for me. I’d follow the work of fellow Brits who happened to be friends and acquaintances—Morrison, Milligan, Moore and co—but outside of that, a lot passed me by. Which is no reflection on Valiant, of course!

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Valiant Entertainment unveils new logo and trade dress

Valiant Entertainment continues the march toward its relaunch of four classic Valiant comics later this summer with the release today of its new logo and trade dress, designed by graphic designer (and former 2000AD artist) Rian Hughes.

At their panel last week at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Valiant staffers and writer Robert Venditti discussed how they’re going to update X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot and Archer & Armstrong — all of which originally ran in the 1990s — for modern audiences. The logo redesign is of a piece with that, keeping the traditional Valiant look (and the compass that was part of the original logo) and giving it a more modern look.

“The Valiant characters have a strong fanbase and heritage, and so the new logos are fresh and modern as befits a forward-looking publisher while still paying tribute to the originals, just as has been done with the characters themselves,” Hughes said in the press release.

Valiant also released the cover and variant covers of the first release, X-O Manowar, with the new trade dress:

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Comics A.M. | DC’s gay and lesbian heroes, ‘more brooding’ Superman

Stormwatch #1

Publishing | DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio talks about the gay and lesbian characters appearing in the company’s books come September, including Batwoman and WildStorm imports Apollo, Midnighter and Voodoo: “When we looked at trying to incorporate some of the characters that inhabited the WildStorm universe Apollo and Midnighter are two characters that have always popped out. Not because of what they represent, but they’re just strong characters in their own right and [they] were able to represent a story, a style of character that wasn’t represented in the DC Universe. There’s more of an aggressive nature with those characters that will interact interestingly with other characters and allows us to tell more and better stories.” [The Advocate]

Publishing | Todd Allen, Tom Foss and Graeme McMillan react to the list of changes to the “younger, brasher and more brooding” Superman who will inhabit the DC Universe following the September relaunch. [Indignant Online, Fortress of Soliloquy, Blog@Newsarama]

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Straight for the art | The new Invincible Iron Man trade dress

The Invincible Iron Man #20-21

The Invincible Iron Man #20-21

If you’re not familiar with, and a fan of, the design work of Rian Hughes, it’s probably because you’re not paying attention. Perhaps best known for his collaborations with artist Dustin Nguyen on the imaginative covers to Wildcats Version 3.0, Hughes’ recent comics projects include the logos for Archaia and the new Batman and Robin series, and the cover design for Captain America: Reborn.

Now add to that list the new trade dress for The Invincible Iron Man, beginning with November’s Issue 20. Writer Matt Fraction over the weekend unveiled the complete covers for the “Stark: Disassembled” storyline, by Salvador Larroca, Frank D’Armata and Hughes, and they’re (unsurprisingly) stunning. Sleek and modern, just like an Iron Man cover should be.

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