This is a style guide from DC Comics for the use of Superman’s image on licensed products. A style guide is a set of guidelines for usage containing things like background information about a character, layout and approval guidelines for the packaging and design of your product. Style guides help to ensure uniformity of brand image and consistent quality. For a collector like me, they are a blessing and a curse, because sometimes the most interesting products are the ones that don’t follow these guidelines.
This Superman style guide from pre-mullet 1991 is a three-ring binder with color cover artwork and it contains over 60 pages divided into sections: introduction, artwork, and logos. The introduction section is mostly text and includes background on Superman the character, plus some background information including approval processes, quality guidelines, and even what trademarks and copyright notices to put on your packaging. The art section contains black and white and color images of Superman in turnaround poses, a sculpting guideline page for his head, action shots, and even several pages of supporting characters like Lois Lane and Supergirl. (No villains, though.)
None of the pages are signed by the artists and no credit is given, so I’m not really sure who drew what in there. (Jose Luis Garcia Lopez? Jon Bogdanove?) The logos section is just three pages of black and white Superman emblems and Superman logos.
1991 was before computers were widely adopted for graphic design, so the artwork is all camera-ready on slick paper ready to be pasted up into layouts.
Here are some scans of the interior pages. This kind of stuff is super-interesting to me as a graphic designer and as a collector; it’s a peek behind the curtain of the creation of Superman merchandise. I’m not really comfortable scanning and posting the entire book since it’s still copyrighted, but I’ve scanned some of the more interesting pages to give you a taste. If you want to see the full book, I’d recommend checking eBay. This style guide is relatively common as far as style guides go.
Odd coincidence department
My good friend Karl has his 1991 style guide up for sale on eBay, and it’s ending today, June 19! I didn’t even realize it when I wrote this post. It’s ending in 3 hours, though, so act fast… it’s only $25 opening bid, which is a great price and less than I paid for mine.