A Better Superman?

In my last post I criticized the Superman S logo. I am convinced that the big S shield succeeds as the Superman logo in spite of its poor design. Rather than just criticize the shield, I challenged myself to attempt a new and improved S– a better design, and a more powerful icon.

The collected images seen in this post illustrate my exploratory thinking on this logo. Almost all these sketches are designed so that the S creates the classic five-sided shield shape. I feel the biggest weakness of the shield to date is the way the S letter shape has been deformed to fit into the outlined pentagon.


I discovered that forcing straight edges on the top and left sides of the S made it look more like the numeral 5. I also discovered that without the familiar S curve, my attempts failed to evoke Superman. In the history of Superman in the comics a couple more radical attempts were made to re-imagine the S as a more graphic symbol. I took a stab at a couple solutions like that. This made me realize that a successful solution must be an evolutionary step, it should respect the myth and history of the Superman character and the artwork that is part of that history.

As seen in these sketches, I began exploring a cropped version of the S. With these the shapes could be stronger. The negative space was more interesting. And the result felt like it belonged to Superman.


Of these versions, I think that number 34 is best. It feels balanced and strong. It’s reminiscent of past shields, borrowing from their strengths.

I will continue to refine this image and draw artwork that may be tested as a colored shield suitable for Kal-El’s chest.


  • What if you approach it like an alien? Would they design an S? Or would they design something which has more meaning to them that happened to look like an S?

    I encourage you to consider letting go of the conventions of Earthbound S’s and just let it be shapes.

    • XK9

      I agree that as an alien language, the idea that Krypton symbol would resemble an S is a far-fetched coincidence. But, then again, so is the fact that the alien Kal-El (aka Clark Kent, Superman) is identical to humans in every way except for his strength, speed, ability to fly, laser-vision, ability to adapt to the vacuum of space, or the gravity of earth, fashion sense…

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