Fiendish Logotypes


One of my favorite books from the classic D&D era is 1981's Fiend Folio. The main reason I enjoy the book is the artwork; particularly the interior illustrations by Russ Nicholson and Emmanuel's iconic githyanki illustration on the cover. One other thing I've always liked about the book is that it had its own logo; one that was reused for a 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendium Appendix as well. The second version revisited many creatures from the original, with monsters reinterpreted by Tom Baxa.

It seems a lot of British role playing books and magazines from the early '80s were big on hand drawn logos (and lots of them). Installments of the Fiend Factory in early issues of White Dwarf (from which the Fiend Folio was drawn), often had logos for every creature. For the most part they looked like band names scrawled on the back of a notebook in study hall, but that was part of their charm. The D&D Creature Catalogue from 1986 was compiled at TSR's UK offices by Graeme Morris and was illustrated by a number of British artists. Each monster category had a full-page title illustration by Helen Bedford, complete with distinctive logo. This provided the book with a consistent, hand-drawn design aesthetic that harkens back, just slightly, to Medieval bestiaries and Kelmscott Press.


As you may notice, most of the monster entries on this site fall mainly into two categories: undead and Lovecraftian abominations. Other categories will be represented in the future, but what can I say? I draw what I like.

Inspired in equal measure by the Fiend Folio, Creature Catalogue and death metal logos, I decided to craft logos for both categories as though they were separate books. Now, I'm a long way from having enough monster entries to fill up one book, let alone two, but I'm not going to let that stop me from designing logos for them. In fact, having logos gives each category a "brand" to fall under and provides me with additional inspiration to generate content. One of my design goals was that the letterforms in each logo should be based on type available in late '70s or early '80s without specifically aping any publisher's aesthetic.

Undead fall under the self-explanatory title Dread Undead. Here's a preliminary logo for it, with hand-drawn lettering inspired loosely by the title of Frank S. Robinson's brutal pseudo-historical sword and sandals epic Children of the Dragon. The letterforms were too '70s fantasy cool for me to resist, though I did make them sharper and more menacing overall, with blade-like forms no doubt reflecting the subliminal influence of the Obituary logo.


Abominations get filed under Vault of the Vile (what can I say, I like alliteration). The hand-drawn lettering in this case is inspired by of the font used for Imagic video game cartridges, such as Demon Attack. For some reason the original font looks otherworldly; with odd, rounded, organic shapes that seem appropriate for a book about abominations from beyond time and space.



Good observation, Matt. I knew there was something slightly off about the Dread Undead logo, but was having trouble putting my finger on it. Ironic that the spacing would get by me, as I am particular about the kerning of letterforms.
Nice work on the logos, both feel 'right' for the categories. My only suggestion would be to tweak the space in the middle of the Dread Undead logo, as there's a bit of a strange gap between the 're' and 'de'.
I have only one issue of White Dwarf, and that is issue #8. All the monsters have their own logo, and most ended up in the Fiend Folio. The Coffer Corpse logo has skulls in the place of the "O" and looks like a band name scrawled on a notebook.
One of my favorite installments of Fiend Factory, in White Dwarf issue 20, gave all of the creatures a different logo (and also connected the creatures into a sort of mini-scenario idea). I don't have any earlier issues, so they might have been doing the same thing in previous issues but I wouldn't know.

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