It was a couple of years ago now that I decided that I needed to carve myself a niche in the gaming-graphics industry. I settled on logos and, thankfully, this seems to have proved successful. This choice was not entirely random. I really love the logos found on fantasy and and sci-fi products - they way they incorporate typography and full-blown artwork and are a fractal of the worlds represented in the products they grace.
This kind of logo, which I shall henceforth call an 'opulent logo', emerged in entertainment pop culture in the 1980s. They began to grace the covers and box art of music albums, comics, computer games, toys and role playing games. Before this, 20th century logos were typically Modernist in approach and were mostly fairly flat typographic treatments. They complemented more detailed and fully-rendered cover artwork, which is where the money and effort went. In the 80s this began to change. It's hard to say what the cause of this was, but perhaps it was the rise of the video game, the prominence of action figures or the increased profitability of the fantasy (in the wake of D&D). An early trail-blazer was TSR. The opulent logos the commissioned for their AD&D campaign settings are some of the most innovative and still some of the best.
Whatever prompted the rise of the opulent logo, they were here to stay. They are now de-rigueur in the tabletop, toy and computer games industry and are often one of the first pieces of artwork to be released as a "teaser" for a product. They have even encroached into the movie industry, with most big-budget sci-fi and fantasy releases sporting gorgeously rendered logos (think Transformers and Lord of the Rings).
In future posts I will be listing some of my favourite opulent logos, and I will write more about how pre-20th century design has inspired the opulent logo. In the meantime I leave you with a couple from TSR's AD&D system.