Back To The Eighties With Justice’s DVNO

It’s a disease. No really, I mean it. Whenever we see faces – typefaces that is – we feel compelled to identify them. Whatever the situation or the context. I suspect it must be some obsessive compulsive need to bring order to the world, to register and classify and arrange. It’s far from a fatal disease, but it may sometimes impede on one’s social skills. And on one’s concentration while reading. I used the plural “we” because fortunately I am not alone.

It’s Stephen Coles – my partner in font geekery and type identifier extraordinaire – who planted the seed for this post. Two months ago I had a chat conversation with Stephen and mentioned I was doing some scouting for Punchcut for the next Typophile Film Fest.

23:47:37 Yves Peters: Now I’m trying to get the Frenchies who did D.A.N.C.E. and DVNO by Justice, and the Kanye West graffiti clip.
23:47:50 Stephen Coles: DVNO we should ID all those fonts.
23:48:08 Stephen Coles: Someone did the TV intros they mimicked, so we do the fonts now.

Yep, he said it. So I had to get to it sooner or later. Because he once devoted an amazing Typographica entry to the typefaces used in Shadowplay’s fabulous opening title credits for Thank You For Smoking. Because expatriate compatriot Steven Van Vaerenbergh already identified most of the eighties old-skool CGI television bumpers the video is based upon. And because it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Justice – DVNO from Freedom Record on Vimeo.

Above is the smashing video by So Me and Machine Molle; an insane collage of (seemingly) vintage animated eighties logos. If you want to find out more about its back story read the interview with Justice on Much Music. There’s also an article on So Me on the Mass Appeal website.


This – obviously – is the Ed Banger Records logo, the label that releases Justice. No real reference to any other known logo I know of, but it certainly looks the part. The sans is the original Kabel with a customised “g”, and the script underneath is a typical “baseball” script like Casey.


A clear reference to the classic 1980s Channel 4 colour blocks ident, these letters have no equivalent in type, though Julian Morey of Club-21 has explored similar forms.


There are quite a few similar fonts that are constructed out of dots on a grid (or squares on a grid).


The jury is still out whether this one is inspired by Reading Rainbow or the NBC peacock, or maybe both. The typeface is ITC Serif Gothic.


No type to be seen, just an eye, but who could miss the 2001: A Space Odyssey reference? HAL 9000: “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”


This type and its arrangement are very similar to The Gong Show logo, whose typeface is one of these extreme bold display faces. It reminds me of Milton Glaser’s classic geometric constructed Baby Teeth (interpreted by ParaType as Bebit), but it is quite possibly custom drawn.


FontFeed reader Mike pointed out the similarity with the Blade Runner logo, while fuldog recognised the ESPN logo. No matching typeface (both logos look custom designed), but Rian HughesInterceptor is very similar in style.


It’s a little difficult to make out but I’m confident the serif open face used for Membership is Viva, strictly speaking an anachronism.


Young & Old? Helvetica.


And Helvetica once more. I’m pretty sure the PBS inspired logo is custom drawn.


This is genuine classic eighties style. It has everything: the explosion, the flying 3D logo, the canyon mirrored in the macho letter shapes, and sparkling outlines. Although I couldn’t find an equivalent in type, ITC Pioneer No. 2 conveys the same feeling.


This one nicely displays the pros and cons of tightly spacing and stacking Eurostile Extended.



This complete sequence is a beautiful take on the HBO 1983 ident. The first logo could be anything, ranging from Helvetica to Futura. I don’t know which typeface the end logo is. FF Motel Gothic has most of the character shapes right but feels too Art Deco, while Borgstrand is too heavy.


Although this striped version doesn’t exist, those typical extra bold letter forms with sharp corners are actually Eagle.


It’s not as elaborate, but the multilinear display face Dublon follows the same basic concept.


Sweat is custom designed to look like the Sega logo…


… and the horizontals stripes at each side of Belt mimic the Top Gun logo. The character shapes of Gran Turismo Extended come quite close.


Cool is designed to look like the Audi logo.


The original lettering in the Universal Studios Florida logo was replaced with Kaufmann, and Block Up, an outrageous 3D display face designed by Sally Ann Grover and released by Letraset in the late seventies.


The capital P of Plaza was paired with the lowercase of Dynamo.


I found a number of examples with an open “C” like this one in the Compact Sans Serifs FontList, but none of them has that characteristic bounce.


A similar type of slanted capitals designed for perfect fit in headlines are included in ITC Avant Garde Gothic Pro, the feature-rich OpenType version which has all the alternate characters and ligatures built in.


Not really type, yet the stripped down skeleton of the characters has a lot in common with FF Netto.


Casual caps written in lipstick. Smoochalicious…


This one is interesting – the characters are fearfully close to Space, a former member of the Star Trek pack that was discontinued by Bitstream. The typefaces however are still available as the single fonts Horizon, Galaxy, Millenium, and Sonic. Crillee Italic and Handel Gothic were also seen in the television series and movies.


Those military-style angular caps against the setting sun are reminiscent of the Hollywood sign. They are set in ITC Machine.


Another faithful adaptation – in this case of the Cannon Films ident. The caps below are set in ITC Avant Garde Gothic Pro.


This clearly is an homage to Twentieth Century Fox. There are similar extremely black display faces with linear counters available – for example FF Extra and Alpha Bloc Sculpture – however these characters look custom designed.


A faithful interpretation of the CBS/Fox Video ident, with custom striped Helvetica Inserat for the letters.


And last but not least, a very successful satire on the paper “C” in Stephen J. Cannell Productions which came at the end of the A-Team episodes. The multilinear character is custom designed of course.

This is about it. If you spot any mistake or are able to fill in a blank let me know.

I’d like to extend my thanks to Jonathan Hoefler for being one of the first to make me aware of this video last year – so he had a part in this article as well –, and more importantly for pointing me to Steven Van Vaerenbergh’s research on the eighties television logos and idents.
Header image: Justice cross logo, inspired by Michael and Friends.

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  1. Respect! I had only two meager items to add. Bebit and Club-21.

    Posted by Stephen Coles on Apr. 22, 2009
  2. well done!

    the ‘no need to ask my name’ looks like an edited version of typodermic’s nasalization.

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Apr. 22, 2009
  3. Brilliant! And slightly unsound.

    Posted by fredrik on Apr. 22, 2009
  4. The youtube video of Stephen J. Cannell Productions has been removed by Youtube, so the link is basically dead.

    Posted by Jelmar on Apr. 23, 2009
  5. Big show-off-time! :D Well done, Yves.

    Posted by Florian on Apr. 23, 2009
  6. Fixed that last link. It should work now.

    Big show-off-time! :D Well done, Yves.

    If you ask why I did it… because I can! ;)

    Posted by Yves Peters on Apr. 23, 2009
  7. Amazing!

    Posted by Tom Marques on Apr. 23, 2009
  8. I loved this article, and sincerely appreciate the time and effort you put into it.
    Thanks! And keep up the great work!

    Posted by James on Apr. 25, 2009
  9. “Ask My Name” is setup in PEPSI logo knockoff, distributed as a free font called, erm… Pepsi:

    Posted by Ivan on Apr. 25, 2009
  10. Amazing article… I’m pretty much sure that “One More Time” is the freeware font Bifurk by Gragoury.

    Posted by Gustavo on Apr. 26, 2009
  11. (Those military-style angular caps against the setting sun are reminiscent of the Hollywood sign. They are set in ITC Machine.)

    I pretty sure this one is a knockoff of the Dianetics books from L Ron Hubbard.

    Posted by ynaka on May. 1, 2009
  12. thanx for taking the time to do it…

    Posted by moodmacher on May. 3, 2009
  13. “Amaz­ing arti­cle… I’m pretty much sure that “One More Time” is the free­ware font Bifurk by Gragoury.
    Posted by Gustavo on Apr. 26, 2009”

    Yeah i was gonna say that too, im 100% sure of that.

    Posted by Nestor on May. 3, 2009
  14. “NO OFFENSE” definitely has more of the Blade Runner feel to it. Interceptor is pretty close but has an lc-for-CAPS N.

    Posted by Mike on May. 4, 2009
  15. You’re right – “OFFENSE” is definitely based on the Blade Runner logo. Great find; I’ll add it to the article.

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 5, 2009
  16. The Mayhem one is from the Macyver TV opening titles

    Posted by beelzebubby on May. 5, 2009
  17. The type and its motion are quite different, but the explosion sure looks the part indeed.

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 5, 2009
  18. cool … AND i believe that membership.. carved on gold is from the credits of CHEERS.. th bar sitcom with woody harelson…

    Posted by vitor on May. 5, 2009
  19. The only opening credit titles I found were these, and the membership card is not in it. Is there another version?

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 5, 2009
  20. I’ve been waiting for a breakdown of this incredible film clip. Pique fond memories of bad 80’s TV and violent action films.

    The design concept was by So Me. He can do no wrong.

    Posted by Oscar on May. 5, 2009
  21. He can do no wrong.

    Yup, up till now it sure looks like it.

    BTW I noticed this weekend So Me wrote about this breakdown on his blog.

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 6, 2009
  22. ‘Offense’ is much more like the ESPN logo, isn’t it?

    Posted by fuldog on May. 6, 2009
  23. Cool looks like a play onthe “Kool” cigarettes logo rather than the audi logo. It amke much more sense too.

    Posted by David Garcia on May. 7, 2009
  24. I see the similarities with the interlocking “O”s, but I wouldn’t go as far to say it is rather than the Audi logo. But nice find altogether.

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 8, 2009
  25. Nice article. I’ve always loved this video and their music overall.

    The ‘A’ logo at 2:00 has me stumped. I’m thinking it is an old game console company or game developer logo. I’m not going to get any work done today until I figure it out.

    Thanks. :P


    Posted by Jason on May. 13, 2009
  26. it was a pleasure to read it!

    Posted by mario on May. 13, 2009
  27. The ‘A’ logo at 2:00 has me stumped. I’m think­ing it is an old game con­sole com­pany or game devel­oper logo.

    It looks like the Adobe “A” which hasn’t changed since the original design of the logo.

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 14, 2009
  28. I admire your memory and the great examples you selected. Great talent-choices explained with clarity and respect. Thank you.

    Posted by Richard W. Beatty on May. 14, 2009
  29. Very nice post!

    Posted by Steven on May. 21, 2009
  30. Very nice post. Just to add the mayhem is based on the ‘MacGyver’ Intro see: aprox. 16secs (although the font is different). Also surprised to see no mention of Harry Marks who created many of the original sequences. See a clip of some of his work here

    Posted by Julian on Jun. 2, 2009
  31. Also sur­prised to see no men­tion of Harry Marks who cre­ated many of the orig­i­nal sequences.

    My area of interest is type and typography, not 80s ident bumpers, hence the oversight. Thanks for adding that bit of information, very interesting.

    And the MacGyver intro was also mentioned by beelzebubby on May 5th, so you may indeed be onto something. Maybe I should add it to the article after all.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jun. 2, 2009
  32. Great article!

    the “cool” one reminds me of the kool cigarettes’ logo but I guess it’s much closer to Audi.

    Posted by Tiffany on Jun. 23, 2009
  33. Trying to come up with an 80s feel for a band logo and couldn’t ask for anything more than this. Thanks Yves, fantastic article!

    Posted by Simon on Sep. 13, 2009
  34. Really nice work!!

    Posted by Videoina on Mar. 26, 2011
  35. AWESOME ….

    Muy bueno

    Posted by KOSMIK on Jul. 30, 2011
  36. is there a font for the Justice logo?
    and what do you mean, the cross is inspired by Michael and Friends?

    Posted by ksAb on Jan. 20, 2013

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