Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Correction: The original article stated that Doug Oliver was the logo's designer. Since publishing, Cross has claimed he was mistaken and that it was likely the work of an individual named Ken Rang.

If you've followed Time Extension for a while, you'll probably know that we have a pretty active interest in video game logos.

Over the last couple of years, we've spent countless hours looking into the origins of classic logo designs for companies like Rockstar, Rare, Xbox, DMA Design, and Revolution, with our goal typically being to fill in a historical gap or try to give credit where no credit was originally given. So, when we saw this tweet earlier this year, in March, from the Twitter user @Marcelllado, potentially identifying an individual named James Cross as the designer of Konami's classic "bacon strips" logo (which debuted in 1986), we immediately wanted to find out more.

Cross was the founder of a company named Cross Associates — a graphic design house that originally opened in 1963 and gradually grew to have offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Newport Beach, California. Very little information is available about his involvement with the Konami logo, but, as discovered by a Twitter user named @LiquidSevens, he published a monograph in 2011 called "Metaphor: Fifty-Five Years of Work and Play" where he includes a short section about his company's involvement in the making of the logo.

In this section, he describes the philosophies guiding its design:

"In Japan, Konami was readily identified as a major designer and manufacturer of educational software. When the company decided to expand into overseas markets, including the U.S. and Europe, where they were virtually unknown, they commissioned Cross Associates to help them bridge this international “identity gap”.

"In one sense, our logo design had to be abstract. It could not evoke symbols or images specific to any given country’s products or cultural heritage.

"At the same time, it had to be a visually memorable and distinctive design, one with a feeling of motion that would imply a dynamic company."

What's interesting about this section is that Cross never explicitly states that he designed the logo himself, but instead attributes it to his company. This is something others noted too, with the video game writer @VGDensetsu asking if there was a source to confirm it was a Cross and not an agency employee who did the work.

For us, there was only one way to find out for sure. So we contacted Cross over an email that we found online and waited. After a couple of failed follow-ups and a few months of nothing, he eventually ended up replying, revealing that the logo was the work of a "staff designer who...passed away a few years ago" and that he was now 90 with a bad memory.

We shared with Cross what others had managed to find and asked him for the name of the logo's designer, and pretty soon, he replied, stating that the logo was the work of an individual named Doug Oliver. This led us to an article on ArtCenter News, about a "Doug 'Big Bad' Oliver" that passed away in 2014 (who we were able to confirm was the same person by cross-referencing it with an online obituary).

According to the Art Center News article, Oliver was a "larger than life" figure and left "an indelible mark on the design world", designing annual reports for institutions like the W.M. Keck Foundation and Northrop Grumman. His obituary, meanwhile, claims that his work won many prestigious awards during his lifetime and was later selected to be part of the Permanent Design Collection of the Library of Congress.

This seemed to be the answer that we were looking for, but there was just one small problem with this outcome. As pointed out by @Marcelllado, Oliver had already left Cross Associates by the time the Konami logo was being worked on to form his own company Morava & Oliver. So I reached out to Cross again to ensure he got his dates right, and he immediately apologized and offered us another name: Ken Rang.

"Thinking back I now am pretty sure that Ken Rang did most of the work on Konami. Doug was one my best identity designers however."

We haven't been able to dig up much about Rang, other than that he lives in Oregon and is apparently in his 90s. We're currently trying to find a way to contact them to confirm his involvement.