Friday, January 23, 2009

Why I Love the Original NBC Peacock

It hasn't been too long ago since I got Internet access back at home again -- back in a place where I can hear it as well as see it. One of the sites I have rediscovered is YouTube. Some of what is on YouTube is truly a waste of time -- but not the old stuff.

The "old stuff" is clips from cartoons, commercials, and miscellaneous TV from the past. I was thrilled to see and hear the opening themes to "Prince Planet" and "Around the World in Eighty Days" -- themes I have not heard in decades.

Another old friend who comes back to life for me on YouTube is the NBC Peacock. The original NBC Peacock, the one with eleven feathers. Remember this guy?

The original NBC Peacock was the product of designer John J. Graham, who also came up with the three NBC chimes (doo-Doo-doo). NBC was the first of the three major networks to broadcast in color, starting in 1956. At first Graham thought that the butterfly was the best metaphor for color, but his Candella suggested a bolder, prouder creature -- the peacock. (Read more about the origin of the peacock here:

Graham's Peacock is simplifed from the original -- but not too much so. He has eleven feathers, each capped with a teardrop shape of a maximum-contrast color. The feathers have symmetry, a quality I admire and use in my own artwork. Green/purple, blue/orange, red/yellow, purple/green, orange/blue on both sides, with a singular yellow/purple feather standing tall in the center.

Note the triangular crown on top of the head and the legs and secondary tail at the bottom. You can just imagine this Peacock strutting his stuff, looking haughtily down at ABC and CBS, their color programming still years away. The Peacock is a product of his times -- 1950s art meant abstraction, geometry, and bold color -- but he is also a thing of beauty forever.

Now take a look at the current NBC Peacock:

Only six feathers? No crown? No feet? This guy looks like he's ready to be a couch potato -- a dumbed-down Peacock for a dumbed-down generation.

It's time for us to run from dumbing down. It's time to be more complex -- and unfurl!


  1. I liked the old peacock too. It wasn't as computerized as the new, was more charming. I guess NBC must have downsized their logo ;)
    Enjoyed browsing here, happy blogging to you!

  2. Dear Joanne,

    Thanks for commenting. Welcome to my mouse house!