As I said last time, in the early 1940s the company now known as DC Comics was expanding, and adding new characters and anthology titles. They also created the first superhero group, the Justice Society of America, which appeared in ALL-STAR COMICS. With more new characters on hand, a second group, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, was formed and appeared in the quarterly LEADING COMICS, beginning with the first issue dated Winter, 1941. Green Arrow was one of them. As usual with anthologies, the book’s own title was the only logo on the cover. The plan for these team books was to have a loose overall story with all the characters in the opening and closing chapters, but between them each character had essentially a solo adventure relating to the central plot. So, think of it as an anthology with a group framing story.
The Green Arrow chapter in LEADING 1 has art, and probably logo as well, by original artist George Papp. Once again, it’s different from any of those he did for the early stories in MORE FUN COMICS. Here THE is small, in upper and lower case script (and hard to see on the dark background), with GREEN ARROW large, in open block letters that fall somewhere between heroic and cartoony. The letterforms are very inconsistent in stroke width and shape, with no real plan. At least the black telescoping drop shadow helps tie it together some. Papp may have been a good comics artist, but if he did design the early logos, I have to say title design was not a strong point. The issue came out not long after the first appearance of GA in MORE FUN 73, so this was probably an early effort.
LEADING 2 had this Papp-drawn story with another rather wildly cartoony logo, though, oddly, with the letters HE in THE in rigid block-letter style. Again the letterforms are all over the place in size and stroke width, very inconsistent. This particular scan is, I think, from a modern reprint (white paper and the type topline are indicators), but the art seems true to the original style, so I can’t imagine the first printed logo looked much different.
LEADING COMICS 3, from Summer, 1942 had this story, also clearly by Papp. The logo has the usual mismatching sizes and strokes, and this one particularly shows a characteristic thinness on the right legs of the R’s. Even though the same artist was drawing these Green Arrow chapters and his stories in MORE FUN, there was no attempt at consistency in the logos. Not really unusual for the time, but perhaps an extreme example! I don’t have the scan, but Jim Kosmicki reports that finally, in LEADING 4, they did use the most common golden age GA logo that first appeared in MORE FUN 81, a few months earlier.
For LEADING 5, another new logo appears. The artist is no longer George Papp, it’s Ed Dobrotka, so I don’t know if he designed it, but that’s likely. Much more regular block letters are used than in issues 1-3, though still with some odd inconsistencies of stroke width. One unique touch is the use of arrows to make up the diagonal strokes of the A, a good idea in theory, but in practice it suggests the hands of a clock to me instead of arrows. Not a terrible design, but not really a success either.
I have no reference for issues 6 to 8, but in LEADING COMICS 9 the Green Arrow and Speedy logo is again cartoony, and not much more than open display lettering, probably designed by whoever lettered the story. The only noteable thing is how large the THE is. Seems the publisher was pushing to keep that word in the character’s name, unlike what happened with Batman, where he stopped being THE Batman quite early.
For LEADING COMICS 11, this new logo appeared, which looks to me like another one created by the letterer. By squaring corners and adding slightly scalloped edges, the letters give the impression of Old English letterforms, though that’s not really the case. Not a bad idea, harkening back to Robin Hood, whose name is often shown in an Old Englishy style in comics. At least the sizes and shapes are consistent, and the overall effect is pleasing, if not very well drawn. The same logo was used in issue 13. And that’s all I have for the LEADING COMICS appearances of Green Arrow. The Seven Soldiers of Victory only appear through issue 14.
Green Arrow and Speedy also made some appearances in another anthology title, WORLD’S FINEST. This one is from issue 7, Autumn 1942. Again clearly by George Papp, and with a logo similar to that in LEADING 3, but redrawn, and poorly planned, with the W almost hidden by the character.
This is the only other example I have from WORLD’S FINEST, issue 8. Another Papp design, similar to the previous one, but again redrawn.
With the April, 1946 issue, Green Arrow moved from MORE FUN to ADVENTURE COMICS, issue 103. The logo on this one follows the plan of most common golden age one, but with cartoony letterforms. It looks to me like an afterthought, perhaps added at the last minute when a copy of the real logo wasn’t available. Or it could just have been done by the letterer and considered good enough.
With issue 104 the regular golden age logo became the norm on most stories, such as this one from ADVENTURE 124. We covered it in part 1 of this logo study.
By ADVENTURE COMICS 201 dated June, 1954, the top line had been rendered in outline, allowing it to be filled with color, as had the telescoping on ARROW. While shown floating over white space here, the logo could now be placed over artwork and still read. Colorists and separators had to remember to color in the open areas, though…someone forgot to put the blue tone in part of the drop shadow on the A on this one.
Though George Papp did the majority of the art on Green Arrow for many years, the few stories drawn by Jack Kirby in the late 1950s have gotten more attention. I don’t think I ever saw them when they came out. Kirby was probably happy to leave lots of room for the golden age GA logo, as here. The Kirby stories were collected in trade paperback form in 2001. Here’s the cover:
It’s the only collection so far of Green Arrow solo stories from the early years, and the golden age logo looks pretty good on it. If only the arrow had pointed the other way…!
Next time we finally get to Green Arrow starring in his own titles.
More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.