Logo Study: GREEN ARROW Part 3

All images © DC Comics

The 1960s were mostly a quiet time for Green Arrow, with his most memorable story being this one, where he joined the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, heir to the golden age team, the Justice Society of America. Not really a logo, I thought I’d show this handsomely-lettered title page from issue 4, April 1960 by Gaspar Saladino. The character had remained largely unchanged from his first appearances in 1941, unlike most of the members, and would remain so for most of the 60s, but in 1969 would finally get a long-overdue revamp.


It began here, in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD 85. Neal Adams decided to give the character a visual update, adding a cooler costume, moustache and goatee, and more realistic bow and arrows. Writer Dennis O’Neil matched that look with a complete remake of the character’s story as well, losing the rich playboy alter-ego, adding a feisty, argumentative personality, a heightened political awareness, and a strong social conscience. The result was very popular with the company and fans alike. Everything was new in this issue except the logo, but that was about to change, too.


Beginning with issue 76 in 1970, Green Arrow co-starred with GREEN LANTERN, joining that character’s title as an equal partner, and — FINALLY! — getting his own cover logo, or at least half of one. I’ve already covered the design of this logo by Gaspar Saladino in my Green Lantern logo study here, but I’ll point out that Gaspar, with his usual brilliance, found a new and innovative way to use the arrow in this logo that works both as a visual tie-in to the character and a classy design element. While the O’Neil-Adams issues were groundbreaking and award-winning ones, with Green Arrow much more interesting than he’d ever been, they didn’t sell well, and the team lasted only about a year before the book was cancelled. The team appeared for a while in THE FLASH, then in a relaunched GREEN LANTERN, but GA eventually was relegated to backup solo stories again in WORLD’S FINEST. The character was changed for good, though, and finally had what he needed to star in his own books.


That began in 1983 with this four issue mini-series featuring another terrific logo by Gaspar Saladino. This time Gaspar had plenty of room, and went all out, adding not only a fine stylized arrow making the horizontal stroke of the A, but a large bullseye forming the O. The letterforms are upper and lower case block letters with tiny pointed serifs and curved arms on the R’s and E’s. The G and A are joined to form a sort of monogram. The only thing that seems off to me is the W, which Gaspar forgot to italicize like the rest of the letters. The fact that I never noticed this until now points out how strong and attractive the logo is overall. And a narrow open drop shadow helps separate it from the background art. I love this logo, it’s Gaspar at his best, in my opinon.


It took a few more years, but in 1987 this four-issue prestige series brought Green Arrow back to prominence, teamed with Black Canary, and written and drawn by Mike Grell. The cover design was by DC staff designer Richard Bruning, who used the font Carolus (designed by Roger White) for the logo and top titles, and making a logo out of it by enlarging the G and W at each end and adding an outline. The outline thickened the letters and allowed a second color in the center. Type-based logos were becoming more popular in the late 1980s, with WATCHMEN as the leading example, also type designed by Richard with Dave Gibbons. This one is classy and elegant, with the font’s thick and thin lines mimicking hand-drawn calligraphy just enough to suggest to me the Robin Hood origins of the character. Indeed, the revamped GA was more like Robin Hood now than he’d ever been.


Finally, in 1988, Green Arrow got his own regular title, still helmed by Mike Grell. For the logo, Richard Bruning again began with the Carolus font, this time putting the letters on two lines with the A largest, and the end of the W and G also a bit larger than their neighbors. Richard used the natural inclinations of the letterforms to create joined letters in both lines that add to the eye appeal.


On my recent combing through the DC logo files I found this version drawn on Denril plastic vellum by…me. (I’d forgotten it.) Richard must have asked me to do an outline tracing of the type he’d laid out, adding a roughened outer edge.


It was close to what he wanted, but Richard made some additional changes. My outline was too delicate, he (or maybe I) went over it again with a heavier penpoint. Then Richard made photostats and pieced together the final logo, with a larger G, and moving the OW a bit left, and putting the two lines a bit closer vertically, too. All these changes improved the design, in my view, and I still like it quite a bit.


For some issues of the series that needed a single-line logo, Richard designed this alternate logo using one of the Goudy fonts, Monotype Goudy Handtooled. He compressed it horizontally and made the G and A larger, then added a thin drop shadow, but it’s otherwise unchanged. With the remaining type in similar Goudy fonts, the covers had a nice, unified look. This logo alternated with the previous one, depending on the demands of the cover art and stories. The book, and the logos, were a success, and carried Green Arrow through the 1980s and into the early 1990s.

We’ll continue there next time.

More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.

3 thoughts on “Logo Study: GREEN ARROW Part 3

  1. Bill Angus

    Funny – I always thought that Carolus font was Papyrus (though, since I’m not really schooled in this, I suppose Papyrus could just be a knock-off).

    As always, really enjoying the study, Todd.

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