All images © DC Comics, Inc.
DC planned to launch a new Green Arrow series in 2001, and called on Glenn Parsons of astroluxdesign for logo ideas. Glenn has graciously agreed to share his design sketches with us. This first one uses tall, thin letters on an uphill slope and small pointed serifs. It’s always difficult to decide which way to go with the name: one line of narrow letters or two lines of wide ones.
Glenn’s second idea went the latter route, offsetting the words. Some interesting features here, I like the crossed strokes on the R’s, and the way the top one connects to the one below it. Still working with small serifs, but these wide letters have a mix of circular and straight strokes. The double outline confuses the image some, and I would have either filled in the centers of the inner shapes or the space between the two for clarity.
As you can see from Curtis King’s note, this one was his favorite as well as Glenn’s, and I like it best, too. Replacing the rounded forms of version 2 are letters based on round-cornered rectangles. The spiked center horizontal strokes are carried over from 2, but flipped so they point right. As we’ve seen, this is what I think works best, especially if they are meant to suggest arrowheads. The best thing about this design, though, are the graceful right legs of the R’s, which to me suggest an organic form like a green leaf or perhaps a feather, an excellent contrast to all the straight lines around them. The joining R’s are carried further here, so now they’re all joined. Altogether a very attractive idea. Glenn worked it up on the computer and sent it to Curtis, who had some further comments.
“I particularly wanted to include the Curtis King one with “just a few notes.” Ahhhh, the graphic design process in all its glory,” Glenn wrote, and here it is. I had to laugh when I saw it, as I received quite a few “notes” like this from Curtis myself when he was the go-to logo man at DC. And most of the time the guy’s comments were right on target, which made them all the more annoying. (I kid, Curtis!) Glenn made the changes, and I see he had already revised the center horizontal strokes on the E’s. Too bad, I kind of liked the first version. Here’s the final logo:
A handsome, classy job. I like it even better angled like this, and the inset shadow at the top that Curtis suggested is a nice change from the usual drop shadow below.
Here it is on the first cover, looking quite nice. The shadow has been softened a lot to keep the letterforms visible against the dark background, but overall it’s a fine look. The series and the logo were a success, and continued for several years.
And now we turn to the tale of a designer’s worst nightmare: the job that just won’t sell. In early 2006 I was asked by DC to submit new ideas for a Green Arrow logo. “No arrows,” they said. “Something angular and strong. No bullseyes, either.” I set to work and came up with this one first. I liked the symmetry of it and, contrary to the usual method of sending in several ideas at once, I ran this one past them first. They didn’t seem too keen on it, and wanted to see some rougher looks, and maybe a version of this one with arrow points on the two end spikes. Plus more ideas.
I added a rough drop shadow behind this one…
…but everyone, including me, hated the arrowheads. “No arrowheads!”
Here’s another idea, even more bold and angular, but less pointy.
And one using the single-line narrow letters approach. Neither of those seemed to be what they wanted, either. “Try some rougher forms.”
I thought this might fit the bill…
…but this splintered-end approach didn’t seem to work.
And, if they wanted really rough, this charcoal approach was it. But, apparently…it wasn’t. Now, when you get past nine logo versions, it usually means only one thing: you just aren’t giving them what they want. Or, they don’t know what they want, but what you have isn’t it. Out of desperation I sent in two more versions with arrows, despite the “no arrows” edict:
The first one was a subtle arrow, at least, and the second one a new design with lots of pointy things. They usually liked pointy things, even if some of them were arrowheads.
Alas, it was just one of those times when nothing I tried worked, so we agreed to move on, and they paid me a kill fee. A few months later the book came out with this very fine logo by Ken Lopez:
It had what they were looking for, obviously. Strong, dynamic, angular. Even a very pointy underline that works great. I particularly like the shape of the E’s, but I’m not sure about the center stroke on the G, though it does follow the theme nicely. The thin drop shadow lifts it off the cover well, too. Good one, Ken.
Ken Lopez also designed this latest Green Arrow logo, teaming him with Black Canary. Both halves recede toward the center, reminding me of the old Green Lantern/Green Arrow logo. GA’s is still strong and angular, nicely contrasted by BC’s graceful swoops and curves. And Ken has even worked in a stylized arrow point highlighted in green. Again, quite well done.
That brings us up to the present. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. And my thanks to the DC Logo Mavens for their help with the last three parts: Richard Bruning, Curtis King, Louis Prandi and Ken Lopez. You guys are the best!
More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.