When did the Silver Age begin for Wonder Woman? It’s hard to pinpoint a dividing line, as the book and character were published continuously, like Superman and Batman, and unlike many other DC superheroes, whose books ended for years, then were relaunched with revised characters. While the interior stories retained the original Golden Age Wonder Woman logo for a while later, beginning with issue 60 in 1953 the covers featured this new logo. It’s still a sort of script, using upper and lower case letters, but much simpler with very broad strokes, making it easier to read and I think more of a superheroic logo. The cover art has also changed, and this one is credited to Irwin Hasen. Cover art by H. G. Peter, the original artist, began disappearing around 1949 in favor of other artists with a more modern look, and indeed Peter was forcibly retired from the feature altogether with issue 97. The elderly artist died soon after. Marston, the creator and original writer, had died in 1947, and been replaced by Robert Kanigher, who took the feature in a more typical super-hero direction. I think you have to say that when both Marston and Peter were gone, Wonder Woman’s Silver Age had begun.
This logo was clearly designed by Ira Schnapp, now ensconced on staff as the main logo and cover lettering man for the company. He also did the cover lettering on this one, and in the first line of there you can see the type of separate-letter script he often used, not too far removed from the logo. It’s still what I would call a slightly feminine style, but much stronger in feel than the first one, greatly aided by the square ends on each stroke. There’s only a single outline around the letters, but their broad weight carries across the background art with no trouble. This is the logo I remember from my own childhood, and I always liked it. The letters have an organic feel missing from a lot of comics logos of the time, and attractive curves (just like the character, no doubt). While many other logos Schnapp did are symmetrical, this one is refreshingly non-symmetrical and slanted as well.
Issue 158 launched a new logo, also by Ira Schnapp. While not terrible, I like this one less. Perhaps continuing the trend, it’s now very much a typical super-hero logo in style, with classic Schnapp block letters in a somewhat art-deco manner, though only the narrower horizontal strokes of the E and A really show that. It’s now all caps, with a symmetrical design broken only by the slightly large W’s. There’s a telescoped drop shadow with what should be a single vanishing point in the center opening, but in fact there are separate vanishing points for each word. I’m not fond of the overall shape, which leaves an odd hole in the center that looks like it should have something in it, but another probable Schnapp design for the Golden Age Green Lantern, seen here:
does have art in the center, and looks much worse! One advantage of the design is that it leaves a natural space at upper left and right for the DC bullet symbol and the Comics Code seal, so that may be one reason it was done this way. The cover art is now by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, who took over as the regular artists after the departure of Peter. Their style, again, was more modern and more in tune with other books in the DC line, and many of their stories, written by Kanigher, are quite entertaining in my view, and helped keep Wonder Woman a success in the dark ages of the 1950s when other characters faded away, even though the book moved far from its feminist roots.
Times were changing in the 1960s, and the Silver Age Wonder Woman of Kanigher, Andru and Esposito fell out of favor with readers. DC obviously felt changes were needed. And this 1968 cover says it all, even having the revamped characater X out her old costume (and by inference her old logo) in favor of a new psychedelic look, with lettering that is reminiscent of Fillmore rock concert posters. Artist Mike Sekowsky seems to have been the driving force behind this revamp, with writer Denny O’Neil supplying dialogue to Sekowsky’s plots. It was certainly a radical change, and one that fans of the character still look on with dismay, as Diana lost her costume, her powers, and most of what her creators had started with.
The lettering and logo on this cover don’t look at all like Ira Schnapp’s work, and he was on his way out of the company around that time. His main replacement for logos and cover lettering would be freelancer Gaspar Saladino, and Gaspar probably lettered this cover and the logo, though perhaps from Sekowsky’s layout or pencils.
The next issue has the revised logo as it would appear for all the issues of this particular revamp, in the same 60’s poster style, but a more logo-sized shape and location. I actually don’t like this version as much as the previous one. The W’s in particular now have very awkward shapes, with large open areas in the center where I would have extended the points between the strokes, as was done on 178. I think it was again lettered by Gaspar Saladino, but perhaps from Mike Sekowsky’s layout. Certainly THE NEW is the work of Gaspar, but I can’t imagine him doing those W’s that way on his own.
This new, hip, happening version of WW lasted for a few years, but generally didn’t meet with reader favor, despite some very attractive art and fun stories. I suspect it was a case of young readers turning their noses up at what the much older creators thought would appeal to them. And older readers were still clamoring for the return of the original superheroine. So in 1973, the company gave it to them.
Back in costume, back to heroic strength and powers, and for a little while back to her original logo. And take a look at the excellent cover lettering by Gaspar Saladino here — particularly the “Wonder Woman” in script in the bottom center caption. Wouldn’t that have made a good logo?
Instead they returned to the Silver Age favorite by Ira Schnapp with issue 212, but with a more modern R and added telescoping. The telescoping seems to have a single vanishing point above and centered, but…if you look closely and follow the actual lines, they’re all over the map! Compare the one at the top of the D with the ones on the R, for instance. I have to say, this indicates to me that Gaspar probably did it, as he had a tendency to “fake” perspective on his logos. Though in this case it’s so out of kilter that I’m not even sure he would have done it that way, and it might have been something drawn on staff in the production department.
The telescoping does bring the Schnapp logo more into line with other DC logos, especially that of Superman, and I’m sure that was the idea. And it also gives the logo room for one or more additional colors to help it stand out from the background art. This one remained for some time, into the early 1980s, when the character and title were again the subject of a major revamp.
More on that next time!
More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.