Logo Study: WONDER WOMAN part 3

DC Comics Presents 41 cover

All images  © DC Comics, Inc.

In the 1980s DC spent a lot of time and resources revamping their major character triumvirate: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The revamp of Wonder Woman was spearheaded by Jenette Kahn, DC’s then President and Editor-in-Chief. First on her agenda was to create a new emblem for the character, one that would replace the Eagle emblem she had worn since her creation.

There were sensible, pragmatic reasons for this. First, the eagle was a symbol of the U.S.A., and not something that could be trademarked. DC wanted a design they could use for licensing and marketing the character and related products. Second, the eagle never had a logical reason to be associated with the character, who came from the Amazon island of Themyscira of Greek mythology, and had no American origins.

WW emblem

As she had with the revamped DC bullet symbol and the revised Superman logo, Jenette turned to her old friend Milton Glaser for the design, shown above. As I’ve said in my study of the Superman logo, Glaser employed a large studio, and put his name on all the work that came out of it, so it’s hard to know how much of the design actually came from him. That said, it is the kind of simple yet elegant geometric work he was long known for. It cleverly incorporates the characters initials with stylized wings that could represent the old eagle design. While it met with initial resistance by fans (hardly surprising), it has proved very successful both as a symbol of Wonder Woman and as a licensing powerhouse, and remains so to this day. I like the design, myself, and think it’s perfect for the character.

DC Comics Presents 41 WW insert page 7

The next step was to come up with a logical way to make the change. In DC Comics Presents 41, page above, an insert previewing the WW revamp written by Roy Thomas with art by Gene Colan and Romeo Tanghal had her accepting the new emblem for her costume by representatives of a Wonder Woman Foundation dedicated to promoting equality for women. (Jenette started a real world equivalent that had great aspirations, but was short-lived.) You have to give Jenette and DC credit here for trying to make it all work logically instead of the usual revamp where changes aren’t explained at all.

WW Logo by Klein 1981

Finally, Jenette asked me to design a logo based around the Glaser symbol, and this is what I came up with. I tried to emulate the classic simplicity of the emblem with classic block letters running out from the two W’s, and added a wing tip to the N to help tie it together. There was some concern about how well it read, but Jenette and DC liked the design enough to go with it for the monthly title.

Wonder Woman 288 cover

It first appeared on the cover of issue 288, February 1982. Still looks pretty good to me, even with the coloring error that made the center of the first O white instead of orange. There was one problem with my logo, though: it covered part of the new symbol they were trying to trademark and license with. Around the same time DC was putting together their first official Style Guide, which contained images and logos that potential licensers could use on their products. For this they needed a Wonder Woman logo that included the new symbol, but not obscured or covered. I think Jenette may have gone back to Glaser’s studio for these two versions, shown here in that Style Guide:

WW Style Guide page, 1982

They do the job quite well, if a little sedately, using an art-deco style font for the letters, which are similar to mine, but thinner. The main difference is on the stacked version, where a wide M cleverly makes up the added width needed for the two words to come out the same horizontally. They were certainly easy to read and helped promote the new symbol perfectly. My logo stayed on the monthly book for about a year and a half, then these versions were used on the final two years of the book’s life, whichever one fit the cover art better. Here are two examples:

Wonder Woman 306 cover

Wonder Woman 310 cover

While this Wonder Woman revamp was considered a success by DC, sales still weren’t great. In 1986 DC began their CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS series, intended to shake up the status quo across the whole line, simplify continuity, and bring in new readers with relaunches. The venerable WONDER WOMAN monthly title would be one of these, ending the book’s first series with issue 329, February 1986, and making way for another relaunch.

Next time we’ll start with a look at that fan-favorite run by George Perez!

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

8 thoughts on “Logo Study: WONDER WOMAN part 3

  1. Lisa

    Back in 1981, when I was 14, I’ll admit I was shocked that Wonder Woman would get a new top (WW), but I like it – especially since you can distinguish her from her Earth-2 Counterpart from the Justice Society.

  2. Pingback: Icon Redux – Wonder Woman « The Graveyard

  3. Don

    Hi Todd,

    In the new issue of ‘Back Issue’ (No. 41), in an article about ‘The Sensational New Wonder Woman’ title, Roy Thomas and Gene Colan discuss their ambivalence regarding Milton Glaser’s “WW” design for Wonder Woman’s bustier.

  4. Todd Post author

    That’s interesting, though I doubt it was Glaser’s idea to put it on the costume. I’d imagine Jenette or someone at DC thought of that. Glaser’s job was the logo.

  5. Todd Post author

    I don’t think it’s close enough to suggest it was inspired by the Glaser logo, just parallel design development.

  6. Ilana Orea

    thank you so much for this analysis Todd – I actually have Milton’s design on my ankle and I had no idea the history behind it. I’d like to add in the full block letters that you added – that is absolutely gorgeous and would amazing wrapped around the front of my ankle. I don’t know if I’ll be able to fix my ankle piece and add in the full block letters, but I will send you a picture if I’m able to do so. Can we connect somehow?

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