13 DC COMICS Logos — RANKED

13 QUICK THOUGHTS: Because you can rank ANYTHING. And, wouldn’t you know, I found 13 of them!

My lord, isn’t it kind of stupid how we can all get excited — or exercised — over some company’s logo? I mean, it’s really dopey and yet when it comes to something like comics, it’s not. There are aesthetics involved and no small amount of nostalgia tied to what we like and don’t.

Me? I really dig the new DC logo unveiled today (click here). So cool, so retro. The company’s definitely trying to get us to think that they’re listening to fans’ beefs about ignoring the past. Whether this is just superficial tinkering or a meaningful harbinger, time will tell.

In any event, I like making lists — especially lists of 13  — and I love logos, so here we go. (Forgive the varying qualities and sizes of the logos. That’s the Internet for you.)

13. The New Coke of DC logos. I don’t even want to talk about this.

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12. This was the 1987 prototype logo. No mention of DC? No.

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11. There’s a better version of this ’70s logo farther down.

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10. I know Superman was The Guy for such a long time, but I just never cottoned to the idea that his name should be in the logo for all the titles. This was the main logo in the ’40s.

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9. This is the logo that dominated the Silver Age and while I appreciate the added color, it still has that Superman thing going on. (Look, I like Superman fine, but I just felt it made Batman the undercard.) Check out the National Comics reference.

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8. A lot of people thought this was the worst until that travesty at #13 came along. It never bugged me all that much. It’s OK enough I guess.

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7. The improvement on #11. DC just says “bullet” to me. I will almost always err toward the circle. Some of my favorite comics have this logo on it. Doesn’t make it a great logo, but I do like it fine.

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6. Simple, though maybe a little too simple. This concept — straight from the Golden Age — is used by DC now to market its more retro merchandise and I think that’s cool. I’d like this one a little more if it had that splash of color in #9.

DC_golden_age_logo

5. I do miss little characters in the upper left hand corner. It’s such a neat thing and screams early Bronze Age to me, which, of course, is because this is from the early Bronze Age. But DC is buried in the design and I have my limits. There are slightly different versions DC also used at the time, but I’m not inclined to hunt them all down.

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4. Yeah, I know it’s a little bland but it still speaks to me. That’s an age thing, I’m sure. I’m the Bronze Age generation.

DC logo history copy

3.  I know this is a hokier version of #4, but I just like it better. It’s more exciting, with just enough goofiness to make me grin, which is what I’m doing as I type this.

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2. This is a great logo. Almost perfect and I’m sure we’ll see different colors when it’s put into action. (By the way, I’m patting myself on the back for predicting the return of the bullet, here.) I would have gone with an outline around the letters and the circle itself. If they’d done that, I’d be breaking open a bottle right now.

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1. C’mon, you think I was going to pick anything else? It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of them all — hell, I remember being a little put out by it when I first saw it as a kid — but this logo said DC for such a long part of my formative years that it wins almost by default.

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Author: Dan Greenfield

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6 Comments

  1. To me #8 was the best logo because of its (underutilized as it turned out) potential for animation. It also evoked the Daily Planet.
    You were kidding about #2, right?

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      • Dan, thanks for a fun discussion. Adopting here your numbering for the sake of discussion, not your preferential order.

        First off, pretty much everyone is kidding about #2, right? Ak. (I identify four visual infelicities at first glance.)

        It’s like anyone with eyes saw the horror of #13 (that’s all I care to say about that one, lest a tome result), and so DC decided to prove they could do worse.

        Here’s what I mean.

        As essentially bland (easily readable, identifiable) as are the early DC logos (#s 11-9, 7-3), they are quick, clean, clear (that is, you know, easily readable, identifiable).

        With #s 7, 4, 3, DC took off its fedora and even let the Vitalis out of its hair — evidently pondering that “the wet-head is dead” (no offense, Arthur Curry).

        And with #3 they added a bit of flair (or what passed for flair along the stodgy establishment corridors of National Periodical Publications). And it worked. Not “better” than its predecessors, it amped them up and grabbed the eye. Fair enough. In fact, among all these “logos” we’re really talking about >versions< of an evolving logo.

        Now, with #1, DC decided to add volume to the amperage, yet needed someone "outside the box" (or, you know, beyond the stodgy corridor) to think it through — without being *too* excitable in (wait for it) "updating" the feel of the books with a "bold, new" bullet.

        Milton Glaser's version worked. Though a little too "college football" for me at its inception (and its tilt seems still a bit compensatory), #1 held the space with amperage, volume, and, yeah, a bit of élan. In its day. For its time.

        Which élan #8 brought into the digital age, without being *too* excitable. Indeed, the result both demonstrates staid (a bit airier than stodgy) tradition and indicates fresh (as fresh as formula allows) approach. For the most part.

        That is, it works, capturing the essence of the evolving tradition (read: continuity) of DC while brightening it up with a quick, clean, clear (you know, easily readable, identifiable) image.

        As DC's tradition (read: continuity) and its (more feared than fatal) appearance of, well, stodginess, became and remains an "issue" within the comics industry at least since CoIE, the logo has become a hot potato — sorry, I mean, visible mechanism — for addressing that appearance and reputation.

        Hence #13, a mawkish attempt to inadvisedly "break" with tradition / reputation / appearance and leap into — AK. Who knows? "The Digital Age"? Slavishness to "out of the box" (that is, sometimes, clueless) marketing consultants?

        Never Mind. Already said what I want to say about #13 (read: AK!).

        So, while I found and loved DC Comics of the #s 11, 7, 5-3, 1 era, and delighted in hunting and finding what I could of the #s 10, 9 (great version), 6 eras, for me #8 culminated a movement, an evolution, and suggested a momentum conscious of tradition (read: continuity) without dismissing (in fact, evidently retrieving) it. Roll with it, in eternally springing hope.

        All of which seemed to me thrown away with #13 (AK!!), and which DC now appears intent on rectifying / reversing / rebirthing…

        ¡¡ AK !! indeed.

        Post a Reply
  2. Great logo #2? That logo is a mess. Someone please check Dan’s eyes.

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  3. My personal favorite is #3, but DC should just go back to the bullet logo (#1). I do like the new one much better than the peel and the toilet swirl, though.

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