Wonder Woman has been one of the most iconic figures in pop culture since she featured on the cover of Sensation Comics #1 in 1941. One of the first female superheroes, she has championed kindness, peace, and empathy for decades, proving they’re not weak traits, but in fact heroic acts in her endless battle for justice. She is heralded by people around the globe, celebrated by comic readers and non-comic readers alike.
For publishers, eye-catching logos are hugely important for drawing readers to their books. Wonder Woman’s has seen a number of changes over the years, with the iconic stacked, winged W’s we associate with her — the symbol so often branded on merchandise — not being created until the 1980s. With an interesting history surrounding the ever-developing design, here are 10 interesting facts behind the Wonder Woman logo.
10 Crude Beginnings
Before Wonder Woman had even graced the pages of Sensation Comics, DC Comics were working on patenting the character and title. Having learned valuable lessons from creating both Superman and Batman, the publisher quickly assembled mock covers which they would send to the US Patent Office to register for trademark to ensure they held the rights. This rush resulted in the creation of Wonder Woman’s first logo: the cursive font that would appear alongside her throughout the Golden Age. It’s believed that this first logo was designed by the artist H G Peter, although there is some debate as to whether he intended for his lettering to be the final logo, or if it was really meant to act as a placeholder which crept through in the rush to trademark the character.
9 The Silver Age
With the dawn of the Silver Age came a logo revamp. The cursive script of the Golden Era seemed a little dated perched at the top of Wonder Woman’s solo book, so in 1953, regular DC Comics letterer Ira Schnapp designed a new main logo for her comic. Schnapp introduced the art deco style that would be present in her logo redesigns for decades to come.
Schnapp’s new emblem still embraced Diana’s femininity, but was bolder and stronger, with broad strokes replacing the twists and curves of its predecessor. Schnapp would redesign the Silver Age logo again in 1958, removing the curves completely and instead opting for a more traditional superhero look, continuing to play within the art deco style.
8 Forget The Old…
Fans were in disbelief when they picked up issue #178 to discover Diana had been stripped of her powers and red-white-and-blue suit, instead dawning a mod outfit, fitting for the late ‘60s. With the costume change came a new psychedelic logo, reminiscent of Bill Graham’s Fillmore poster series.
Artist Mike Sekowsky came up with this new vision of Diana as DC Comics attempted to draw female readers to the title. Sekowsky believed young girls might be more inclined to pick up the book if they could see a superheroine in the real world, reacting to current affairs. This groovy revamp didn’t resonate with fans — and is still looked on with some disdain by readers today — so 1973 saw the return of Wonder Woman’s powers, classic uniform, and Ira Schnapp’s Silver Age logo.
7 Stacking the W’s
While Wonder Woman’s red top had been emblazoned with a golden eagle for over 40 years, the early 1980s opened up an opportunity for a costume redesign. While the eagle and Diana’s star-spangled shorts and skirt reflected that she was an all-American hero, she wasn’t American at all. A princess from the Amazonian island of Themyscira, her roots were tied to Greek mythology. Combined with DC’s desire to create an emblem for the character that could be used with licensing and marketing —and trademarking a symbol so associated with the USA wasn’t a likely option — they knew they needed to remove the eagle.
DC handed the project to Milton Glaser, who elegantly combined the character’s initials with stylized wings, ensuring the new design wasn’t too far removed from the original eagle motif, ultimately creating the instantly recognizable emblem that is continually used to this day. It is impossible to see the winged, stacked W’s and not think of Wonder Woman.
6 Crisis On Infinite Earths
Crisis on Infinite Earths was one of the biggest events to shake up DC Comics’ characters. This opened the gates to yet another redesign. With Greg Potter and George Perez leading the way on Wonder Woman’s solo comic, they decided to lean hard into her Greek mythological origins, with Perez illustrating 60 books. This new Diana would need a new logo — this time incorporating Glaser’s stacked W emblem which now replaced the eagle on Wonder Woman’s red bodice. The logo, once again drawing upon the art deco style, was created by letterer Ken Bruzenak, and has perhaps been the most synonymous with the character since it first debuted in the first issue of her title’s relaunch.
5 The Emblem Inspired A Real Wonder Woman Foundation
With a revived logo, Jenette Kahn, DC’s then-President/Editor-in-Chief, was inspired to introduce the updated emblem emblazoned on the front of Diana’s costume within the comic pages. The stacked W’s were presented to Diana in issue #288 by a woman who was celebrating the launch of a Wonder Woman Foundation. She asked Diana to represent them and their cause by wearing the new uniform, promoting equality for women everywhere, reestablishing her feminist roots. Kahn was determined to take this Foundation further than a mere passing comment in the comic pages. To celebrate Wonder Woman’s 40th anniversary, Kahn received backing from Warner Communications to establish a real Wonder Woman Foundation.
The Foundation was headed by former US representative of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Koryne Horbal. Together, Kahn and Horbal wanted to create an updated picture of what it meant to be an American woman in the 1980s. The foundation worked with women in film, the Girl Scouts, and the Girl Clubs of America, but their most notorious success was the Wonder Woman Awards, which granted money to inspiring women over the age of 40 to continue their influential work. At a press conference in 1982, Kahn stated “We live too long these days for life to be over at 40.”
4 Rian Hughes Designed Unused Logos
British comics artist, Rian Hughes, known for his comics logo design work, was asked to design an updated version of Wonder Woman’s logo in the early ‘90s. He drafted samples for DC Comics, featuring tall, slim, sleek lettering, using Wonder Woman’s headdress as the inspiration for the shape, rather than the stacked W’s which had recently been introduced. His logos can even be seen on Brian Bolland’s sketch cover for Wonder Woman #63, June 1992 (reprinted in Lee Daniel’s book, Wonder Woman: The Complete History).
However, the publisher decided to use Alex Jay’s design, explicitly stating in the brief that they wanted an art deco style logo which incorporated Glaser’s emblem. Jay departed from the art deco style, opting for a serif font which tied perfectly into Diana’s Greek origins.
3 A Return To The Golden Age
During John Byrne’s run in the 1990s, Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta, takes up the Wonder Woman mantle. In a time-twisting adventure following Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hippolyta travels back in time with Jay Garrick to try and stabilize Wonder Girl’s reality and becomes the original Golden Age Wonder Woman of that timeline. To reflect the era Byrne was exploring, a digitally updated version of the original Golden Age logo was used on the books. The logo was recreated by letterer, Todd Klein, who had to work from old photocopies to recreate the iconic cursive lettering of the 1940s.
2 Modern Revival
Following Hippolyta’s adventure, Jay’s logo was reintroduced, with the stacked emblem taking pride of place at the top of the covers while still emblazoned on her chest. As the noughties rolled in, DC Comics knew that they didn’t need to brand the cover with her logo: her name itself carried enough weight to sell comics, toys, and products. Jay’s logo continued to be used, but they dropped the emblem.
Soon after, a new logo was created to coincide with the launch of Wonder Woman’s third series. Designed by Nancy Ogami, it combined classic elements from previous logos while giving it a modern twist. The logo would undergo one final upgrade, this time heralding in the New 52. The thick, bold lettering reminiscent of Schnapp’s ‘70s look, with the wings of her iconic emblem clearly incorporated.
1 The Movie’s Release Sparked A Law Suit With A Burger Chain
When the updated DCEU logo was released in late 2016 ahead of Wonder Woman’s cinematic release, it caught the attention of a Texas-based burger company, Whataburger. The DCEU emblem was based upon costume designer Lindy Hemming’s version of the stacked W’s. While it doesn’t drastically differ from the emblem we’ve come to know and love since the ‘80s, it was the first time the burger chain realized the striking similarities.
Worried that food-based licensing deals leading up to and following the film’s release would cause confusion, Whataburger entered trademarking discussions with DC, ensuring their respective rights and interests were recognized and avoiding a court case, which could have led to one of the companies having to redesign their logos. With Whataburger’s signature orange W logo trademark stretching back to 1972, it may well have been Diana who would have had to undergo a redesign. Fortunately, it settled out of court, and both Whataburger and Wonder Woman can continue to champion burgers and justice in style.