The fonts used on the NDQ title page and masthead have not changed frequently. The first series of the journal used an attractive old style serifed font featuring a “Q” with an absolutely fantastic (but not overwrought) tail.
The Quarterly had a hiatus between 1932 and 1956 and when it reappeared, it subtly marked this hiatus by changing its masthead. From 1956-1967, the North Dakota Quarterly cover featured the Romantic Bodoni font. The use of the Bodoni Condensed on the masthead on the inside page of journal was a nice allusion to the journal’s hiatus. Bodoni Condensed was introduced in 1933 as a useful addition to the American Type Founders extensive line-up of Bodoni style fonts.
When Robert Wilkins took over as editor of the Quarterly in 1968, he introduced the now iconic NDQ logo in Davida font. Davida was designed by Louis Minott and introduced in 1965. The font had some currency in the late 1960s and early 1970s, appearing in a wide range of contexts. It was pretty popular for album cover art, appearing on Neil Diamond’s single “Solitary Man/Cherry Cherry” (1970) and the T. Rex single “By the Light of the Magical Moon” (1970) as well as on James Brown’s 1970 album Ain’t it Funky. In the publishing world, it appeared on the cover of the 1971 edition of Silvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and the cover of the revised 1971 edition of The Country Code in the U.K. I wasn’t able to find the exact precedent that inspired Robert Wilkins to use this font, but there are enough funky, literary, and rustic examples to demonstrate that Davida was in the air.
A few months ago I floated the idea of changing up our logo, and even floated a few ideas. None of them met with any unconditional enthusiasm, and now I’m thinking that maybe keeping the Davida NDQ logo is just a good thing. I mean, if it’s good enough for The Godfather of Soul and The Country Code, maybe it’s just fine for NDQ.