Logo Study: DC ROMANCE COMICS Part 5

heartthrobs1_1949

All images © DC Comics, Inc.

Quality Comics, founded by Everett “Busy” Arnold in 1939, was largely a packager and trend follower, having success with books like PLASTIC MAN and THE BLACKHAWKS. In 1949 they followed the then current trend for romance comics with this title. The logo is what I’d call workmanlike, but not terribly creative or interesting. HEART is in upper and lower case script, while THROBS is all capital block letters. Two hearts behind hammer the idea home with little subtlety. I have no idea who designed this, or any of the Quality logos. It did the job, was easily readable.

heartthrobs9

With issue 9 this revised version of the logo began, with a heavier outline and a different and better H. (Thanks to Kurt Busiek for pointing it out.) There’s now a single heart, and since the logo outline is heavier, the heart fades into the background a bit more, not a bad thing. It’s still not a terribly interesting logo to me, but this version is an improvement. I wonder if the company had to pay for this movie still of Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum, or were given permission to use it as free publicity? I believe this version of the logo remained on the book until the company folded in 1956, selling their properties to DC Comics.

heartthrobs47_19571

Issue 47 in 1957, the first from DC, kept the Quality logo. I had thought this version was by Ira Schnapp, but unless he was moonlighting at Quality, that can’t be the case, so I don’t know who designed it. The heart is gone, but it’s otherwise unchanged. DC kept the Quality logo for THE BLACKHAWKS, too, and at least one original Quality logo, for a war title, is still in the DC files, so they must have all come along with the deal. Note the National Romance Group symbol at upper left, which now had five titles with this acquisition. Since DC was already cranking out romance stories, it would have been no trouble to fill these pages.

heartthrobs59_1959

With issue 59 in 1959, a new Ira Schnapp logo appeared. It consolidates the style, merging the upper and lower case of the old HEART with the thick sans serif block letters of the old THROBS, and puts them on one line, making more room for cover art. Not a bad idea, but still not inspired, and the letterforms are less interesting and much more uneven than the previous ones.

heartthrobs

Here’s the original logo from the DC files. Perhaps Schnapp was trying for a light-hearted approach with these letters that vary in thickness and height, but it doesn’t work well for me. And I’m not sure why he went with a thinner outline, perhaps he thought that was more appropriate on a romance book. It works well on the black background of the cover above, but might not have been so good in other situations. And whoever put together the cover should have sized the logo a little smaller so it wasn’t running behind the preprinted trade dress elements at each upper corner. But that was a problem with lots of DC covers at the time.

heartthrobs93_1965

In 1965 issue 93 had another new Ira Schnapp logo, this one similar to the SECRET HEARTS logo he did that same year. While it’s simple and unromantic, I like the classic sans serif block letters, and the heart in the O is a nice touch. If he was going for a typeset magazine logo look, this worked.

heartthrobs2

Here’s the original, and it shows no white correction paint, so it must have been an easy job for Ira. I note with interest how he widened the A to help bring the two lines closer in width, but to compensate, he spaced the feet of the A closer to the letters on either side. Schnapp’s classical training in letterform design served him well for this assignment. But, if you’ve been following this study so far, you probably know there’s trouble ahead!

heartthrobs102_19662

Yikes, it’s another 1966 design disaster! Schnapp’s previous logo is still there, but surrounded by a screaming jumble of cover lettering and a new feature title, all by Schnapp too. At least 40 percent of this cover is taken up by the logos, lettering and trade dress, and the dark olive background color makes it look even worse. I don’t know who was responsible for this design trend at DC, but whoever it was had the design equivalent of a musical tin ear. Ira did what he could, but there wasn’t much he could do to make this work. And with overwritten covers like this, I bet the man was glad he had a staff job to do it all, instead of being paid by the cover as a freelancer!

heartthrobs118_1969

Issue 118 in 1969 brought a new look and new main logo by Gaspar Saladino, Ira’s primary replacement as DC logo guy. Gaspar also did all the cover lettering except 3 GIRLS, etc., that being the Schnapp logo from before. Gaspar’s stylish lettering was a breath of fresh air on this and many DC titles at the time. The logo is nothing special, squarish block letters in a box, but even there Gaspar added interest with tight spacing and attractive shapes.

heartthrobs122

Beginning with issue 122 there were a couple of variations on the box around the logo letters, like this one where a sort of expanded outline is used. I have to say I prefer the regular box shape above.

heartthrobs131_1971

For a few issues in 1971 this revised layout of the previous logo wisely left more room for art, and dropped the 3 GIRLS part, returning to typical romance stories.

heartthrobs135_1971

Then with issue 135 a new, terrific logo by Gaspar appeared. It’s full of interest, energy and flair, with those ball-end swashes adding a romantic feel to the otherwise muscular slab serif letters.

heartthrobs3

Here’s the original from the DC files. Looks like Gaspar had some trouble with a few letters in the lower word, there are either one or two pasted over sections, it’s hard to be sure which. But the end result is quite attractive. Love the way he connects the T in THROB to the E above. I’d call it the best logo for this title in its entire run — not as romantic as some of the other logos we’ve looked at in this study perhaps, but it does everything else perfectly to my eye.

lovestories147_1972

For the last six issues the title was changed, and the book had another attractive new logo by Gaspar. A less melodramatic title, too, which might have been a good idea, but it was too late, romance comics weren’t selling, and just about over. At least the book could go out showing lots of Saladino style in both the logo and the cover lettering.

lovestories

Here’s the original logo from the DC files, showing a bit of wear and spots of white correction paint. The only thing I don’t like, and this is a minor quibble, is the too-thin center opening in the E of LOVE. That should have been left out. But it’s a fine logo, and thanks to Jeremy Patterson I was able to add it here, where it belongs.

I’ll conclude this study next time with one more romance title, FALLING IN LOVE, and brief looks at a few other odds and ends. Other chapters and more logo studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page.

18 thoughts on “Logo Study: DC ROMANCE COMICS Part 5

  1. Kurt Busiek

    I can’t say I much like that last logo — it’s got interesting shapes, but to my eye they make a kind of hard-to-read jumble; I like the ball-and-swash on the H, but on the A and T of HEART it gets in the way; it looks like it should be used for initial caps, not body caps. But then, to each his own, hm?

    I liked the one you called a design disaster — not because of the design, per se, but because that grey background makes the logo pop, so the eye goes there first. And Schnapp’s lettering on the secondary stuff is lovely. Bad design idea, nice execution rescuing it. And look! It’s “Sex and the City,” decades early!

    I like the first Schnapp logo and the first Saladino logo best of this bunch — it may just be the overall cover design again, but stacked in a box with interesting secondary lettering on the right, against that green, it’s more attractive than the same logo all on one line with boring secondary lettering and uninteresting dead space around it.

    Thanks for doing these, they’re fascinating as always. All the more so because they’re not superhero-type logos so we get to see different needs and different approaches. And some of this cover art is wonderful — 102 and 118 are very strong, and the Sekowsky cover on 47 has tons of character and atmosphere.

  2. Jeremy A. Patterson

    DC would re-name this book Love Stories at the end of its run!

    Heart Throbs also had a Vertigo revival mini seres!

    J.A.P.

  3. Todd Post author

    Aha! Thanks, Jeremy, that puts a finger on a logo I didn’t have a place for. I’ll rewrite this entry tonight to include it. Oh, and I know about the Vertigo book, but it’s a very different thing, really, and I didn’t think it belonged here.

  4. David Goldfarb

    I agree that some of these covers have nice art. I can’t help looking at the first one, though, and wondering whether it was a touching story of love between a go-go dancer and a double amputee who had lost both arms below the elbow.

  5. Kurt Busiek

    A couple of nitpicks, since all this got me interested to go look at the covers for the whole series online:

    The second logo you have listed actually debuts before the book moves to DC — it starts with the Quality #9, though it still has the heart shape behind it. Looks like all they did at DC was drop the heart — so would that mean it’s not Schnapp?

    There’s a variation of the first Gaspar logo, from #122-130 — a couple, actually, with a major outline rather than a rectangular box, and two ways of stacking the logo. But it looks like the same letters within. They do it again with the one-tier version of that same logo.

    Man, some of those covers are gorgeous.

  6. Todd Post author

    You’re right on all counts, Kurt. I neglected to look at all the Quality covers, and that second logo can’t be by Schnapp. Thanks for catching that and the later variations, though I think I’ll only show the first one, as they’re similar. Time to do some rewriting!

  7. Jim Kosmicki

    The “3 Girls” wasn’t a description of the contents except in the respect that it was a continued storyline. There were at least two of the DC Romance books that tried “soap opera” style continued storylines in the 60s, rather than the typical anthology approach. “3 Girls, Their Lives…Their Loves” was one of the more successful. I think there was a nurse serial in one of the other books that was pretty long-lived and then a couple that were shorter.

    oh, and Heart Throbs was also the name of the Fireside Books collection of DC Romance stories published in the early 80s. I’m pretty sure it had a different logo than any of these covers.

  8. Tim Bateman

    Superb series, Todd (yes, I should have commented on that when I read the first one…).

    My second favourite is the final HT logo. Very nice piece of design.

    Jim K. – ’3 Girls’ was one of two soap-opera-style serials in the DC romance books, the other being in Secret Hearts (Reach for Happiness, my memory tells me) . Both were introduced by Jack Miller when he took over all or part of the line in the swingin’ ‘sixties and introduced the logos so hated by Todd Klein.

    The nurse whom you mention was probably Mary Robin, R. N., introduced by Robert Kanigher in Young Love when that title switched from Prize to DC and Kanigher introduced Bonnie Tyler, Airline Stewardess in Young Romance. Both of these features were self-contained individual series of stories rather than soap operas, as was Amy Ames, Romance Columnist of the Listening Heart in Secret Hearts (before ‘Reach for Happiness’ begins). There was also ‘Lisa St, Clair’ in Young Love at some point (Miller era or later) in Young Love, which I’ve never read any of so cannot describe.

    My apologies for hijacking your logo love with this history lesson, Todd.

  9. Kurt Busiek

    >> There was also ‘Lisa St. Clair’ in Young Love at some point (Miller era or later) in Young Love, which I’ve never read any of so cannot describe.>>

    I had her (or rather, the museum her family funded) hire the Power Company!

    kdb

  10. Martin Gray

    Nice one, Kurt.

    I wonder if Secret Hearts, the soap Linda Danvers acted on in the Seventies, was another tribute.

    And continuing nice one, Todd. Isn’t it typical that the best logo came just before the title got dumped for a far blander name?

  11. Sean Price

    Did Gaspar Saladino also do the lettering on the covers for Hearthrobs? – just love some of the “punchy” lettering.

  12. Metz77

    One of the things I like about that last Love Stories logo is that it seems heavily influenced by the famous Philadelphia “LOVE” sculpture.

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