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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.