Logo Study: DC ROMANCE COMICS Part 6

fallinginlove1_1955

All images © DC Comics, Inc.

DC launched this new romance title in 1955, an indication that romance comics were selling well, as they already had several going, and would be adding more into the early 1960s. The logo is by Ira Schnapp, DC’s staff logo designer, and for FALLING IN it uses a variation of the script-like style of upper and lower case letterforms that Ira favored in his cover lettering. You can see it below in the caption, with the same shape in the F. LOVE is block letters with small pointed serifs, all capitals, and the L is larger, fitting nicely into the space under the loop of the F. I like it, it doesn’t scream “comics,” but instead has a handsome design that would have worked well on any type of magazine. Note that there is no company symbol, following the style of SECRET HEARTS at the time. This logo stayed on the book for many years.

fallinginlove71_1964

With issue 71 in 1964 a new Schnapp logo began, following the same general layout of the previous one, but using thicker letters with square-ended serifs. I don’t like it quite as much, but it does fill the logo area well, and bringing the two lines closer in style is not a bad idea.

fallinginlove

Here’s the original logo from the DC files. I like the way the V and E are joined, and the way the G overlaps the letters below. Nothing very romantic about it, but a solid design job.

fallinginlove88_1967

Here we are in the dreaded go-go checks era again, where issue 88 in 1967 had a new Schnapp logo. Of all the logos of this design period that we’ve looked at, I like this one best. LOVE features an even taller L, and goes back to small pointed serifs. FALLING IN uses another style in Schnapp’s repertoire that works well here, and the oddly-shaped box is startling but kind of cool. Yes, it throws the cover design off balance like most of the others from this time, but I like it anyway.

fallinginlove106_1969

I like this design from 1969 by Gaspar Saladino even better! It follows earlier layouts in general, but the letterforms are more interesting, and the heart O works well.

fallinginlove2

Here’s the original, and as you can see, the topline was done as part of the logo. If flattery will gain you readers, that should have done it! Gaspar’s lower case A and G are a bit odd, but not enough to distract from the overall design, and though it’s kind of strange for a romance book, I like the black bar, creating instant contrast no matter what the color scheme.

fallinginlove143_1973

Like all the DC romance books, even such an enticing logo wasn’t enough to save it from cancellation due to falling sales, and this was the last issue in 1973. Considering that the genre began in 1947, I’d say it had a pretty long run. Unfortunately, unlike many other comics genres, it hasn’t seemed able to reinvent itself, although perhaps that’s because romance of various kinds now finds a home in nearly all comics, especially those for older readers, like DC’s Vertigo line. The fact that much of that romance is twisted or gothic in some way may just be a sign of  current reader interest. And actually, DC tried that once before in 1971 with this title:

sinisterhousesecretlove1_1971

Hoping, no doubt, to pull in some readers of gothic romance novels, the first issue’s cover mimicked that style closely, from the creepy castle to the girl in period costume to the typeset cover copy. As for the logo, I would have guessed it was set type, but in the DC files I found the original:

sinisterhousesecretlove

Beautifully hand-drawn, it must be by Gaspar Saladino, perhaps using some romance novel covers as a style guide. I think he knocked it out of the park! And there’s not a speck of white correction paint on it, a masterful design job. Perhaps ahead of its time, the book’s gothic romance direction soon reverted to typical DC mystery stories, and the title became SECRETS OF SINISTER HOUSE with issue 5, and until the end of its fairly short run. Not part of the DC Romance Group, but a nice try in a similar direction.

hollywoodromances

Just one more thing from the DC logo files before I wrap up this study. Not the original logo, but a negative photostat of it, I’ve reversed it here to show how the original would have looked. Notice the word PROPRIETOR in the lower left? That shows it was lettered on the standard art paper DC had preprinted for logos in the 1940s. They could then photocopy it and send it to the copyright office in Washington. I assume under PROPRIETOR they would add National Periodical Publications, or whatever the official name of the company was at the time. Like a few other such logos I’ve found, it was never used on a comic. It was very likely designed by Ira Schnapp. The taller A is a good clue pointing to that. My guess is it was done around 1949 or 1950.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this trip through DC history as much as I have. Other chapters and more logo studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page. I’ll leave you with this homage to the DC romance comic covers from 2000 by Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III and myself.

promethea7fc1

12 thoughts on “Logo Study: DC ROMANCE COMICS Part 6

  1. Your Obedient Serpent

    Ha! I was looking at the Showcase volume for Secrets of Sinister House on the shelf at work last night, and thought, “Hey, that started as a romance book. Wonder if Todd’s going to talk about THAT logo?”

    At some point, it would be fascinating to see a series about DC’s overall trade dress as it evolved over the years, especially if there are any notes or internal memos in the archives about the decisions behind the changes and styling. (I’m sure most of us in the audience have a morbid curiosity about that awful, awful “Go-Go Checks” era.)

  2. Todd Post author

    A trade dress study would be fun, and I might do that someday, but I don’t have access to notes or internal memos, even if they exist, which they probably don’t anymore. The reasons behind any decisions made before the 1980s are probably lost to history, and more recent decision makers aren’t talking, at least to me.

  3. Jeremy A. Patterson

    Last time you told us the addition of Heart Throbs put the National Romance Group line-up to a total of six, but you did only five! Is there another book you were not aware of!

    J.A.P.

  4. David M. Lynch

    Actually, if memory serves, The Sinister House of Secret Love was the second title in DC’s Gothic romance vein, following closely on the heels of The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love. When the experiment failed, that title went through a similar change and became Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion.

  5. SwanShadow

    Todd, it’s a tribute to the terrific job you do with these logo studies that tonight I devoured six — count ‘em, six — installments covering a genre in which I have zero interest… and would still be reading, if you hadn’t run out of DC romance titles to break down.

    Thank you for another brilliant and compelling insight into the letterer’s craft. I love your logo studies, and will look eagerly forward to your next one!

  6. Amie Brockway-Metcalf

    Ooh, Todd, thanks so much for this! I love all the original art for the logos and I’m so glad you’re putting them out there for people to see. When I’d have a bad day at DC and certain editors would tell me to make something “15% more edgy,” I’d go mope around these old files and revel in these lost gems. I gotta say, though, I’m kind of fond of the go-go checks.

  7. Martin Gray

    Darn, this terrific series is done. Thanks Todd.

    Now we’re going to be nagging for the horror books . . .

    I just love the Falling in Love #88 logo, but Gaspar Saladino’s #106 replacement is far from an improvement – it looks so wonky . . . that ‘a’ you mention was actually the first thing I noticed, all squashed and unhappy (why does that old-fashioned letterform even exist today? Is there a fear the schoolbook ‘a’ might be confused with an ‘o’?).

    And the ‘i’ of ‘In’ looks weird, words such as ‘in’, ‘of’ ‘and’ and so on usually taking lower case.

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