As I outlined last time, the “DC Implosion” wreaked havoc on staff and freelancers alike as about 40% of the line was cancelled, and everyone was scrambling to keep at least some of their freelance income if they had any. I’ve just gone through all the DC covers from 1979 and I see only eight new cover logos. The one above, for a digest-size comic DC was trying out, has the sole new Saladino logo. Though the top line is quite similar to the new Sgt. Rock logo Gaspar designed for 1977, this is all new. The R shape in ROCK is different, for example. The other seven new cover logos (two for the Famous First Edition of Superman #1 for the front and back covers, World of Krypton, Red Tornado for DC Comics Presents, All-Out War, another digest: Jonah Hex and other Western Tales, and Time Warp) were designed by me. I have to admit that back then I didn’t notice I was getting work that had often been going to Gaspar, I was just happy for the assignments and thrilled to be doing them. Was this a cost-saving move by DC? It’s possible.
I have no idea what kind of pay rate Gaspar was getting for any of his work, but as a long-time freelancer since 1949, his rates were probably considerably higher than mine. When I started at DC in 1977, my page rate for lettering was $5, but my logo rate was $30. Not comparable to what a logo designer might get in the general publishing world, but it seemed like a lot to me, and six times my page rate was a great windfall, even considering the extra work involved in logos: preparing several concept sketches to show the editor, getting approval for one (or perhaps having to do more if they weren’t what was wanted), then developing the approved sketch in finished pencils and carefully and precisely inking it. All that took time. My rates were reviewed about once every year, and by late 1979 I was making a whopping $8 per page for story lettering. My logo rate remained at $30, so not as much of a windfall, but still worthwhile, and by then I had figured out more of what I was doing and what would appeal to the editors. My logo rate jumped to $50 in 1982, and then doubled to $100 in 1983 when DC hired a real art director, Neal Pozner, who demanded better rates for things like logos, and standardized those rates for everyone. So, it’s possible that DC shifted some of Gaspar’s higher-paid work to me as a cost savings. I’ll never know for sure. Gaspar was still getting lots of other lettering work from DC even in those difficult times, and well he should.Continue reading