Category Archives: Creating Comics

GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS Jan-April 1969

All images © DC Comics. From BINKY’S BUDDIES #1, Jan-Feb 1969

As you can see from the title of this post, the fall of 1968 (when these logos were probably created) was a very busy time for Gaspar Saladino. Ira Schnapp had been sent home some time in 1968, my guess is the summer, and Gaspar’s mandate to update and revitalize the entire DC line with his own new cover lettering, house ads and logos was in full swing. New editor Joe Orlando had taken on non-superhero genres as his domain, and he decided to add to DC’s teen humor genre with this new series that featured one new story in front of reprints. Gaspar’s take on the logo is somewhere between what he had done recently for Binky’s own title and Scooter and the more angular logos he was beginning to favor elsewhere. The result is easy to read, especially with the wide outer second outline, and has a little more punch than those previous two.

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GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS Aug-Dec 1968

This and all images © DC Comics. From BLACKHAWK #242, Aug-Sept 1968

Some time in 1967, DC Comics art director Carmine Infantino began reassigning many of the high-profile lettering tasks like logo design, house ads and cover lettering from long-time letterer Ira Schnapp to the younger Gaspar Saladino, also a long-time letterer for the company, but mainly on story pages. Both men were talented, but Ira’s style had come to be looked at as old-fashioned, and indeed he was in his seventies at the time. Gaspar was just entering his forties in 1967, and he responded to the challenge with admirable work full of unique styles, energy, and a more youthful approach that was just what Infantino wanted. We continue here with the rest of Gaspar’s new and revamped logos for books with cover dates from the second half of 1968. This one for Blackhawk uses pretty standard block letters, but notice that the curves are short ones, giving the letters more blockiness than what Schnapp usually did. Also notice that Gaspar’s unique style of R in block letters did not carry over to the letter K. Here the indent is centered rather than lowered. This logo is not very different from the previous Schnapp version, but the shorter curves and square K’s make it seem so.

ADDED: Mark Evanier has suggested this logo may be by cover and interior artist Pat Boyette because of similarities to the one he lettered on the splash page. He could be right, but I’m not completely convinced DC would have allowed a relatively new artist at the company to design a cover logo, so I will just offer it as a possibility and say that Mark makes a good case for Boyette. I will put it some of that in the comments.

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GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS 1963-July 1968

Gaspar Saladino, 1950s, photo courtesy of Lisa Weinreb.

Gaspar Saladino was born in Brooklyn, NY on September 1st, 1927. As a child, he was a fan of comic strips like “Secret Agent X-9” by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond. Gaspar was also a comics reader and budding artist, confirmed by a drawing of an airplane published in FUNNY PAGES Volume 3 #8 dated October 1939 when Gaspar was eleven. For that image and more details about his life and career, see THIS article on my blog.

For high school, Gaspar enrolled in Manhattan’s High School of Industrial Arts (later renamed the High School of Art and Design), commuting to school by subway from Brooklyn. Many of its students became comics professionals, including Neal Adams, Jack Adler, Frank Giacoia, Joe Giella, Dick Giordano, Sol Harrison, Carmine Infantino, GIl Kane, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Kubert, Joe Orlando, John Romita Sr., and Alex Toth. Of these, Gaspar reported in an interview with Kirk Kimball, “Joe Kubert I knew of. And I knew Carmine and Gil Kane. I knew Joe Orlando. Joe was in my grade. Alex Toth was in the grade below me.” Joe Giella was also a classmate of Gaspar. While he was in high school, some of the New York comics studios employed students, and Gaspar did a little inking for Lloyd Jacquet Studios, but described them as “occasional one or two-pagers.” Gaspar graduated in the class of 1945, and was then drafted. He spent two years in the Air Force serving as a public relations staffer under General Douglas MacArthur as part of the U.S. occupation force in Japan.

In 1947, Gaspar returned to Brooklyn and was soon out pounding the pavement looking for work. His original direction was toward fashion design, but he found little work in that field. Finally, in 1949 he put together some sample comics pages that he drew, lettered and inked, and took them to National Comics (now DC Comics) where the Production Manager Sol Harrison, a graduate of the High School of Industrial Arts himself, was known to be friendly to other graduates. Several of Gaspar’s former schoolmates were already working for the company. Harrison showed the samples around to the editors, and Julius Schwartz expressed interest. Julie said that, while he didn’t like Gaspar’s art enough to hire him for that, he did like his lettering, and offered him regular lettering work, which Gaspar was happy to get. Gaspar worked as a freelancer, but in the DC offices in his early years. A series of articles beginning HERE detail his first work for DC. He lettered countless stories for many titles, primarily ones edited by Julie Schwartz and Robert Kanigher, mainly western, war and science fiction titles at first. When Schwartz began reviving DC’s golden age super-heroes like The Flash, Green Lantern and The Atom in the late 1950s, Gaspar also lettered many of their stories.

Gaspar worked concurrently with Ira Schnapp from late 1949 until Ira left the company in 1968. Schnapp was the company’s go-to person for logos, cover lettering and house ads, but Gaspar filled in for Ira here and there during those years in the latter two areas. When Carmine Infantino became Art Director and later Editor-In-Chief at DC around 1967, he began shifting that high profile work from Schnapp to Saladino, hoping to give the company’s image a fresh look. Gaspar responded to the challenge with fine, creative, energetic lettering and design, and when Schnapp left the company, Gaspar continued in that role as the go-to person for logos, cover lettering and house ads.

Like Ira Schnapp, Gaspar did most of his prolific lettering and design work for DC Comics, but unlike Schnapp, Saladino also became a regular letterer and logo designer for Marvel Comics beginning in 1971, and he designed all the logos for the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard line in 1974-75. That work, as best I can identify it, is included here. It’s likely I’ve missed some Saladino logos, and it’s also likely that Gaspar did logos for other companies. Wikipedia’s article about Saladino claims he did logos for Eclipse Comics and Continuity Comics, but I’ve looked through all the covers from both companies and I don’t see any logos that I think were by Saladino. Gaspar worked regularly for MAD, but probably not as a logo designer. Beyond that, anything is possible, but I know of only one other comics logo by Gaspar, and have included it here. Anyone with knowledge of logos by Saladino for other companies, please contact me.

This and all following images © DC Comics. From SHOWCASE #45, July-Aug 1963
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IRA SCHNAPP and PEP CEREAL

This and all images © DC Comics.

Recently on a Facebook post by Robert Beerbohm, I was made aware of another commercial lettering job by Ira Schnapp when Bob posted one of these images. Kellogg’s Pep cereal was a sponsor of “The Adventures of Superman” radio show in the 1940s, and in 1945 Superman premiums were featured on the cereal boxes, and inside in the form of a Superman pin-back button.

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IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS CAREER BY THE NUMBERS

Ira Schnapp in the DC offices, 1955, photo by his son Martin Schnapp.

I’ve been researching Ira Schnapp’s comics career for more than ten years, and I believe I’ve now compiled as complete a list of his work as a letterer and ad and logo designer as I can. In this long article I’m putting it all together in chronological order year by year to present a more complete picture of Ira’s entire body of comics work along with some biographical information to put it in context.

Israel (Ira) Schnapp was born in the small town of Sassow, Austria (now Sasiv, Ukraine) on October 10, 1894. His father emigrated to America in 1895 to find work and prepare for the rest of the family, and they joined him in 1900. There were eventually five brothers and three sisters, and with their parents they lived initially in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a Jewish immigrant community. Ira’s father was a grocer probably selling from a cart at first. Ira was the fourth child, and he did well in school. By high school he was taking art classes, and some of his work is in his high school yearbook. Somehow during that time he worked with a team of craftsmen creating the huge inscriptions on the James A. Farley Post Office in Manhattan, on Eighth Avenue between 31st and 33rd Street. Ira did not design the letters, his job was to transform the architect’s drawings of them on the building plans into much larger drawings that could be transferred to stone blocks for carving. However that happened, it set young Ira on a course to become a lettering specialist. After high school he worked at a company that made titles for silent films, and he gradually developed a freelance career as a letterer and sign maker for Manhattan businesses like movie theaters. He also probably designed pulp magazine logos and did cover lettering for them. In the late 1930s, Ira prepared a series of one-panel strips called “Art of the Ages” which he hoped to place with a newspaper syndicate for national distribution. but it wasn’t a success, and ran in only one newspaper as far as I know. Much more about Ira’s life, early work and family can be found in a series of articles on my blog beginning HERE.

Ira entered the comics business in 1940 when he was asked to revamp the Superman logo from versions by the character’s co-creater Joe Shuster. Ira knew Jack Liebowitz, the co-owner of National (DC) Comics, and was probably related to him. I think he was lettering logos and covers for the separate line of sleazy pulp magazines also owned by Liebowitz and his partner Harry Donenfeld beginning around 1934, and through that connection I believe he was given the Superman logo redesign. It was a great success, and gradually Ira picked up more and more work from DC until by 1945 he was doing so much that his other freelance work must have dwindled to little or none. Ira continued as DC’s busiest letterer from that point until he left the company in 1968. He was 45 years old in 1940 when his comics career began, and 73 when it ended, a span of 28 years. That seems like a long time, but many other comics creators started much earlier in their lives. For example, Ira’s younger lettering work mate Gaspar Saladino started at DC in 1949 when he was 22 and he continued full-time work for the company until 2002 when he was 75, a span of 53 years. Despite his late start, Ira was a hard worker, and he must have been a fast one too, as the list of his work below testifies. On the Comics Creation and Logo Links pages of my blog you’ll find detailed information on all the work I’ve listed here, refer to that for more details.

Each year entry is divided into work categories: Logos, Ads, Covers, Pages, and Newspaper Strips. I’ve listed every Logo individually. For Ads, I’ll give yearly totals, for Covers I’ve listed each one by number. For Pages I’m only showing a range of the issues worked on in each year in each title and a page total for each title. For Newspaper Strips I’ve given the strip numbers and totals. Again, for details and many images for any of these things, see the specific articles about them on my blog. I’ll be adding comments after each year entry, and at the end I’ll have career totals. Numbers in parentheses are the number of pages or items in each entry. Here we go.

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