GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS 1971

This and all images © DC Comics except as noted. From DC 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR #4, Jan 1971

1971 was an important year for Saladino’s logo work. At DC, he was being given high profile new projects like logos for superstar Jack Kirby’s interconnected series of comics beginning with THE NEW GODS, and later in the year he began branching out by designing logos for Marvel Comics. Whether DC knew about this is unknown, but Gaspar had no contract with DC, so there was nothing they could do legally to prevent him from working for others as long as he wasn’t on staff. The comics industry at the time was a small world centered in New York City, and many creators worked for more than one comics publisher, though sometimes under pen names. When Gaspar began lettering comics for Marvel, he sometimes did that, with his most frequently used pen name being L.P. Gregory. As far as logo designs go, they were never credited at the time, so it was not an issue. The logo and trade dress above is busy and elaborate. Gaspar clearly lettered the word WEIRD in his horror style, but I think he also did parts of the top banner: DC, and 100. He might have lettered the price, too. The rest is probably type, except of course for Ira Schnapp’s Comics Code seal. Reversing all the line work made for an effective horror look.

The original logo from the DC files gives a better idea of which parts Gaspar did, and has a somewhat different layout. It looks like he also lettered PAGES, and perhaps drew the horizontal lines. The texture in WEIRD made of ink dots shows up better here. The pasted-on type is obvious because of its darker background color.

From DC SPECIAL #10, Jan-Feb 1971

Is STOP a logo or a word balloon in a burst? In this case, both. DC used this gimmick several times on different titles, thinking it might increase sales, and perhaps it did. Gaspar’s large open letters certainly command attention.

From SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE #107, Jan 1971

Once long-time Superman editor Mort Weisinger retired in 1970, changes on the Superman family of titles became more common, as DC tried to update the characters and approach. This new logo for Lois Lane replaces the one Ira Schnapp created for her first issue that had been used ever since. The top line is still an awkward fit, but the main logo is indeed more modern and streamlined, if not terribly exciting. Gaspar would do another version later.

From THE NEW GODS #1, Feb-March 1971

When Jack Kirby made the startling move from Marvel Comics to DC Comics some time in 1970, he was living in California and mailing his work to New York, so not closely involved with cover design, other than the art itself. Here’s the story I have about this logo from Mark Evanier. He writes, “The logo for NEW GODS was someone’s (perhaps Gaspar’s) tracing of a logo that Jack himself whipped up by cutting letters out of an ad he saw in some magazine. He saw this lettering and thought it would be perfect…and what’s more, it had all the letters necessary to spell out NEW GODS. So he cut them out, pasted them up and sent them to New York with a note that said something like, ‘I’d like the logo to be something like this.’ What emerged was very close to the pasted-up lettering, if not identical. I never had the chance to compare them side-by-side but I don’t recall any difference.” With that in mind, and remembering that Gaspar was the go-to logo person at DC then, I think it was Saladino who created this logo from Kirby’s type layout. It would have been Gaspar’s task to make a logo that would read on a comics cover, and at the time that usually meant outlined letters with some kind of space for a second color, in this case a short telescoped open drop shadow. Since we can’t credit the original type designer, I think it’s fair to say this logo is designed by Saladino from a layout by Kirby. It’s type origins make it different from most other logos of the time at DC, but of course what really sold this book was Jack Kirby…and Jack Kirby coming over to DC after years of fan-favorite work at Marvel. The logo isn’t that important!

Here’s the original logo from the DC files. There’s quite a bit of white correction paint on it, suggesting that Gaspar had some trouble getting the look he wanted, particularly on the O. Round and oval shapes are the hardest to get right when drawing them, and that’s one reason why many comics logos don’t use them very much. I don’t think he succeeded with the telescoping of the O, it’s not the same depth as the others, but as is often the case, it looks fine on the cover where no one is likely to be examining the logo closely enough to notice that.

From THE FOREVER PEOPLE #1, Feb-March 1971

Mark and I think the other Kirby logos are all Saladino work, and notice how this one uses more square letters. I like the angled tabs emerging from the left side of many of the letters creating a unified look mirrored by the angled ends on some letters, but otherwise this logo is simple and fairly sedate with no drop shadow or telescoping. It still works fine. And the cover blurb by Gaspar, “KIRBY’S HERE!” adds all the excitement needed.

The original logo is the same, I don’t see any obvious changes or corrections, though THE is type, probably Letraset adhesive letters, and seems like an afterthought. Gaspar’s characteristic R shapes are here, where the indent on the right edge is below center making it look like a P with the right leg added.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #403, March-April 1971

With this issue, ADVENTURE had a giant-size issue focused on the Legion of Super-Heroes rather than Supergirl, who starred in the title at the time, with this one-use logo by Gaspar. It’s probably not intentional, but it shares some style elements with the FOREVER PEOPLE logo above. That’s just a matter of it being a style Gaspar liked then I think. For a long title it works fine.

From DC SPECIAL #11, March-April 1971

The pale yellow-green used inside these letters makes the Saladino logo less effective, but it still works pretty well, and I love the crossed out and replaced word. As you can see, DC SPECIAL was a home for reprints of all genres.

From MISTER MIRACLE #1, March-April 1971

The third book of Jack Kirby’s intertwined new series has my favorite Saladino logo of the three. This time the block letters of MIRACLE are thicker inside, with a thinner outline and a shallow open drop shadow for a second color. The first word is wide and much thinner, and provides contrast to put the emphasis on the important word. The arc adds interest and the whole logo is somehow more elegant than the other two.

This is a photocopy of the original logo, so we can’t check for corrections, but it looks the same. I like the way the drop shadow letters are joined in some places and not others.

From BATMAN #230, March 1971

A year after introducing the large Batman letters in this bat shape, Saladino did a new version cutting them in half to make room for ROBIN, whose logo seems to be typeset but might be lettered. I guess I will call this a new logo, though it’s only half of one at best.

From THE NEW GODS #2, April-May 1971

For the second issue of NEW GODS, ORION was added to the logo, with the rest reconfigured in a horizontal banner. The top line is by Gaspar, though surprisingly, the indent in the R of ORION is centered on the right side for a change, and it’s so small that the letter barely reads as an R.

From DC SPECIAL #12, May-June 1971

The original logo for this character was by Ira Schnapp, Gaspar’s version is more modern. The angle and shallow arc add interest, as does the larger V.

From YOUNG LOVE #86, May-June 1971

This Saladino logo replaced his previous one. Both suggest 1960s styles, but this one is simpler and less interesting to me. Sales on romance titles were probably continuing to fall, and this may be a case of, “We’ll do a new logo, that will fix it.” As if.

The original is just the same, I see no corrections.

From WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #203, June 1971

For a while, WORLD’S FINEST became a team-up book for Superman, as BRAVE AND BOLD was for Batman. Here Gaspar created a new bouncy Aquaman logo that’s quite different from the Ira Schnapp original. I like it, but I don’t think it would have worked on a solo title for the character.

From GHOSTS #1, Sept-Oct 1971

Murray Boltinoff was the editor of this new title with a fine scary logo by Gaspar on a large rolled scroll. Later only the book title would be retained. Boltinoff had been editing for the company since the early 1940s, usually as an assistant to Jack Schiff, but was now getting his own titles. Horror anthologies were doing well for the company, I assume.

From WEIRD WAR TALES #1, Sept-Oct 1971

Editor Joe Kubert joined in with this crossover horror book. The logo letter shapes are by Saladino while the figures in WEIRD are by Kubert, using a similar idea to the MAD Magazine logo. They seem to be piles of dead and dying soldiers, pretty gruesome. I wonder what young readers made of that?

From THE SINISTER HOUSE OF SECRET LOVE #1, Oct-Nov 1971

DC also tried to capture a gothic romance audience with this title from romance editor Dorothy Woolfolk. For a long time I thought it was done with type…

…but then I found this original logo in the DC files. Romance novel titles were probably the inspiration for the logo, which is elegant and beautifully done. Is it by Gaspar? It’s on regular DC art paper, so I have no reason to think otherwise. Perhaps he was also inspired by some of Ira Schnapp’s romance logos.

From HEART THROBS #135, Nov 1971

This interesting logo replaced a much blander one by Gaspar. I love the large ball-end serifs and elegant curves. Another logo that might have been influenced by romance novel covers.

The original logo from the DC files shows a fair amount of white correction paint and a pasted on section with a revised OB. The result works well for me.

This and the following images © Marvel. From CAPTAIN AMERICA #143, Nov 1971

Now we come to the beginning of Saladino’s logo work for Marvel. I don’t know what brought him there, but certainly his skill was well known to the many people he’d worked with at DC, and some of them were now at Marvel. Gaspar won the Shazam Award for best letterer for work done in 1971, as voted by his fellow professionals, which shows the respect and influence he had, and at the time Marvel’s line was growing, so new freelancers of every kind were wanted. The CAPTAIN AMERICA above is definitely by Gaspar, note the typical R shape. FALCON is very similar to the previous logo, and might simply have been reused from there. This logo only lasted a few issues, but I think it works well.

From SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS #93, Nov 1971

On this logo we again see a typical Saladino R shape, and the logo is clean and modern while also being bold and full of impact. It takes up less space than the Sol Brodsky-Artie Simek logo it replaced while being very readable. Despite that, it lasted only a few years before the Simek logo returned. There’s no doubt the original Marvel Age logos had a lot of impact and good memories for readers.

From ASTONISHING TALES #9, Dec 1971

Some of the Marvel logos I’m calling for Saladino in these articles have not been credited to him before, and are even a surprise to me, but I’ve based my calls on the Gaspar lettering I’ve been studying since I began working in comics, and similar work he did for DC. Here the R in KA-ZAR has the Saladino shape, and the texture inside the letters is similar to what he did on some of his DC horror logos. This logo also lasted about two years.

From CONAN THE BARBARIAN #12, Dec 1971

Finally we have this well-known logo. It replaced the first logo on the book that was probably designed by Sam Rosen. There’s nothing here that definitely says Saladino to me, but the Grand Comics Database says, “In the letters section of Conan # 45 it is revealed that Gaspar Saladino designed the new cover logo.” That’s good enough for me! The angular, rough-edged letters of CONAN were certainly in Gaspar’s toolbox, as was the ability to draw the sword. It adds energy and impact that weren’t as obvious in the first logo, and Marvel must have liked it, as it stayed on the book until 1990, quite a long run for any Marvel logo. Gaspar’s impact as a logo designer for the company was clear from this point on, even if readers didn’t know it.

To sum up, I found 21 logos designed by Saladino for comics with 1971 cover dates. He would do more the following year. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

5 thoughts on “GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS 1971

  1. J Leeds

    The “Captain” in the Captain America logo strongly resembles the “Mister” in Mister Miracle to me.

  2. Michael Gallaher

    I think the “Robin” in the Batman logo is probably typeset, since it appears to be the same used on THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD as of issue 92 (1970). I could have sworn I came across another use of this same type at DC in this era, but I can’t remember where I spotted it at the moment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.