GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS 1974

Images © DC Comics and Marvel respectively. From Marvel’s FEAR #20, Feb 1974.

From the fall of 1973 to the fall of 1974, when books with 1974 cover-dates were being produced, Gaspar Saladino continued to be very busy with all kinds of lettering work for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, including logo designs. This one is for a new Vampire character, Morbius, for which he used standard block letters except for the word MORBIUS itself, which has rough-edged ones. The R in VAMPIRE has the signature Saladino style with the indent on the right side lowered so it looks like a P with the right leg added. I don’t know where Gaspar got that idea, but it stayed with him. THE MAN CALLED looks like type.

From POWER MAN #17, Feb 1974, Marvel Comics.

I’m not sure this logo is by Gaspar, but it does have the Saladino R shape, so I’m including it here. The top line is more typical of Gaspar than the bottom one, but both are in his style range, I’m just not sure about the letter shapes in POWER MAN, which are not ones he used often, and don’t convey the idea of power very strongly. I will call it for him unless I learn it’s by someone else. The logo was only used for a few issues.

From VAMPIRE TALES #9, Feb 1974, Marvel Comics.

There’s no mistaking Saladino’s horror style on this logo, a revision of the one he’d done for the first issue. The ragged letter shapes are full of energy.

From THE SUPERMAN FAMILY #164, April-May 1974 from DC Comics

In this year DC started experimenting with 100-page anthologies for 60 cents, a return to the glory days of comics as far as length, though unlike the anthologies of the past, these were a mix of new and reprinted stories. This one took the place of SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN, and he and other Superman friends and relations filled out the book. Gaspar’s take on SUPERMAN is similar to what he’d done on SUPERBOY, but with telescoping on backward-leaning letters and a three-dimensional base filled with the word FAMILY. The lower word could have filled the space better, but it looks okay otherwise, though it’s lacking in flair and a bit dull. It worked for editor Julius Schwartz, now handling all Superman material.

The original logo from the DC files is about the same except for THE. It looks like there’s a small hand-lettered one inside the S at the top covered in white tape, and an open version in headline type has been added, but wasn’t used on the cover because of the Jimmy Olsen intro. It’s interesting to see that SUPERMAN is not connected to the base at all, though the coloring connects it on the cover. I don’t see how that could have worked otherwise. The telescoping lines are not in true perspective, and I think there should have been one for the middle horizontal of the S, but something is covered there, and that could be it. Not one of Gaspar’s better efforts.

From UNCANNY TALES #3, April 1974, Marvel Comics.

With this issue, Gaspar’s logo from the first issue was replace by a new one adding FROM THE GRAVE to the cover, but not the indicia. This is the only logo I know of where Gaspar used wavy lines to suggest something ghostly, even though that was a popular technique for comics. He kept the corners crisp and pointed, so it works fine for me. FROM THE seems to have a border that’s too thick, perhaps that was an afterthought or editorial request.

From WORLDS UNKNOWN #6, April 1974, Marvel Comics.

Gaspar’s previous logo for this book was replaced by a much smaller one as the top line to make room for a feature logo. Based on a story by science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, the word KILLDOZER seems unintentionally funny the way Sharknado is to me, but Marvel and Saladino were obviously taking it seriously.

From THE HAUNT OF HORROR #1, May 1974, Marvel Comics.

Another Saladino horror logo for a Marvel black and white magazine-sized comic. The second line is definitely Gaspar’s work, and features a very thick rough outline perhaps done with a brush. The top line could be type, not sure.

From GIANT-SIZE SUPER-HEROES #1, June 1974, Marvel Comics.

The Giant-Size comics line Marvel was cranking out in this year often had logos that were too long and of wildly uneven styles. The word GIANT-SIZE is not by Gaspar, it was used on many titles and is probably by either Danny Crespi or Morrie Kuramoto, Marvel staffers who did some logo work. SUPER-HEROES could be by Saladino, it has the right R shapes and is otherwise consistent with his work, but SPIDER-MAN again looks like Marvel staff lettering, as Gaspar would never have done the S in the word that way in my opinion. There are a few more logo puzzles like this in the Giant-Size line, and I’m not going to call them for Saladino, as I’m not sure who did what. It’s possible Danny or Morrie was imitating Gaspar’s style at times, as I can’t see why Marvel would have paid him to letter one third of a logo otherwise done by staffers.

From MONSTERS OF THE MOVIES #1, June 1974, Marvel Comics.

A black and white magazine sized book from Marvel with minimal comics content, but I think the word MONSTERS is by Saladino in his familiar horror style, though the use of slab serifs is different.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #149, June-July 1974, DC Comics.

Editor and cover artist Joe Kubert had been putting the feature logo THE LOSERS into his cover art in many different shapes and styles for about two years, then began using a regular logo I think Joe himself might have done for about a year, not very good in my opinion. Finally, with this issue, he had Gaspar design a new logo that I think works well, even if it’s rather tall. Ira Schnapp’s title logo remained at the top, but this feature logo was used until the Jan-Feb 1978 issue, including the ones with Jack Kirby art. The character names and FEATURING are type. It’s interesting to see that even where nearly all the corners are straight angles, the R still has half of that curve Gaspar used often for the indent on the right side. Once you see it, you can’t help wondering why it doesn’t match the rest.

From STRANGE TALES #174, June 1974, Marvel Comics.

We’re back on steady ground with this fine Saladino logo that offers many familiar features and some unusual letter shapes. In this case, I think Gaspar did the bottom line too, but I could be wrong. It’s not type, in my opinion. I would not have covered so much of the G with the circles, but otherwise I like this.

From SUPERMAN FAMILY #165, June-July 1974, DC Comics.

Starting with the second issue, editor Julius Schwartz had Saladino design new feature logos for the stories in this new anthology, something that DC did rarely now. I really like this one for Krypto. I’d always thought him a bit silly, but this logo actually gives him superhero status.

A photocopy of the original from the DC files is just the same, and even more appealing in black and white. I wish Gaspar had done a Superboy logo in this style.

From SUPERMAN FAMILY #165, June-July 1974, DC Comics.

The feature logo for Perry White is not as successful because the Daily Planet symbol is poorly done and way off-model compared to the way it looked on the top of the Daily Planet building in the comics.

From SUPERMAN FAMILY #165, June-July 1974, DC Comics.

I like Superbaby better. The gentle arc and slant imply movement, and the shape behind holds it together.

From WORLDS UNKNOWN #7, June 1974, Marvel Comics.

I’m not sure Gaspar lettered this feature logo, but it doesn’t look like the work of Danny Crespi, who did the cover lettering, or anyone else at Marvel at the time, and Gaspar did logos for the rest of the series. The letter shapes are creative and just slightly suggest something Arabian.

From CREATURES ON THE LOOSE #30, July 1974, Marvel Comics

This logo has MAN in block letters and WOLF in Saladino horror shapes, nicely illustrating the idea.

From GIANT-SIZE CREATURES #1, July 1974, Marvel Comics.

Another logo mess on this Giant-Size title. I’m more inclined to think CREATURES is by Saladino, and WEREWOLF is in the style of his WEREWOLF BY NIGHT logo, but the spacing between letters and the outline are both wonky. This could again be by Danny Crespi, so I’m not calling it for Saladino.

From PLANET OF THE APES #1, Aug 1974, Marvel Comics.

A solid entry from Gaspar with creative touches like the extended middle arm of the E’s and the spacing of TH. Futuristic but on a grand scale, appropriate for a film tie-in.

From THE HUMAN TORCH #1, Sept 1974, Marvel Comics.

A handsome logo using the Saladino approach to burning letters with wind-swept flames at the top and crumbling letter edges there also. The telescoping gives it depth and impact, and I like the way the flames merge with it.

From OMAC #1, Sept-Oct 1974, DC Comics.

Another futuristic logo for this Jack Kirby creation. The shape of the M is particularly original. With issue #4, the question mark was replace with CORPS, spelling out the full abbreviated name.

From SUPERMAN FAMILY #167, Oct-Nov 1974, DC Comics.

Another batch of feature logos was commissioned from Saladino for this issue of SUPERMAN FAMILY. They follow a similar plan. The smaller black lettering is Cooper Black type done with Letraset adhesive letters or DC’s headline phototypesetting machine.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #183, Nov-Dec 1974, DC Comics.

The word WAR in this style in a double-outlined round-cornered box had been on this Joe Kubert-edited war title for about a year with a different STAR SPANGLED, possibly type. I don’t think Gaspar was involved, it might have been by Kubert himself. With this issue, Gaspar has lettered STAR SPANGLED, though WAR remains the same, and also UNKNOWN SOLDIER in a similar style. I’m not positive Gaspar did the feature logo, but it makes sense that if he was revising the book title, he would do both.

With issue #205 dated April-May 1977, Unknown Soldier took over the title, continuing the numbering, and with this revised logo. Both words are the same, but UNKNOWN has slightly thinner outlines and SOLDIER is larger to fill the space horizontally. This version may have been put together by a DC production person, but I will credit the logo on both these books as one new entry for Saladino.

From THE SANDMAN #1, Winter (Dec) 1977, DC Comics.

My favorite Sandman comic that I didn’t letter! I love this Saladino logo for the Jack Kirby version of DC’s Sandman. Joe Simon was also involved in the creation, and an unused cover with Kirby art I found online is signed by him, “Joe Simon, Simon & Kirby.”

It’s possible the logo and word balloon were added by Joe Simon, and the logo does look more complex than what Kirby was likely to do, but it could be his. Perhaps Mark Evanier will weigh in on this one. In any case, Gaspar must have seen this pencilled logo sketch and based his design on it. There aren’t a lot of similarities other than the general shape and telescoping, but you can see it was the genesis.

Gaspar’s original logo from the DC files is the same and I see no changes or corrections. The small serifs add interest, and I like the way the open telescoping is handled.

From SUPERMAN FAMILY #168, Dec 1974-Jan 1975, DC Comics.

Two more feature logos for this title, and as is often the case with villains, they have more interesting logos than the heroes and sidekicks. Gaspar is quite creative with these, and each was used later in other places. I particularly like the way MR. is tilted on its side and MXY are joined. The K is also unusual. Brainiac’s computer style is now kind of old-hat, but innovative for the time.

To sum up, I count 25 Saladino logos for books cover-dated 1974. Less than the previous year, but Gaspar’s busiest logo-design year is coming up next. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

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