GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS 1976

All images © DC Comics except as noted. From 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #10, Jan 1976.

After the truckload of extra logo work in 1975, Gaspar settled back into his usual busy design role for DC Comics and Marvel Comics for books cover-dated 1976. This was a Joe Simon concept that did not go further. The S shapes are ones Gaspar began to use more often at this time, with the top and bottom loops extending toward the center. The bottom loop on the first S has been made wider to fill in the extra space next to the T, which only bothered me when I finally noticed it just now.

From BLITZKRIEG #1, Jan-Feb 1976.

Leave it to editor Joe Kubert and writer Robert Kanigher to use a German word for a DC war book title, one that had to be explained in the tag line. Gaspar used a style suggesting German blackletter fonts, but simplified to be more readable, and with lightning bolts over each I to add interest.

A photocopy of the original logo from the DC files shows it was designed with a typical Saladino outer shape for a second color, and I think it works better this way. This version was only used on the fifth and final issue.

From HOWARD THE DUCK #1, Jan 1976, image © Marvel.

This one surprised me, but having gone through all the Marvel logos by Saladino to this point, there’s no doubt in my mind he also did this one. HOWARD is classic Saladino block letters with open telescoping, and DUCK is reminiscent of his teen humor work. THE might be type. Great contrast to play up the humor of the idea.

From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #1, (Jan) 1976, image © Marvel.

In 1975, Marvel bought the rights to some classic literature comics adaptations prepared by Vincent Fago, the first few had been published a few years earlier by Pendulum Press. With this material Marvel launched their own version of the Gilberton CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED line, continuing on with new material after the Fago issues were finished. I believe the feature logos were a regular assignment for Gaspar for the first twelve issues. The feature logo above looks like his work and has appropriate contrast between the two sides of the character. I don’t think he lettered the bottom line. He might have drawn the ribbon and book, I’m not sure, but I think he did letter the story titles in the ribbon.

From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #2, (Jan) 1976, image © Marvel.

This one is less typical of Saladino’s work, but creative touches like the sand dial, the clock over the I, and the arrow in the E suggest he lettered it.

From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #3, (Jan) 1976, image © Marvel.

I feel more certain this one is by Saladino due to the R shape and also a style of K he was using at this time. Perhaps this was all handled like cover lettering rather than a logo design for billing purposes. They still count as cover logos in my book.

From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #3, (Jan) 1976, image © Marvel.

Another that seems definitely in Saladino’s wheelhouse, so I think it’s likely he did all four of these feature logos for the line’s first releases, and perhaps at the same time.

From MARVEL PREVIEW #4, Jan 1976, image © Marvel.

This feature logo has the Saladino R shapes, and the perspective on the telescoping is faked in the way he often did it to save time. There are some odd elements like the dash, which should have the same depth of telescoping as the rest, but appears to end sooner, and the horizontal back edge, but in general it works fine, and few would have noticed those things.

From 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #11, Feb 1976

The assignment here was simple: a logo suggesting something stenciled on a military top secret file. It works well.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #140, Feb-March 1976

This odd logo is probably by Saladino, the clever stitched lines inside the letters suggest that, and while the letter shapes aren’t like anything he usually did, they indicate his creativity.

From MARVEL CHILLERS #3, Feb 1976, image © Marvel.

Gaspar went with very square-cornered block letters for TIGRA, and Simek-influenced broken ends. THE WERE-WOMAN is more typical of his horror lettering, and provides contrast. Note that, with printing presses of the time, color registration was not as predictable or consistent as it is now, so the magenta ink used for the TIGRA outlines was out of alignment on this copy, creating those yellow edges.

From 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #12, March 1976

Perhaps the least known of DC’s many versions of Starman, he had just one feature appearance in this tryout title with a fine Saladino logo, three-dimensionally curved block letters decorated with stars.

A photocopy of the original logo from the DC files, but overexposed so the star shapes look thinner than they actually were. Here the openings in each A were replaced with a single star, but that was revised for the printed version.

From DC SUPER-STARS #1, March 1976

This new anthology was mostly for reprints, and Gaspar’s wide but small logo left lots of room for each issue’s feature logo.

From FOUR STAR SPECTACULAR #1, March-April 1976

Another new anthology for superhero stories, Gaspar’s logo impresses with attention-grabbing block letters and effective telescoping that pops it off the page. There’s one odd error below the last A. Perhaps Gaspar forgot to draw the vertical side, and someone finished it incorrectly. Without checking, if this is fake perspective, it’s more carefully done than usual, and looks right.

From FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1, March-April 1976

These wide block letters don’t immediately suggest Saladino, but the appropriate flag wave shape does, and also the thin organic lines used to create separations for the colors in each letter, the same thing he did for his very first DC logo for Sgt. Rock in 1963.

A photocopy of the original logo from the DC files shows those dividing lines better. Gaspar often came up with original ideas. Another is the drop shadow which doesn’t show on the printed cover, where each section is smaller top and bottom than the shape it is cast from, as if the logo is in a bright spotlight and raised just a little off the background. It’s more visible on other issues.

From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #5, (April) 1976, image © Marvel Comics.

Four of these were released in each quarter of the year. This one has charming ball-end serifs.

From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #6, (April) 1976, image © Marvel Comics.
From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #7, (April) 1976, image © Marvel Comics.
From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #8, (April) 1976, image © Marvel Comics.

Not a lot to say about these individually, but the variety is admirable, and Gaspar’s talent keeps them from seeming like stuffy old literature, and instead makes them exciting, which is just what Marvel wanted.

From DC SPECIAL #22, June-July 1976

This issue paired a new story about the Three Musketeers with reprints of Robin Hood from the 1950s. The top logo is a new one by Saladino. He makes it a little shorter by using a number 3, and in general it’s his roughened and energetic version of Old English. the Robin Hood logo is by Ira Schnapp from the 1950s, and his more traditional approach with Celtic capitals and Old English for the rest makes a good comparison of their different approaches.

From THE ETERNALS #1, July 1976, image © Marvel Comics

Another Marvel logo that surprised me, but it has the Saladino R, slab serifs (which no one else but Gaspar seemed to use at the time) and open telescoping with THE in perspective. The top line is also by Saladino and probably done at the same time. I like this logo better now that I did when it first appeared.

From SUPER DC GIANT #27, Summer (July) 1976

What kind of logo would be appropriate for a collection of stories from STRANGE ADVENTURES about flying saucers? Gaspar knew, but his execution doesn’t really work very well as a saucer. I do like the letter shapes and it reads fine.

The original logo from the DC files shows he had trouble with that saucer shape, it has white correction paint at the upper sides. The speed lines on FLYING show up better here, and that word is full of motion.

From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #9, (July) 1976, image © Marvel.

This version of Dracula is very close to the one Saladino did for DRACULA LIVES in 1973, but curved and with a second rough outline.

From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #10, (July) 1976, image © Marvel.
From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #11, (July) 1976, image © Marvel.
From MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #12, (July) 1976, image © Marvel.

The last set of these by Saladino are just as varied and creative as the earlier ones. I particularly like his Art Deco approach to issue #12. After this, the series continued with new material produced by Marvel, and the logos look like they were done by staffers such as Danny Crespi.

From RAGMAN #1, Aug-Sept 1976

This logo was one of the most technically complex of its time, and it was a collaboration. Joe Kubert had the concept of letters filled with a variety of diverse cloth pieces, and he and DC production head Jack Adler put that together on the DC photostat camera in the darkroom. Adler photographed it to get the best contrast in a black and white image (held in red here). Gaspar created the letter shapes and outlines, which were photostatted on acetate, then the areas between the two outlines were painted with white paint on the back of the acetate, like an animation cell, so that the fabric pieces only showed through inside the letters when it was photographed on top of the previous image made by Adler. I’ve written at length about the creation of this logo HERE. I feel Gaspar should receive at least partial credit for it with Kubert, and I will count it as a logo for him.

From MARVEL TREASURY EDITION #9, Sept 1976, image © Marvel.

Okay, everyone who sees many familiar Saladino ideas in this logo raise your hand. Yes, it’s too long and a bit wonky, with perspective going in two conflicting directions, but it works for me.

From ISIS #1, Oct-Nov 1976

This logo is similar to a shiny, metallic beveled one associated with the TV show, though I can’t pinpoint if it was actually used on TV at the time. In any case, Gaspar did his usual black line version of it, and he had trouble figuring out how to make the bevels work on the S’s. It doesn’t really work as far as I can tell, they seem to switch from raised to incised in odd ways that are neither, but it looks fine on the covers as long as you don’t look at it too long or too closely as we are here.

From DC SUPER STARS #9, Nov 1976

If you show a gun on the cover, you must use it inside, to misquote an old theater adage. I guess that also applies to the giant word GUN, and Saladino used it well to grab attention.

From WELCOME BACK, KOTTER #1, Nov 1976

DC was trying to get back into TV tie-ins, and in this case, Gaspar’s version of the TV logo is far better than the one on the show. It looks like he used dry brush on textured paper to get that chalk look for the letters, which were then held in white to complete the idea. It looked better on dark blue or dark green chalkboards on later covers.

From MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #31, Dec 1976, image © Marvel.

Saladino is definitely using Artie Simek broken ends here, but the R is in his style, as is the K of NICK. The extended Y for the bottom line is a nice touch.

From THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #1, Dec 1976, image © Marvel.

Another logo that surprised me, but it again has Saladino R’s and K in the top two lines. The telescoping was filled black here, but it was lettered open in Gaspar’s usual way, and shows up thus on later issues. The S in SPIDER-MAN is a graceful double loop that I like, but MAN is leaning to the right for no good reason.

From MARVEL TREASURY EDITION #13, Dec 1976, image © Marvel.

Finally, we have that large appealing Saladino logo that uses arced serif letters for HOLIDAY with an open drop shadow and Saladino R’s in the other lines.

To sum up, I found 34 Gaspar Saladino logos in DC and Marvel books with 1976 cover dates, about half of what he did in the previous year, but still quite a lot on top of his other lettering work. There’s more to come, but the busiest years for Gaspar’s logo designs were winding down now as other designers began to gain assignments at both companies.

Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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