GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS 1979-1982

All images © DC Comics. From DC SPECIAL SERIES #18, Fall 1979.

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.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #159, Feb 1980

While SHOWCASE had been cancelled, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD continued as a Batman team-up book. Gaspar created this logo for one such team-up. The character has a middle-eastern background, but in some stories a Chinese heritage, so the style for the main logo is not far wrong. The top line is perhaps meant to suggest an Arabian style.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #19, March 1980

There was an existing feature logo for Batgirl designed by John Workman, but perhaps the editor didn’t like it, so Saladino created this new one using block letters and a simplified bat shape. I actually like this better than the traditional bat shape with a character’s head in it. Surprisingly, Gaspar did not use his usual R, the indent on the right side is centered. He changed it up from time to time. The rest of the letter shapes look like his work to me.

From THE UNTOLD LEGEND OF THE BATMAN #1-3, July-Sept 1980

Here we have all the logos I can find by Gaspar for 1980. This book was edited by Paul Levitz and written by Len Wein, who if consulted, I’m sure would have wanted Gaspar to do the logos. The cover art is by José Luis García-López, who might have done a pencil layout for the computer logo in issue #2, but that’s a guess. Mostly, this looks to me like Gaspar all the way, and perhaps trying to impress with a different logo treatment on each issue.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #479, March 1981

As we enter 1981, Saladino is once more getting regular logo work from DC, but not nearly as much as he did from 1968 to 1978. Other designers were also doing some, but Gaspar’s talent for logos had not diminished, and his contributions were still valued. I think he did this new version of ADVENTURE COMICS in script, it’s not as consistent and well-crafted as Ira Schnapp’s version, or even as good as Gaspar’s previous one for the Black Orchid issues, but it does the job. His DIAL “H” FOR HERO logo is a great improvement on the one that had appeared years earlier in HOUSE OF MYSTERY, having a graceful arch and strong outlines with telescoping on HERO. I count this as two logos for Saladino.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #173, April 1981

The long-running overseers of the Green Lantern Corps received this fine Saladino logo on a Batman team-up in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. Gaspar is using a different style of R here that I like, and I also like the extensions on the G and V.

From TALES OF THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1, May 1981

Saladino added to his existing Green Lantern logo for this mini-series. The result is an odd shape, but pleasingly symmetrical. The flames on each side going behind the trade dress might have been added by someone else. OF THE looks like type.

From DC SPECIAL SERIES #26, Summer 1981

This logo appeared on a tabloid-size comic. AND HIS INCREDIBLE is headline type, but the rest is by Saladino. He has come up with a creative variation on the letter S, and I love the way OF fits into the space between the L and the I.

From THE BEST OF DC #14, July 1981

DC had success with their digest-sized titles, most often used for reprints, and this one features a fine Saladino logo. His take on BATMAN is different and appealing, and VILLAINS is in a slightly more block version of his horror style with thick rough borders and inner texture. The deep telescoping gives it more of a superhero flavor.

From MADAME XANADU #1, July 1981

This character first appeared in the horror anthology DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE. When that was cancelled it left some stories unpublished, and they were put out in this one-shot with an unusual Saladino logo. Rather than going in a horror direction, this seems more heroic, as if in a nod to Marvel’s X-Men franchise. It does work perfectly with the cover art.

From ALL-STAR SQUADRON #1, Sept 1981

My favorite Saladino logo from this period is this one, both a modern superhero logo and also a tribute to its origin, ALL-STAR COMICS, which Gaspar might have enjoyed reading when he was growing up. Notice the graceful curves of the big S and A in STAR, and ALL has bounce to attract attention. The star in the lower A is a nice touch, and the telescoping, gentle arch and backward slant all help make this a memorable logo.

From ARAK, SON OF THUNDER #1, Sept 1981

As you can see, by the summer of 1981, DC was again doing well enough to try new things, like this series about pre-European America with a native-American hero. The short word ARAK was perfect for the epic move-title treatment with thick, rough outlines and inner textures, so big it runs off the cover at the top. The second line is great Saladino rough lettering, and the telescoping pulls it together.

From KRYPTON CHRONICLES #1, Sept 1981

This mini-series also has a very large, epic logo emphasizing KRYPTON in a style somewhat like the Superman logo by Ira Schnapp above it, with CHRONICLES filling in the space below. It’s a long title and a very tall logo, but the cover artist Ross Andru and Dick Giordano, made room for it. Note that the R in KRYPTON does not quite follow the usual Saladino style of lowered notch on the right side, but the one in CHRONICLES does.

A photocopy of the original logo from the DC files is the same, and you can see some evidence of where the Superman logo was cut out of a photostat and pasted on, probably where Gaspar had indicated it should go.

From DC SPECIAL BLUE RIBBON DIGEST #14, Oct 1981

Another DC digest-size comic features this Saladino logo using wide block letters with narrower horizontal shapes, which adds variety. INVADERS has a Gaspar scary style.

In the fall of 1981, DC was planning a new title combining the genres of funny animals and superheroes. This logo was commissioned from Gaspar, and I think it’s creative and clever, but apparently the creators or the editor didn’t like it. Having the character name made out of carrots is, perhaps, not the best idea. It makes it seem too organic and kind of scruffy. Gaspar’s logo was used on a house ad for the book that ran in February 1982 titles, the image above is the best one I can find of it. For the actual book, they had me design another logo, along more typical superhero lines:

From CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW #1, March 1982

The weird thing to me is that I have no memory of ever seeing Gaspar’s version, but the general layout of my logo is similar to his, so I must have. In retrospect, I should have dropped all the perspective lines, as I did with ZOO CREW, it looks cleaner and less complicated that way. Gaspar’s nearly unused version still counts.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #185, April 1982

I really like this clever Saladino logo for Green Arrow, who had never had a good solo logo to this point despite being a regular character since 1941. The bullseye for the O and the arrow pointing to the center of it are, if you pardon the joke, right on target. The same logo was used for a Green Arrow mini-series the following year. One odd thing is that the W is not slanted like the rest.

A photocopy of the original logo from the DC files is the same, but you can see some details better like the very narrow open drop shadow and the rough edges of the target.

From THE SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #1, May 1982

Swamp Thing, especially the original run by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson, had continued to be a fan favorite, and DC decided to launch a new series for him, this time with Wein as the editor. To avoid confusion, a cool new top line was added by Gaspar to his wonderful original series logo, though on the first issue, that’s somewhat different because the inner textures have been removed to show cover art. The textures were there on most issues. Only the top line is new, but it appeared on most issues until #30, so I’m counting it as a new logo.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #46, June 1982

This feature logo uses a globe as an appropriate background. The Saladino block letters are enhanced by several curly serifs to give it a unique look.

From THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #1, June 1982

Firestorm had first appeared in a five-issue series in 1978 that was cut short by the “DC Implosion.” That series had a logo by John Workman. The character remained popular, and starred in this new series with a logo by Saladino that takes the idea of burning letters in a new direction. The angle of the bottom line gives it a three-dimensional feel, and the entire logo has a flag-wave shape that adds interest and energy, as do the flames around it.

This photocopy of the original logo from the DC files suggests it was intended to be used at this angle, with the FIRESTORM letters aligned vertically. I think it works fine either way.

From THE BEST OF DC #27, Aug 1982

It’s odd that few DC villains had received logos over the years, so for this title, Saladino had to design one. LUTHOR uses block letters with small serifs and raised bevels. There’s nothing tied to the character, but it works fine.

From NIGHT FORCE #1, Aug 1982

I remember how delighted editor and writer Marv Wolfman was with this Saladino logo for his new horror series, and who better to design it? Most DC horror titles had been anthologies, this one featured a group of regular characters and a continuing storyline. Gaspar has combined his horror style with some super-heroic elements like backward-leaning letters and telescoping. The skull in the O, probably by artists Gene Colan and Dick Giordano, adds the perfect spooky element.

The original logo from the DC files shows that the top line was part of the logo, and you can see that the skull was done separately and pasted in place. The Saladino R shape is present.

Finally, we have this logo by Gaspar using his superhero style block letters and wonky wide-screen perspective. I don’t know when it was done, but this use in a comics ad is dated 1979, so I’ll put it here. DC and Marvel teamed up to jointly trademark the words (and logo) SUPER HEROES in order to keep other companies from using it. I don’t know how successful this was, but I remember seeing this logo on all kinds of merchandise in the 1980s.

to sum up, I found 25 logos by Gaspar for these years. His logo work had been much reduced, but the quality of it was as fine as ever. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

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