GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS 1986-2015

All images © DC Comics except as noted. From LEGIONNAIRES 3 #1, Feb 1986

Gaspar Saladino continued to create logos for DC Comics regularly, but not nearly as often as in the past, from 1986 to 1988. Then his logo output nearly stopped, as far as I can tell, with just one for DC in 1991 and none after that. In a sense he had been replaced by younger designers, just as he had replaced Ira Schnapp beginning in 1967. I don’t know what he thought about this, but Gaspar continued to do story lettering and cover lettering for the company for some time. Digital desktop publishing was gradually making its way into comics, and newer companies like Image and Malibu were pioneers in establishing an all-digital workflow around 1994, including digital lettering by Comicraft and others. DC was much slower to adopt digital, but by the late 1990s, covers were being assembled that way, and I was doing a lot of DC’s cover lettering digitally on my first Apple computer. Gaspar had no interest in learning computer lettering, so he was gradually shut out of his first and best market, DC. He continued to hand-letter comics stories for the company until DC made the switch to an all-digital workflow in 2002. At that point, Gaspar was essentially retired as a DC letterer. He turned 75 that year, and I think he was content to enjoy his family and they spent a lot of time in Florida as well as Long Island. Gaspar was occasionally called on by DC for his unique hand lettering on covers, including for the BATMAN ’66 series beginning with issue #3 in 2013, something I think he enjoyed. That work extended Gaspar’s DC career to seven decades, an amazing feat in itself.

As I mentioned in the first article in this series, Saladino’s Wikipedia page credits him with logo designs for Neal Adams’ Continuity Associates and also Eclipse Comics in the 1980s, but I’ve looked at every cover by both publishers and I don’t see any work by Gaspar. The Wikipedia page also says he did product logos for Eclipse editor cat yronwode’s separate business Lucky Mojo Curio Company in the 1990s, and I do see some of those in online images, but as they’re not comics logos, I won’t attempt to cover them here. One final comics logo came from Gaspar late in his career, and I will include it at the end of this article.

DC editor Karen Berger was one of the few younger editors at the company who seemed to appreciate Gaspar’s logo work, and he did a fine one, above, for a Legion of Super-Heroes mini-series. The lightning bolt slash of the giant L lines up with the top of the large 3 to make it memorable.

A photostat of the original logo from the DC files is the same. I like the way the S is curved at the top and straighter at the bottom, and also the old-style 3.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #91, March 1986

With issue #90, this title replaced my original series logo with a new one that emphasized SUPERMAN & and had space for the other team-up character. I’m not sure who did the repeating design, I don’t think it was Gaspar, but he did do this character logo for Captain Comet. I’m a bit surprised it doesn’t lean to the right, but at least the speed lines add motion and interest.

From DEADMAN #1, March 1986

I think this is one of Gaspar’s best logos of the 1980s. His talent for horror logos was still strong, and a perfect choice for Deadman. I like it much better than Ira Schnapp’s original. You can almost see rotting flesh sagging down from the ragged, textured letters, a fitting idea for the character.

The original logo from the DC files is the same, I don’t see any changes or corrections. Perfect as executed.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #93, May 1986

Another character logo for this title by Saladino, and again his letter S is different and appealing.

From TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #65, May 1986

This series usually had a logo by me, but for one issue, Gaspar created this distorted version for the surface of a balloon that I think is better. Not an easy job, but in Gaspar’s hands it was no problem.

From BLUE BEETLE #1, June 1986

Blue Beetle was a character with a long history in comics from several publishers. Gaspar’s logo for the DC series is his interpretation of the last logo used by Charlton Comics for the character in 1967-68. It’s quite similar except for the thin-line inner shapes and the open telescoping.

A photostat of the original logo from the DC files is the same, but the thick borders on the letter outlines can be seen better.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #94, June 1986

These three characters were new and essential parts of the first major company crossover event at DC, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” which had its own series but affected the entire line in many ways. These character logos were all used other places as well as on this cover, so I will count them as three new logos for Saladino.

From HEROES AGAINST HUNGER #1, Aug 1986

This was a charity fundraiser, the second one I can think of, the other being a similar one from Marvel that came out first in 1985, HEROES FOR HOPE. Gaspar’s logo is classy and epic. I like the way the two H’s meet.

From TEEN TITANS SPOTLIGHT #1, Aug 1986

A new series featuring individual Teen Titans members and allies, Gaspar’s classic block letters and telescoping work fine and leave lots of room for the character logo on each issue.

From COSMIC BOY #1, Dec 1986

Another Legion of Super-Heroes mini-series with a cool Saladino logo. I love the symmetry and style of the giant C’s.

From ELVIRA’S HOUSE OF MYSTERY SPECIAL #1, March 1987

I felt TV horror host Elvira was never a good match for DC Comics. I did the logo for her version of HOUSE OF MYSTERY, but never liked it or the book. This special has a logo by Gaspar that starts with the character’s trademarked signature in outline form that probably had to be shown in full by contract, and the rest of the title is crammed small below it in Saladino’s horror style. I can’t see how he could have done much better with what he was given.

From SECRET ORIGINS #12, March 1987

SECRET ORIGINS was an anthology where original and retold origins could become new stories. Most issues had two, and on this one Gaspar has created a new logo for a character that probably never had one. Note his use of an implied unconnected drop shadow, a new idea for comics logos that was just coming into use. It works best on lighter backgrounds, not so well over the brown area.

From SLASH MARAUD #1, Nov 1987

This great brush-style logo was designed by Gaspar from a layout by series artist Paul Gulacy, according to Paul. It would be interesting to see that layout, but I haven’t found it. Gaspar’s brush technique is excellent, as always, and the outer border makes room for a second color.

From CAPTAIN ATOM #15, May 1988

While this was probably handled as cover lettering by Gaspar, it’s a new character logo that takes center stage at the top of the cover, so I count it as a logo. Multiple open drop shadows was another new idea in logo design that Gaspar picked up on.

From POWER GIRL #1, June 1988

Saladino had designed a logo for this character in SHOWCASE appearances in 1978. His new logo is a very different approach with some interesting letter shapes like the P and R with unconnected loops.

From SWAMP THING #110, Aug 1991

SWAMP THING had been a great success for DC, even beyond the groundbreaking issues written by Alan Moore, and as time went on, a type-based logo replace Gaspar Saladino’s original masterpiece. In 1991, editor Karen Berger decided to return to something more organic, and commissioned this new design from Gaspar. It was his last logo for DC as far as I can tell, and it’s a gem. It goes it a different direction from his first one, but it’s still an amazing example of finely-crafted letters made with dry brush outlines, and the liquid outer shape is perfect for a swamp creature, too.

The original logo from the DC files is even more impressive, as you can see the details of the brushwork and inner texture better. Despite the brilliance of this design, it was only used for 18 issues, and then Gaspar’s logo design talent was put aside for other new ideas by younger creators, and he did no more logos for DC that I know of.

From JOE FRANKENSTEIN #1, Feb 2015, image © Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan

In 2012 I was contacted by artist Graham Nolan to see if I could design a logo for a project he was working on with writer Chuck Dixon that they would publish themselves. The logo was needed quickly, and I didn’t have time, but I had been talking to Gaspar recently, and thought he might be interested. I hooked Graham up with Gaspar, and he did this fine logo for the project, which didn’t see print until 2015. I’ve written more about this HERE, an article which includes Gaspar’s logo sketches, the only ones I’ve seen, well worth a look. At the time, Clem Robins, another letterer friend of Gaspar’s, was finding other small jobs for him, and Clem, Gaspar and I all thought this might be a chance for Gaspar to get back into lettering at least in a small way. That happened a few times, but Gaspar’s health was gradually failing, and this was the only late career logo design he did as far as I know before he passed in 2016.

Image © Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan

Here’s the original inked logo, scan courtesy of Graham. While perhaps not as impressive as Gaspar’s horror logos from the 1970s, it’s quite good for a designer at the age of 85, and I think it works well. Too bad he didn’t get the chance to use his talent more in his later years.

To sum up, I found 19 logos by Saladino in this period. A total of all the logos in this series comes to 409, a legacy of design work that was enjoyed by countless readers when it was being published, and will continue to be remembered and appreciated by fans for years to come. I hope these articles will help by putting a name to that work, and any corrections or additions that come to light will be added as I get them. The entire series is on my LOGO LINKS page.

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