GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS Jan-June 1973

From CRYPT OF SHADOWS #1, Jan 1973. Image © Marvel.

In this year, Gaspar was busy designing logos for both Marvel and DC. He was lettering house ads for DC, covers for both DC and Marvel (more for the former), lots of war stories and a sampling of stories from other genres at DC, including his ground-breaking story lettering for SWAMP THING that would win him another Shazam award for his work in this year. Gaspar took on an additional role at Marvel: lettering the first page of stories otherwise lettered by others. Marvel felt Saladino’s skill and creativity would draw in readers, and they were right in my case, even though it was a bait and switch of a sort. Nothing wrong with the lettering on the rest of the stories, but Gaspar’s first page was usually better. He was paid double rate for this, I believe, and somehow he also found time to occasionally letter stories for other publishers like Western, according to the Grand Comics Database, though I haven’t look at them to see what I think. Letterers spend the least amount of time on a comics page of the creative staff, in most cases, allowing them to take on many jobs at almost the same time, and Gaspar had more than two decades of steady work behind him to get fast. Even so, this was a lot to juggle, and I don’t know how he managed it.

The logo for CRYPT OF SHADOWS, above, is similar to other Saladino horror efforts except that it uses some drips at the bottom edges of the letters, in the style of some comics from the past. Perhaps that was intentional and asked for, I don’t know. Marvel did seem to want to remind readers of those horror books from the early 1950s, even using similar titles.

From FRANKENSTEIN #1, Jan 1973. Image © Marvel.

This is a looser, slightly cartoony style of horror logo, but I feel sure it’s also by Saladino. I can’t point to any one thing, it just uses shapes I associate with Gaspar’s lettering, and it’s certainly creative and eye-catching. The texture in the letters is another clue.

This and following images © DC Comics except as noted. From DOOM PATROL #122, Feb 1973

DC tried to bring back this series from a few years earlier using reprints, but it only lasted three issues. It had this new Saladino logo, which I think is better than the ones Ira Schnapp did. DOOM has a feeling of menace and PATROL makes it seem more modern.

From FOUR STAR BATTLE TALES #1, Feb-March 1973

The most interesting thing about the trade dress of this war reprint book is Gaspar’s use of four actual stars in place of the word STAR in the logo. Note the typical Saladino R shape.

From JOHNNY THUNDER #1, Feb-March 1973

The logo on this western reprint book reminds me of Artie Simek’s work at Marvel, but I feel sure it’s by Gaspar instead. Saladino may have been thinking of the jagged-ended logos Simek did on many Marvel westerns.

From JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #3, Feb 1973. Image © Marvel.

Meanwhile, at Marvel, Gaspar was asked to redesign the word MYSTERY on this title, replacing a jagged-ended Simek logo. Simek’s JOURNEY INTO was kept. This is again a looser style of horror logo. I like the join of the E and R, and the latter has the Saladino R shape. The lines between Gaspar’s work at DC and Marvel were blurring.

From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1, Feb 1973

DC tried this Legion reprint series with a new Saladino logo using block letters with telescoping in three lines. Very three-dimensional and reminiscent of Ira Schnapp. Many of these short-lived reprint books were edited by Jeff Rovin who has had a long career as a writer and editor for many companies, but who did not stay long at DC.

I found this dynamic, creative SHAZAM logo in the DC files, clearly by Gaspar, and intended for the new series about the original Captain Marvel DC was planning. It was never used.

From SHAZAM! #1, Feb 1973

Instead, DC went with this logo, which I’ve long thought was by cover artist (and original Captain Marvel artist) C.C. Beck, but according to Fawcett expert P.C. Hamerlink, Beck told him in the late 1970s that he had nothing to do with the logo. It sure doesn’t look like Gaspar’s work, except for ORIGINAL perhaps, but possibly Gaspar did it in a retro style using old Captain Marvel comics as reference. Or it could be by someone else such as Joe Letterese, working in the DC Production department. Since I can’t be sure, I’m not going to credit it.

From SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #2, Feb 1973. Image © Marvel.

This horror series at Marvel featured various characters, usually with logos by Saladino. This one begins with a horror look that fades into dotted lines to suggest invisibility, though the coloring doesn’t support that well.

From SWORD OF SORCERY #1, Feb-March 1973

Conan at Marvel showed this genre could be popular with readers, and new DC editor Denny O’Neil launched this title to house stories adapted from the work of fantasy writer Fritz Leiber about his characters Fafhrd and Grey Mouser. Gaspar’s logo is an unusual and interesting version of an Old English style with fanciful curves that captures the fantasy feel well. Sadly, the book only lasted five issues.

Gaspar’s original logo from the DC files is the same, but you can see the outlines better. It’s done on old DC cover paper with the old Schnapp DC bullet symbol and Comics Code seal printed on it. It looks like Gaspar inked circles for the new symbol and price, but they were not positioned right and were painted out, while the old code seal was cut and peeled away where it was close to the logo.

From VAULT OF EVIL #1, Feb 1973. Image © Marvel.

This new horror reprint title from Marvel ran 23 issues, all using a fine logo by Gaspar, somewhat similar to the one for CRYPT OF SHADOWS. Editor Roy Thomas had lots of 1950s Marvel horror stories to choose from for the contents. These book titles are deliberately meant to recall the EC horror comics of the early 1950s like CRYPT OF TERROR and VAULT OF HORROR, which had become fan favorites. The Marvel stories were less graphic and Comics Code approved. Saladino did not try to copy the EC logos, just did his usual horror thing.

From CREATURES ON THE LOOSE #22, March 1973. Image © Marvel.

An unusual logo style from Gaspar, somewhat similar to the one on FRANKENSTEIN. I might have missed it except for the Saladino R’s on WARRIOR. In style it’s somewhere between horror and heroic fantasy, but unique, with loose, rough slab serifs on THONGOR and open telescoping.

From DRACULA LIVES! #1, 1973. Image © Marvel.

Having had success with comic book horror, Marvel expanded into magazine-size black and white horror books along the lines of Warren’s CREEPY and EERIE. This fine Saladino logo uses dry brush on the angular letters of DRACULA that’s both artful and exciting, and unlike any Dracula logo before it.

From G.I. WAR TALES #1, March-April 1973

Another short-lived reprint book from editor Jeff Rovin. G.I. is from the Al Grenet logo for G.I. COMBAT done for Quality and used by DC as well. I can’t be sure Gaspar did the new, matching WAR, but he seems the likeliest person, and these ragged-edged letters were not a new style for him. Only partially new, but I’m still counting it as a logo for Gaspar.

From TRIGGER TWINS #1, March-April 1973

This western reprint book lasted only one issue, so was probably a test to see how it would sell. The new logo by Saladino is close to his horror style, and not very appropriate for a western or for the characters. Could this have confused readers? It seems unlikely, but who knows? Nice logo, just not the right one, in my opinion.

The original logo is the same, a few white paint corrections can be barely seen.

From SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE #130, April 1973

Gaspar did this new logo for the last eight issues of Lois Lane’s title. It pushes the LL which was a memorable aspect of this and many character names in Superman’s world. For once the top line almost fits the space…almost. Not one of Gaspar’s finer efforts, but better than the previous one in my view.

From SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #3, April 1973. Image © Marvel.

The third feature in this series has a Saladino logo with the word WORM done in curved thick pen strokes that overlap at the corners in places. Organic and creative, it commands attention, though not particularly suggesting fantasy or horror.

From AMAZING ADVENTURES #18, May 1973. Image © Marvel.

This one surprised me, a feature I loved as a reader. Note the characteristic Saladino R shapes and wonky perspective. It brings back good memories, though the series had little to do with the H.G. Wells novel.

THE AMAZING WORLD OF SUPERMAN, 1973

This tabloid-sized comic was created to promote a Superman theme-park that never opened. The Saladino R in WORLD and again the wonky perspective in the telescoping on both the top logo and the word SUPERMAN indicate the work of Gaspar. He was never comfortable trying to emulate Ira Schnapp’s famous Superman logo from 1940, and the results show it here, this one is not very good. Despite that, it’s an appealing cover overall.

From RED WOLF #7, May 1973. Image © Marvel

I’m not sure Saladino designed this logo, but it seems likely to me. The rough wood style is not one he used generally, but the details have a crisp look unlike other Marvel western logos of the time, and that suggests Gaspar.

From WORLDS UNKNOWN #1, May 1973. Image © Marvel

I would not have thought this logo was by Gaspar except for the Saladino R in Worlds, with the rest of that word looking like his work too. Could UNKNOWN have been lettered by someone else, or is this Gaspar getting loose with the pen and working in a hurry? Hard to be sure, but I’m counting it for him.

From THE HAUNT OF HORROR #1, June 1973. Image © Marvel

There’s no mistaking Saladino’s style on the word HORROR here for this digest-size reprint book.

From THE PHANTOM STRANGER #25, June-July 1973

This is more cover lettering than feature logo, but it was used on a run of PHANTOM STRANGER covers, so I think it qualifies. A larger and more logo-like version was on the following issue, and I will cover it in the next post. Very different from Gaspar’s Marvel Frankenstein logo.

From SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #4, June 1973. Image © Marvel.

This logo is again unmistakably by Gaspar, using two matching styles for the aspects of the character, one clean and modern, one horrific. Perfect.

For the first half of 1973, I count 24 logos by Saladino, quite a lot! There are more for this year in the next post. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

2 thoughts on “GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS Jan-June 1973

  1. Nick Marino

    Brilliant stuff! Gaspar was absolutely on fire with these. Hard to pick a fave with so many good ones in there… I guess Lois Lane or War of the Worlds if I *had* to choose? Trigger Twins is totally iconic too, would make an incredible film logo! Thanks for putting this together, always inspiring.

  2. Walt Grogan

    When I knew you were going to hit 1973, I thought, well, there’s no way Gaspar was involved with SHAZAM! since you had previously confirmed that C.C. Beck designed the published logo. As a major Captain Marvel fan, I was stunned to see that he did and thank you, Todd, for including it.

    Looking at Gaspar’s version, which I can only assume was designed first, one can see many of the elements that also appear in Beck’s version. From the outlining and overlapping of the letters, to the disproportionate cap heights of the strokes on the capital “H” as well as the non-conformity of the sizing of the letters. While I like that the diagonal strokes in the cap height of the “M” are ascendant over the rest of the letters, I’m surprised that he didn’t do the same with the letters “A’ and instead left the tops of them more as a bar. I think it would have been interesting to see diagonal strokes — but I’m not complaining! It’s a marvelous logo!

    It would be interesting to know who was in line to provide the art on the title before C.C. Beck was tapped to reprise his role.

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Todd!

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