GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS Jan-May 1975

From PHOENIX #1, Jan 1975, image © Nemesis Group inc.

We’ve come to Gaspar Saladino’s busiest year for logo designs. Not only was he continuing to create them for both DC and Marvel Comics, he was crafting logos for a new line published under the Atlas name, but known as Atlas/Seaboard or simply Seaboard today to avoid confusion with Marvel, who also used the Atlas name in the 1950s. Atlas/Seaboard was begun by Marvel Comics founder Martin Goodman, who had sold his interest in Marvel in 1968 and left the company in 1972. Some saw Atlas/Seaboard as an attempt at revenge against Marvel for failing to keep his son Chip Goodman in charge, others as simply a new business to make money for the Goodman family doing what they knew best. Goodman hired Warren editor Jeff Rovin and Stan Lee’s brother Larry Lieber as editors, and Steve Mitchell (from the DC Comics production department) as Production Manager. Over the course of a year, from fall 1974 to fall 1975, the new company put out a large line of color comics and a smaller one of black and white magazine-size comics. Creators were wary, thinking the plan was too ambitious to succeed (which proved true), so Goodman had to offer top rates and creator-ownership of properties to attract big-name artists and writers. As a comics reader of the time, it was an interesting year trying to keep up with three busy comics publishers of somewhat similar material. Atlas/Seaboard modeled their product on Marvel’s for the most part, and to get a similar look, they hired Gaspar Saladino to design all the logos. I’m sure Gaspar was delighted with this windfall of new logo business, and as usual he rose to the challenge to create many fine logos. The one above is an example, with handsome design elements including a winged X. This character predates the transformation of Marvel’s X-Men character Jean Grey to the character Phoenix by a few years.

From THE GRIM GHOST #1, Jan 1975, image © Nemesis Group Inc.

Another early example from Atlas/Seaboard, Gaspar uses his artful dry-brush technique on GHOST and block letters (with his distinctive R shape) on the rest. I think many Marvel Comics readers would have tried these comics based on the logos and cover art alone, though they weren’t always easy to find. Distribution to newsstands and other retailers was a tricky problem to solve for magazine publishers then before the direct market was created.

From IRONJAW #1, Jan 1975, image © Nemesis Group Inc.

For this logo, Saladino went to beveled metal with rivets for IRON and rounded letters for JAW. Surprisingly, they go together well here, perhaps partly because the right leg of the R is similar to the J. The right leg of the N seems unfinished at the top, missing its thick outline, probably trimmed off by mistake.

From DEVILINA #1, Jan 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

The first black and white magazine-size comic from Atlas/Seaboard had this logo from Saladino which uses upper and lower case and subtle serifs as well as angular shapes to add interest. I like the diamonds on the i’s.

From WEIRD TALES OF THE MACABRE #1, Jan 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

Also out with a January cover date was this black-and-white magazine. It looks like Gaspar’s brushwork again on the top line and perhaps also on the outlines of MACABRE, with texture inside to add interest. He did the center openings with thinner outlines perhaps to make sure they didn’t fill in black. Weird Tales had been a long-running pulp magazine, but perhaps was not active at the time. This logo does not work very well for me, but the colors don’t help.

From THE BRUTE #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

After four titles with January cover dates, there were 13 with February dates, as Atlas/Seaboard continued to ramp up their launch, I think far too many for most comics readers. A better approach would have been to launch six or eight titles first, then gradually add more after a few months, but it was not a stream, it was a flood. I like this logo by Saladino suggesting a character similar to Marvel’s Hulk. The letter shapes are creative, and the tilted B adds to the appeal for me. Again, the color doesn’t help it, though.

From THE DESTRUCTOR #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

Many of the new Seaboard titles were intriguing, and Gaspar’s logos helped with that. I love the unusual letter shapes in this one, adding a feeling of something gone out of control.

From MORLOCK 2001 #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

An obvious reference to H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” this title takes block letters in a futuristic direction. The M is unusual and creative, as is the K.

From PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

A nice combination of Gaspar’s block letters and his horror style. The ET is clever. I wonder how many of these he did at one time? They certainly all seem different from each other, a tribute to Saladino’s creativity.

From POLICE ACTION #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

Not content with horror and super-heroes, Seaboard tried all different genres, even ones like this crime/police anthology, a type of comic that had hardly been seen since the 1950s. Perhaps this was Martin Goodman trying to recreate those glory days when he flooded the market with titles.

From SAVAGE COMBAT TALES #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

War comics were not excluded, and Saladino had plenty of experience there, though this logo is somewhat looser than what he’d done for DC war books. Lots of energy in all of this, and the bullet shape is a nice addition.

From THE SCORPION #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

A 1930s pulp-style soldier-of-fortune from Howard Chaykin, Gaspar’s logo uses a graceful flag-wave to work around the art, an open drop shadow for a second color, and an unusual R shape.

From TALES OF EVIL #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

It’d be hard to get more attention-grabbing than this large EVIL with rough, notched outlines, and TALES OF makes a great counterpoint with smaller upper and lower case letters.

From THRILLING ADVENTURE STORIES, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

Another black and white magazine-size comic intending to evoke pulp magazines of the past and/or men’s adventure magazines of the 1960s. It’s interesting to see Saladino’s take here on the word ADVENTURE, with elements of Art Deco and the giant A of Avengers and Action Comics, also a similar R to his SCORPION logo.

From VICKI #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

Another genre tagged by Seaboard as they try to capture the Archie Comics audience with reprints from Tower Comics. Gaspar’s logo has Archie elements, but to me has more vitality and impact.

From WEIRD SUSPENSE #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

WEIRD SUSPENSE is Cooper Black type, THE TARANTULA is a fine Saladino effort in slanted upper and lower case. I like the extended second T.

From WESTERN ACTION #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

Trust Martin Goodman to leave no genre out of his massive lineup. I like the nailed boards logo for KID CODY, and the rest of the lettering is well-crafted, but this one doesn’t hold together well for me.

From WULF THE BARBARIAN #1, Feb 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

If CONAN was a success at Marvel, why not WULF at Seaboard? So thought creator Larry Hama. I love this logo’s mix of contrasting styles that somehow work together perfectly, and the B’s suggest axes.

From STRANGE TALES #178, Feb 1975, image © Marvel Comics.

Oh, were there comics from other publishers out this month? This new feature logo has the distinctive Saladino R shape, and broken-ended letters in the Simek style, but I think it’s by Saladino.

From SUPERMAN FAMILY #169, Feb-March 1975, image © DC Comics.

Another feature logo by Gaspar for a story in SUPERMAN FAMILY, the last new one. Saladino shows his versatility with this fine upper and lower case effort for a character with nothing to tie to visually.

From VAMPIRE TALES #9, Feb 1975, image © Marvel Comics.

For the ninth issue of this black and white magazine-size comic from Marvel, they had Gaspar try another, smoother variation of VAMPIRE that was used on just two covers.

From GIANT-SIZE SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP #1, March 1975, image © Marvel Comics.

While most of these ridiculously long and mis-matched titles on the Giant-Size line are by Marvel staffers in my opinion, I think Gaspar did the bottom two lines of this one.

From LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION #C-34, Feb-March 1975, image © DC Comics.

Here’s a delightful change of pace for Gaspar and us, lettering in an Old English style with creative flourishes on each S. WITH THE is Cooper Black type.

From MARVEL TEAM-UP #31, March 1975, image © Marvel Comics.

This IRON FIST character logo looks like Gaspar’s work to me. The inner shapes and rivets did not reproduce well, you can barely see them, but the R is a Saladino one.

From MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #8, March 1975, image © Marvel Comics.

Likewise this variation of his GHOST RIDER logo using a different approach for RIDER. Did Marvel know about Gaspar’s work for Seaboard? It seems likely, the comics business was an insular one at the time, and many people hired by Seaboard were also working for Marvel. If so, it doesn’t seem to have kept Gaspar from getting Marvel work.

From TARGITT #1, March 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

A crime/detective comic from Seaboard with another creative Saladino logo. The target over the I is a perfect visual tag, and I like the joined TT.

From 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #1, April 1975, image © DC Comics.

As seen here, DC was trying a new top bar with two circles, the one on the left having a new DC corner symbol designed by Michael Uslan using type. This new tryout series title fills a wide banner between the circles in a shape that reminds me of a baton. The large number 1 probably reflects the growing comics fan base now eagerly buying first issues…this series would be full of them. ST is Cooper Black type, I think the rest is lettered by Gaspar, as is the feature logo ATLAS decorated with deep cracks. As a whole it’s not a great combination, but I like the parts. Having INTRODUCING in type in an oval doesn’t help. I count this as two logos.

From BEOWULF #1, April-May 1975, image © DC Comics.

If Conan worked at Marvel, why not the far more ancient legend Beowulf, thought writer Michael Uslan? This Saladino logo is not one of his better efforts, though. It’s too tall and the W is oddly shaped to make it work in perspective and fill the space between the O and U. It does have an epic quality, but I don’t find it appealing.

From THE COUGAR #1, April 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

This logo, on the other hand, uses odd letter shapes very effectively to intrigue and entice the buyer. It worked on me.

From TIGER-MAN #1, April 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

This logo follows a more traditional super-hero plan, but the letters have bounce and the TI works well, as does the open drop shadow.

From POLICE ACTION #2, April 1975, image © Nemesis Group, Inc.

Gaspar was asked to do another version of this logo for the second issue making LOMAX even larger. I find this treatment works a little better, though the title is still far too long.

From RICHARD DRAGON, KUNG-FU FIGHTER #1, April-May 1975

The popularity of the 1972 “Kung Fu” TV series and Asian action movies led DC to try this series. Saladino went for the expected oriental style so often used in previous years to suggest Chinese writing, but now disliked by Asian-Americans. It has lots of energy, but the connected space in the center gives it kind of an odd look, and the top line gets hard to read against cover art.

Image © DC Comics

I don’t know when this was done or when it was used, I found it in the DC files and I’m adding it here at random. The intent is clear, a logo for pre-packaged bags of three DC Comics. SUPER STARS is by Gaspar, the rest was probably cut and paste in the DC Production department. Perhaps someone out there has more info. The characters used suggest this is about the right time period.

From CLAW THE UNCONQUERED #1, May-June 1975, image © DC Comics.

Another attempt by DC to cash in on the sword and sorcery success of titles like Conan at Marvel, and I find this logo much more interesting and appealing than Beowulf. Not only is the character’s claw-like right hand represented in a stylized version at the bottom, there are two more claws on the C and L. The letter shapes are creative and unusual, too. According to J. David Spurlock, artist Jim Steranko supplied the design layout for this logo in exchange for changing the original name from Talon to Claw, as Steranko was developing a project of his own with the Talon name. That never happened except for some concept art. I will credit this to Saladino even though it’s a collaboration.

From TALES OF GHOST CASTLE #1, May-June 1975, image © DC Comics.

For this new “mystery” title edited by artist Tex Blaisdell and Paul Levitz, Gaspar’s logo moves away from his usual horror styles except for the top line, but cleverly incorporates a silhouette of the castle into the logo, which I like, though it does take up a lot of cover space. The book only lasted three issues.

From THE JOKER #1, May 1975, image © DC Comics.

It was almost unheard of for a villain to get his own title at DC up to this time, but it lasted for nine issues, so it did okay. Saladino’s logo is clever and different from anything else at the company. I love the card suit symbols. I don’t know who did the Joker face.

From JUSTICE INC. #1, May-June 1975, image © DC Comics.

Having had success with THE SHADOW, DC tried another pulp character, The Avenger, though they couldn’t use that name as the title because of Marvel’s THE AVENGERS, or at least that’s my guess. This logo is one of my favorites by Gaspar from 1975, it’s so full of life and creativity that jumps out and grabs my eyeballs. Not very pulpy, full of odd quirks, but I love it all the same.

This photostat of the original logo from the DC files is just the same except you can see all of it, the upper corners aren’t covered.

To sum up, I found 38 Saladino logos for this five-month period, an amazing output. I will cover the rest of 1975 in the next post. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

One thought on “GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS Jan-May 1975

  1. David Goldfarb

    This Phoenix was January 1975, while All-New All-Different X-Men was cover-dated October 1976 — it would have been published several months earlier, but then the Atlas Comics book probably was too. So, not quite two years.

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