GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS July-Dec 1972

All images © DC Comics except as noted. From WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #1, July-Aug 1972.

1972 was again a busy year for Gaspar Saladino. Not only was he lettering logos for DC and Marvel, at DC he was also creating house ads and lettering covers and stories. At Marvel he was doing some story lettering under assumed names like L.P. Gregory. This new title in DC’s mystery line was edited by E. Nelson Bridwell, and for it Gaspar again used his excellent horror style with rough, energetic outlines on organic, almost furry letter shapes, and a graduated dot texture inside to add interest.

The original logo from the DC files shows the outlines and texture better, and reveals that TALES was added later, and might be type or lettering by someone else.

From LARRY HARMON’S LAUREL AND HARDY #1, July-Aug 1972

For a brief time, DC thought they had the rights to publish this comic based on a cartoon series by Harmon, but some put a stop to it, and only one issue was published. I believe Gaspar did this logo, though I’m less sure about it than most others in this post. He did the cover balloon and lettered the one new story inside (the others were reprints).

The original logo offers no clues except that there’s only a few white paint corrections, so it was lettered with Saladino’s usual confidence. The small words are added with Letraset adhesive type.

From THE DEMON #1, Aug-Sept 1972

This new Jack Kirby title has a fine Saladino logo that features his take on flaming letters. The flames surround the entire logo, creating room for a second color, though here partly filled with the same red, and the block letters with rough outlines are gently curved and leaning away in perspective above black telescoping. I like this one a lot. Note that DC has begun using a new trade dress with DC block letters in a circle on the left. This would become the inspiration for the later Milton Glaser studio version. I think they and the entire top banner are done with headline type, but the DC might be by Gaspar. As I’m not sure, I won’t call it a logo.

From THE INFERIOR 5 #11 Aug-Sept 1972

After a gap of several years, DC tried two more issues of this superhero humor series, but they were just reprints from the original SHOWCASE tryout issues. The title was changed from FIVE to 5, and has a new logo by Saladino using slab serif letters on the I’s and R’s but non-serif on the rest, an odd mix that works fine. Not as interesting has his previous logo, though.

The original logo shows that an outer shape around the whole logo was created but not used, and the narrow telescoping was open here but filled black for the cover.

From WEIRD WORLDS #1, Aug-Sept 1972

Some other Edgar Rice Burroughs characters and worlds were attracting interest, and moved to this new title from backups in TARZAN and KORAK. Gaspar’s block letter logo expands at each end, giving it a wide-screen movie feel.

The original is the same with no corrections visible. Note the Saladino R’s. Writing in blue at the top says, “Reduce to 7 1/4″ from 9 1/2.” This is a note from the production person assembling the cover elements to the darkroom person making a photostat of the logo, and it tells us the original is exactly 9.5 inches wide. My handy proportion wheel (from DC staff days) tells me that’s a reduction to 77%, and that was just to fit it on the cover art. The cover would have been reduce to about another 66% from there, so total reduction from the lettered logo to the printed cover was about 50%. That helped smooth out any small imperfections and made for a good final result.

From DOC SAVAGE #1, Oct 1972, image © Marvel.

Over at Marvel, they were following a similar idea by licensing the rights to this pulp magazine character. I like the energy of the Saladino logo, particularly the S. THE MAN OF BRONZE is type.

From FEAR #10, Oct 1972, image © Marvel.

The MAN-THING logo here is in Gaspar’s usual horror style, but with a more even and curved top edge and very thick outlines. Was this logo designed before or after his SWAMP THING one? We’ll never know, but it’s interesting that they saw print at almost the same time. The treatments are different enough to cause no confusion for readers.

From KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #1, Oct-Nov 1972

Another new title from Jack Kirby. This time Gaspar used block letters with added extensions on the A’s and D. The outlines are thick and rough, as is the drop shadow. Handsome display lettering in a broken-wood banner completes the second line.

A photocopy of the original logo looks just the same, a fine, energetic logo.

From SWAMP THING #1, Oct-Nov 1972

We’ve come to my all-time favorite Saladino logo, and I’m going to spend a little extra time on it. The character had been created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson in a short story that appeared in HOUSE OF SECRETS #92. The overwhelmingly positive response to that paved the way for this series with the same creators. The editor was Joe Orlando, who was already using Saladino on his logos. Did he give Gaspar any direction for this one? Did Wein or Wrightson? My guess is that Gaspar was given the green light to simply do his best horror logo, and he did it brilliantly. This one is even shaggier than previous examples, with thick outlines that are done with a dry brush, and crosshatched textures in the letters (hard to see here because of the color) added with a narrow pen point. A thin outline surrounds the entire logo following all the ins and outs of the shapes.

This is the condition in which I found the original logo in the DC files when I had many of them scanned for me in 2009. At some point, another logo with a lot of rubber cement on the back had become attached to this one, causing the brown stains as it dried, and when the two were separated, parts of the ink were pulled off. What a sad thing, and completely random I’m sure.

My blog only allows images up to a size of about 625 pixels wide, so many details on the logos I’m showing are not clear. Here’s a much closer look at just the S with those details on display. You can now see how artful the lines are, dry brush on the thick one and pen on the texture and outer line. Anyone who doubts that Saladino was a true artist with both pen and brush need only look at this example.

This scan, courtesy of Heritage Auctions, ha.com, is of the original cover art and therefore has the best existing example of Gaspar’s logo, a first-generation photostat. It captures the details well. I loved this book, and the logo — and Gaspar’s unique story lettering inside — were equally as important as the contributions of writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson.

At the 2014 New York Comic Con, the first one Gaspar ever attended, I had the chance to reunite him with Len Wein for the first time in decades. It was a joyful thing. More HERE.

From LOVE STORIES #147, Nov 1972

DC’s romance books were struggling, and they renamed HEART THROBS with this logo by Saladino that certainly puts the emphasis on the right word, and is a classy job. It only lasted six more issues.

The original logo shows some corrections on the curved areas, always the trickiest. Gaspar’s S’s are somewhat off-model for this style of serif lettering, but they still work fine.

From ACTION COMICS #419, Dec 1972

At this time, DC was sticking mostly to superheroes in their main line, but a new non-super character, The Human Target began as a backup feature in ACTION with this logo from Saladino. The long first leg of the H is appealing, but the T is too close to it, making that letter a bit hard to read.

From SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #1, Dec 1972, image © Marvel.

Finally, at Marvel, I think Gaspar did the large rough letters for IT on this new series. He might have also done the top title, but I’m not sure, it could be by someone else such as Danny Crespi. It’s rare to have such a short word to use at a large size like this, and it’s certainly an attention-getter. Saladino’s logo work at Marvel seems to have slacked off a bit by this time, but it was only a momentary lull, there are more coming.

To sum up, I count 12 new logos by Saladino for this period, and therefore 27 for books with 1972 cover dates, work mostly done between the fall of 1971 and the fall of 1972. There would be considerably more in 1973. 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 July-Dec 1972

  1. J Leeds

    The details in the Swamp Thing logo are amazing. The crosshatching is very reminiscent of swamp grasses, without being explicit.

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