GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS LOGOS May-Dec 1969

All images © DC Comics. From ANGEL AND THE APE #4, May-June 1969

As he entered 1969, in addition to lettering lots of story pages, covers and house ads, Gaspar Saladino was continuing to revamp DC’s logos. In this case he revamped one of his own that had first appeared on the first issue of this series only a few months earlier. Angel seems to have become the more popular character, and the title was revised to feature her. In effect it became MEET ANGEL, though that was not reflected in the indicia for a few more issues. By promoting Angel, the series now was not far from other DC teen humor titles, and Gaspar’s logo treatment reflects that. In fact, he would soon use this style for revamps on the others. The style has lots of energy and impact, and is also somewhat humorous. It presents a strong, angular contrast to Archie logos, which DC was hoping to compete with, and had been imitating in earlier logos. This seems like a good plan to me, but sales did not follow, and none of them lasted long.

From SHOWCASE #82, May 1969

With SHOWCASE issue #82, the old Ira Schnapp logo was gone again and a completely new logo and trade dress by Saladino begins. Well, not quite completely new, Schnapp’s DC bullet is still there at the upper right, but it’s eclipsed by the huge new DC in a circle and burst just below it. This is the same one Gaspar used on DC SPECIAL in 1968. The word SHOWCASE appears at the top paired with PREVIEW, which was the task of the title, and also vertically down the left side. Overkill, perhaps, but certainly a fresh approach. The tryout feature NIGHTMASTER logo is also by Gaspar in his familiar horror style but with added dot shading inside the letters where it transitions from black to open. The entire cover was designed to attract attention and new readers, and I think it succeeds at that.

From BINKY’S BUDDIES #4, July-Aug 1969

Despite what I said about MEET ANGEL above, this new logo for BINKY’S BUDDIES is actually a step backward. Not sure what the thinking was, I’m almost tempted to say it was cobbled together by someone else in the DC production department, but a letterer had to create a new S for BINKY’S as well as a new version of BUDDIES, and Saladino seems the most likely person for that.

From DEBBI’S DATES #3, Aug-Sept 1969

Here’s the new direction Gaspar wanted to take these teen humor logos, somewhat similar to MEET ANGEL, and full of energy and whimsy. Very different from the previous Archie direction, easy to read, bound to be noticed. Only the fact that readers were not very interested in this line from DC kept it from succeeding, I’d say, aside from that fact that the contents might not have been as appealing as what Archie Comics was offering.

From HOUSE OF SECRETS #81, Aug-Sept 1969

HOUSE OF SECRETS had ceased publication due to falling sales a few years earlier, and after a successful horror revamp of HOUSE OF MYSTERY, editor Joe Orlando decided to bring this one back to accompany it once again. Gaspar’s logo follows the horror style he’d developed as well as the giant word balloon idea from THE WITCHING HOUR, directing the tail to horror host Abel. The dark color in the outer shape obscures the outline of the inner one, but otherwise I like this a lot.

The original logo from the DC files shows those outlines much better, and reveals how similar the style is to HOUSE OF MYSTERY as far as line treatment, though the letter shapes are different. Interestingly, the head and hands of Abel are not the same as the printed version. I think this one was deemed too happy, the revision is more sinister. This version actually looks more like the model for the character, comics fan and DC staffer Mark Hanerfeld.

From LEAVE IT TO BINKY #68, Aug-Sept 1969

LEAVE IT TO BINKY got the new teen humor treatment with this issue. I find it more appealing than the previous version.

From SWING WITH SCOOTER #20, Aug-Sept 1969

SWING WITH SCOOTER had a new logo for this giant annual-size issue, mostly reprints of course, but I like the Saladino logo.

Here’s the original from the DC files. I thought SUMMER FUN was set in type, but here it seems to be lettered, not pasted on, so I’m not sure. I like the way the minimal telescoping on GIANT blends into the outline of SCOOTER.

From BINKY’S BUDDIES #5, Sept-Oct 1969

One issue after that retro version, BINKY’S BUDDIES gets a new Saladino logo to match LEAVE IT TO BINKY, and using the same first word.

A photostat of the original logo shows one change, the lower leg of the S in BINKY’S has been shortened, but part of the original outline is still there. Otherwise it’s the same.

From DATE WITH DEBBI #5, Sept-Oct 1969

DEBBI’S DATES has a title change and revised logo with issue #5. The flower as the dot of the i adds interest. Though the letter shapes are close to the previous version, this is all redrawn.

The original logo is the same, and it’s lettered on cover paper with preprinted DC bullet and code seal. I like Gaspar’s loose lower case letters in DATE WITH.

From SHOWCASE #85, Sept 1969

For issue #85 of this title, the logo has been toned down. PREVIEW is gone, and the SHOWCASE letters at the top look like they could be type. The vertical second version is much smaller, but the huge, eye-catching DC in a burst remains. Gaspar’s technique for burning letters, seen in FIREHAIR, is quite different from Ira Schnapp’s. His look more like they are being consumed by flames, with many small gaps in the rough outlines. The flames are also larger and more wind-blown. I think it’s an excellent treatment.

From FROM BEYOND THE UNKNOWN #1, Oct-Nov 1969

Julius Schwartz was the editor of this new anthology reprinting science fiction stories from his earlier titles STRANGE ADVENTURES and MYSTERY IN SPACE. The Saladino logo is sedate block letters except for the shortened E and K to fit in the small words, a good way to keep the important words large. It’s unified by black telescoping, though much of that is hidden here.

The original logo reveals the telescoping and shows it was not blacked in until later. There are a few missing connecting lines I would have put in as at the lower left corner of the B, but generally this looks fine to me.

Another version of the logo is also in the DC files, but only the top line was used from this one. Perhaps this earlier version was considered too tall, or Julie didn’t like the extreme angle of BEYOND. The Y is also oddly shaped, and Gaspar clearly had trouble with it based on the white correction paint. The later version works better.

From GREEN LANTERN #72, Oct 1969

Thus far, Gaspar’s revamps had been taking place around the outer edges of the DC lineup, but with this new logo he tackles the superhero center for the first time. Collaborating with cover artist Gil Kane, who did the figure and lantern, Saladino’s take adds energy, depth and style to the book. He retains the flames from the Schnapp versions, but his are along the edges of beams coming from the lantern, and are made with a large wedge-tipped pen that adds to the effect. The letters are tall block ones, very vertical except for the rounded G. Note the Saladino R’s in each word with the divider below center on the right side.

The original logo has been heavily modified. The Gil Kane figure has been painted out and the lantern lines completed. Other areas of white paint probably cover the DC bullet and code seal. Later changes to the series like a team-up with Green Arrow made the figure no longer useful, but it’s a shame the original logo was changed and not a photostat of it, as could easily have been done.

From SWING WITH SCOOTER #22, Oct 1969

With this issue, SWING WITH SCOOTER received the new Saladino logo it would have for the rest of its run, and that run was longer than most of the DC teen humor books, so it must have found an audience. This is similar to the one on issue #20.

The original logo is just the same, I don’t see any corrections or changes. I had no interest in teen humor books from any publisher growing up, but these logos would have steered me to DC’s rather than Archie. I like them a lot.

This unused version from the DC files is even livelier than the one they went with, but perhaps was thought too hard to fit into cover art due to an awkward shape.

From UNEXPECTED #115, Oct-Nov 1969

With this issue, UNEXPECTED received a new Saladino version of his previous logo that removes the swaying, wind-blown effect and the word THE, which is now part of the top line. It works fine, but I don’t like it as much as the previous two versions, it seems too calm by comparison. I do like the word balloon treatment, though.

The original logo shows the outlines better and reveals that the top line is pasted on. It looks hand-lettered, but perhaps it’s type, it is very regular. I don’t recall seeing a font like that, though. Gaspar’s technique with the rough-edged, organic letters is terrific, as always, and you can see they were done here with a pen point that had a wedge or oval shape to produce variations in line thickness depending on the direction it was held. Great stuff.

In all I count 16 logo designs in this time period by Saladino. Adding these to the 19 from the previous post, we have a whopping 35 new logos for books with 1969 cover dates, quite a lot of work, especially considering each design had to go through a process that usually involved several sketches first for the editor to choose from, then development into the final inked version.

Just to see where the line revamp has happened so far, I went through all the covers for November and December titles, two months to catch all the bimonthly ones, leaving out monthly repeats. It’s a little complicated at times with more than one logo on some books, but I come up with the following: three logos not by either Ira Schnapp or Gaspar Saladino — ACTION (pre-Schnapp, designer unknown), G.I. COMBAT (designed by Al Grenet for Quality Comics) and SUGAR AND SPIKE (then running a logo by creator Sheldon Mayer). Then there are sixteen books with logos by Ira Schnapp, including his first DC logo for SUPERMAN, and the rest are new or revamped logos by Gaspar, 33 in all. There’s no doubt Saladino was putting his stamp on the DC line, and he wasn’t finished yet.

Other parts of this series, and more articles you might like are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

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