Logo Study: AQUAMAN Part 2

adv260

All images © DC Comics, Inc.

The Aquaman logo that appeared on all his stories from More Fun #100 (November 1944) until he got his own solo series in 1962 is shown above. In part 1 of this study I attributed it to regular Aquaman artist at the time Louis Cazanueve, based on similarities to what that artist was drawing on the splash pages beforehand. I still think that’s the best guess, but it’s only a guess. Another possibility is that the DC production staff or the editor commissioned someone else to create a regular logo. The obvious choice for that would be Ira Schnapp, who I believe had created some of the company’s most famous logos like the final version of SUPERMAN (based on Joe Shuster’s versions) and titles like ACTION COMICS. There are no records as far as I know for who actually did any of those early logos, so my theories and guesses are just that, based on style and company insider knowledge. It’s possible Schnapp could have been asked to do the logo above. The style is not completely alien to his work, though what he did was rarely this bouncy and rounded. At some point in the late 1940s Schnapp made a transition from freelancer for DC to staffer. On SUPERMAN comics, for instance, his cover lettering, certainly done on staff, first begins appearing regularly in 1949, though there are isolated examples that might be by him as early as 1947. Some other freelancer or staffer might have created the logo, too. Just wanted to throw that out there.

adv277

In early 1960 Aqualad joined Aquaman in his stories, and with ADVENTURE COMICS 277 (Oct. 1960) his logo was added as well. It might have been designed by Ramona Fradon, regular Aquaman artist through most of the 1950s and early 60s, or by then-staffer Ira Schnapp, or by whoever lettered the story. Of those three possibilities, Schnapp seems the most likely, and the style is not inconsistent with his work.

showcase30

1960 also saw the first appearance of The Justice League of America in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD 28, and Aquaman was chosen to be part of that team of DC’s premiere heroes. DC must have felt it was time to try him in a solo book, and they gave him a tryout in their other test-case book, SHOWCASE. The first of two such appearances from 1961 is above, and as you can see, the logos from the inside stories were used on the covers.

aquaman1_1962

The test must have been considered a success, because in 1962 DC launched AQUAMAN in a long-running solo series, with art by Nick Cardy for the most part. This new logo is clearly the work of Ira Schnapp, who took the letterforms from the previous logo, made them taller, squared off the bottom ends (and the tops of the U), and recalling earlier versions of the logo, put them in a nice arc with a larger initial A. Schnapp’s work is solidly constructed, classy, a bit staid at times, and always very readable. A fine logo, which retains the best elements of the previous ones: the bubble-like openings and rounded organic forms, and makes it even better. (And it might be only me, but I always thought the Q in this version looked a bit like a fish.) The fact that all the cover lettering is also by Schnapp gives the entire design a unified feel that carried through most of the DC covers of the time. Even DC’s annoying habit of covering parts of the logo with the price box and other trade dress elements does not significantly harm the appeal.

aquaman44_1969

In 1969 the Schnapp logo was altered by making the letter outlines much thicker. The thickness was added to the outside of the previous lines, connecting the letters, and the result made the logo bolder and more readable against background art, which was beginning to go right to the top of the covers more often. The angle of the logo on this one also adds some interest.

aquaman57_1977

The initial run of the AQUAMAN title ended with issue 56 in 1971. In 1977 it came back for another try, continuing the numbering and extending the title to 63 issues. For these, the previous logo gained a double-bordered box, as seen above. The idea, I’m sure, was to make the title pop off the cover, and allow for more colors in the logo, but I don’t think it works well. It takes up too much space, draws too much attention to itself. An open drop shadow would have been a much better solution. Even with fine art by Jim Aparo, the title didn’t last long, and ended again in 1978.

A bit short, this post, but not a lot happened with Aquaman’s logo from 1962 to the end of the 1970s. Next time we’ll look at Aquaman in the 1980s and beyond.

More chapters and other logo studies on my LOGO LINKS page.

11 thoughts on “Logo Study: AQUAMAN Part 2

  1. Jim Kosmicki

    I can remember when this issue came out being very confused that Aquaman was in his own magazine at last, but it was issue 57! I had seen copies of his previous series in other people’s collections, so I knew there had been an Aquaman book before. That tag line just didn’t make sense, then or now.

  2. AquaFan

    Thanks also for including Aqualad! It’s nice to know where that logo comes from! I think Schnapp designed a classic with the one that headlined his solo book, as it lasted so long with only a few minor alterations. It’s the logo I always like to see associated with Aquaman!

  3. RAB

    “And it might be only me, but I always thought the Q in this version looked a bit like a fish.”

    There needs to be a word for “a widely held idea which everyone assumes they’re alone in thinking.” 😉 Personally, I have no doubt that letterform was intended by Schnapp as a stylized fish… and there are fish-like contours in the other letters as well.

  4. Timmytee

    RAB @ #4: The A’s look kinda sharky/fishy, and the M’s a bit fishy, too. This is a good story–I came here from The Stranger’s blog and find it a lot more interesting than I would have thought. Notice the cover-price changes over the years–what’s a comic cost now, about $5-$6? Best wishes to all from Pennsylvania.

  5. Lawrence

    Todd,

    When I first read through your studies, I was truly troubled by the look of Aquaman on issue No. 44; his face looks far too clean-cut, middle-income kind of heroic looking. And I hated the manic outcry: “I die in two minutes!”

    But then I think I finally realized what is going on; correct me if I’m wrong. Is this not a reinterpretation (some might call it plagiarism or, cough cough, a tribute) of a Will Eisner’s The Spirit cover?

    If it’s not, it’s surely done in Eisner’s style.

  6. MWGallaher

    I realize it’s kind of late to point this out (I come back to review these logo studies fairly often, Todd, and can’t wait for some new ones!), but I just realized that you missed one of Aquaman’s logos: the very odd one that was used on the cover of World’s Finest #203.

  7. Todd Post author

    That doesn’t really fall into my criteria, since it was a guest appearance and only used that once as far as I know. It’s the work of Gaspar Saladino, who also did the cover lettering.

  8. Daniel Preece

    The tag “In his own magazine at last” made sense at that time because he just finished a 12 issue run (441-452) in Adventure Comics. Since it was a success, he got his own series. Aquaman wasn’t the only series in the mid-70s to get another run (Teen Titans, Metal Men, and others) that continued the numbering from a previously cancelled series.

    Since Aquaman ended again in 1978, it was probably part of the “DC implosion.”

  9. Daniel Preece

    I always thought the “Q” was a fish, too. I would have gambled it was designed to be a fish, if I hadn’t seen the very early logo with the triangle design.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *