Logo Study: DC ROMANCE COMICS Part 1

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All images © DC Comics

Romance has always been a part of comics, at least since Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but it was a minor part until 1947, when Joe Simon and Jack Kirby launched the above title at Prize Comics, creating a new genre for the field. In a wikipedia entry, this tale of the creation is told, sourced from the book “Great American Comic Books” by Ron Goulart:

Simon was serving in the Coast Guard when he got the idea for romance comics: “I noticed there were so many adults, the officers and men, the people in the town, reading kid comic books. I felt sure there should be an adult comic book.” Simon developed the idea with sample covers and title pages and called his production YOUNG ROMANCE, the “Adult Comic Book”. Simon later noted he chose the love genre because “it was about the only thing that hadn’t been done.”

Like many comics of the genre, the logo created for it mimics upper and lower case type, perhaps an early attempt to draw in adult readers, who might find similar logos on pulp magazines with like-minded subject matter. The logo is attractive, and sells the concept well, with the only small oddity being the lower case Y in YOUNG. The letterforms have the suggestion of small curled serifs in some places, and I would say have a slightly romantic feel as well. It was designed by Joe Simon.

Here’s the final Prize Comics issue, with a different logo, but one that follows the same general layout as the first one. These letterforms are bouncier, and have more traditional serifs. The Y is now a capital letter, and because of the bounce or slight staggering up and down of the letters and their strokes, it has a light-hearted feel. An outer outline around all the solid letters creates a space for a second color, and helps set the logo apart from the cover art. I have no information about who designed it except that Mark Evanier suggests it might have been by Ben Oda, working over a layout from Joe Simon, and from the style that seems like a good guess.

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In 1963 Prize got out of the comics business and sold its romance titles (this one and YOUNG LOVE) to DC Comics, who continued the title with the same numbering almost immediately. DC was already publishing other romance comics, and no doubt had little trouble filling the pages of the former Prize titles.

The logo is by DC staff designer Ira Schnapp, the man who did nearly all the DC logos in the 1950s and 60s. Schnapp’s classical design training made these upper and lower case letterforms an easy task I’d say. Schnapp’s designs are always solid and readable, but “bounce” was not something he usually did, and, while following the general layout of the previous logo, he’s made it more prosaic and less fun, in my opinion. Certainly the letterforms are bolder and easy to read, but have lost that light-hearted or romantic feel.

This variation by Ira for issue #131 adds a little interest by slightly italicizing and angling the logo, but it’s still pretty prosaic. It does have the advantage of being designed by the same person who did all the other cover lettering.

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Here’s the original of that logo from the DC files. Aside from a small bit of smudging on the right leg of the R, it looks like Schnapp knocked this one out with little trouble. One interesting feature is the taller A with a non-typical serif on the upper loop.

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Issue #154, July 1968, features a new logo, and it’s by Ira Schnapp’s successor, Gaspar Saladino. It’s not typical of Gaspar’s logo work, but I think editor Joe Orlando asked him to experiment with references from outside comics, looking for styles that might appeal to readers.

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I think the inspiration here might have been the original logo by underground comix artist Rick Griffin for the music newspaper “Rolling Stone.” It has some similar ideas and line shading. This is the only time Saladino went this far afield from his comics roots, and it’s certainly eye-catching. The way the shading on the Y and G goes behind the letters of ROMANCE is unusual, but probably done to keep that word readable.

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With issue #168 in 1970, this new logo appeared. It’s much simpler than the previous one.

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Here’s the original from the DC files. It’s also the work of designer Gaspar Saladino. The style is slab-serif, meaning the serifs are rectangular and boxy. I find the shape of the R unattractive, and some of the other letters are not much better. On the cover above an outer outline has been added to allow a second color in the logo, but the way it’s done, leaving all those large spaces inside, makes the logo even less attractive, I think. Not one of Gaspar’s better efforts.

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With issue #196 in 1973, this logo began, and I find it much more appealing than the previous one. It does use all capital letters, getting away from the upper and lower case approach, but those letters have some attractive curved elements in the Y and R, and are shaped better in general. It even has a slightly romantic feel to me. I think the logo is done with type, like the rest of the lettering on it, not something DC did often. Romance comics were running out of time, and the final issue, #208, saw print in 1975.

Next time I’ll cover the other Prize title begun by Simon and Kirby and bought by DC, YOUNG LOVE. Other Logo Studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page.

8 thoughts on “Logo Study: DC ROMANCE COMICS Part 1

  1. Martin Gray

    Really enjoyed that! Love that ‘have a fling with . . .’ cover strap – very Date With Debbi and Swing with Scooter! And I like the logo’s unusual look, as you say, it’s very concert postery.

  2. lars teglbjaerg

    Extremely well-written and researched article. Nice illustrations. Will add this feature to my favorite sites.

  3. Pingback: Joe Simon and Logos » Simon and Kirby – Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center

  4. rodan57

    Check out a contemporary issue of Rolling Stone Magazine for a possible source for the masthead on #154.

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