All images © DC Comics, Inc.
The first romance comic by Simon and Kirby, YOUNG ROMANCE, sold quite well, and in 1949 they began producing this sister title (if I can call it that). The logo is in the same style as the earlier book, whose logo is here as well, with YOUNG exactly the same, including the odd choice of a lower case Y. The word LOVE is nicely designed with a heavy outline, and adding texture, a thin inline too. It gives the word a slightly more rounded and three-dimensional feel. The spacing is a little odd, with extra between the V and E, but it works fine. It was probably done by Joe Simon, the likely candidate. Incidentally, Simon described he and Kirby as the packager for these books published by Prize Comics. In other words, they did some of the art and writing, but sub-contracted much of it to others. While I love Kirby on superhero comics and other genres, I don’t think he was a good choice for romance art, and the example above shows why, with stiff figures and not very attractive faces. Plus, no one seems to be having a good time.
In the later Prize years the consecutive numbering of the book was dropped, and it listed only volume and issue numbers, making things confusing. There were over 90 Prize issues, and this is the final one. Like YOUNG ROMANCE, the logo has been changed, but follows a similar layout to the first one. The Y is now capitalized, and the L is huge, a feature I like. The letterforms are more traditonal upper and lower case with serifs, and the spacing is better. Once again, I have no idea who designed it, but it looks good. Mark Evanier thinks it might have been designed by Ben Oda over a layout by Joe Simon. The precision of the design works against that idea for me, as when I knew Ben in the 1970s he never used rulers and other measuring tools, preferring to do everything freehand, by eye. But Mark knows a lot more about Joe Simon’s comics than I do, so perhaps he’s right.
When DC Comics bought the Prize romance titles, they kept the logo for a while, so they must have liked it, too. In style it’s not unlike what Ira Schnapp would have done, and it fit right in with his cover lettering. If anyone was looking for a comic with LOVE in the title, this would be hard to miss! DC must have been confused about the numbering, too. They began their run with issue 39 for no apparent reason.
For issue 56, in 1966, the logo design took a big step backward. This new logo by Ira Schnapp, using his standard block letters, seems to go completely in the wrong direction to me, and has none of the attractive style of the previous one. I don’t know what they were thinking! But then, it’s the go-go checks era (that awful pattern across the top), perhaps the worst cover trade dress idea ever at DC. And is all that cover lettering really necessary? One wishes the lady on the left would elbow aside those caption boxes and make a little room for herself. Not a good cover look to my eyes!
Here’s the original logo from the DC files. Ira made this sort of thing work on super-hero books, but it’s pretty lame for a romance comic. The only thing that I find interesting about it is the spacing — wide on the top line, tight on the bottom line. Ah well, Schnapp was probably just giving the editors what they wanted.
With issue 73 in 1969, a much better logo appeared. I believe it’s the work of Gaspar Saladino, the man who took over the lion’s share of DC logo designing after Schnapp left the company. Gaspar’s logos are always lively and creative. This one suggests he was looking at 60s rock concert posters for ideas, especially for the word LOVE. The word YOUNG, with its ball-shaped stroke ends is more original, and both are fresh and appealing.
Here’s the original logo from the DC files, and it shows no signs of corrections or changes, so it must have gone right from pencils to inks with no problem. It’s kind of unusual for Gaspar to do solid black letters like this rather than open ones, but there are a few other examples. The thin outline provides a place for a second color, and I like the fact that the space between the letters and the outline varies. In this case it adds to the lively, casual feel of the logo.
This logo began on issue 86, in 1971. I think it’s also by Gaspar, and I don’t like it as much as the previous one, though it also seems to draw on concert posters for style. Much of the informal charm is missing from this one, it’s too square and even for a romance logo, in my opinion.
Here’s the original from the DC files. Nothing much to add except a tiny style detail caught my eye: the inner triangle of the V ends in a squared end unlike all the other similar shapes, and that might seem odd, but I think Gaspar did that so it wouldn’t extend below the line of the matching shapes in the other letters. Also, note that the L has no thin part. To give it one would have made the letter read oddly, I guess. In all, this is not a particularly successful logo, though still miles better than the previous one by Schnapp.
DC must not have agreed with me — in 1972 they went back to it!
And thereafter, until the end of the book’s run in 1977, they switched randomly between all the previous logos, probably not a great idea if you’re trying to establish continuity with readers. But in the 70s, romance comics were dying, and trying just about anything to grab readers. The art, as in this example, got slicker, and the women more voluptous, for example. I doubt that would have appealed to young girls, I think it was an attempt to get young boys to buy the books for the “good girl” art. I can’t say it ever worked on me, I don’t think I bought or even read a single romance title from DC in my youth.
Here’s the final issue, and it looks pretty desperate to me. I mean, Citizens’ Band Radio as a romance theme? Come on! America’s “young women” had obviously moved on, and who could blame them? By the way, this was the longest surviving DC romance title, and the only one to last long enough to have the Milton Glaser revised DC symbol on it. In fact, it came out just a few months before I started on staff at DC, so I barely missed working on DC romance books myself.
Next time we’ll look at one of DC’s original romance titles, GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES. Previous chapters and other Logo Studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page.