Logo Study: DC ROMANCE COMICS Part 3

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All images © DC Comics, Inc.

In the 1940s and 50s there were lots of comics publishers, and they all watched each other like hawks. If one had a big hit with a particular genre, others were quick to follow. So, it’s no surprise that DC, seeing the success of the Prize Comics romance titles beginning in 1947, launched some of their own, starting with this one in 1949. Unlike the Prize covers, DC decided to mimic non-comics romance and movie star magazines, probably hoping to draw in a more adult audience. The use of a photo cover and all typeset for the cover copy went in that direction, and the logo was elegant. Consisting of thin gracefully-curved shapes in an arc, and taking up a large area on the cover, it’s the model of magazine sophistication for the time. The strokes are so thin in places that they begin to disappear in this image, though the title is still readable. As to who might have designed it, the most likely choice is Ira Schnapp, who I think was probably on staff at DC by this time. But Ira’s work never looked like this on any other logos he did for DC, so it’s possible they turned to another designer, perhaps one already doing the kind of magazine logos they were imitating.

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The photo covers didn’t last long, and the very thin logo must have caused problems, so with issue 11 in 1951 they began using a revised version. And this time it clearly looks to me like the work of Ira Schnapp. The letterforms are the same, but thicker; designed to print well on a comic cover. It’s less tall, to fit better, and the spacing is tighter. They kept the typeset word STORIES, and you can see how it’s fading out by comparison, too thin for the cheap paper and printing processes involved. Another interesting element is that the DC bullet symbol has been replaced by another circular logo with the book’s title in it, which also looks like the work of Schnapp, as does the cover lettering. While clearly comics, it seems the company wanted their romance titles to stand apart from the rest of the line. I love this logo, and think it’s a perfect choice for the book and the genre. Today the word GIRLS would never fly, but at the time it was fine. I even like the tagline, “52 Romantic Pages.”

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With issue 16 in 1952 this new logo appeared, following the same layout as the previous two, but with wider, rounded serifs, open letters, and an outline around them to allow for a second color. STORIES has also been redone by hand, I think. This is another logo by Ira, and it’s not bad, though perhaps not as charming as the previous one. It does go well with the cover lettering by Schnapp, bringing the book more into the DC house style. This logo remained on the book for many years.

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And then we arrive at that awful period in DC design history, 1966. All the overblown lettering on the cover is by Ira Schnapp, including the boxy and inappropriate logo.

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Here’s the logo from the DC files, with the original tagline at the bottom. The yellow-brown glue stains show where the final, revised tagline was once pasted over it. As I said about the similar 1966 YOUNG LOVE logo, it uses the sort of Schnapp block letters that worked okay on super-hero titles, but I think are completely wrong for a romance book. Again, Schnapp must have been just doing what he was told. The logo shows a lot of white correction paint on the O, so Ira must have had some trouble with it.

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In 1967 another new Schnapp logo began, and while it still features block letters, they’re more interesting than the previous ones. That said, it’s an awkward fit, this egg-shaped logo. It leaves lots of room for melodramatic cover copy to the right, but the balance of the logo area is all wrong.

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Here’s the original logo from the DC files, and I have to say, it’s not one of Schnapp’s better ideas. While the letterforms reach for interest with odd shapes and sizes, they never grasp it, in my opinion. The small S looks particularly odd to me, and the whole logo is rather a mess.

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In 1969 this new logo appeared, and it’s clearly not by Ira Schnapp. I believe it’s by the same person who designed the 1970 logo for YOUNG ROMANCE, below. The R has a squashed look on each, and both have slab serifs and letterforms whose proportions are similar. One good thing is that the shape is a better fit for a comic cover than the previous logo, but that’s a moot point on this cover, where it floats in a large red box with lots of wasted space anyway.

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Again, I don’t know who designed these logos, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Gaspar Saladino, the main successor to Ira Schnapp. They just don’t look anything like his work.

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Here’s the original logo, and it’s a bit of an eye chart with the center shapes outlined like this, though it reads okay on the cover with them filled in. Not a terrible logo, but not very appropriate for the book, in my opinion.

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Romance books were fading, and as this one lurched to its final issue in 1973, it returned to one of the more appropriate Ira Schnapp logos from the past. Too late, the world had moved on!

Next time I’ll look at companion titles to this one, SECRET HEARTS and GIRLS’ ROMANCES. Other chapters and more logo studies are on my LOGO LINKS page.

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