Logo Study: LAUREL & HARDY

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything about logos, and my time is short now, so here’s a brief one.

Like many Hollywood stars, comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appeared in the comics, probably through a licensing deal with their agent, though that’s only a guess. Surprisingly, their first few comics came from St. John, a small publisher. The logo was a fairly typical humor approach. In their films, there was no standard logo for the team that I can find, a variety of different ones were used, some mere standard type, some more like this one.

On lobby cards, a similar approach was common, like this for one of their better features. Showcard lettering was mostly hand-lettered at the time, just like comics, and probably by some of the same people.

Back to the comics, the third and final issue of this first St. John series is signed Reuben Timmins. I haven’t been able to find out anything further about these issues, the Grand Comics Database has nothing on the contents.

In 1955-56 St. John reprinted their three issues with a redrawn but very similar logo, again in typical humor comics style.

In 1962 Dell Comics, purveyor of many film-related properties, began a four issue series on the comedy duo. Here, for the first time, Larry Harmon is listed at the top. Harmon was best known for playing “Bozo the Clown,” a property he bought the rights to, and marketed heavily in the 50s and 60s. I can only guess that he bought the licensing rights to Laurel and Hardy and tried to do the same with them. It’s doubtful that he drew the comics, but again I have no information on who did, nor does the GCD. As is typical with Dell comics of the time, the logo is type-based rather than hand-drawn, though Harmon’s name looks like it might be hand-drawn. The art deco font chosen for the character names is not a bad choice, echoing the period of their film success, but the layout is a poor one and doesn’t really evoke the films at all.

Here’s the cover of the final Dell issue from 1963. Nothing much to say about it, really.

In 1967 Gold Key put out two issues featuring the pair. I suspect these were reprints of the Dell material, though again I have no information on the contents. Gold Key inherited many of the properties and staff of Dell, and this cover design is typical of their line at the time. The logo is again type-based, more lively this time, and using a font that is very 1960s, but still quite appropriate for the characters, I think. And the addition of pictures of the actual movie stars is not a bad idea. Laurel and Hardy comedies were a staple of daytime TV programming for kids when I was young, and I think many children would have recognized them. That doesn’t seem to have made the comics sell well enough to do more, though.

In 1972 one final Laurel and Hardy comic was published by DC, where the comedy pair seemed like a good fit with other DC movie characters like Jerry Lewis. There had been many more such comics from DC in the past, but by 1972 those series were fading, and perhaps it was too late for the comedy duo to succeed with DC comics fans, who had shifted much of their interest to horror, war and superheroes rather than humor. For the first time I can report the artists on both cover and inside art: Mike Sekowsky and Henry Scarpelli.

Here’s the original logo from the DC files. The character names look like the work of Gaspar Saladino to me, though the addition of “LARRY HARMON” and “AND” in press-down type suggests that the entire thing might have been done by someone on staff at DC. Either way, it has a nice, humourous bounce, perfect for a funny comic, and similar to others of the time. It’s a more rounded look than any of the previous logos, which seems appropriate to me.

That’s all I know about this one! Other logo studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page.

5 thoughts on “Logo Study: LAUREL & HARDY

  1. Martin O'Hearn

    Gold Key didn’t inherit Dell’s staff, because Dell had no comic book staff. Western Publishing produced the comics for Dell to publish until 1962, then Western switched over to publishing their own comics, Gold Key. The staff and freelancers worked for Western, not Dell, and the licenses were with Western. When Dell wanted to continue publishing comics, they had to create a comic book division and staff it anew (there was an overlap in 1962 as Dell published some in-house stuff alongside Western-produced material before the break-up). The Dell that put out Laurel and Hardy in 1962-63 was New Dell, as it’s controversially called after the fact to try to keep that straight.

    So Gold Key didn’t have the Dell L&H stories sitting around their offices to reprint. That Gold Key cover is by Pete Alvarado, I’m pretty sure, and he didn’t work for Dell.

  2. Todd Post author

    Thanks, Martin. Every time I mention a Dell or Gold Key comic I get into trouble because I’ve never understood that publisher stuff well myself.

  3. Joey Doe

    If you’re looking for a topic to do a logo study on, may I suggest Captain Marvel? You could do it in two parts: the Golden Age (Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures) and the DC era (Shazam!, Shazam The New Beginning, Power Of Shazam, and Billy Batson & The Magic Of Shazam).

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