Images © DC Comics, Inc.
With issue 104 in 1959, editor Julius Schwartz began some new continued series, which would eventually rotate, one per issue. While it says nothing about it on this cover, the story it features was the first of the “Space Museum” stories.
There wasn’t much of a logo for the series, just a small banner with the words A SPACE MUSEUM STORY in a comet configuration with a star at the end. Not much to say about it, either. The stories often featured great art by Carmine Infantino, and appeared every few issues.
Following the same model, issue 114 introduced another new series, “Star Hawkins,” featuring a science-fictional detective with a robot assistant, Ilda, and once again with no cover mention. One has to wonder about the logic of that.
Here’s a splash page from the series, showing another small banner logo, not much better than the Space Museum one, though at least it does have a star shape to give it a little visual interest. But these small banner logos were merely intended to let readers know it was part of a series, and didn’t function as typical comics logos in my view. Star Hawkins also appeared every few issues.
Issue 117 cover dated June 1960 saw the introduction of a third series, the best known and most successful: “The Atomic Knights.” Once again, Schwartz did not think this was worth mentioning on the cover…
…but inside, the story had a real comics logo, one that I’m sure was designed by Ira Schnapp. Schnapp was on staff, so it would have been a simple thing for Julie to walk from his office down to the bullpen and ask Schnapp to draw up this logo between his other assignments. Why he didn’t do it for the other features, I don’t know. Perhaps artist Murphy Anderson pushed for this one. Murphy often sat beside Schnapp in the bullpen finishing up work, as he used to tell me, and they traded stories and got on well. I bet Murphy was involved in getting this great logo on the series.
While the letterforms show off Ira’s classic style, especially in the words THE and KNIGHTS, using Old English letterforms, you can see that he didn’t know what what to do with the word ATOMIC, and he simply added small glow lines around it to suggest radioactivity. I loved this logo as a young reader, and it added polish to the fine stories by John Broome and Anderson, making the armor-clad characters seem almost like super-heroes in their own way. Nice lettering by Gaspar Saladino on the rest of the page, too! Could the logo be one reason why this particular series was so popular? I think so.
Beginning with their second story in issue 120, the Knights rated a topline on the cover, finally getting out the news that there was a series going on in this anthology title.
And for issue 144 the Atomic Knights made it to the cover, and about time! Sadly, they only appeared this once. I can’t understand why, who wouldn’t want to read about knights riding giant dalmations?
By issue 180 in 1965, Schwartz had handed over the editing of STRANGE ADVENTURES to Jack Schiff, who gradually pushed it away from science fiction and toward the kind of mystery and horror adventures usually seen in other DC anthologies like HOUSE OF MYSTERY. For this one he did introduce a character with staying power, though, Buddy Baker, later known as Animal Man, the man with animal powers. While his stories ran through a number of issues, he was a minor character at best until relaunched in his own series written by Grant Morrison beginning in 1988, which became a hit and a fan favorite. As you can see above, he didn’t have a logo or even a manageable name at first.
At some point Ira Schnapp did this rather creepy and unheroic logo for the character. I don’t see it on any of these covers, so I don’t know where it appeared, perhaps on the splash pages of his stories here. I can’t imagine Ira came up with this idea, to use different animal skin/fur patterns on the letters, but he seems to have run out of ideas at the end. I have to say, this is one of my least favorite Schnapp logos!
By issue 190 he had a costume and a shorter name at least, if not a real logo. And he was joined by another super-hero wannabe who I believe went nowhere, as did a few other Schiff series attempts. Let’s leave them behind now, and get back to cover logos for a bit.
Editor Jack Schiff must have wanted a new logo reflecting his direction for the series, and on issue 202 in 1967 this one first appeared. It’s again by Ira Schnapp, now nearing the end of his staff time at DC, and this effort is not as successful as his first one in 1950.
Here’s the original logo from the DC files. I think the further Schnapp got from his classic letterform roots, the less comfortable he became, and this logo shows that. Beginning with top-heavy letters that are inconsistent, then giving them a heavy and shaky outline, Schnapp tried to tie them together with an open telescoped drop shadow, but the result is not very good. The word ADVENTURES actually looks much better, even though it’s small and a minor part of the total. The emphasis is on STRANGE, and if Schiff wanted a strange logo, he sure got one! the rectangular box allowed the small, thin ADVENTURES to show up on the cover, but did nothing to help the logo as a whole.
Next time we’ll continue with the introduction of another long-lasting character, Deadman. Other chapters of this logo study, and many more, can be found on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.