Logo Study: STRANGE ADVENTURES Part 3

Images © DC Comics, Inc.

Issue 204, cover dated Sept. 1967, saw another version of the logo, also designed by Ira Schnapp. This one dropped the enclosing box, making the word ADVENTURES hard to see against the dark background, and the word STRANGE is relettered.

Here’s the original from the DC files, and you can see that the word ADVENTURES is a photostat from the previous version pasted onto this one. This logo is another example, to my eye, of the failing abilities of Schnapp. In 1967 he would have been 75 or so, about a year away from his retirement, and two years away from his death in 1969. And, once again, scary lettering was never his strong suit. The letters of STRANGE are very inconsistent and poorly shaped, almost amateurish in appearance (the R is particularly awkward), while the top and bottom lines show a much surer hand, in styles Ira was more comfortable with. The main advantage to this version is to allow the cover art to go behind the logo, making for a stronger overall cover design, though as mentioned, ADVENTURES tends to disappear.

Issue 205 of STRANGE ADVENTURES, cover dated Oct. 1967, saw the introduction of what I’d say is the most popular and lasting character of the entire run, Deadman, though a case could be made for Animal Man. Unlike the latter, Deadman was quite popular right away, thanks to some terrific art by Neal Adams on his stories here after the first one by Carmine Infantino. The book was now being edited by Jack Miller, who also took on the writing of Deadman after the first two stories by Arnold Drake.

Another first in this book is for a character to have a specially-designed logo for his initial appearance. The Deadman logo at lower right is also the work of Ira Schnapp, with a head drawing in the opening of the D by Infantino I expect. Even though I think Schnapp was not very comfortable with scary lettering, this one is pretty good, better than the main logo!

Here it is larger, and taking an equal role to STRANGE ADVENTURES, showing the impact the popularity of the character was having. Schnapp’s wavy and drippy letters are somewhat inconsistent, but generally the logo looks pretty good, and having the head incorporated in it was a nice tie-in.

Here’s a better look on an old photostat from the DC files. This time Schnapp was able to incorporate his classic letterforms in a more attractive way as a foundation under the wavy border, and the drips or icicles add even more points to the already extended serifs on the letterforms. As I’ve said elsewhere, pointy things on comics logos often add to its appeal. I’d say Ira still had it for this one! Deadman deserves his own logo study at some point, so I’ll leave him here and move on.

With issue 217, the book became ADAM STRANGE ADVENTURES, an idea which seems obvious now, but it took DC a while to think of it! Adam Strange was another popular science fiction hero created under the editorship of Julius Schwartz, first appearing in SHOWCASE in 1958 (in fact I showed one of those covers in the first part of this study), then moving to MYSTERY IN SPACE—the companion title to STRANGE ADVENTURES—for a very long and popular run. The good news about him moving to this title was it returned the book to science fictional stories. The bad news was that the Adam Strange tales were nearly all reprints from MYSTERY IN SPACE.

The logo is by the man who took over most of DC’s cover logo designing from Ira Schnapp, Gaspar Saladino, and the rest of the cover lettering is by him as well. He’d already taken over the cover lettering on this and many titles, the previous cover above also has his lettering. Gaspar brought a new energy and style to DC’s covers, a more modern approach with lots of variety and artistry. That said, this logo is not one of his better efforts. The word STRANGE is very large and very readable, and the curve adds some interest (and works well with the art), but the shapes of the letters, particularly the S, are not as well-crafted as other work by him, and the widths of the open areas are somewhat inconsistent. Notice the way the right leg of the R is sort of attached below the loop, a defining style element that identifies this absolutely as a Gaspar logo. The words ADAM in a box and ADVENTURES look fine to me.

In the next issue, when the logo outline was in black with a yellow fill, you can see how uneven the shape of the S is, and R and A are not much better. This is great example of why, when designing open letters, the inner shapes of the openings are even more important than the outline shape, because in color, that’s what usually stands out.

A slight change came on issue 222, as seen in this black and white cover photostat from the DC files, with ADVENTURES now also in a box and inside the G and E. Note the cover blurb touting a NEW Adam Strange story, perhaps the only one in this run.

With issue 226 in 1970, the title gained pages and a new logo by Gaspar, this one with much more accomplished letterforms and an open telescoping drop shadow in two point perspective. GIGANTIC now heads the logo, a bit of bombast, and from the artfully lettered sidebar (by Gaspar), it looks like most of the stories other than the featured one are reprinted from the Julie Schwartz era. The word ADVENTURES is set in headline type, not hand-lettered, but otherwise this is a fine logo and quite attractive. The perspective may be faked, not accurately worked out to a single vanishing point, something Gaspar often did, but if so, it still looks fine.

Here’s the original Gaspar logo from the DC files, and as you can see, the title began as GIANT, and was probably changed to GIGANTIC later, perhaps in the cover-lettering stage. The perspective on GIANT is clearly a mismatch to STRANGE, the one on GIGANTIC is better. Notice again the way the right leg of the R attaches below the loop.

With issue 232 the topline was dropped, leaving more room for cover copy, here all in type rather than hand-lettered, and the cover is poorer for that. Perhaps Gaspar wasn’t available to letter this one.

Next time we’ll see one last gasp for the venerable anthology title, and two much newer revamps. Other chapters and many more logo studies can be found on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

3 thoughts on “Logo Study: STRANGE ADVENTURES Part 3

  1. Pingback: Logo Study: STRANGE ADVENTURES Part 3 « COMICON.com Pulse: Comic Book News, Opinion and Insight

  2. Allen

    #222: “a NEW Adam Strange story, perhaps the only one in this run.”

    Well, if you look closer at the cover right below it (#226), you’ll see a cover blurb that says “A NEW Adam Strange Picture-Story”. And sure enough, it contains a new 8-page story by Gardner Fox, with illustrations by Murphy Anderson.

    (I love these studies! Too bad you’ll probably complete this before we know what the logo for the newest Strange Adventures book (a one-shot) looks like (just announced earlier this week for May).)

  3. Todd Post author

    Yes, I’d already written this entire study before that new book was announced. Be interesting to see what logo it has.

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