Gaspar Saladino, 1950s, photo courtesy of Lisa Weinreb.

Gaspar Saladino was born in Brooklyn, NY on September 1st, 1927. As a child, he was a fan of comic strips like “Secret Agent X-9” by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond. Gaspar was also a comics reader and budding artist, confirmed by a drawing of an airplane published in FUNNY PAGES Volume 3 #8 dated October 1939 when Gaspar was eleven. For that image and more details about his life and career, see THIS article on my blog.

For high school, Gaspar enrolled in Manhattan’s High School of Industrial Arts (later renamed the High School of Art and Design), commuting to school by subway from Brooklyn. Many of its students became comics professionals, including Neal Adams, Jack Adler, Frank Giacoia, Joe Giella, Dick Giordano, Sol Harrison, Carmine Infantino, GIl Kane, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Kubert, Joe Orlando, John Romita Sr., and Alex Toth. Of these, Gaspar reported in an interview with Kirk Kimball, “Joe Kubert I knew of. And I knew Carmine and Gil Kane. I knew Joe Orlando. Joe was in my grade. Alex Toth was in the grade below me.” Joe Giella was also a classmate of Gaspar. While he was in high school, some of the New York comics studios employed students, and Gaspar did a little inking for Lloyd Jacquet Studios, but described them as “occasional one or two-pagers.” Gaspar graduated in the class of 1945, and was then drafted. He spent two years in the Air Force serving as a public relations staffer under General Douglas MacArthur as part of the U.S. occupation force in Japan.

In 1947, Gaspar returned to Brooklyn and was soon out pounding the pavement looking for work. His original direction was toward fashion design, but he found little work in that field. Finally, in 1949 he put together some sample comics pages that he drew, lettered and inked, and took them to National Comics (now DC Comics) where the Production Manager Sol Harrison, a graduate of the High School of Industrial Arts himself, was known to be friendly to other graduates. Several of Gaspar’s former schoolmates were already working for the company. Harrison showed the samples around to the editors, and Julius Schwartz expressed interest. Julie said that, while he didn’t like Gaspar’s art enough to hire him for that, he did like his lettering, and offered him regular lettering work, which Gaspar was happy to get. Gaspar worked as a freelancer, but in the DC offices in his early years. A series of articles beginning HERE detail his first work for DC. He lettered countless stories for many titles, primarily ones edited by Julie Schwartz and Robert Kanigher, mainly western, war and science fiction titles at first. When Schwartz began reviving DC’s golden age super-heroes like The Flash, Green Lantern and The Atom in the late 1950s, Gaspar also lettered many of their stories.

Gaspar worked concurrently with Ira Schnapp from late 1949 until Ira left the company in 1968. Schnapp was the company’s go-to person for logos, cover lettering and house ads, but Gaspar filled in for Ira here and there during those years in the latter two areas. When Carmine Infantino became Art Director and later Editor-In-Chief at DC around 1967, he began shifting that high profile work from Schnapp to Saladino, hoping to give the company’s image a fresh look. Gaspar responded to the challenge with fine, creative, energetic lettering and design, and when Schnapp left the company, Gaspar continued in that role as the go-to person for logos, cover lettering and house ads.

Like Ira Schnapp, Gaspar did most of his prolific lettering and design work for DC Comics, but unlike Schnapp, Saladino also became a regular letterer and logo designer for Marvel Comics beginning in 1971, and he designed all the logos for the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard line in 1974-75. That work, as best I can identify it, is included here. It’s likely I’ve missed some Saladino logos, and it’s also likely that Gaspar did logos for other companies. Wikipedia’s article about Saladino claims he did logos for Eclipse Comics and Continuity Comics, but I’ve looked through all the covers from both companies and I don’t see any logos that I think were by Saladino. Gaspar worked regularly for MAD, but probably not as a logo designer. Beyond that, anything is possible, but I know of only one other comics logo by Gaspar, and have included it here. Anyone with knowledge of logos by Saladino for other companies, please contact me.

This and all following images © DC Comics. From SHOWCASE #45, July-Aug 1963
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This and all images © DC Comics.

Recently on a Facebook post by Robert Beerbohm, I was made aware of another commercial lettering job by Ira Schnapp when Bob posted one of these images. Kellogg’s Pep cereal was a sponsor of “The Adventures of Superman” radio show in the 1940s, and in 1945 Superman premiums were featured on the cereal boxes, and inside in the form of a Superman pin-back button.

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And Then I Read: THE FOREST OF FOREVER by Thomas Burnett Swann

Cover illustration by George Barr

Thomas Burnett Swann is an author I discovered in the science fiction magazines of the 1960s. I liked his work, usually fantasy based on Greek myths, and followed it to his novels. I bought and enjoyed many of them, but there were a few I never found, either because I just missed them or because they were only issued in rare limited editions. Recently I found the ones I haven’t read are easily available now as ebooks, and I bought a few including this one. It’s the middle book of a trilogy about a minotaur and his friends, and I don’t recall the other two, but it works fine on its own. (They were written in reverse order anyway.)

In a remote forest on the island of Crete in pre-Christian times live a dwindling population of mythical creatures like the dryad Zoe and the last of the minotaurs, Eunostos as well as centaurs, bee-creatures and others. Though they have become isolated and surrounded by mundane humans, they continue their ancient ways as best they can. Eunostos is in love with a younger dryad named Kora, but he is shy and inept at courting her, and asks his friend Zoe, a much older dryad, for help. When Kora is captured by Saffron, a Bee-Queen, Eunostos and his friends rescue her, and in gratitude she accepts his advances. Then things change when a human prince of Crete, Aeacus, comes into the forest fleeing enemy warriors. He is reluctantly accepted by the inhabitants, and Kora falls in love with him. Eunostos is heartbroken but determined to remain her friend, even though Aeacus tries to keep the minotaur and Kora apart. What will happen when Aeacus and Kora have children? The court of King Minos of Crete has no heir, Aeacus’s son could be that heir, but Kora cannot leave her tree for long without dying.

I enjoyed this story and the writing. Swann has a gentle touch, but his characters are interesting and his plots engaging, if somewhat predictable. He was ahead of his time in promoting equal rights for all, and frank in his inclusion of sexual themes, though they were not explicit. His world has its tragedies, but generally it’s a pleasant place to visit, and informed by his scholarship. Recommended.


Image © DC Comics

The third thick volume of this series has arrived, again with a new cover by Mark Buckingham that connects with the others to form one wide image. This book collects issues 83-113 of the monthly comic as well as the graphic novel “Werewolves of the Heartland,” “The Great Fables Crossover” sections from JACK OF FABLES, and “THE LITERALS.” Paper and printing are of fine quality, and total page count is 1,096. It’s a heavy handful, but these collections (one more to come) are an economical way to collect the entire FABLES series even compared to the original cover prices of all the issues inside. Retail price is $59.99. Look for it at your comics retailer, or here’s a link:

Sand Sculptures 2021

After missing last year, my friend Tim and I spent two days at the beach near my home in southern New Jersey, and continued our long tradition of sand sculptures. They were smaller and somewhat less inspired than in the past. As Tim said, “Our best ones are behind us.” I thought I would document them here all the same. This is Tim’s creation imitating some of the ideas of master sand sculptor Calvin Seibert, a favorite of ours.

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