Category Archives: Creating Comics

GASPAR SALADINO in SUPERMAN (1987)

All images © DC Comics. From SUPERMAN #1, Jan 1987

In late 1986, DC Comics launched a new monthly Superman series for the first time in decades, a revamp created by writer/artist John Byrne. While Byrne moved on after a while, the series was popular and ran to 2006 with 226 issues. Gaspar Saladino lettered some of the covers until 1991, and two interior stories after that. On the first cover, above, his blurbs above and below the logo both promote the new series and make the situation more interesting.

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GASPAR SALADINO in REX THE WONDER DOG

All images © DC Comics. From REX THE WONDER DOG #43, Jan-Feb 1959

Unlike some comics publishers such as Dell, DC rarely title featured animals unless they were cartoon-inspired funny animals, but Rex was an exception. Writer Robert Kanigher made the stories exciting, setting them in different time periods and many locations around the world, even in the past and outer space. He and editor Julius Schwartz made a minor success of the idea that ran 46 issues from 1952 to 1959. The art initially was by Alex Toth, but Gil Kane soon took over Rex’s stories, and a frequent second feature, Detective Chimp, had art by Carmine Infantino. Gaspar Saladino was friends and work-mates with all those people, and he lettered many of the stories throughout the run. The regular cover letterer was Ira Schnapp, but Gaspar filled in for him on the cover above, his only cover for the series. (There are two others not by Schnapp, but also not by Saladino in my opinion.) Schnapp’s logo is one of his best, and Gaspar’s blurb below it works well. His word balloon shows his typical wide, angular style. THE ADVENTURES OF was always part of the title, but I’m skipping it in this article to save keystrokes.

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GASPAR SALADINO in SUPERMAN (1939)

All images © DC Comics. From SUPERMAN #76, May-June 1952

Here we go with one of the most important DC Comics series. I’m dating this post 1939 for the original run of 423 issues because there will be another for the 1987 revamp. The letterer most associated with Superman’s first few decades is Ira Schnapp, and he lettered many Superman stories and covers until 1968, but when he was unavailable, Gaspar Saladino occasionally filled in for him, and that happened on the cover above. This is very early for Saladino cover lettering, and it may be his first. Despite the fact that he’d been lettering stories at DC since late 1949, Gaspar was not used to doing covers, and made a rookie mistake on this one by underlining the emphasized words in the balloons. It may have been in the script that way, but in comics scripts, underlining is one way to indicate bold italic display lettering, and that’s what he should have done. In general the lettering is trying to imitate Ira Schnapp’s cover work, but Gaspar’s lettering is more angular and often wider than Ira’s. I don’t know what the editor thought, but his next cover lettering on this title was about 14 years later! When Schnapp retired, Saladino became the regular cover letterer for many years, and he also occasionally lettered stories and inside pages, but was never a regular. I’ll look at covers first.

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GASPAR SALADINO in SUPERGIRL

All images © DC Comics. From SUPERGIRL #1, Nov 1972

While Supergirl was a popular character with long runs in ACTION COMICS, SUPERMAN FAMILY, and ADVENTURE COMICS, she wasn’t able to sustain her own monthly series for very long until the 1990s. The first one ran just ten issues, and Gaspar Saladino lettered all but one of the covers. Above, the top line is partly headline type, but Gaspar did the rest. I always liked his arrow captions.

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GASPAR SALADINO in SUPER FRIENDS

All images © DC Comics. From SUPER FRIENDS #15, Dec 1978

Super Friends was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series based on DC’s Justice League of America comics, but more cartoony and aimed at a younger audience, that ran from 1973 to 1986. DC’s comic book version had a good run of 47 issues from 1976 to 1981. Some early issues had cover lettering by Joe Letterese and others, but beginning with the issue above, Gaspar Saladino lettered many of them. If anything, the job was simpler than the average DC cover, but Saladino always did his best.

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