GASPAR SALADINO at ATLAS/SEABOARD Part 1

All images © Nemesis Group. From THE BRUTE #1, Feb 1975

This article is about Gaspar Saladino’s work on cover and story lettering for the 1975 Atlas Comics from Seaboard Periodicals, referred to as Atlas/Seaboard to set it apart from the Atlas Comics name used by Marvel in the 1950s. Marvel publisher Martin Goodman sold his publishing business in 1968 and left Marvel in 1972, starting this new publishing business in 1974. To attract top talent, Atlas/Seaboard offered among the highest pay rates in the industry as well as return of original art, not yet being done by any other comics publisher. That worked to attract big name creators like Neal AdamsSteve DitkoRuss HeathJohn SeverinAlex Toth and Wally Wood, as well as such up-and-coming talents as Howard Chaykin, Larry Hama and Rich Buckler. Steve Mitchell was hired from DC as production manager, and he hired Gaspar to do all the logos for the company, which I’ve covered HERE and HERE. Saladino also did quite a bit of cover lettering, and some story lettering. In this article and in Part 2, I’ll look at that, going through the titles alphabetically. All were published with 1975 cover dates, and none lasted more than four issues, so the company made a big splash, but didn’t last long. On the cover above you can see lots of typical Saladino style in the caption.

From THE BRUTE #2, April 1975

This caption and balloon have lots of Saladino’s wide, angular lettering with some scary styles in the caption.

From THE BRUTE #3, July 1975

The same is true here. Note that the banner caption on the right is reversed, something Marvel often did too, ruining the shape of the banner. While Gaspar lettered all the logos, his cover lettering goes no farther than July 1975 titles, suggesting the company was trying to cut costs by not using him after that.

From THE COUGAR #1, April 1975

This cover lettering has elements of superheroes in the burst and horror in some of the caption lettering. It’s all similar to what Saladino was doing on many DC and Marvel comics at the time, this was a very busy year for him.

From THE COUGAR #1, April 1975

While Atlas/Seaboard titles did include credits for writers and artists (on this story they were on the page before), letterers and colorists were not credited, which was probably fine with Gaspar, though his style is easy to spot if you know it. Even his title here is a mix of horror and superheroes. He lettered the entire story.

From THE DESTRUCTOR #2, April 1975

When looking at Gaspar’s work at Marvel, I have to separate his cover lettering from that of Marvel staffers like Danny Crespi. At Atlas/Seaboard it’s easier, no one other than Saladino was doing this kind of dynamic lettering on covers. It really ups the drama here.

From THE DESTRUCTOR #3, June 1975

Another example that’s just as effective!

From THE GRIM GHOST #2, March 1975

The logo and main figure get the most attention on this cover, but I like the burst with SUPERNATURAL in almost a CinemaScope style.

From IRONJAW #2, March 1975

Here the banner looks like Gaspar’s work, but the letters in it are type. Saladino did the bottom caption, I like the texture in it. While DC style usually drew the line at one exclamation point, here Gaspar uses two.

From IRONJAW #3, May 1975

I would have made these captions larger. Cover lettering was generally done large on separate art paper and then reduced photographically by the production staff to the size wanted and pasted on the cover art along with the logo and trade dress (all the other stuff at the top).

From MORLOCK 2001 #2, April 1975

Here Saladino’s second balloon border is made of two joined shapes, something he kind of had to do to fit in the long word CONTAMINATED on one line.

From PHOENIX #2, March 1975

Before the Marvel X-Men character Jean Grey became Phoenix, that name was used for this male superhero character. I like Gaspar’s rough balloon shapes.

From PHOENIX #2, March 1975

Gaspar lettered the story inside, though AND THE SEA RAN is press-down type, something he was doing at the time. His lettering on RED looks so much better.

From PHOENIX #3, June 1975

Saladino also lettered this issue, and here the title is all his handiwork and quite effective. It looks like the logo was a last-minute addition that didn’t get colored right.

From PLANET OF VAMPIRES #1, Feb 1975

This title looks like a combination of science fiction and horror, and Gaspar’s caption presents that well.

From PLANET OF VAMPIRES #1, Feb 1975

Gaspar also lettered the story inside. It didn’t help that the paper and printing used for comics at the time was at it’s worst point, but as a reader I didn’t notice that, as I had few better examples to compare it to. Saladino’s work was always clear and readable, and added to the drama.

From PLANET OF VAMPIRES #2, April 1975

Here again the combination of SF and horror works well.

From POLICE ACTION #2, April 1975

Atlas/Seaboard tried many genres, like this police thriller, in addition to horror and superheroes, probably trying to compete with Marvel and DC on newsstands, but I think spreading themselves too thin. A wiser course would have been focusing on one or two genres and a few titles. Martin Goodman was following the practices he used at the first Atlas (Marvel) in the 1950s, when he flooded the market with short-lived titles, hoping some would be hits, but it didn’t work as well this time. The Grand Comics Database lists two stories lettered by Saladino in issues 1 and 2. I’ve been unable to find images from them, but will include them in the totals.

More in Part 2, where I’ll do totals. Other articles on the work of Gaspar Saladino can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

One thought on “GASPAR SALADINO at ATLAS/SEABOARD Part 1

  1. Devlin Thompson

    Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of the lettering on Atlas covers looks almost like it was done separately without being able to see the actual art— all fine work, but frequently sized strangely, or oddly placed. There’s something “off” about almost all of their covers, really.which doesn’t mean that I don’t own most of them!

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