GASPAR SALADINO at AURORA

All images © Aurora. From AURORA COMICS SCENES #181-140, 1974

Aurora Plastics Corporation was founded in 1950 and made buyer-assembled plastic replica models of cars and airplanes, later expanding into TV and movie scenes. In 1974 they issued a series of comic book superheroes and characters that ran to ten releases, and each one had a comic book size pamphlet of eight pages, two pages of instructions and six pages of comics including the front cover. Gaspar Saladino lettered all of the comics pages, including the covers, which mostly used existing logos and had hand-lettered story credits. The editor was Mark Hanerfeld, employed by Aurora at the time, and he had close friends at DC Comics and Marvel Comics, where he probably recruited Gaspar as well as the writers and artists involved, though Mark wrote this first one. I’ll show all the covers and some inside pages.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #181-140, 1974

The art, lettering and coloring are all top quality on these, and they were printed on much better paper than regular comics publishers were using at the time, so they make a fine showcase for Saladino’s work. I love the first caption here, no doubt drawn by Neal Adams, and the special style for Tarzan’s monkey friend.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #182-140, 1974

Saladino was really the perfect choice of letterer, as he was working regularly for both Marvel and DC at the time, though doing more at DC.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #182-140, 1974

Gaspar’s dynamic lettering would have been familiar to buyers of the DC and Marvel comics these characters appeared in, even if they didn’t know his name. His work adds drama to this action-filled John Romita page.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #183-140, 1974

Tonto did appear in LONE RANGER comics from Western Publishing and a few of his own, I don’t know if that’s where this logo came from, it’s not on any of those covers. Perhaps someone at Aurora did it, or possibly Gaspar. I’m showing the original art for the cover courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #183-140, 1974

Here’s a typical story page, Kane and Saladino always look good working together.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #184-140, 1974

For the first time we see a large caption by Saladino on this cover filling in buyers who might not know The Hulk’s back story.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #184-140, 1974

All these Saladino balloons and sound effects looks terrific, but he used type for MAMMOTH. I’m not sure why he liked to do that sometimes, it can’t have saved him much time.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #185-140, 1974

I never bought any of these model kits, but a friend had this one and Batman. The comics art versions were better than the kits in my opinion.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #185-140, 1974

I like the sound effect on this page, which covers a lot of story ground.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #186-140, 1974

Most of the artists on these were veterans, penciller Dave Cockrum was from a younger generation, but he’d become the regular Superboy artist at DC at around this time. This is the first place I’ve seen a company copyright notice on these books, it may have been inside on the instruction pages on the others.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #187-140, 1974

For the remaining issues I have only cover images. Gaspar’s credit box on this one is much like the captions he did for SWAMP THING, also with Len Wein.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #188-140, 1974

This logo definitely came from Western Publishing, though I don’t think they were doing any Lone Ranger comics at the time.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #192-140, 1974

With this issue, the numbers jump ahead. I don’t know what happened to 189-191, perhaps those were planned models that were never produced.

From AURORA COMICS SCENES #193-140, 1974

Here’s another logo I don’t recognize, possibly done by Gaspar. The co-writer Felton Marcus was a pen name of editor Mark Hanerfeld. It’s interesting that Gaspar got a lettering credit on all these books at a time when he wasn’t yet getting credited at DC, while on his work at Marvel he was usually using a pen name, perhaps to make his work there less obvious to his DC editors.

To sum up, Gaspar Saladino lettered all ten AURORA COMICS SCENES, six pages each including the cover for a total of 60 pages. Other articles about his lettering work can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

3 thoughts on “GASPAR SALADINO at AURORA

  1. Steven Rowe

    No doubt Mark Hanerfeld knew Gasper when Hannerfeld was on staff at DC. Hanerfeld had been an assistant editor to Joe Orlando in 1971-1972 and as DC’s librarian for an unknown, to me, time.

  2. Patrick O'Neill

    At least one of the missing kits may be Wonder Woman. There was definitely a model for her, because I had it…..but I don’t recall that it ever came with a comic book.

    BTW, the Superman, Batman, Robin, Captain America, Superboy, and Spider-Man kits originally were issued, without the comics, in the mid-60s. Some were slightly revised for the re-issue; the originals of Superman and Batman, for instance, had their chest emblem molded into the plastic. For the revised versions, that was removed and a stick-on decal was provided instead.

    Modifying the kits to be other characters was a frequent thing among fans…Andy Yanchus, who was a friend of Hanerfeld and Len Wein among others, worked for Aurora and later became a colorist, and was a master of alterations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.