GASPAR SALADINO AT WESTERN PUBLISHING Part 1

All images © the respective copyright holders. From STONEY BURKE #1, June 1963, Gold Key

Western Publishing’s comics are complicated. For many years they were produced in partnership with Dell, whose name was on the cover, though Western also produced a few titles under their own name. That ended around 1962 according to the Grand Comics Database, though some titles continued under the Dell name for a long while, and at the same time some of Western’s own comics had the new publisher name Gold Key. There were also versions sold in department stores and toy stores under the name Whitman. For more on this, see HERE and HERE. Gaspar would have been working for Dell and Gold Key at their New York City offices, and he began doing lettering for them in 1963, probably brought in by artist friends, as happened in the 1950s. Gaspar did a good deal of work for Dell/Gold Key from that time until 1974. I’m going to look at each title chronologically based on the first work Saladino did for it. All the work was on story pages, no covers. I’ll examine half the issues here, the rest in Part 2. STONEY BURKE #1 is the earliest Gold Key work by Saladino I’ve found, he did single story pages for the inside front and back covers, one is above, penciled by Mike Sekowsky, who Gaspar worked with at DC on JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, among other things. The lettering is typical of Saladino, wide and angular, and the title is by him, but the Rodeo sign is probably by the inker.

From STONEY BURKE #1, June 1963, Gold Key

Gaspar also lettered the second half of the single story inside, pages 17 to 32, the first half is credited to Joe Rosen. This suggests a rush job that Rosen wasn’t able to finish in time, and perhaps Sekowsky suggested and brought in Saladino. The Gold Key editors must have known a good thing when they saw it, and they continued to give Gaspar work when he had time for it.

From FROGMEN #6, Aug-Oct 1963, Dell

This is a title that began under Dell, and continued with that publisher name until it ended in 1964. It had several pencilers including George Evans and Alex Toth, but with issue #6, Mike Sekowsky took over as penciler, and Saladino lettered nearly all the story pages. This is the main story, the logo is not by Saladino, it’s the same one used on the cover, but Gaspar did the story title.

From FROGMEN #6, Aug-Oct 1963, Dell

Each issue also had a four-page backup, likewise penciled by Sekowsky and lettered by Gaspar.

From FROGMEN #7, Nov-Jan 1964, Dell

Sekowsky was a fast penciler, and Gaspar was a fast letterer, so they made a good team here, as they did at DC.

From FROGMEN #8, Feb-April 1964, Dell

This story has a Saladino title, and one style point I don’t recall seeing from him anywhere else: the caption’s borders extend beyond the corner in each direction as if they are poles crossing each other.

From FROGMEN #9, May-July 1964, Dell

The title on this story has an interesting mix of upper and lower case and bouncy letters.

From THE FROGMEN #10, Aug-Oct 1964, Dell

A small and subdued title on this story, and more of those crossed caption borders.

From THE FROGMEN #11, Nov 1964-Jan 1965, Dell

The lead story in the last issue features some nice Saladino sound effects.

From McLINTOCK (no number) March 1964, Gold Key

Here’s another full issue penciled by Sekowsky and lettered by Saladino. The balloons are all round-cornered rectangles, I don’t know if that was Sekowsky’s idea or Gaspar’s, or perhaps the editor, but it looks fine. The best image I could find is not very clear, but you I can see Saladino’s style well enough.

From VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA #1, Dec 1964, Gold Key

Another full issue by Sekowsky and Saladino. However this arrangement started, they both seem happy with it. I suspect Mike penciled the title and Gaspar just inked it, but the sound effects are definitely his. Continuing the rounded rectangle balloon style.

From NEUTRO #1, Jan 1967, Dell

There’s a break of about two years for Saladino lettering at Western, then he resumes with this one-shot over pencils by Jack Sparling, another artist Gaspar probably knew from DC. The issue has three stories, all lettered by Saladino. He didn’t do this logo (I don’t think he did any logos for Western), and THE BIRTH OF is type.

From THE OUTER LIMITS #11, Jan 1967, Dell

At the same time, Gaspar started lettering this series, also over Sparling, and worked on several consecutive issues. Everything here but the title logo is by Saladino, his mixed case THE in two places is very familiar from DC work. This is a three-part story, all lettered by Gaspar.

From THE OUTER LIMITS #12, April 1967, Dell

Issue #12 has three stories all by Sparling and Saladino. I like this title.

From THE OUTER LIMITS #13, May 1967, Dell

This story title is right out of Gaspar’s DC playbook, but I think he left room for the book title to the left of it, and it was placed lower instead. Again, three stories by Sparling and Saladino.

From THE OUTER LIMITS #14, July 1967, Dell

Three more stories by Sparling and Saladino in this issue. I’ve chosen this page because of the great lettering and sound effects by Gaspar. The rounded rectangle balloons continue, leaving Gaspar unsure how to emphasize the one at lower left, so he added thickness to the border, more at the top and bottom edges. In the last panel he went to his usual burst shape instead, which I think works better.

From THE OUTER LIMITS #15, Sept 1967, Dell

On the first page of this issue, it looks like Sparling drew in the balloon borders, as they’re not as well done, perhaps Gaspar didn’t have time, or Sparling inked the story before Gaspar got it, so the lettering was all he had to do. I love this story title, but is it by Sparling or Saladino? Not sure.

From THE OUTER LIMITS #16, Nov 1967, Dell

On this issue, the story title is definitely by Gaspar, taking a cue from Ira Schnapp’s DC Comics logo for MYSTERY IN SPACE, and so are the balloon shapes, which are starting to loosen up from the rounded rectangle look. Again, three stories by Sparling and Saladino. There were two more issues with art by Sparling but lettering by someone else.

From MISSION IMPOSSIBLE #1, May 1967, Dell

Sparling and Saladino also worked together on several issues of this title. I like the triple border on the first caption, and note the Saladino style point of an I with serifs at the beginning of emphasized words and at the beginning of the caption. Each of these issues has two stories by the same team.

From MISSION IMPOSSIBLE #2, Sept 1967, Dell

On this story I don’t think Gaspar did the title, it might be type. He lettered the rest except for the series logo.

From MISSION IMPOSSIBLE #3, Dec 1967

I like the sound effect here with the joined E’s.

From MISSION IMPOSSIBLE #4, Oct 1968

Another type story title that’s small and sad to my eye. Maybe the title wasn’t decided before Gaspar lettered the rest. There was a fifth issue, but it reprinted the first issue.

More Western titles in Part 2, and I’ll list everything there. Other articles about Gaspar Saladino lettering can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

One thought on “GASPAR SALADINO AT WESTERN PUBLISHING Part 1

  1. Eric G

    Post-1962, Western was no longer producing material for Dell. Since Gaspar hadn’t started work for either of them then, you’re actually showing his output for two separate companies. Mark Evanier explains things here:
    https://www.newsfromme.com/iaq/iaq07/
    It’s still fascinating to see what he did, though. I hadn’t realized he had worked for either Western or Dell before this!

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