GASPAR SALADINO in ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR

All images © DC Comics. From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #104, July 1964

When National (DC) Comics merged with its sister company All-American Comics in the mid 1940s, All-American’s titles continued as before, but as interest in superheroes waned after World War Two, some titles changed genre. ALL-AMERICAN COMICS became ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN, and when that genre did not perform as well as hoped for the company, it changed again to ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR, joining a throng of newly popular war comics that were selling well for all companies. The war itself had faded just enough to make soldiers, sailors and airmen fighting in it role models for young male readers, and editor/writer Robert Kanigher at DC proved to be a master at editing and writing stories that appealed to them.

Gaspar Saladino had been hired by DC editor Julius Schwartz in the fall of 1949 to letter his stories. At first, Gaspar told me, he sat in the production room between veteran letterer Ira Schnapp and production artist Mort Drucker, but soon he was given a drawing board right in the office Schwartz shared with editor Kanigher, where he was always handy to letter stories for either. Gaspar seemed to have a liking for Kanigher’s new war books, and he lettered most of the stories in them. His angular style and large titles and sound effects worked well with the art and stories. Ira Schnapp lettered nearly all the DC covers in these years, and I’ve written about his lettering on this title HERE. Ira lettered only a few stories, though, and a few were lettered by others, especially in the last year, but most are by Saladino. This was the kind of steady work that allowed Gaspar to marry his wife Celeste in 1957, buy a house on Long Island in 1959, and raise a family. He and Kanigher made a good team, and they were joined by some fine artists including Joe Kubert, Russ Heath, Irv Novick, Jerry Grandenetti, Ross Andru and many more. While superhero fans might not have paid much attention, a great deal of fine work appeared for years in this and other DC war titles.

The cover above is the only one lettered by Gaspar, filling in for regular cover letterer Ira Schnapp. While I like Ira’s cover lettering, I think it’s kind of a shame that Gaspar wasn’t given more of it for the war titles, as his style suits the art so well.

From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #127, Aug 1952

The numbering on this series began oddly. The first two issues continued the numbering from ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN, so issue #127 is the first, and #128 is the second. Then the company began again, but with issue #2 instead of #1. At the time, first issues were not yet sought out and valued by collectors, and they were often put aside by retailers who already had racks full of existing titles, and that might have been the reason. By early 1952, when he was probably working on this story, Gaspar had more than a year of lettering experience under his belt, and his work is already top notch on this first page of the first story. His story titles and sound effects would get larger with time, but this is already fine.

From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #15, Nov 1954

For many years this was an anthology title with no recurring characters. Gradually, over time, some did emerge, including Gunner and Sarge, and pilot Johnny Cloud, Navajo Ace, but generally the heroes of each story were regular enlisted men in many roles and theaters of war, mostly World War Two, but other wars as well. The word FLYING in Gaspar’s story title here is particularly well done in brush style.

From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #30, Feb 1956

Gaspar’s lettering was always creative and full of variety. The title of this story is quite different from the previous ones, large open letters with heavy rough outlines. I also like the sound effects in the water adding to the drama.

From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #47, July 1957

A random story page with lots of sound effects shows Gaspar handling everything well, enhancing the storytelling. Note the emotion added to the balloon at lower left by the wavy outline and last line of letters.

From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #60, Aug 1958

Perhaps the most dramatic sound effects were in the air fighter stories, where open skies gave Saladino plenty of room, as on the lower left panel here. Gaspar’s gradually increasing emphasis in the first three balloons on the top row of panels adds to the tension.

From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #74, Oct 1959

This page begins with a symbolic calendar page, and more work for Saladino, which he handles well. Around this time, Gaspar began doing all the lettering in italic, I’m not sure why, but perhaps it was an editorial choice, or possibly it was faster.

From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #96, March-April 1963

As DC entered the 1960s, Gaspar was busier than ever lettering editor Julie Schwartz’s new superhero titles like THE FLASH, GREEN LANTERN, THE ATOM and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. Other letterers were sometimes needed to do stories on the war titles, but Gaspar usually still did the first and longest story, like this one featuring Lt. Cloud.

From ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR #113, Jan-Feb 1966

Gaspar’s final story lettering for this title was on the second story in issue #113 featuring a World War One pilot. As always, the story title and sound effect add to the drama. The last few issues were lettered by others, or used reprints lettered previously by Saladino. I’m not sure why this title ended when it did, other DC war books continued for some years, but perhaps their feature characters were more appealing to readers, and they sold better. Certainly Sgt. Rock had taken the top spot, and he was not in this book.

As above, the only cover lettered by Saladino was for issue #104. Below are all the stories he lettered, but to save having to type all the story titles, I’m listing each story as a number, usually 1 to 4 or 1 to 3 in each issue. This doesn’t count the one-page fillers, either humorous ones by Irwin Hasen and Henry Boltinoff, or informational ones by Morris Waldinger for instance. Saladino might have lettered a few early examples of those, but I’m not sure, so I’m not counting any of them. Almost all were lettered by the artists. As far as I can tell, none of these lettering credits are listed yet on the Grand Comics Database.

#127 Aug-Sept 1952: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#128 Oct-Nov 1952: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 8pp 26pp total

#2 Dec 1952-Jan 1953: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 4) 6pp 18pp total

#3 Feb-March 1953: 2) 6pp, 4) 6pp 12pp total

#4 April-May 1953: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 4pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#5 June-July 1953: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#6 Aug-Sept 1953: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 4pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#7 Oct-Nov 1953: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 4pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#8 Dec 1953-Jan 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#9 Feb-March 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#10 April-May 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#11 June-July 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#12 Aug 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#13 Sept 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#14 Oct 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 18pp total

#15 Nov 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#16 Dec 1954: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#17 Jan 1955: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#18 Feb 1955: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#19 March 1955: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#20 April 1955: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#21 May 1955: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#22 June 1955: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#23 July 1955: 1) 8pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 20pp total

#24 Aug 1955: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#25 Sept 1955: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#26 Oct 1955: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#27 Nov 1955: 1) 8pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 20pp total

#28 Dec 1955: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 4pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#29 Jan 1956: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#30 Feb 1956: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#31 March 1956: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#32 April 1956: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#33 May 1956: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#34 June 1956: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#35 July 1956: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#36 Aug 1956: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#37 Sept 1956: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 4pp, 4) 6pp 22pp total

#38 Oct 1956: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 4pp, 4) 6pp 22pp total

#39 Nov 1956: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 4pp, 4) 6pp 22pp total

#40 Dec 1956: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#41 Jan 1957: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#42 Feb 1957: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 4pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#43 March 1957: 1) 8pp, 2) 4pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#44 April 1957: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#45 May 1957: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#46 June 1957: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#47 July 1957: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#48 Aug 1957: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#49 Sept 1957: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 24pp total

#50 Oct 1957: 1) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 18pp total

#51 Nov 1957: 1) 6pp, 4) 6pp 12pp total

#52 Dec 1957: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 8pp 26pp total

#53 Jan 1958: 1) 9pp, 2) 4pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 25pp total

#54 Feb 1958: 1) 7pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 25pp total

#55 March 1958: 3) 6pp

#56 April 1958: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 1-4 only 22pp total

#57 May 1958: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#58 June 1958: 1) 8pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp, 4) 6pp 26pp total

#59 July 1958: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#60 Aug 1958: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#61 Sept 1958: 1) 12pp, 2) 4pp, 3) 8pp 24pp total

#62 Oct 1958: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#63 Nov 1958: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 13pp 25pp total

#64 Dec 1958: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp 19pp total

#65 Jan 1959: 1) 13pp, 3) 6pp 19pp total

#66 Feb 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#67 March 1959: 1) 6pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 13pp 25pp total

#68 April 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#69 May 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#70 June 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#71 July 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#72 Aug 1959: 1) 12pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 24pp total

#73 Sept 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#74 Oct 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#75 Nov 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#76 Dec 1959: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#77 Jan-Feb 1960: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#78 March-April 1960: 1) 13pp, 2) 4pp, 3) 8pp 25pp total

#79 May-June 1960: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#80 July-Aug 1960: 1) 12pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 8pp 26pp total

#81 Sept 1960: 1) 18pp, 2) 6pp 24pp total

#82 Oct-Nov 1960: 1) 17pp, 2) 8pp 25pp total

#83 Jan-Feb 1961: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#84 March-April 1961: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#85 May-June 1961: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#86 July-Aug 1961: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#87 Sept-Oct 1961: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#88 Nov-Dec 1961: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#89 Jan-Feb 1962: 1) 6pp, 2) 13pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#90 March-April 1962: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#91 May-June 1962: 1) 6pp, 2) 13pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#92 July-Aug 1962: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp 19pp total

#93 Sept-Oct 1962: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp, 3) 6pp 25pp total

#94 Nov-Dec 1962: 1) 15pp, 2) 10pp

#95 Jan-Feb 1963: 1) 13pp, 2) 6pp 19pp total

#96 March-April 1963: 1) 13pp 3) 6pp 19pp total

#97 May-June 1963: 1) 15pp, 2) 10pp 25pp total

#98 July-Aug 1963: 1) 15pp

#99 Sept-Oct 1963: 1) 15pp

#100 Nov-Dec 1963: 1) 15pp, 2) 10pp 25pp total

#101 Jan-Feb 1964: 1) 15pp, 2) 10pp 25pp total

#102 March-April 1964: 1) 25pp

#103 May-June 1964: 1) 15pp, 2) 10pp 25pp total

#106 Nov-Dec 1964: 1) 15pp

#107 Jan-Feb 1965: 1) 24pp

#108 March-April 1965: 1) 25pp

#109 May-June 1965: 1) 16pp, 2) 9pp 25pp total

#110 July-Aug 1965: 1) 15pp, 2) 10pp 25pp total

#111 Sept-Oct 1965: 1) pages 1-4 only

#112 Nov-Dec 1965: 1) 15pp

#113 Jan-Feb 1966: 2) 9pp

That’s a whopping total of 2,588 pages on this series lettered by Gaspar, not counting that one cover. As we’ll see, there were other books he was doing at the time with just as much work, he was a busy man.

Other articles in this series are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog with more you might enjoy.

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