This article has become a sort of catch-all for the lettering work of Gaspar in DC’s tabloid-size issues, which began with the one above, an unusual project. It was intended to promote a Superman theme park that never opened, and while the cover is in color, the interiors are black and white with gray tones. Some of the book is reprints, some is non-fiction articles with photographs, but this 15-page origin story for Superman was new. Gaspar was already becoming the go-to person at DC for high-profile projects, and this was one that should have been very high profile, but kind of fizzled when the theme park did. The story was often reprinted elsewhere in color. Below are all the other DC tabloids with Saladino lettering in date order. Most of the DC tabloids after this first one were identified by issue numbers beginning with the letter C, but the series began with C-20 for some reason, and there were several different series within that numbering: LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION, which was mostly reprints, FAMOUS FIRST EDITIONS, which was oversized replicas of important early DC comics, and ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION, which was mostly new material, and that’s where the majority of Gaspar’s lettering work is found, though he did contents pages and other short features elsewhere. SUPERMAN VS. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, a collaboration with Marvel Comics, does not have a C number, and there were three later tabloids that didn’t either, being part of the DC SPECIAL SERIES instead.
Once DC had figured out how to do tabloid size comics, they kept at it, though many like this one were mostly reprints. Gaspar did some contents pages, as here, which are certainly much more appealing with his lettering than they would have been using only type, though some were also done that way. Most of the covers in this series used type other than the logo.
Another one with some great Saladino lettering, full of variety in styles and sizes, and even a nice scroll caption. If I were picking up this book at a newsstand, I’d be more likely to buy it after seeing this. Incidentally, that Superman painting, also on the cover, is the one by H.J. Ward that once hung in the office of Harry Donenfeld, but was then lost track of by DC when he took it home at retirement. DC retained a good photograph of the painting, which allowed them to use it here. It’s now owned by Lehman College in the Bronx, and is often on display in their library. Gaspar also lettered the How To Draw Superman feature by Curt Swan.
While most of these used existing logos and had no cover lettering, this one is an exception. The handsome logo by Saladino is new, as is the lettering in the bow. The logo was reused on a later issue too. This is certainly a case where Gaspar did his lettering to fit the existing space in the art.
Another appealing contents page with great variety, and notice how the elements are divided into sections for easier reading.
This contents page is full of appealing lettering and atmosphere, with great rough-edged paper captions, and look at that wild 3-D!
At the time this was being created, Gaspar Saladino was working for both Marvel and DC, though much more for the latter. He was the perfect choice to letter this ground-breaking crossover epic, and it cemented his reputation as the go-to person for such projects. If ever a sound effect could make a punch more convincing, this is it.
While having less room on this contents page, Saladino makes good use of it with open titles that were filled with a gray tone.
This was the only cover in the LIMITED COLLECTORS’ series to have new lettering by Saladino. Sorry for the small reproduction of it, but I wanted to show both the front and back.
When DC decided to create some all-new tabloids, Gaspar was once again tapped to letter them, other than the Rudolph ones, which were lettered by writer-artist Sheldon Mayer or his Philippine inkers, who also lettered the tabloid based on The Bible. Gaspar is on record as feeling these new tabloids held some of his best work, as the large page size gave him more room to be creative.
Team-up stories were nothing new to Gaspar, but the sheer number of characters in this one must have made the lettering more time-consuming. Even though his work is larger than many letterers, it rarely looks cramped.
This is the best known of the original DC tabloids, and all the creators were doing excellent work, from writer Denny O’Neill to artists Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, colorist Cory Adams, and letterer Gaspar Saladino. I was privileged to do production work on the pages early in my DC career, and it was a glorious thing to see them. Previously I hadn’t really known the work of Saladino, or at least not put his name to it, but this job made him my favorite letterer and role model from then on.
The last one lettered by Saladino, and this page has a great burst at lower right. All the lettering adds interest and energy to the art and subject. I was assigned the cover lettering, and I did my best, but I sure wish Gaspar had done it instead, his would have been much better.
As mentioned earlier, the last three DC tabloids of this period were part of the DC SPECIAL SERIES, but I’m including them here instead of with the rest of that run. Gaspar designed the logo and lettered the front and back covers of this one.
He also lettered the entire main story inside, making this a fine companion to his earlier tabloid work. His title here uses Gaspar’s horror style effectively for the word FEAR, and I also love the trail of SSSS behind Superman.
The second Marvel-DC crossover has front and back cover lettering by Saladino…
…and he also lettered these character summaries on the inside front cover. The rest of the book was lettered by John Costanza.
Here’s a summary of Gaspar’s work on DC Tabloids:
THE AMAZING WORLD OF SUPERMAN METROPOLIS EDITION, 1973: The Origin of Superman 15pp
LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION SHAZAM, C-27, June 1974: Contents 1pp
LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION SUPERMAN, C-31 Oct-Nov 1974: Contents 1pp, How To Draw Superman 2pp
LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION CHRISTMAS WITH THE SUPER-HEROES, C-34 Feb-March 1975: Cover
LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION SHAZAM, C-35 April-May 1975: Contents 1pp
LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION Batman, C-37 Aug-Sept 1975: Contents 1pp
SUPERMAN VS. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1, April 1976: The Battle of the Century! 93pp
LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, C-49 Oct-Nov 1976: Contents 1pp
LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION BATMAN, C-51 Aug-Sept 1977: Cover
ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION SUPERMAN VS. WONDER WOMAN, C-54 Jan 1978: 72pp
ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, C-55 March 1978: 72pp
ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI, C-56 March 1978: 73pp
ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION SUPERMAN VS. SHAZAM, C-58 May 1978: 72pp
DC SPECIAL SERIES #26, SUPERMAN AND HIS INCREDIBLE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, Summer 1981: Cover, 64pp
DC SPECIAL SERIES #27, BATMAN VS. THE INCREDIBLE HULK, Fall 1981: Cover, Inside Front Cover 1pp
To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on three wraparound covers and a total of 469 pages inside these oversized comics. There would not be any more tabloid-size ones from DC until a series by Paul Dini and Alex Ross beginning in 1998. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.
The splash page of Superman versus Wonder Woman is one of my all time favorites, and certainly an inspiration. Gaspar Saladino’s work on the documents and handwritten notes made the 8 year-old me believe I was reading a true story.