It was about a year after the infamous “DC Implosion,” when management cut almost half the comics line and laid off some staff. The company was beginning to make a comeback thanks in part to the success of the first Superman movie released in December 1978. The Dollar Book line was doing well enough that it was decided to add a war title, and rather than have it be reprints, most of the content was new. This was a relief to creators whose work had been cut back like writer Robert Kanigher, and some of the war artists like George Evans, Gerry Grandenetti and Joe Kubert, and also to letterer Gaspar Saladino. War comics had always been one of his favorite genres, and he jumped into this one gratefully, lettering a majority of the stories and covers. I designed the logo and I think Joe Letterese did the lettering on the first cover,but from the second issue on, it was all Gaspar cover lettering, as seen above, and no one did it better, especially on war books. Editor Murray Boltinoff and Kanigher were pulling out all the topics they thought readers would be drawn to, like Vikings, air fighters, war dogs, and Nazis. Despite all this enthusiasm, I think sales were only moderate, and the title lasted just six issues, but they were large ones.
Hey, let’s put Hitler on the cover, too, and why not a black air fighter? This is a busy cover, but Gaspar’s creative and varied lettering adds to the excitement.
Unfortunately, there was no longer a big market for war comics, especially after the Vietnam War, when many young people turned away from military ideas. It was a good effort, but readers had moved on.
Inside the book, Gaspar’s lettering was vibrant, exciting, full of energy. His sound effects and titles were never better. Gaspar had been the main logo and house ad designer from 1968 until the Implosion, but after that his work in both areas was much reduced, and I think he would have enjoyed getting to letter many stories for this title.
DC was now getting some of their art from Philippines artists to save money, and often they were lettered there as well, but editor Boltinoff managed to keep Saladino on stories like this one, I’m not sure how. think the story title was at least penciled by artist E.R. Cruz.
Most of the stories stuck to World War Two, but this one had echoes of more recent conflicts. I love Gaspar’s textured, gritty feature logo.
The titles on these E.R. Cruz stories look like his designs, so perhaps he sent in pencils for Saladino to letter, and Gaspar simply inked what Cruz had done. The art is also inked by Cruz, though, so it must have been sent back to him for that.
I love the large logo and titles on this story, again full of character and interest. All the creators listed had been instrumental in the success of DC’s war comics in the early 1950s, and it’s nice to see them reunited here, and credited by name, as they were not back then.
More great feature logo and story title work here from Saladino, as well as fine sound effects. This character seems like a good idea, and there’s plenty of action.
Look at these fine sound effects and balloons, and the story couldn’t get much more action on one page: a Viking Commando, an enemy officer, and an active volcano! Too bad this book wasn’t able to continue longer.
Gaspar lettered the covers of issues 2-6, that’s five in all. Here are the stories he lettered inside, features are abbreviated after the first appearance:
#1 Sept-Oct 1979: Viking Commando 18pp, Gunner & Sarge 7pp, Guerrilla War 12pp
#2 Nov-De 1979: VC 15pp, Black Eagle 10pp, GW 12pp
#3 Jan-Feb 1980: VC 15pp, No Glory for Cooky 7pp, GW 12pp
#4 March-April 1980: VC 14pp, BE 12pp, GW 13pp
#5 May-June 1980: VC 15pp, BE 13pp, GW 11pp
#6 July-Aug 1980: VC 16pp, BE 12pp, GW 12pp
That’s a total of 226 pages on this book. More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.