GASPAR SALADINO in ALL-STAR COMICS

All images © DC Comics. From ALL-STAR COMICS #52, April-May 1950

ALL-STAR began as an anthology from All-American Comics, sister company of National (DC) comics, but with issue #3 it became the home of the Justice Society of America, featuring long stories divided into chapters featuring superheroes like Green Lantern, The Flash and Hawkman, the original golden-age versions. When All-American merged with National, the book continued under original editor Sheldon Mayer for a while, then was edited by Julius Schwartz, who also came over from All-American. When Julie hired Gaspar Saladino to letter his books in the fall of 1949, he not only assigned him western stories, but started him right in on ALL-STAR, and Gaspar did fine on these long superhero stories until the title was cancelled in 1951. Above is a page from Saladino’s first issue showing some of his early style points: open letters over a black shape to begin each caption and wavy borders at the bottom of some captions. His balloon lettering was excellent from the start, if a bit larger than other letterers of the time, but he made it work. A team book is generally text heavy with many speaking characters, but then nearly all DC comics of the time were, so this one was not unusual.

From ALL-STAR COMICS #54, Aug-Sept 1950

Gaspar did a creative CIRCUS on this issue’s title, but the feature logo at the top was picked up from an earlier issue. His scroll caption is well-made.

From ALL-STAR COMICS #55, Oct-Nov 1950

Another page with lots of text, but Saladino finds room for a nice scroll caption over the last panel. These stories, though divided into chapters, were quite long for the time, often 32 pages. Most comics then were anthologies with stories running from four to twelve pages.

From ALL-STAR COMICS #56, Dec 1950-Jan 1951

Most issues at this time also had a Johnny Peril backup story, and Saladino lettered a few of those too. This example is scanned from microfilm, so a poor image, but you can read the lettering pretty well. Gaspar’s story titles were not yet very good, the word AQUATERRA here is squashed and hard to read, but he would improve that area with time. Issue #57 was the final one of this run.

From ALL-STAR COMICS #58, Jan-Feb 1976

In 1976, DC revived the title and the Justice Society after Julie Schwartz brought them back in the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. Gaspar did not letter any of the stories in this revival, but he did letter some of the covers, including this first one. Saladino had taken over the role of main cover letterer at DC from Ira Schnapp in 1968, and by this time was doing many of DC’s covers with finely crafted balloons and captions. He probably also lettered the SUPER SQUAD subtitle.

From ALL-STAR COMICS #62, Sept-Oct 1976

Here he not only did the burst and caption on the main image, but also the Superman blurb in the top banner, adding excitement with his energetic lettering.

From ALL-STAR COMICS #68, Sept-Oct 1977

Gaspar did not design this Justice Society logo, which is by Joe Staton and perhaps an unknown inker, but he did the burst at the lower right.

From ALL-STAR COMICS #73, July-Aug 1978

Covers divided into several sections can be difficult to letter, but Gaspar did well on this one, keeping the lettering off as much of the art as possible. This revival ended with issue #74, cut short by the infamous “DC Implosion” where management canceled almost half the comics line. The Justice Society did continue in ADVENTURE COMICS for a while.

Here are the stories lettered by Saladino in the first run of ALL-STAR COMICS:

#52 April-May 1950: Justice Society of America 32pp, Johnny Peril 5pp

#53 June-July 1950: JSA 30pp

#54 Aug-Sept 1950: JSA 32pp

#55 Oct-Nov 1950: JSA 32pp

#56 Dec 1950-Jan 1951: JSA 32pp, JP 5pp

#57 Feb-March 1951: JSA pages 2-26 only (25pp), JP 6pp

That’s a total of 199 pages in this short run of issues.

Gaspar also lettered these covers on the revived series of 1976-78: 58, 62, 64, 68, 73 and 74. That’s six in all.

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

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