GASPAR SALADINO in ALL-STAR WESTERN

All images © DC Comics. From ALL-STAR WESTERN #58, April-May 1951

By the early 1950s, superheroes were no longer selling well, and DC shifted some of their titles to other genres they thought might appeal to readers. ALL-STAR COMICS became ALL-STAR WESTERN with issue #58 and must have sold well, it had a long run ending in 1961. ALL-STAR editor Julius Schwartz continued as the editor, he was already editing other western titles for the company, and he brought with him his regular artists and writers, and his letterer Gaspar Saladino. From what I can see, Gaspar probably liked lettering western stories for this and other Schwartz titles. For one thing, they were generally short, making it easier to fit into his schedule than the long 32-pagers he’d been lettering for ALL-STAR COMICS. And Gaspar seemed to like stories with action, which these usually had. Gaspar did not letter any of the covers, which were done by DC veteran Ira Schnapp. I’ve written about those HERE. Saladino did letter many of the stories in the book, sometimes all the feature stories and even a few of the short one or two-page fillers, at least until near the end when other commitments must have taken priority. Only two issues had no story lettering by Gaspar at all.

The lead feature in the early years was the Trigger Twins, as seen above. The logo on this and all the features in the book were by Ira Schnapp, but Saladino did the rest, including TWO-FISTED made with a brush, and also notice the page number is in a spade shape for some reason.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #59, June-July 1951

Don Caballero was often up second, a hero in the style of Zorro, but without the mask. The caption is in a nice scroll. Gaspar’s wide, angular lettering was well suited to western subjects.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #60, Aug-Sept 1951

Another early feature was The Roving Ranger, a hero in the mold of The Lone Ranger, but again without a mask. Julie Schwartz and his writers were aiming at fans of other popular western stars. The calligraphy in the story title is unusual for Saladino, and works fine.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #61, Oct-Nov 1951

Strong Bow was a heroic Native American character at a time when they often were villains instead. I love Saladino’s treatment of SWAMP SPIRIT in the title, the graduated dot shading adds to the atmosphere, and slightly predicts his approach to SWAMP THING two decades later.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #66, Aug-Sept 1952

The script in this Trigger Twins story calls for a tricky lettering effect to suggest two gramaphones playing alternate words of a message. It kind of works, though without the footnote readers might not have understood. I bet this was a Julie Schwartz idea, he was a jazz records fan.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #67, Oct-Nov 1952.

After ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN, another Schwartz title, changed format to war stories edited by Robert Kanigher with the June-July 1952 issue, the most successful features there moved to this title, bumping out some that perhaps were not as popular. Johnny Thunder was one, and it eventually became the lead feature in this book. The western sheriff character was similar to many on TV. Gaspar’s balloon shapes are made with looping ovals that sometimes become quite angular, as in the first panel, and the thought balloon in panel 5 is about the same except for the tail made of bubbles.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #67, Oct-Nov 1952

I like Gaspar’s title on this story, he’s getting more confident and going larger, and the style of the first word echoes the feature logo treatment by Schnapp.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #88, April-May 1956

A few years later, Gaspar’s titles are even larger and more diverse. I love the treatment of MIRAGE, with gaps that make it seem half there.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #93, Feb-March 1957

This looks like an interesting story pitting Strong Bow against Vikings.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #103, Oct-Nov 1958

This splash page gave Gaspar a chance to try some fancy lettering on the poster. It works pretty well. Saladino was not as good at script titles as Schnapp early on, and the words THE and OF in this story title are weak.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #119, June-July 1961

In the last few issues before the book was cancelled, a new feature combined a Native American character with superheroic ideas and powers as well as science fiction plots. It was not enough to save the book, which ended with this issue.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #1, Aug-Sept 1970

In 1970, DC began a new version of the book edited at first by Dick Giordano, then by Joe Orlando. The first issue was reprints, but the rest contained mostly new material. Gaspar had lettered some of the reprints, but I don’t see any new story lettering by him in the eleven issue run. By this time, though, Gaspar had become DC’s main cover letterer, taking over from Ira Schnapp in 1968, and he lettered many of the covers, including this first one. The thought balloon is classic Saladino work for the time, and the blurb is enhanced by the treatment of FADEAWAY, made more effective reversed white out of the purple background.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #2, Oct-Nov 1970

The second issue shows the direction being taken, with new features Outlaw and El Diablo and a great Neal Adams cover. In addition to the logos, word balloon and caption, Saladino did a fine job on the wanted poster.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #3, Dec 1970-Jan 1971

The third issue has another great cover by Adams with fine Saladino lettering and logos, different from the ones on the previous issue.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #6, June-July 1971

This cover is full of action and not afraid to show gun violence, something that didn’t happen often during the original run. Gaspar’s lettering at the top stays out of the image.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #10, Feb-March 1972

The penultimate issue saw the introduction of Jonah Hex, probably DC’s most popular and longest-lasting western character. With issue #12, the book was retitled WEIRD WESTERN TALES with Hex as the lead feature. He would later get his own long-running title.

Below are the stories from the first version of ALL-STAR WESTERN lettered by Gaspar Saladino. Features are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#58 April-May 1951: Trigger Twins 10pp, Don Caballero 8pp, Roving Ranger 8pp, Strong Bow 10pp

#59 June-July 1951: TT 10pp, DC 8pp, RR 8pp, Big Teepee & Little Teepee 1pp, SB 10pp

#60 Aug-Sept 1951: TT 10pp, DC 10pp, RR 8pp, BTLT 1pp, SB 10pp

#61 Oct-Nov 1951: SB 10pp, DC 8pp, RR 2pp, TT 10pp

#62 Dec 1951-Jan 1952: SB 8pp, The Man Who Discovered Texas 2pp, TT 8pp

#63 Feb-March 1952: SB 6pp, TT 6pp

#64 April-May 1952: TT 8pp, RR 6pp, DC 6pp, SB 6pp

#65 June-July 1952: TT 8pp, DC 6pp, RR 4pp, SB 6pp

#66 Aug-Sept 1952: TT 8pp, Foley of the Fighting 5th 6pp, RR 4pp, King Woolsey 2pp, SB 6pp

#67 Oct-Nov 1952: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, Johnny Thunder 8pp

#68 Dec 1952-Jan 1953: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#69 Feb-March 1953: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 8pp

#70 April-May 1953: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#71 June-July 1953: JT 6pp, TT 6pp, FF5 6pp, SB 6pp

#72 Aug-Sept 1953: JT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, TT 6pp

#73 Oct-Nov 1953: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#74 Dec 1953-Jan 1954: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#75 Feb-March 1954: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#76 April-May 1954: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#77 June-July 1954: TT 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#78 Aug-Sept 1954: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp

#79 Oct-Nov 1954: SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, TT 6pp

#80 Dec 1954-Jan 1955: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#81 Feb-March 1955: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#82 April-May 1955: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#83 June-July 1955: TT 8pp, SB 6pp, JT 6pp

#84 Aug-Sept 1955: SB 6pp, JT 6pp

#85 Oct-Nov 1955: TT 8pp, SB 6pp, JT 6pp

#86 Dec 1955-Jan 1956: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#88 April-May 1956: TT 6pp, JT 6pp, SB 6pp

#89 June-July 1956: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#90 Aug-Sept 1956: TT 6pp, JT 6pp

#91 Oct-Nov 1956: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, JT 6pp

#92 Dec 1956-Jan 1957: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, JT 6pp

#93 Feb-March 1957: SB 6pp, JT 6pp

#94 April-May 1957: TT 6pp, JT 6pp

#95 June-July 1957: TT 6pp, JT 6pp

#96 Aug-Sept 1957: TT 6pp, FF5 6pp

#97 Oct-Nov 1957: TT 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#98 Dec 1957-Jan 1958: TT 6pp, SB 6pp, JT 6pp

#99 Feb-March 1958: TT 6pp, FF5 6pp, JT 6pp

#100 April-May 1958: TT 13pp

#101 June-July 1958: TT 12pp, JT 8pp

#102 Aug-Sept 1958: JT 8pp

#103 Oct-Nov 1958: TT 10pp, JT 9pp

#104 Dec 1958-Jan 1959: TT 10pp

#105 Feb-March 1959: TT 10pp, FF5 7pp, JT 8pp

#106 April-May 1959: TT 8pp

#107 June-July 1959: JT 10pp, FF5 7pp, TT 8pp

#108 Aug-Sept 1959: JT 16pp

#109 Oct-Nov 1959: JT 10pp, TT 8pp

#111 Feb-March 1960: FF5 7pp, TT 8pp

#112 April-May 1960: JT 11pp, FF5 7pp, TT 8pp

#113 June-July 1960: JT 11pp, FF5 7pp, TT 8pp

#114 Aug-Sept 1960: JT 10pp, FF5 7pp, TT 8pp

#115 Oct-Nov 1960: FF5 7pp, TT 8pp

#116 Dec 1960-Jan 1961: JT 17pp, TT 8pp

#117 Feb-March 1961: JT 13pp, Super Chief 12pp

#118 April-May 1961: JT 14pp

#119 June-July 1961: JT 14pp, SC 12pp

That’s a total of 1,245 pages on this series.

Gaspar also lettered these covers for the second version of ALL-STAR WESTERN: 1-7, 10-11, making it nine in all. There were plenty of other books he was working on, too.

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

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