GASPAR SALADINO in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

All images © Marvel. From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #118, March 1973

This book and character are one of the most important at Marvel, and the series began in 1963 and continued with this numbering until issue #441 in 1998. Gaspar Saladino worked on it for a short part of that run, from 1973 to 1980, first doing cover lettering, then adding page 1 lettering, where the rest of the story was by someone else, plus one full story. Saladino had plenty of work at DC Comics in those years, but had apparently decided to expand his customer base to other publishers in the 1960s, and that continued at Marvel in the 1970s and 1980s, but I found no work by him on this book after 1980. The cover above, his first, is full of his distinctive display lettering at the bottom in several styles, and the balloons also show his style points, like the shape of the I in the thought balloon, and the way the open letters of ATTACK are connected in the burst. At the time, most Marvel cover lettering was by either Artie Simek or Sam Rosen, but Sam stopped lettering in late 1972, and Simek died in early 1975, opening the door for different letterers on covers. The main one that stepped in other than Saladino was Danny Crespi, though I don’t find much of his work before 1974 on covers. Other Marvel regulars like Morrie Kuramoto and Irv Watanabe also did some, other freelancers like John Costanza were sometimes given covers, and when a late cover came in, anyone might be handed the assignment. At times type was also used in that situation. I’ll look at covers first, then inside pages.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #119, April 1973

Danny Crespi’s cover lettering is sometimes hard to tell apart from Gaspar’s, and I might get a few wrong, but I’m doing my best to present an accurate list, any I’m not sure of won’t be included. Here the styles in the bottom banner have Saladino’s crisp corners, and the balloon lettering is more angular than what Crespi did.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122, July 1973

This balloon lettering is narrower than what Gaspar usually produced, but still has his style, and the construction of the open letters at the bottom is also typical for him.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #123, Aug 1973

At times Crespi seemed to be imitating Saladino, which makes identification harder, but in general Gaspar’s work is more angular and Crespi’s more rounded. The almost rectangular first balloon here is something Artie Simek often did, and Saladino might have gotten that from him, but his letters inside are much different.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #126, Nov 1973

The lettering on this cover is again very angular, look at the sharp points of the burst for instance, and the creative placement of THE over the K in KANGAROO is a very Saladino touch.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129, Feb 1974

Notice the way the notch in the right side of the R in PUNISHER is below the center, a Saladino style point. The style of THE in THE JACKAL is also one he often used, picked up from DC’s Ira Schnapp.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #130, March 1974

The way the very square letters of HAMMERHEAD extend above and below the baselines is typical of Saladino, as is the style of the arrow caption.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #131, April 1974

The best clue to Saladino’s lettering here is the shape of the question mark in the last burst balloon, but it’s all typical of his work.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #134, July 1974

The scary style of TARANTULA is very Gaspar here, as is the style of the EXTRA banner. In the first balloon, the open letters are not typical for him, and might have been revised by someone else like Danny Crespi at the editor’s request. On the other hand, SHREDDED in the thought balloon is typical Gaspar open lettering.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #135, Aug 1974

A tough call, but the smaller lettering is more like Saladino than Crespi.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #136, Sept 1974

This one is again similar in some ways to Crespi’s cover lettering, but there are subtle differences that suggest Saladino to me.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #141, Feb 1975

The shapes of the open letters in the balloons say Saladino to me, the caption is harder because of the black fill.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #153, Feb 1976

The very angular small lettering in the balloon is pure Saladino, the burst is again hard to be sure about because of the black fill, but DEADLIEST is certainly by Gaspar.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #172. Sept 1977

In the late seventies, Crespi was doing most of the cover lettering, but Saladino still did some as well. This looks like Gaspar’s work to me.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #186, Nov 1978

The way some of the open letters in the upper blurb are joined is very Saladino. The bottom banner caption uses type.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #200, Jan 1980

Both the open lettering next to Spidey and the bottom caption are typical Saladino work of the time.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #208, Sept 1980

There’s something about the shapes of THE TWIN TERROR that’s very Saladino, angular in a particular way.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #210, Nov 1980

The best Saladino style point in this cover is the shape of the question mark in the first caption. And that’s all I can find for him on covers.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #150, Nov 1975

This is the first of Saladino’s “page 1” contributions. On each, he puts the name of the letterer who did the rest of the story in the credits, but take a look at any of these issues and you’ll see the style of later pages is quite different. Marvel seems to have done this to make the issues more appealing to readers, it certainly worked on me!

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #155, April 1976

Look at Gaspar’s amazingly creative story title here! It’s better than what appeared on the cover, and better than most Marvel story titles in general.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #156, May 1976

This is the only full story lettered by Saladino for the book, and the only one with his name in the credits, using his first name only in script, as he liked to do. For earlier story lettering at Marvel, he often used pen names like L. P. Gregory, but by this time, Gaspar must have felt secure enough in his popularity at DC to put his name on the page. He wasn’t the only one, John Costanza was lettering for both companies at the time, and using his own name at Marvel. DC did not yet allow lettering credits most of the time, that would start in 1977. I love the creativity of THE MIRAGE.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #159, Aug 1976

Then it was back to page 1 only with no credit, but anyone who was paying attention would have seen Gaspar’s style in this title. I think he was fine with no credit as long as he was paid well, and these probably paid more than regular page rate, I’m guessing double.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #160, Sept 1976

Some letterers like Costanza did not get the page 1 Saladino treatment, but others like Sam Rosen’s brother Joe did, perhaps because his work was quite small, and Marvel thought this would grab more readers.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #161, Oct 1976

Lots of extra lettering work on this page’s newspaper, and the treatment of NIGHTCRAWLER is full of menace and energy.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #163, Dec 1976

Great banner around the title here. I wonder what the letterers doing the rest of the issues thought about these?

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #165, Feb 1977

On some credits blocks like this one, Saladino uses a handsome Art Deco style that adds class to my eye, and his title is again full of energy.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #169, June 1977

Some of this credit block could have been copied from the previous one, but Gaspar didn’t bother with that, he just lettered it all. Quicker that way, too.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #191, April 1979

A smaller credit block here and a larger title, plus a rare case of Saladino allowing Marvel to paste in the logo rather than just creating a new version. The title would have worked better if he had.

From AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #192, May 1979

The last of these page 1’s, and another amazing title. Other letterers like Jim Novak were sometimes given the same page 1 preference, but it seemed to die out gradually in the early 1980s. I know if I was lettering for Marvel then, I would have been campaigning for the chance to do my own page 1, and that idea may have prevailed eventually.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 118-119, 122-123, 126, 129-131, 134-136, 141, 153, 172, 186, 200, 208, 210. That’s 18 in all. Below are the details of his story lettering.

#150 Nov 1975: page 1 only

#155 April 1976: page 1 only

#156 May 1976: 18pp

#159 Aug 1976: page 1 only

#160 Sept 1976: page 1 only

#161 Oct 1976: page 1 only

#163 Dec 1976: page 1 only

#165 Feb 1977: page 1 only

#169 June 1977: page 1 only

#191 April 1979: page 1 only

#192 May 1979: page 1 only

That’s a total of 28 pages. More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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