GASPAR SALADINO in ANGEL AND THE APE and ANTHRO

All images © DC Comics. From ANGEL AND THE APE #1, Nov-Dec 1968

This short-lived series was an odd mixture of mismatched detectives (girl and ape) and teen humor. I don’t think readers knew quite what to make of it, but Bob Oksner’s art was always terrific, as was Gaspar Saladino’s cover lettering. Here they’re going for a hippie/Woodstock vibe for the creative lettering and foreground figure, with kung-fu action behind. The logo is one of the first from Saladino after he was given a mandate by Carmine Infantino to update DC’s presence, taking over from the aging Ira Schnapp. DC was trying new things, and they didn’t all work, but the attempts were going in the right direction, and away from the company’s fixation on past glories.

Fron ANGEL AND THE APE #2, Jan-Feb 1969

The gag is subtle on this cover, you have to notice the direction of the guy’s eye and the beads of sweat on his face to realize he’s just noticed who’s behind him. Gaspar’s word balloon helps by going from loud, large display lettering to increasingly smaller words.

From ANGEL AND THE APE #3, March-April 1969

Sometimes a word balloon is all that’s needed to make a cover work, and that’s the case here. Without it, Oksner’s art would present a mystery. With it, we have a funny situation and perhaps a comment on Angel’s intelligence on top of that.

From ANGEL AND THE APE #4, May-June 1969

Fans seemed more interested in Oksner’s beautiful girls than his amusing ape, and with this issue a new logo by Saladino promoted that. Angel’s attitude seems innocent and cheerful despite what they’re seeing, which is funny. Saladino’s balloon lettering here is looser than usual, perhaps it was done quickly, but I like it.

From ANGEL AND THE APE #5, July-Aug 1969

More of that cheerful cluelessness here, and Saladino’s sign lettering adds to the gags.

From ANGEL AND THE APE #6, Sept-Oct 1969

Perhaps the inspiration for these last two issues came from “The Munsters” on TV. Again, Gaspar’s signs add to the humor. Sales must have been too low to keep the book going, but the characters have returned several times since.

From MEET ANGEL #7, Nov-Dec 1969

For the final issue, the indicia finally changed to match the new logo, making this a one-issue series of sorts. As always, Gaspar’s balloon and signs work well to sell the gag.

From ANGEL AND THE APE #4, May-June 1969

Gaspar lettered only two stories inside the book, This is the first of two stories in issue #4. Script credits are scarce on this series, but the title makes a clever joke on the war slogan, “Remember the Maine!”

From MEET ANGEL #7, Nov-Dec 1969

The other story lettered by Saladino is in this final issue, and his display lettering and sound effects enhance the humor and drama.

From ANGEL AND THE APE #1, March 1991

Another miniseries from 1991 has cover lettering by Saladino on the first three issues under a logo I designed. I like the way the cover blurb echoes the one on the first issue of the original series, also by Gaspar.

From ANGEL AND THE APE #2, April 1991

Cover lettering on issues 2 and 3 is minimal, as seen here, but also by Saladino. Another miniseries from 2001 used only type on the covers.

To sum up, Gaspar lettered Ten covers for these characters. Below are the details on the two stories he did totaling 18 pages.

ANGEL AND THE APE #4 May-June 1969: Remember the Chow Mein 12pp

MEET ANGEL #7, Nov-Dec 1969: The Case of the Millionaire Cat 6pp

From ANTHRO #1, July-Aug 1968

Another unusual series from about the same time was created and drawn by Howie Post, a long-time animator and artist on humor comics for DC and other companies. ANTHRO was the adventures of a teenage boy in prehistoric times, sometimes played for teen humor, sometimes for action/adventure. It also did not last long, but was another interesting experiment from DC. The logo for this first issue was drawn as part of the art by Post. I was puzzled by the caption lettering, which is kind of like Saladino’s work, but kind of not…

From ANTHRO #1, July-Aug 1968

…until I saw it had been pulled from Gaspar’s story title inside the book, and put in a too-large caption box. Then it made sense. The balloon shapes here are not typical of Saladino’s work, so I think they were drawn in by Post either before or after they were lettered. Howie was used to placing and writing in all the lettering on his humor stories, and probably also used to inking the caption and balloon borders, so he did the same here.

From ANTHRO #1, July-Aug 1968

Gaspar might also have done the lettering on vellum overlays that were photostatted and pasted onto the finished art in some places, as seen for the last caption on this page, which clearly didn’t fit into the space Post left for it in the art. In general, the team worked fine together.

From ANTHRO #2, Sept-Oct 1968

Pasting photostats of cover lettering on covers was the usual plan, and that was probably done here. The caption is cryptic but intriguing. Note that Saladino did this new logo, probably with input from Post, but a more typical logo for a comic.

From ANTHRO #2, Sept-Oct 1968

Some of the sound effects and display lettering, as seen here in issue #2, are not typical for Saladino, though others are. These examples were probably pencilled by Post and just inked as is by Saladino. Gaspar lettered the stories in the first two issues of the series. After that he did only cover lettering.

From ANTHRO #3, Nov-Dec 1968

Gaspar could always be depended on for spooky lettering, as in EVIL here. The outline around the entire blurb made it work over the busy art.

From ANTHRO #5, March-April 1969

This cover has another cover blurb by Saladino in a box with a heavy outline. Could it have been drawn on the art by Post? I can’t think of any other reason it was done this way.

From ANTHRO #6, July-Aug 1969

The final cover also has a caption in a heavily bordered box, but here the lettering seems to fit better. The appeal is toward teen humor with great inking by Wally Wood. Anthro was another unusual series that didn’t find an audience, but it was an interesting effort.

To sum up, Saladino lettered five of the six covers, and these stories:

#1 July-Aug 1968: 24pp

#2 Sept-Oct 1968: 23pp

A total of 47 interior pages for the book. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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