This article focuses on two titles that Gaspar Saladino lettered only covers for, and I’ve combined them to make the article a good length, they have no other connection. BEWARE THE CREEPER was a Steve Ditko creation that lasted just six issues, and Ditko departed before that, possibly due to health issues at the time. Even when he was drawing the book, someone else was writing dialogue, but it’s still an interesting character and I liked the series when it came out. This cover would have been produced in late 1967 or early 1968, a time when Saladino was transitioning to a new role as the main cover letterer for DC, taking over from Ira Schnapp, who would leave the company in a few months. Gaspar had been filling in for Schnapp on covers occasionally for years, but was mostly used to lettering story pages, and his own cover styles had not yet fully emerged. The burst here is uneven in approach, the two styles don’t go together in my opinion, and the letters don’t fill the burst shape very well, so he was still finding his way, though I love Saladino’s logo for the book, one of his best from the time.
I like the cover lettering better on issue #2, it fills the space left by Ditko well, and is all of one style, with texture added on the last word. I also like the laughing around the logo, adding a slightly demented feel.
Issue #3 shows Gaspar hitting his stride, with a handsome block letter story title across the bottom gracefully arched downward along the top, and the laughter is more curved and fluid, dancing around the cover art.
I also like the laughter on this cover. The placement of the story title is a bit odd, on the giant face, but perhaps that’s where Ditko had indicated he wanted it.
Filling the space between two characters with a large balloon is never a good idea, and this one barely reads as a word balloon, but again, it may have been where Ditko wanted it. There isn’t much room on the rest of the cover. the reverse letters, white and colors on black, work well (something that would have been done in DC’s production department by making a negative phototstat), and the colors help sell it.
The final cover has art by Gil Kane, showing that Ditko had departed, and Saladino’s caption has deeply angled perspective, but is still readable. This is not easy to do. Perhaps Kane had roughed it in with perspective lines to give him direction. I think it works well. The Creeper continued to appear in other titles, and has had a long history at DC.
Booster Gold, created, written and penciled by Dan Jurgens, was the first new launch after DC’s CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. He joined the Justice League, and his own title had a good run of 25 issues, most with cover lettering by Gaspar. I designed the logo, the rest here is by Saladino, including the top blurb. Superheroes were something he did well, and this title was right up his alley.
At first glance, all this cover lettering seems similar, but there are actually several styles at work, including slightly different ones for Rose and Thorn at the top, and DIRECTOR is open block letters. The caption styles add interest.
Like his predecessor Ira Schnapp, Gaspar often did larger and more artful display lettering in balloons on covers, as seen here, with extra emphasis on YOUR accomplished by the larger size and heavier weight. A threatening villain suggests a rough voice, and Saladino subtly suggests that with a rough balloon border.
On this cover, Saladino has some fun with the word MEXICO by giving it a zig-zag band suggesting native pottery, but the colorist has chosen a dark color for it that makes the word harder to read, something Gaspar wouldn’t have known about until the book was printed. I think it still reads okay.
When the hero becomes the threat (times two), they get the rough balloon borders. Gaspar rarely missed a cue like adding an open drop shadow to TWIN to double it, and TERRORS is energetically appropriate.
To sum up, Saladino lettered all the BEWARE THE CREEPER covers, six in total, and these BOOSTER GOLD covers: 1-10, 12-13, 15, 17-25, a total of 22. More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.