GASPAR SALADINO in BLACK CONDOR and BLACK LIGHTNING

All images © DC Comics. From BLACK LIGHTNING #9, May 1978

These two DC series that begin with the same word are grouped here simply to create an article of the right length, and they have no other connection. Surprisingly, most of the lettering on them by Gaspar Saladino is on story pages, but he did letter two covers for BLACK LIGHTNING, so I’ll start there. The character was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, and Gaspar designed the lightning bolt logo, but most of the covers in the 11-issue series were lettered by Joe Letterese, John Workman, and perhaps others. Issue #9, above, has a typical Saladino caption with a variety of styles that work well together.

From BLACK LIGHTNING #10, July-Aug 1978

For issue #10, Saladino makes good use of arrow captions that include his fine open lettering. Note the subtle drop shadows on them to help them read against the cover art. As was usually the case, Gaspar would have lettered on separate one-ply art paper, which was sized, phototstatted and pasted onto the cover art by a DC production person, probably Bob LeRose at this time.

From BLACK LIGHTNING #1, April 1977

Gaspar also lettered the book-length story in the first issue, though for some reason he used a pen name in the credits, P.G. Lisa. Letterer credits were just beginning to appear at DC at the time, this is one of the earliest. I don’t know why he used a pen name, but I do know what it means: P and G were his sons Peter and Gary, and Lisa was his daughter. Gaspar’s fine lettering gave the series a good start.

Unfortunately, the book fell victim to the DC Implosion in the fall of 1978, but the character appeared in other titles and later returned in his own.

From BLACK CONDOR #1, June 1992

Black Condor was created by Brian Augustyn and Rags Morales, and the series ran for twelve issues in 1992 and 1993. Surprisingly, I see no evidence that Gaspar Saladino lettered any of the covers, but he did letter the stories in ten issues. The credit box on the first one, above, shows how he often credited himself with just his first name in an upper and lower case style similar to his handwriting. I think one reason was to avoid having to cram in his long last name. The title is stylish, and I like the different caption shapes.

From BLACK CONDOR #2, July 1992

This page from issue #2 has an elaborate oversized check in the first panel and signs in the second with Saladino lettering. The color chosen for the captions is too dark in my opinion, but it may have worked okay in the actual comic. I like the way the two captions at lower left fit together, space was tight, and that helped.

From BLACK CONDOR #3, Aug 1992

Some creative and energetic sound effects from Gaspar on this page help tell the story, and I like the use of lower case in the small final balloon.

From BLACK CONDOR #6, Nov 1992

Speaking of sound effects, when given the chance to go big, Saladino never disappointed! This one is fabulous. Today having all those elements in front of the letters could be done digitally with masking, then it was simply lettered on the pencilled art.

From BLACK CONDOR #12, May 1993

At this time, Saladino’s balloon lettering was loosening up and getting bouncier, and the lettering on this page has lots of that, and lots of variety, including small lower case, large bursts, a thought balloon, and a radio balloon from the phone. I don’t know why the series didn’t last longer, low sales is the likely reason. It certainly wasn’t because of the writing, art or lettering.

To sum up, Gaspar Saladino lettered two covers for BLACK LIGHTNING: #9-10, and the first issue, 17 pages.

For BLACK CONDOR, he lettered these issues:

#1 June 1992: 22pp

#2 July 1992: 22pp

#3 Aug 1992: 22pp

#4 Sept 1992: 22pp

#5 Oct 1992: 22pp

#6 Nov 1992: 22pp

#7 Dec 1992: 22pp

#8 Jan 1993: 22pp

#11 April 1993: 22pp

#12 May 1993: 22pp

That’s 220 pages in all. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

3 thoughts on “GASPAR SALADINO in BLACK CONDOR and BLACK LIGHTNING

  1. Bruno Porto

    Todd, may I ask your thoughts on the Black Lightning logo being divided into two words to produce a horizontal version? Do you think it was really necessary, and to keep the two-line signature in a smaller size would risk its legibility?

  2. Todd Klein Post author

    I think it could work either way. The logo as done is very tall, and could have been less tall, but other logos of the time were equally tall.

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