GASPAR SALADINO in BLUE BEETLE and BLUE DEVIL

All images © DC Comics. From BLUE BEETLE #1, June 1986

Once again I am combining two titles with the same first word simply to create an article of the right length, they have no other connection. Gaspar Saladino lettered only covers for each title.

Blue Beetle’s comics history goes back to 1939 at Fox Comics, but he came to DC through a run at a later publisher, Charlton Comics, where he was sometimes drawn by Steve Ditko. That version of the hero, an alias of Ted Kord, came over to DC when they bought some of the Charlton heroes in the mid 1980s. The character did well at DC. His own series ran 24 issues, and he joined the Justice League. Later versions of the character were also reasonably successful for DC. The logo on this first DC issue is by Saladino, but based on one that was created by Charlton. The burst and the scroll caption are Gaspar’s fine work, adding excitement to this launch. Too many exclamation points, maybe, but that wasn’t his choice. By now, DC had recognized the value of first issues to comics fans, and they were not tempted to continue the numbering from Charlton’s version.

From BLUE BEETLE #2, July 1986

Saladino seemed to have a knack for doing flaming letters, he had several styles for them. This one has flames blowing to the left, and the letters seem partly consumed at the top. Despite all that texture, they’re still easy to read.

From BLUE BEETLE #8, Jan 1987

Gaspar’s large display lettering takes up almost half of this cover, and while the letters might have been simple block shapes, he’s made them more interesting using unusual angles and variations. There’s also a subtle rough edge to it all. It adds a great deal to the cover.

From BLUE BEETLE #12, May 1987

This is a crowded cover, but Gaspar’s two arrow captions work well to make it more understandable. I like the texture on THE HYBRID.

From BLUE BEETLE #20, Jan 1988

A similar treatment is used for CATALYST here, but what really stands out is the reversed white lettering in the black area, something that would have been done by making a negative photostat in the DC production department. Another version of the Blue Beetle appeared some years later, but without Gaspar’s work.

From BLUE DEVIL #1, June 1984

Blue Devil was created by writers Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin along with artist Paris Cullins, and his series ran for 31 issues plus an Annual. I designed the logo, Gaspar added the top line above it. DC was definitely catering to the direct market comics retailers and their buyers by this time, and they loved first issues.

From BLUE DEVIL #2, July 1984

Saladino’s caption on this issue includes a clever treatment of SHOCKWAVE, with multiple thin outlines suggesting tremors.

From BLUE DEVIL #7, Dec 1984

The romance theme of this cover gave Gaspar a chance to utilize appropriate styles and a fancy border on the top caption, while the bottom one kept things a bit more heroic.

From BLUE DEVIL #14, July 1985

This cover is an homage to DETECTIVE COMICS #38 from 1940, where the cover introduced Batman’s sidekick Robin. Saladino’s lettering follows that lead also with well-crafted Old English letters for the character name.

From BLUE DEVIL #19, Dec 1985

More fun is had with this comparison in issue #19, which guest-stars Robin.

From BLUE DEVIL #24, May 1986

Saladino was an old hand at making things fit, and he does a fine job here with this blurb. Even with much of the word TOYS covered, it still reads fine.

From BLUE DEVIL #31, Dec 1986

The final issue includes more fiery effects. I particularly like the little crown over the L in LUCIFER, and the flames atop the bottom caption, which the colorist has left white. Like Blue Beetle, Blue Devil popped up elsewhere from time to time, but not as often, and to date he hasn’t had a new series.

To sum up, Gaspar Saladino lettered these BLUE BEETLE covers: 1-4, 6-15, 20-22 for a total of 17. On BLUE DEVIL he did issues 1-2, 4-5, 7-31 and Annual 1 for a total of 30.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.