GASPAR SALADINO in CAPTAIN ACTION and CAPTAIN ATOM

All images © DC Comics. From CAPTAIN ACTION #1, Oct-Nov 1968

These two titles are grouped to create an article of the right length, and have no other connection. This five issue series from 1968-69 is based on an Ideal Toys action figure of the same name. The action figure’s gimmick was costumes from superhero characters like Superman and Spider-Man, but that idea was not used in the comic, which was only slightly like the toy. The art by Wally Wood and Gil Kane was excellent, though, and the stories by a young Jim Shooter were pretty good too. Gaspar Saladino lettered all the covers, but none of the stories inside. Here the speech balloon and scroll caption have some appealing display lettering.

From CAPTAIN ACTION #2, Dec 1968-Jan 1969

There’s only a small amount of cover lettering on the second issue, and it’s less typical for Saladino, but probably by him. Since the explosion in the art gave him a perfect place for it, he didn’t need to do a border around it.

From CAPTAIN ACTION #3, Feb-March 1969

Saladino had begun doing nearly all the DC covers in late 1967, and by the time of this one was getting more comfortable in his role as the style-setter for the company. These balloons are creative and distinctive, more energetic than what his predecessor Ira Schnapp had been doing. The square balloon was an experiment he was trying occasionally, it didn’t last long, but I think it works fine. The balloon tail points at his eye rather than his mouth, but that’s probably a placement error by the DC production person who put the cover together, it should have been lower.

From CAPTAIN ACTION #4, April-May 1969

While these balloons are pretty standard for a cover, Saladino manages to inject some emotion into them through the slight bounce and uneven sizes of the letters.

From CAPTAIN ACTION #5, June-July 1969

This cover is effective, but the real destruction of the comic character came from cancellation after this issue. The comics lettering style of ending one balloon with an ellipsis (three dots) and continuing the same speech in another with an opening ellipsis is on display here. As far as I know this style was born in comics and only used there.

From CAPTAIN ATOM #1, March 1987

Captain Atom was created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko for Charlton Comics in the 1960s, and had a popular run there. When DC Comics bought some of the Charlton characters in the 1980s, this was one of them, but the version DC published bore little or no resemblance to or continuity with the Charlton version. Over time, the character proved to be popular, and his book had a long run of 57 issues. Many had no cover lettering, and only a few had lettering by Gaspar. The first issue was certainly enhanced by his captions, though his top line is hard to read because of the color choice.

From CAPTAIN ATOM #3, May 1987

Saladino’s blurb on this cover is again sabotaged by too-dark color in the open letters, making them hard to read, though perhaps on the actual comic it reads better.

From CAPTAIN ATOM #4, June 1987

Here’s a classic lettering problem, how to make the I in MIA read effectively in a vertical stack. I think Gaspar’s solution works pretty well, though it does take a moment to realize the words are filling out that acronym.

From CAPTAIN ATOM #10, Dec 1987

Gaspar’s blurb on this cover works okay, but the outline around NOT is too close, so that ink gain is filling in some of the white space around the letters. Or, it may simply be this is not a good scan of the cover, hard to say. I have to use what I can find.

From CAPTAIN ATOM #37, Jan 1990

By 1990, few DC covers had lettering by Saladino, but I think this is one, and it’s a clever use of the radiation symbol in each O. Note the typical Gaspar R with the right leg seeming to be attached to a P.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on all five CAPTAIN ACTION COVERS, and these CAPTAIN ATOM covers: 1, 3-4, 10 and 37, ten in all for these two books. Not much, but every one counts. Other articles in this series are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog with more you might like.

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