GASPAR SALADINO in CAPTAIN AMERICA Part 1

All images © Marvel. From CAPTAIN AMERICA #157, Jan 1973

Captain America, the creation of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, first appeared in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS in 1941. Simon and Kirby left after the first ten issues in a dispute with the publisher, but the book had a good run of 73 issues, becoming one of the most popular Marvel series. In the early 1960s, Kirby was back at Marvel, and Captain America was gradually reintroduced to new readers in several places, then given a co-starring spot alongside Iron Man in TALES OF SUSPENSE with issue #59. When that book reached issue #100, it was renamed CAPTAIN AMERICA, and Cap took it over as a solo title. The book had a long and popular run to issue #454 in 1996. Gaspar Saladino did cover and story lettering from 1973 to 1981, though much of his story lettering was only the first page of the issue. I’ll detail that in Part 2, here in Part 1 I’ll focus on his cover lettering. Above is the first one. The main cover letterers at Marvel from the early 1960s on were Artie Simek and Sam Rosen, but Sam stopped lettering at the end of 1972, opening the door for others like Gaspar to step in. The other main new letterer was Danny Crespi, and his lettering sometimes looks like Saladino’s but is generally more rounded. On this cover, the wide angular balloon lettering and the style of VIPER are the work of Gaspar.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #159, March 1973

Saladino’s lettering is strong and full of energy. One style clue is the serif I at the beginning of the bottom caption, something he did occasionally and I think Crespi did not.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #160, April 1973

No one did better flaming letters than Gaspar, this is a good example, and notice how angular the letter shapes are, with pointed corners.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #164, Aug 1973

The rounded E’s in this bottom blurb are something Saladino used from time to time at DC Comics and Marvel.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #168, Dec 1973

Gaspar’s burst balloon shapes are distinctive, as are his small open letters.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #170, Feb 1974

The rough edge to the first balloon, and especially the clever question mark balloon point to Saladino lettering on this cover.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #171 March 1974

The letter shapes of BUST-OUT signal Saladino here, though I think THE BLACK PANThER is type.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #172, April 1974

The angular styles of the bottom balloon shape and the lettering of BANSHEE both indicate Gaspar here.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #175, July 1974

The somewhat rectangular balloon on this cover is something Artie Simek often did, but Saladino occasionally did that also, and the rest of the lettering is in Gaspar’s style.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #176, Aug 1974

Another semi-rectangular balloon, and notice the serif I in IDENTITY.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #177, Sept 1974

Some elements of this lettering are similar to what Danny Crespi was doing, but I think the rough balloon shapes are distinctively Saladino.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #180, Dec 1974

On covers like this I look at the individual letter shapes in the smaller balloon lettering. Gaspar’s style is clear here, generally more angular than Crespi, especially in the S, which often has a wide central stroke that’s almost horizontal.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #183, March 1975

On the word HERO here, notice the notch in the right side of the R is below the center of the middle bar, something Gaspar often did.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #187, July 1975

The rough styles in the bottom caption here are very typical of Saladino.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #193, Jan 1976

This well-known cover features the return of Jack Kirby, and it’s full of Saladino lettering styles, including the rough outlines and texture in MADBOMB.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #194, Feb 1976

This is an odd combination of type and Saladino open lettering, possibly the wording was changed after Gaspar worked on it.

Thanks to Kurt Busiek for providing the answer on this one: The type on the cover captions to CAP 194 were added decades after Gaspar did his work on it. The actual printed cover is all Gaspar, I think, but when Marvel collected those issues in a trade in recent years, the color house re-creating the colors took it on themselves to re-create the lettering by using type, rather than fixing the scans they had. This is also why the caption says “mind-bogeling” — the color guys messed up and no one at Marvel caught the error.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #196, April 1976

The odd shapes and thin outlines on KILL-DERBY suggest Saladino, and the rest of this caption looks like his work too.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #233, May 1979

The letter shapes on the bottom blurb are unusual for Saladino, but he was always creative, and the balloons are in his style.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #237, Sept 1979

This would be a hard choice between Saladino and Crespi except for the lower case words used on the bottom blurb, which is pure Saladino.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #238, Oct 1979

Typical Gaspar layout on the blurb here, and note his distinctive R shapes.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #240, Dec 1979

More Saladino style in this caption.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #245, May 1980

Another style difference between Crespi and Saladino is balloon and caption border thickness. Danny tended to make his thick, Gaspar usually went thin.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #247, July 1980

I suspect the thicker border on the top caption here was added by someone else. The thin double border on the circle is more Gaspar’s style.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #249, Sept 1980

This circular blurb has a thick border, but it might have been a thin double one that was filled in. Interesting spelling on THRU, DC would never have allowed that.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #251, Nov 1980

The eccentric shapes and texture on this blurb are pure Saladino.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #253, Jan 1981

BLOOD is in one of Gaspar’s scary styles on this cover.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #254, Feb 1981

It could have been used again here, but Saladino just did a different version.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #258, June 1981

These are Saladino letter shapes, including his K with an angled upper right leg and his R.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #261, Sept 1981

The lines above and below the logo as well as the balloon are in Saladino styles here.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #262, Oct 1981

Saladino’s display lettering often had pointed corners, as here, something that was done with a smaller pen point after the letters were drawn with a larger one. It took extra time, but looked great.

From CAPTAIN AMERICA #263, Nov 1981

More of it is seen here in a burst balloon with rounded scoops between the points and a thin border. And with that, Saladino’s work on this title ended as far as I can tell. I don’t know why, perhaps it was decided to have cover lettering done by staffers from this point on, or other freelancers got the assignments.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 157, 159-160, 164, 168, 170-172, 175-177, 180, 183, 187, 193-194, 196, 233, 237-238, 240, 245, 247, 249, 251, 253-254, 258, 261-263. That’s 31 in all. Part 2 will cover Gaspar’s story lettering on this book. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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