All images © DC Comics. From CHECKMATE! #1, April 1988

This title with a logo by me combining spy and superhero genres from writer Paul Kupperberg, artist Steve Erwin and others had a successful run of 33 issues from 1988 to 1991. Gaspar Saladino lettered some of the covers and also some of the stories, sharing those duties with others, but making a significant contribution in both areas. His lettering on this first cover adds excitement through his distinctive styles that I think are so much better than the type treatments DC was turning to more often around this time. I particularly like the bounce of TERMINATES here.

From CHECKMATE! #6, Sept 1988

Saladino could always be depended on to make a word like HEAT more interesting with a flaming treatment and textures.

From CHECKMATE! #8, Nov 1988

In the hands of any average letterer, words balloons like these would be readable, but Gaspar adds excitement with his angular, rough-edged display lettering styles. All those square corners had to be created with a fine-tipped pen, adding corners to the more rounded strokes Saladino would have started with, and adding rough edges too. It took time, but the result was worth it.

From CHECKMATE! #10, Winter 1988-89

These word balloons are closer to Gaspar’s interior style, but larger, and with extra emphasis on DEAD.

From CHECKMATE! #13, March 1989

Here’s a good example of lettering making the cover work. Without it, you have three seemingly unrelated scenes with no connection or flow. Gaspar’s exciting blurb connects them in the readers’ minds and makes them want to know more.

From CHECKMATE #15, May 1989

A distinctive villain and a distinctive Saladino logo for him, though probably not used again. In 1991 Marvel had a hero with the same name. I designed a logo for his miniseries in 1994, but I like this one better.

From CHECKMATE! #23 Dec 1989

This display balloon is short and to the point, and made more interesting by the treatment of each line and the double border.

From CHECKMATE! #30, Aug 1990

Gaspar’s final cover lettering for the series has perhaps the loudest quiet balloons in comics history, made moreso by the red color holds.

From CHECKMATE! #4, July 1988

Inside the book, Gaspar lettered several entire issues, including both stories in this one. The story title here is a bit subdued for him, so perhaps it was penciled in by artist Steve Erwin and Saladino just inked it. As usual, Gaspar credits himself with just his first name in script similar to his signature.

From CHECKMATE! #7, Oct 1988

By contrast, his story title on this issue is larger and full of Saladino creativity as he goes for a fanciful Arabian Nights approach.

From CHECKMATE! #16, May 1989

Some artful sound effects on this page, and thought balloons, back when they were in more common use than they are today.

From CHECKMATE! #18, June 1989

A nice perspective title here. Gaspar sometimes saved space by doing large balloons with horizontal top and bottom edges. I also like the Art Deco top title.

From CHECKMATE! #28, June 1990

Saladino’s title can’t be contained by the box around it, it breaks the edge in several places, and runs off to the left on the K. This adds excitement to an otherwise fairly ordinary two words.

From CHECKMATE! #31, Oct 1990

More graceful and creative sound effects here with gunfire in the first panel right out of Saladino’s war comics past.

From CHECKMATE! #33, Jan 1991

On this story from the book’s final issue, Gaspar pulls interest from connecting two letters in the story title that’s otherwise a bit quiet. I hadn’t seen any of this lettering previously, as this was not a title I read, and it was great to see it today.

To sum up, I found Gaspar Saladino lettering on these covers: 1, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 23, 29-30, nine in all. Below are the stories he lettered. Where he did one of two, the story number is in parentheses.

#4 July 1988: 16pp, 8pp

#7 Oct 1988: 24pp

#9 Dec 1988: 24pp

#16 May 1989: 24pp

#18 June 1989: 24pp

#20 Sept 1989: 24pp

#28 June 1990: 25pp

#31 Oct 1990: 24pp

#33 Jan 1991: 8pp (2)

That’s a total of 201 pages on this book. More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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