All images © DC Comics. From DANGER TRAIL #1, July-Aug 1950

Editor Julius Schwartz had had success with westerns at DC Comics, and with this series he decided to try a spy thriller anthology. The lead feature in the first four issues was King Faraday, an American anti-espionage secret agent usually working overseas, while the rest of the book was filled out with non-continuing stories about similar characters. The book only lasted five issues, and I think making it an anthology might have been a mistake. Having book-length stories about Faraday could have created more reader interest, but that’s just me second-guessing Schwartz. And it’s possible penciller Carmine Infantino couldn’t have produced that much work anyway. As it was, other Schwartz regulars like Alex Toth and Frank Giacoia had some stories too. Julie had recently hired Gaspar Saladino to letter stories for him, and he put his new letterer to work on most of the contents of these issues, but for the first King Faraday story he had veteran letterer Ira Schnapp do the first page and character logo, above, perhaps because Gaspar had not yet proven himself on story titles and feature logos. Schnapp lettered all the covers, but this was his only story page other than the last story in issue #5.

From DANGER TRAIL #1, July-Aug 1950

The second page of the King Faraday story shows many typical style points of early Saladino lettering, including open first letters in two captions, one against a black drop shadow, and a tiny scroll caption for the page number, something he kept up through all the stories. I think the KF on a scroll below the second caption is also a creative touch by Gaspar.

From DANGER TRAIL #1, July-Aug 1950

The second story has art by Alex Toth, and here Gaspar’s title seems to be imitating Ira Schnapp, something Schwartz might have told him to do. Saladino had known Toth and Infantino since high school, and had already been working with them since his first stories at DC in ROMANCE TRAIL #5, so I expect he was happy to get these assignments. His balloon and caption lettering was excellent from the start, but it took him a few years to get comfortable with titles and logos.

From DANGER TRAIL #2, Sept-Oct 1950

These stories were often copy heavy with too much lettering, but Saladino did the best he could with it. Perhaps the hourglass in the center caption is his.

From DANGER TRAIL #3, Nov-Dec 1950

Where he has room on this page, Gaspar uses decorative scroll captions, and his favorite open first letter against a black brush shape in the first caption. I like the sound effect in panel three.

From DANGER TRAIL #3, Nov-Dec 1950

Usually Saladino only lettered the longer stories, but on this book he also did many of the one page fillers that were more often done by DC production staffers. This one is a poem, there were similar poems in other issues.

From DANGER TRAIL #3, Nov-Dec 1950

Another one-pager, but this is more on topic than most fillers, and I would call it a one-page story. Gaspar’s treatment of the title word SLIM is unusual and a bit hard to read, but I like it.

From DANGER TRAIL #4, Jan-Feb 1951

Another page full of lettering, and I suspect Gaspar did all those small pictures in the captions. It’s unlikely story penciller Bob Oksner would have done them, as he didn’t know for sure how much space the lettering would need, and in fact he left too much, but that’s better than not enough. Saladino could have shortened the captions as he did in panel four, but decided to get creative instead. I think at this early time in his career he might have been showing off a bit!

From DANGER TRAIL #5, March-April 1951

For the final issue a new lead feature appeared, Johnny Peril, a somewhat mysterious adventurer who had appeared as a backup feature in several titles since 1947. He might have worked in this one, but it was too late. The feature logo is by Ira Schnapp, the rest is by Saladino, including a hard to read capital I to begin the caption and the handsome ragged scroll caption around the story title.

Here are the stories lettered by Gaspar on this series:

#1 July-Aug 1950: King Faraday pp 2-10 (9pp), Appointment in Paris 8pp, 3 Steps to Mr. Sandino 8pp, Guide for Treasure Hunters 1pp, Mystery of the Highland Queen 8pp, Dream Pirate 1pp

#2 Sept-Oct 1950: Faraday 12pp, The Silver Key 1pp, Shadows Over London 8pp, Trouble in Trinidad 8pp, Two on the Isle 1pp, Colonel Cornwall 1pp, Toreador From Texas 10pp, Slim Chance 1pp

#3 Nov-Dec 1950: Faraday 12pp, Norton of the North 1pp, Hawaiian River God 8pp, Slim Chance 1pp, Ice Queen 1pp, Colonel Cornwall 1pp, Ghost Ship of the South Seas 8pp, Two on the Isle 1pp

#4 Jan-Feb 1951: Faraday 12pp, Vengeance of the Matterhorn 8pp, Colonel Cornwall 1pp, The Vanishing Island 8pp, Slim Chance 1pp, Prisoner of Gold 1pp, The End of the Arctic 8pp

#5 March-April 1951: Johnny Peril 12pp, Mission to Malaya 8pp, London Laughs 1pp, Return of the Pharaoh 8pp, Lester the Lumberjack 1pp, Eternal Egypt 1pp

That’s 180 pages in all. More articles in this series and others you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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