GASPAR SALADINO in DC COMICS PRESENTS

All images © DC Comics. From DC COMICS PRESENTS #1, July-Aug 1978

By 1976, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD had become a regular team-up book for Batman with every other DC character, and this one was created by Superman editor Julius Schwartz to fill the same role for his main character. It ran 97 issues from 1978 to 1986. The logo was my first cover logo for DC, but the cover lettering on this and many other issues was by Gaspar Saladino. Gaspar had been working for Julie since late 1949, and he knew Superman and many of the DC characters well, so he was the perfect choice, and his lettering added drama and excitement, as it does here. Art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on many early issues didn’t hurt either!

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #16, Dec 1979

One function of the title was to give characters who might not be appearing in their own books at the moment a chance to shine and be remembered by readers, as with Black Lightning here (also sometimes a way to keep them trademarked). I love the scary treatment of the word DOOMED in the balloon.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #19, March 1980

The series might have been cancelled before it really got rolling during the “DC Implosion” of 1978, but fortunately it wasn’t, and it joined the popular titles SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS and WORLD’S FINEST COMICS as venues for DC’s longest-running and best known superhero. More great spooky lettering in the caption on this one.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #24, Aug 1980

Deadman was essentially a ghost who could inhabit the bodies of other characters. Should he have a special balloon style to remind readers he wasn’t an ordinary person? That idea varied over time, but Gaspar thought so and did that here. I agree.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #26, Oct 1980

This cover represents the beginning of a different kind of promotion for new series at DC, a free 16-page preview inserted in this and other titles to grab reader interest. There was also a backup story, so lots of lettering for Saladino, and it’s handled beautifully. All that cover copy does distract from the main image, but at least that image is framed separately.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #31, March 1981

Look at the variety of styles in the upper and lower blurbs here, and Gaspar even made the extra effort of giving ROBOTMAN tiny rivets.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #39, Nov 1981

At times the main stories got silly, but that seems appropriate for a Plastic Man adventure. Again, one of the reasons for the “Whatever Happened To” backups was to give dormant characters a published appearance to protect their trademarks, as with Richard Dragon here.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #47, July 1982

Another use for this book was to cross-promote licensed characters who were getting their own miniseries at DC, as with this one. It made for strange combinations. I love the treatment of DIE in the second thought balloon. That’s a powerful thought!

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #56, April 1983

The often-repeated image of one hero holding the apparently dead body of another is seen here, though I’m sure readers did not believe Power Girl was dead. Still, they might have bought the issue to find out more. The caption is an interesting combination of a scroll at the top and open telescoping at the bottom, but both are the same color, so it’s not obvious.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #61, Sept 1983

By 1983, DC was starting to list writer and artist credits on covers, a move I applauded. DC had come a long way from the days when they didn’t allow creators to be credited in most comics. The credits here are done with headline type. Gaspar’s excellent caption is below, filling the open area with appealing display lettering and then knocking it out of the park with that great villain name.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #68, April 1984

Vixen had been one of the new titles planned for 1978 that was killed by the “DC Implosion.” This may be the first time the logo Saladino designed for her appeared on a cover. I also like his caption and villain name.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #79, March 1985

This is an interesting way to fit Superman’s name in open letters into a word balloon. A bit awkward, but it works okay.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #86, Oct 1985

This is a busy cover, but Saladino’s caption still stands out due to the appealing display lettering and unusual border treatment.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #96, Aug 1986

The last few issues had a different logo, and this one has some fine Gaspar balloons and a large sign by him. He’s managed the perspective on the sign reasonably well without actually getting in quite right, the O’s are the main problem, and it’s not helped by the fact that the Superman logo does not follow the perspective at all.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #86, Oct 1985

While Gaspar lettered many of the covers, he did only three stories for the series, this being one. I like the choice of solid black rounded display lettering for the story title with a thin outline around it for a color.

From DC COMICS PRESENTS #96, Oct 1986

He also lettered the penultimate issue teaming Superman with Blue Devil. Often letterers were expected to letter any signs in the story, but something like the Daily Planet globe was a gray area. Gaspar might have inked it, or it might have been done by Schaffenberger. The other story Saladino lettered was for the fourth Annual, which I could not find a usable image for. He did not letter any of the Annual covers.

To sum up, Gaspar lettered these DC COMICS PRESENTS covers: 1, 16, 18-22, 24, 26, 28, 30-35, 38-50, 53, 55-63, 65, 68, 70, 72-75, 79-81, 86, 91, 94-97, a total of 55 on this series. Below are his story credits.

Annual #4 Oct 1985: 40pp

#86 Oct 1985: 23pp

#96 Oct 1986: 22pp

That’s 85 pages in all. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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