GASPAR SALADINO in DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU

All images © Marvel. From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #2, June 1974

In the early 1970s, Marvel Comics expanded their line by adding larger-sized black and white titles in the style of Warren’s CREEPY and VAMPIRELLA, and this was one of them. The book ran 33 issues from 1974 to 1977. Gaspar Saladino lettered some single pages, or double-page spreads on stories otherwise lettered by others. This move by Marvel made less sense here than when he did the first page of many Marvel color comics, at least to me. There his work might entice a potential buyer picking up the comic at a newsstand, helping make a sale. Here, Gaspar’s work was buried inside the issues, sometimes well at the back. The stories themselves certainly benefitted from his fine title work and lettering, but I’m not sure the extra money I believe he was paid for this kind of thing led to increased sales. By the time a reader got to it, he’d probably already bought the book. In the first example above, Saladino’s talent is obvious in the lettering of FU MANCHU and the creator credits. Letterers were not credited. ADDED: I’ve just realized this was reprinted from SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION #15 dated Dec 1973. I will leave it here anyway, but remove it from the page count.

From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #10, March 1975

These books were sometimes a training ground for upcoming artists, like George Pérez here. Gaspar’s story title is full of scary drama, and his nearly rectangular balloons are a strange choice not matched in the rest of the story lettered by someone else.

From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #11, April 1975

This story title, once you see it, is impressive, perhaps penciled in by Pérez, and I think the SONS OF THE TIGER logo is also by Gaspar.

From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #13, June 1975

As he liked to do, Saladino has lettered DEATH with a dry brush, then outlined it with a small pen point. Two of the signs are type.

From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #14, July 1975

A poor scan on this image, but the lettering is pretty clear. I like the wobbly balloon borders in the first few panels. This is the second story page.

From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #17, Oct 1975

Here’s the left side of a spread, pages 1-2 of the story. The whole image would be too hard to read. Another dramatic version of DEATH, one of the most common title words in comics.

From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #18, Nov 1975

Another left half of a spread, pages 2-3 of the story. This time DARKNESS gets the scary treatment. I also like the banners on the left.

From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #19, Dec 1975

The most interesting style choice here is to drop the balloon border at lower left. I would never have thought of that, and it wouldn’t work in a color comic, but looks fine here.

From DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU #30, Nov 1976

On this final example I like the texture in HATE, and the burst at the right. Below are the details of Saladino’s lettering in this series.

#10 March 1975: Sons of the Tiger page 1 only

#11 April 1975: Sons of the Tiger page 1 only

#13 June 1975: Sons of the Tiger page 1 only

#14 July 1975: Sons of the Tiger page 2 only

#17 Oct 1975: Sons of the Tiger pages 1-2 only

#18 Nov 1975: Sons of the Tiger pages 2-3 only

#19 Dec 1975: Sons of the Tiger page 3 only

#30 Nov 1976: Sons of the Tiger page 1 only

That’s 10 pages in all. More articles in this series and others you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

2 thoughts on “GASPAR SALADINO in DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU

  1. BobH

    Hey Todd. Greatly enjoying this survey of Salandino’s work.

    As an expert on Salandino and lettering in general, I wonder if you could comment on this bit from a Gaspar lettered reprint:

    https://fourrealities.blogspot.com/2022/01/on-upcoming-question-oneilcowan-reprint.html

    (scroll down a bit for the lettering error, since confirmed it repeats in the $100 reprint)

    How does this happen, especially with lettering presumably done on the boards? A paste-up that fell off? A version with the lettering blanked for foreign editions getting mixed up with the proper version?

  2. Todd Klein Post author

    The short answer is “I don’t know.” The lettering was on the first printing, so that eliminates anything happening to the actual art, as after that they would use film negatives for reproduction (old school) or computer scans of the printed pages possibly. If the book was recolored it could have happened then. Your suggestion about film for foreign printings is possible, there all the original lettering is removed, but then why only one balloon missing in the printed version? The real scandal is why it was never spotted and fixed. Editorial and proofreading failure there.

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