Gaspar Saladino’s work at DC is well known in some genres like superhero and war comics, but he also had a presence in the company’s romance line from the beginning. Many DC romance stories were lettered by Ira Schnapp, whose style was a good fit for them, but he was also a very busy letterer for the company, and some romance stories were lettered by others, including Gaspar. Saladino also worked on quite a few short fashion features, an interest he’d had since high school, and he did the art on some of them. Romance covers were mostly lettered by Schnapp, but Gaspar filled in for him occasionally, as on the one above. Gaspar’s wide, angular balloon and caption lettering is markedly different from Ira’s, and easy to spot once you know it. Later, when Schnapp left the company in 1968, Gaspar lettered nearly all the covers for this series. I’ll look at covers first.
The clearest sign of Saladino cover lettering on this cover is the style of the display lettering in the bottom blurb. This is made with a large-point round dip pen, and the end corners of each stroke are squared off with a very small dip pen like a crowquill. It took time, but the result looked good, and Schnapp rarely used that approach.
The borders on these whisper balloons are a bit thick for Gaspar, but that made the broken lines more obvious.
Ira Schnapp did several logos for this series, this final one is the most unusual. It created a challenge for the cover letterer if he needed to fit a blurb around the logo, but Gaspar does it well here.
Ira Schnapp often used script for story titles on romance covers, and Saladino is following that style here. His script is not as consistent as Ira’s but it’s not bad.
With this issue, Saladino became the regular cover letterer, charged by Executive Editor Carmine Infantino with updating the style of this and all the company’s cover lettering. There’s not much of it here, unless he lettered the large sign in the art, which he might have. As you can see, DC was trying for styles that might appeal to teens, with Op Art clothes and rock poster graphics.
With this issue the book featured a fine new Saladino logo that goes a long way to modernizing the overall style, and his lettering is great too. I love the stars in the round burst.
DC tried hard to hold onto their romance comic audience, but times were changing, and fewer readers were interested in them. Why read about romance when you could experience it? The push toward Astrology seems like a play for readers of teen magazines, but I don’t know if they were interested in comics.
The fine Saladino lettering on this cover is joined by type on the top line and GLAMOR GIRL, perhaps another attempt to appeal to older readers, but I find Gaspar’s lettering much more interesting.
Try as they might, DC’s romance ideas remained generally old-fashioned and out of touch with current trends in society. Gaspar’s vivid lettering and the fine cover art could only do so much.
More fine captions by Saladino with lots of variety and artful additions like the hearts in the left one. It was not enough, the series ended with the next issue.
DC’s romance line had almost no paid ads in early years, and they did not cross-promote the rest of their comics, so fillers like this one were sometimes used on inside back covers, as here. Printed on glossy white cover paper, it gives us a great look at Gaspar’s story lettering of the time. I like the italics and wavy balloon shapes for poetry recitations. Many of Saladino’s contributions to this book were on short features, though he did letter stories as well.
As on covers, Gaspar’s approach to open lettering for titles was often quite different from Ira Schnapp, even when both were using upper and lower case script styles. Note the fine scroll caption on the last panel.
Page one of two, another short feature on a famous woman. The feature logo is typeset or headline type.
Another nice open story title from Gaspar. The sign looks like the work of Ira Schnapp, so perhaps that was added later.
This one page feature ran in 14 issues of the series. The lettering is by Saladino on all, and I believe he also drew the feature title by hand. More importantly, Gaspar did the art as well. See THIS article for more on that. To summarize, Saladino had studied fashion art in high school, and this was a continuation of the skills he developed there. When Gaspar first got out of the Army and was looking for work, he tried to find it as a fashion design artist with little or no success before turning to comics. Gaspar’s art skill and facility with dry brush linework is often seen in his logos and titles, and the figure work here uses similar techniques. At the same time, the anatomy, though purposely distorted, has kind of an amateurish look in places, as if done by someone with less experience on figures. To me, it all points to Saladino as the artist as well as the letterer on these feature pages. This was confirmed by Gaspar’s daughter, who has many of the original art pages.
Another example with the same approach and anatomy that’s more believable, perhaps copied from printed ads used for reference. The open letters of FALL WRAPS are very Gaspar.
Here the brushwork on READER’S SKETCHPAGE is also very much in Saladino’s wheelhouse. Using ideas submitted by readers was a good way to save on research time and encourage submitters to buy more comics, so a win all around.
This eight-page story has a first page lettered by Schnapp, and the rest by Saladino. Perhaps Ira couldn’t finish it in time, so Gaspar filled in for him. Note the tiny zig-zags on the bottom edges of the captions, something Saladino did to add interest. On the story “My Heart Is Yours” from issue #87, only the story title is by Schnapp, the rest is Saladino.
This is all Gaspar except the caption at lower right by Schnapp, which might have been picked up from an earlier story.
On this splash page, Saladino isn’t even trying to match the Schnapp title style, it’s right out of his superhero playbook, and full of energy.
Even though he was now very busy doing logo designs, house ads and cover lettering, Gaspar still found time to letter a few romance stories like this one. Again, his story title is dynamic, like his superhero ones.
The title on this story is psychedelic, to match similar art on the cover, seen above.
This two-page feature is similar to the “Romance in Fashion” pages seen earlier. Previous ones had art by others, but this example again looks like the work of Gaspar.
To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 73, 76, 87, 89, 92, 99-123, 126-143, a total of 38. Below are the inside pages with Gaspar lettering.
#1 Sept-Oct 1955: Love Song 1pp
#2 Nov-Dec 1955: Waiting for Heartbreak 7pp
#3 Jan-Feb 1956: One Lonely Winter 7pp, Remember My Love 6pp
#6 July-Aug 1956: A Woman to Remember 2pp
#7 Sept-Oct 1956: A Woman to Remember 2pp
#9 Jan-Feb 1957: Lesson In Love 8pp
#16 Feb 1958: Listen to Love 7pp
#31 Dec 1959: Romance in Fashion 1pp (hereafter RIF)
#33 March 1960: RIF 1pp
#34 May 1960: RIF 1pp
#35 June 1960: RIF 1pp
#37 Sept 1960: RIF 1pp
#39 Dec 1960: RIF 1pp
#49 March 1962: RIF 1pp
#50 May 1962: RIF 1pp
#51 June 1962: RIF 1pp
#54 Nov 1962: RIF 1pp
#65 Feb 1964: Leave Us Alone pp 2-8 (7pp)
#69 Aug 1964: No Mood For Love 15pp
#72 Jan 1965: RIF 1pp
#73 Feb 1965: Why Must I Love Him? 10pp
#75 May 1965: Second-Hand Heart 12pp
#76 July 1965: RIF 1pp
#77 Aug 1965: RIF 1pp
#80 Jan 1966: Everybody Loves Me But the One I Love 14pp
#81 Feb 1966: RIF 1pp
#87 Nov 1966: My Heart Is Yours 12pp (Schnapp title)
#98 April 1968: Mad Mad Modes for Moderns 2pp (hereafter MMM)
#99 May 1968: Slave to Love 12pp
#101 Aug 1968 Stay Away From My Heart 15pp
#102 Oct 1968: MMM 2pp
#107 May 1969: MMM 2pp
#108 July 1969: MMM 2pp
#109 Aug 1969: MMM 2pp
#110 Oct 1969: MMM 2pp
#111 Nov 1969: MMM 2pp
That’s 165 pages in all. More articles in this series, and others you might enjoy, are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.