In 1961 this title became the first of many successes for Marvel Comics as they headed in a new direction under writer Stan Lee with artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. It ran 416 issues to 1996, and there were more series later. The main letterers of this rebirth were Artie Simek and Sam Rosen, and they lettered most of the covers, but Rosen stopped lettering in 1972, making room for others like Gaspar Saladino, already the main cover letterer at DC Comics, to step in. Gaspar lettered lots of FF covers, enough that I need to divide them into two articles by publication date. He also lettered two full issues and the first page of a few more, which I’ll show as we come to them. On the first cover, above, OMEGA is full of Saladino’s creativity, and the script THE to the right of it is classic Gaspar.
This small circular blurb has several styles of Saladino display lettering, and should have been larger.
I think MADNESS was drawn with a double outline, and someone filled in the space between them with black, making the word less effective. The line above it is type, which Gaspar was sometimes using in this era, either from a headline machine or press-down letters.
There are many small clues here to Saladino’s work like the shape of THE in the bottom blurbs.
This cover uses the same font in the first three balloons, and it doesn’t work well there. The rest is lettered by Gaspar. The multiple borders on the round burst are interesting and different.
The uneven blocky letters of the DARKOTH blurb here are very Gaspar.
There’s something unique about the way Gaspar drew the letter S in many cases, it’s subtle but distinctive. More angular than many other letterers.
The style used here for LIGHTNING was also used by Saladino on several DC Comics covers.
The other new cover letterer who began in 1973 was staffer Danny Crespi. Sometimes his work is similar to that of Gaspar, but generally it’s more rounded. This one would be a tough call between them except for the typical wide and angular small lettering in the balloons.
If you look closely at DOOMSMAN, you’ll see thinner outlines in the center openings of the D, O and A. Gaspar outlined all the letters with that thinner pen first, then added a second heavier outline around the outside.
The same technique was used on ARKON, and notice how pointy the corners are, something Crespi rarely did.
I like the emphasis on SPLAT here.
Saladino makes THING and HULK equal by putting THE inside the T of THING.
The wavy border around the last balloon is unusual for Gaspar, but it works fine.
The blocky shapes around ALICIA are unusual for Gaspar, but he was always trying new things. And curved arrow balloons are something he did well.
I’m not positive this short blurb is by Saladino, but I think it is. The style of VS is right for him, as is the caption shape.
I’m quite sure he lettered just the first page of this story inside, the sound effect is all I needed to see to be sure. The rest is by Joe Rosen, as seen in the credits.
The rough, blocky open letters of DESTROYER on this cover are typical of Saladino, and add energy.
The stylish curves of GALACTUS are something no one else would have thought of for this character, and add interest.
A more standard version of GALACTUS is used here where there’s less room.
The bottom caption is a good example of the way Marvel liked to fill black around Gaspar’s open lettering, you can see the outlines where FOUR extends below the box. This makes them less effective in my opinion, but they still read fine.
Lots of great Saladino display lettering here. His open letters work because he knew that the open inner shapes are the most important part. If they are made well, any thickness and style outside that will read fine.
The first of two complete FF stories lettered by Gaspar, therefore he got a credit, something that wasn’t happening yet at DC.
A rare occurrence at Marvel, Gaspar lettered the cover…
…as well as the entire inside story. I like the title here better than the small blurb on the cover. WITCHES looks like rough brush work.
More in Part 2, where I’ll give Saladino totals for the series. Other articles you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.