GASPAR SALADINO in GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES

All images © DC Comics. From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #116, Jan 1966

DC’s line of romance comics kicked off with this title in 1949, following a popular trend begun by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in YOUNG ROMANCE from Prize. GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES had many editors over the years, including several female ones. I believe the original editor was Robert Kanigher, and Gaspar Saladino began lettering stories for him with the fifth issue in 1950, not long after he had been hired by editor Julius Schwartz to letter pages. Kanigher and Schwartz had both begun as editors at All-American Comics, and when that company merged with National (DC) Comics, they shared an office and continued to work closely together. Both editors liked the penwork of Saladino, and he was their first choice as letterer on their books. Gaspar sat at a drawing board in their office for some years early in his career, where he was handy to make corrections and begin new assignments. I’ll cover his story lettering later, let’s begin with his cover lettering. Ira Schnapp was the regular DC cover letterer and logo designer when this series began, and he lettered most covers until 1968, but when he wasn’t available, Saladino filled in for him. There’s lots of lettering on this cover, and the angular style of the letters themselves are quite different from Schnapp’s more rounded approach, as seen in his logo.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #123, Nov 1966

This second fill-in cover has a different rounded logo by Schnapp, and again Saladino’s angular work is in contrast to it. The upper and lower case in the caption is quite different from what Schnapp did.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #128, July 1967

Another rounded Schnapp logo is on this cover (rapid logo changes suggesting a desperate attempt by the editors to stem the flow of dropping sales), and for the story title of this one, Saladino is trying to imitate Schnapp’s upper and lower case script style, and doing it pretty well. The balloon is an odd one, as it has the oval shape of a word balloon, but the bubble trail of a thought balloon.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #136, July 1968

With this issue, Saladino took over from Schnapp as the regular cover letterer, under a mandate from Editorial Director Carmine Infantino to give the company a fresh design look. It didn’t all happen right away, but Gaspar’s lettering feels more confident here, as if he’s no longer trying to fit into the Schnapp style. His script lettering is quite good.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #139, Nov 1968

More fine script here and a large dry-brush WHY? The entire cover has an open feel that’s different from the crowded look of many DC covers, and makes it appealing.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #142, April 1969

With this issue, a new Saladino logo appears, not one of his best, but it does add some energy. This thought balloon has the usual bubbly border.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #168, April 1972

By the 1970s, romance comics sales were down across the industry. Changing times made them less relevant, even though DC tried desperately to follow teen trends. They weren’t good at that, using lame slang as in these word balloons, but Saladino’s lettering is fine, even with some type in the mix.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #180, Nov-Dec 1973

The last few issues went back to an old Ira Schnapp logo, but it didn’t help, and this was the final issue, still having lots of fine Saladino lettering.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #5, April-May 1950

A page from Gaspar’s first story lettering for the series is above, and it has several style points to confirm that beyond the angular letters themselves. In the first caption, an open first letter against a black brush shape, and the zig-zags of the caption border in panel five are two examples. I think he also did the squares below the caption in panel four to fill that void. This was probably lettered in late 1949, not long after Gaspar was hired, so it’s clear he was already busy working for both editors Schwartz and Kanigher.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #6, June-July 1950

This story in the next issue has a story title that doesn’t fill the space left for it well, and the two styles used don’t mesh. Gaspar wasn’t so good at titles early on, but that improved over time. I do like the texture in CAST-OFF made by scratching some of the ink away.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #7, Aug-Sept 1950

The title on this story is better, but still not great. I do like the handwriting in the art background, and it’s more traditional than many later examples from Gaspar.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #9, Jan-Feb 1951

On the other hand, the story title here is simply awful. Thankfully, Saladino didn’t do many that are this bad.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #11, May-June 1951

Unlike most DC titles, the romance books had few paid ads, and they filled inside back covers with pages like this. Charming art and fine Saladino lettering.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #18, July-Aug 1952

Gaspar’s story title is much improved here and includes nice dry-brush work on TRAPPED.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #24, July-Aug 1953

More dry-brush on this title, and some clever decoration on MEXICO.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #32, Nov-Dec 1954

An odd combination of Saladino caption and Ira Schnapp word balloons. It’s because this art was used on the cover, and since Ira lettered the balloons for that, they just used them again here. Gaspar did the rest of the story.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #84, Feb 1962

From issues 34 to 83 there was no Saladino story lettering. He was getting busy on war stories for Kanigher and science fiction ones for Schwartz, so probably gave up much of the romance work, except for this feature, which I believe he not only lettered but also penciled and inked. See THIS article for more information on that. To summarize, Gaspar had studied fashion art in high school with the idea of finding work in that area, but it didn’t pan out for him. I think someone had the idea of having him do fashion pages for the romance books, and the dry brush inking style used is something Gaspar was good at, and one that was was rarely used by other DC artists.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #85, March 1962

There are just a few stories lettered by Saladino after 1955, this is one.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #96, July 1963

Romance in Fashion continued to appear regularly until 1966 in this title. Material for it was sent in by readers, making Gaspar’s job easier.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #121, Aug 1966

This one includes some typical Saladino sound effects.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #134, April 1968

Saladino’s final story lettering for the series is above. His script titles have come a long way from the early days, but the R in ANYMORE is still odd.

To sum up, Gaspar lettered these covers: 116, 123, 128, 136-161, 163-180, a total of 47. Below are the stories and features lettered by Saladino.

#5 April-May 1950: Partners In Romance 8pp

#6 June-July 1950: You Belong To Me 8pp, Cast-Off Romance 8pp, The House On Heartbreak Hill 8pp

#7 Aug-Sept 1950: Romantic Illusion 10pp, Romance In The Window 7pp

#8 Oct-Nov 1950: Welcome Home, My Heart 10pp, Binny 1pp, Jo-Anne 1pp, Linda Lee 1pp, Tragic Impersonation 8pp

#9 Dec 1950-Jan 1951: Two Roads to Romance 10pp, Binny 1pp, Johnny and Janie 1pp, Sweethearts’ Moon 8pp, Taken For Granted 7pp, A Friend of the Groom 8pp, A Birthday 1pp (Inside Back Cover)

#10 March-April 1951: Kiss Love Goodbye 10pp

#11 May-June 1951: Come Be My Love 10pp, The Wind of Love 1pp (IBC)

#12 July-Aug 1951: I’ll Always Remember You 8pp

#13 Sept-Oct 1951: Too Late For Romance 8pp

#15 Jan-Feb 1952: Forbidden Future 10pp, Love’s Philosophy 1pp (IBC)

#16 March-April 1952: My Beloved Enemy 10pp, Wake Up And Dream 8pp, Secret Love 10pp, Corinna 1pp (IBC)

#17 May-June 1952: My Last Heartbreak 12pp, Love Song 1pp (IBC)

#18 July-Aug 1952: Trapped By Love 10pp, Romance of a War Nurse 12pp, Meeting At Night 1pp (IBC)

#19 Sept-Oct 1952: Decision Against Romance 10pp

#21 Jan-Feb 1953: The Man I Wanted 8pp

#22 March-April 1953: Gazing At The Stars 2pp

#23 May-June 1953: No Other Love 8pp

#24 July-Aug 1953: Dancing Doll 7pp, Heartbreak in Mexico 6pp

#25 Sept-Oct 1953: Forbidden Destiny 8pp, Reckless Heart 8pp

#27 Jan-Feb 1954: Double Wedding 6pp, Castoff Love 8pp

#29 May-June 1954: Borrowed Heaven 8pp, Love Laughs Last 8pp

#30 July-Aug 1954: His Secret Past 8pp

#32 Nov-Dec 1954: No Heart To Give 7pp, Unknown Rival 8pp

#33 Jan-Feb 1955: Frozen Heart 8pp

#84 Feb 1962: Romance In Fashion 1pp

#85 March 1962: Summer Guest 8pp, Romance In Fashion 1pp

#88 Aug 1962: All The Love There Is 7pp

#89 Sept 1962: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#90 Nov 1962: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#96 July 1963: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#97 Aug 1963: A Romantic Interlude 7pp

#98 Oct 1963: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#101 Feb 1964: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#104 July 1964: The Dark In My Heart 9pp

#105 Aug 1964: Romance in Fashion 1pp, 1pp

#106 Oct 1964: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#108 Jan 1965: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#112 July 1965: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#113 Aug 1965: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#114 Oct 1965: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#115 Nov 1965: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#117 Feb 1966: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#120 July 1966: The Hate That Turned To Love 13pp

#121 Aug 1966: Romance in Fashion 1pp

#122 Oct 1966: Romance in Fashion 2pp

#134 April 1968: I Don’t Love You Anymore 9pp

#138 Oct 1968: Mad Mad Modes for Moderns 2pp

#139 Nov 1968: Mad Mad Modes for Moderns 2pp

That’s a total of 413 pages on this title. Other articles in this series, and more you might like, are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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