DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz had great success with his revamp of the Golden Age Flash, his new version was a hit, and he was given permission by management to try others. Green Lantern was the second, and was equally successful. Writers Gardner Fox and John Broome, and artist Gil Kane breathed fresh air into the concept of a man with a power ring that could do almost anything the owner’s will power could devise, and Gil’s new costume design was just as innovative as Carmine Infantino’s costume for the new Flash had been. As with The Flash, Schwartz enlisted his favorite letterer, Gaspar Saladino, to be the main story letterer, and Gaspar has said Gil Kane was one of his favorite artists, so they made an effective team, and Saladino hardly missed a story in the first few years of the series. More about that later, I’ll start with covers. Ira Schnapp was the main DC cover letterer, and continued in that role until around 1967, but when Ira wasn’t available, Gaspar often filled in for him, as happened with the cover above. For these fill-in covers, Gaspar tried to fit in with the established Schnapp style, and that’s particularly true in the caption, but Gaspar’s block letters are more square than most of Ira’s. Saladino’s balloon lettering was wider and more angular than Schnapp’s, too.
The speech balloon on this fill-in cover is again Gaspar trying to copy Ira’s style, the scalloped balloon border is not something he usually did to this degree, and even the letters inside are narrower than usual for him, but the caption is all Saladino with a variety of angular styles and a partial burst at the top.
This cover has lettering by both Schnapp and Saladino. The round blurb at the bottom is by Ira, perhaps added at the last minute, and the jagged caption is by Saladino, who often did his own version of a character’s logo in his cover lettering, as he did here.
On this final fill-in cover, Gaspar’s lettering is more original and more confident, no longer trying to imitate Schnapp. This may indicate the beginning of the time when editorial director Carmine Infantino had given Gaspar the mandate of updating DC’s overall design presence, but Schnapp was also still doing a lot of the covers and logos, and Saladino replaced him gradually.
With this issue, Saladino became the main cover letterer, and did most of them for many years, while Schnapp was retired and sent home. Gaspar had been working alongside Ira since he joined DC in late 1949, so he was more than ready for his new role as the company’s style-setter, and he rose to the occasion with fine work on covers, logos and house ads.
Ira’s logo continued for a while, but Gaspar’s dynamic lettering upped the drama on many covers like this one.
When given room, Saladino’s lettering was large and appropriate to the subject and the art, as here, where his textured letters seem to be rising from the sand. And while cover lettering was usually done on separate paper and then pasted onto the art, in this case it might have been lettered on the cover.
With this issue, a new logo by Saladino appeared. The words in perspective add depth to the logo, and the figure by Gil Kane is effective too. The cover lettering deftly fills the space available at the bottom and adds movement and depth to the cover art.
Just four issues later, the logo was modified by Gaspar to include Green Arrow’s name on the right side, as an award-winning and ground-breaking series of stories by writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams began. Gaspar’s lettering above the logo and in the balloons is dramatic to match the art.
These stories took on big issues in a way that may have shocked some readers. Again, Saladino’s lettering helps sell it.
Despite critical acclaim, the O’Neil-Adams issues did not sell well, and the book was cancelled for a while. It returned with this issue in 1976. Gaspar’s lettering in the top banner and the burst work well to attract buyers.
The book returned to popularity with less meaningful but fun adventures for the two heroes. The green thought balloons here are an odd choice, and not one made by Saladino.
Here’s a cover which would make no sense without the explanatory balloons by Gaspar, and he also adds a large promotional blurb for a new backup series.
With this issue, Green Lantern returned to solo adventures while Green Arrow appeared elsewhere. Gaspar’s top lettering and handsome caption add to the fine art by Gil Kane. His logo from issue #72 also returns.
The colorist called for reversed white lettering here on dark blue-black captions, something that was probably done by the color separator, Chemical Color, in Connecticut. In pre-digital times, they handled most of the DC color separations.
A busy cover and an early attempt to make Hal Jordan a villain, at least briefly. Gaspar’s ever larger words DESTROY at the bottom add to the drama.
I like Saladino’s perspective version of Green Lantern’s oath on this cover, with two kinds of emphasis on the last two lines.
With this issue, Len Wein and Dave Gibbons became the creative team under a new logo version by myself. Gaspar’s bottom caption works well and has some creative letter shapes.
In this issue, John Stewart takes charge, with effective word balloons by Saladino adding emphasis and impact.
Another Green Lantern, Guy Gardner, steps up in this issue with Gaspar’s top line and effectively soft-spoken word balloon adding drama to Howard Chaykin’s art.
With this issue, the title officially changed but kept the same numbering, with a new logo by Alex Jay and exciting display lettering at the top by Saladino.
The series ended in 1988 with issue #224, and this issue is the last one to have Gaspar’s cover lettering, WHIRLWIND. Many more Green Lantern series and spinoffs would follow.
Gaspar’s story lettering began on the initial SHOWCASE issues and continued with the first issue of the new series. I can’t find scans of the actual comics for many early issues, and must use these recolored ones from collected editions, but the lettering looks fine on them. On this title, Saladino was doing all the lettering in italic for a while, and on other projects too at this time, perhaps it made the work go a little faster for him. The story title is effective, with emphasis on DOOMED.
At the time, most DC stories were still full of lettering on many pages. In the last panel of this page, Gaspar does a bold italic version of Green Lantern’s oath, used when he charged his ring, as explained in the Editor’s Note, where Gaspar snuck in an extra line for the word POWER.
Surprisingly, the scripts did not call for many special styles in this book, though today these thought balloons would be considered one. Gaspar’s captions have wavy, organic edges, and the sound effect is great.
A special style was requested for the voice coming from the ring on this page, and here the colorist has improved it with a green edge.
When editor Julius Schwartz’s revamps began appearing together, fans loved it, even though the stories became more talky. Note that arrows are necessary to direct the reader to the correct panel reading order, something Gaspar would have added.
Back to comics scans. The logo is by Ira Schnapp, the rest of the lettering is by Saladino. His dry-brush lettering is used for UNMASKS.
Gaspar was just able to fit in a large background sound effect across two panels of this busy page. Note that the lettering is now a mix of straight and slanted.
The Green Lantern mythology began to expand with this story about the mysterious Guardians. The original Green Lantern blurb at top right is not by Saladino, added by the DC production artist who pasted in the logo. Story credits were now appearing in some Schwartz titles, but just for the writer and artists.
Here’s the Gil Kane pinup with lettering by Gaspar at the bottom. It filled two pages and is shown sideways, but I will count is as one page.
I love Gaspar’s large title on this story, with more dry brush work on WICKED. In the credits box, there’s an attempt to imitate Marvel’s humorous nicknames for creators.
This montage page allows Saladino to use arrow captions effectively. This was the last Green Lantern story lettered by Gaspar in the original run, he was now very busy doing most of the DC cover lettering, logos and house ads, and had to give up some of his regular story lettering work.
More than thirty years later, Gaspar did one last GL story for this one-shot. I wonder what kinds of memories it brought back?
To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 30, 38, 46, 54, 60-79, 81-90, 93, 97, 102, 106-108, 110, 114, 117-118, 123, 128, 130, 135, 136-142, 144, 146-162, 164-165, 170, 172-175, 177-183, 185-188, 190-194, 196-199, 202 (THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS) 206-207, 209, 212-216, 218-219, 221. That’s 112 in all.
Below are the stories lettered by Saladino, all feature Green Lantern. Where he lettered only one of two, the story number is in parentheses.
#1 July-Aug 1960: 15pp, 10pp
#2 Sept-Oct 1960: 13pp, 12pp
#3 Nov-Dec 1960: 13pp, 12pp
#4 Jan-Feb 1961: 13pp, 12pp
#5 March-April 1961: 25pp
#7 July-Aug 1961: 16pp, 9pp
#8 Sept-Oct 1961: 25pp
#9 Nov-Dec 1961: 13pp, 12pp
#10 Jan 1962: 15pp, 10pp
#11 March 1962: 16pp, 10pp
#12 April 1962: 18pp, 7pp
#13 June 1962: 26pp
#14 July 1962: 13pp, 12pp
#15 Sept 1962: 18pp, 7pp
#16 Oct 1962: 15pp, 10pp
#17 Dec 1962: 25pp
#18 Jan 1963: 13pp, 12pp
#19 March 1963: 15pp, 10pp
#20 April 1963: 25pp
#21 June 1963: 15pp, 10pp
#22 July 1963: 13pp, 12pp
#23 Sept 1963: 13pp, 12pp
#24 Oct 1963: 15pp, 10pp
#25 Dec 1963: 25pp
#26 Jan 1964: 15pp, 10pp
#27 March 1964: 13pp, 12pp
#28 April 1964: 15pp, 10pp
#29 June 1964: 12pp (2)
#30 July 1964: 13pp, 12pp
#31 Sept 1964: 12pp (2)
#32 Oct 1964: 12pp, 12pp
#33 Dec 1964: 12pp, 12pp
#35 March 1965: 15pp
#36 April 1965: 13pp, 12pp
#37 June 1965: 12pp, 13pp
#38 July 1965: 12pp, 12pp
#39 Sept 1965: 10pp (2)
#40 Oct 1965: 24pp
#41 Dec 1965: 14pp, 10pp
#42 Jan 1966: 24pp
#43 March 1966: 24pp
#44 April 1966: 12pp, 12pp
#45 June 1966: 24pp
#46 July 1966: 12pp, Pinup 1pp, 12pp
#47 Sept 1966: 24pp
#48 Oct 1966: 24pp
#49 Dec 1966: 24pp
#50 Jan 1967: 14pp, 10pp
#51 March 1967: 23pp
#52 April 1967: 23pp
#53 June 1967: 13pp (1)
#54 July 1967: 23pp
#55 Sept 1967: 23pp
#56 Oct 1967: 23pp
#57 Dec 1967: 23pp
#59 March 1968: 23pp
GREEN LANTERN 80-PAGE GIANT #1 June 1999: 10pp
That’s a total of 1,322 pages on this book. More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.