All images © DC Comics. From HELLBLAZER #28, April 1990

In the late 1980s, DC editor Karen Berger was putting out titles aimed at a more adult audience like THE SANDMAN and this one, HELLBLAZER, with the focus on horror that seldom pulled punches or looked away from every kind of bloody and terrible imagery, just the kind of thing that EC Comics of the early 1950s had focused on, and that caused the Comics Code to be instituted, which some feel restricted the industry to comics for children for decades. HELLBLAZER had a long and successful run of 300 issues from 1988 to 2013, an impressive figure for a non superhero book. It had several regular letterers, including Gaspar Saladino from issue #28 to #74, a run of more than four years, even as the book became part of Karen Berger’s new Vertigo imprint. Horror is not something I associate with Gaspar, but he did fine work on this title. My hardest task was to find pages to show that weren’t too gory or otherwise difficult while still displaying his fine lettering.

From HELLBLAZER #31, July 1990

I don’t know if this kind of comic was appealing to Gaspar, my guess is it wasn’t, but it was steady work and steady income, and as usual he did his best on it. I love the title on this splash page, and the upper and lower case balloons for Bible readings are effective.

From HELLBLAZER #37, Jan 1991

If anything, Gaspar’s work was too mainstream for the book at times, especially over art like this that was more like illustration than comics, but it was always effective.

From HELLBLAZER #42, June 1991

When special styles were called for, he came through with display lettering to fit the situation, as here.

From HELLBLAZER #48, Dec 1991

Ghost lettering was also no problem for Saladino, here with the two speakers separated by subtle color fills.

From HELLBLAZER #59, Nov 1992

Gaspar’s titles were always dramatic and compelling, but perhaps not necessarily right for a horror book. Soon after this, the editor asked him to leave them out and they were done with type instead, a loss to the reader in my opinion, but I can understand why it was done.

From HELLBLAZER #74, Feb 1994

A page from Gaspar’s final issue shows him doing fine work, though by this time his balloon lettering had become even more angular than it had been in the past. It still reads fine.

Here are the details on Saladino’s story lettering for the series, and he did plenty of it. All stories feature John Constantine, Hellblazer.

#28 April 1990: 24pp

#29 May 1990: 24pp

#30 June 1990: 24pp

#31 July 1990: 24pp

#32 Aug 1990: 24pp

#33 Sept 1990: 24pp

#34 Oct 1990: 24pp

#35 Nov 1990: 24pp

#36 Dec 1990: 24pp

#37 Jan 1991: 24pp

#38 Feb 1991: 24pp

#39 March 1991: 24pp

#40 April 1991: 33pp

#41 May 1991: 24pp

#42 June 1991: 24pp

#43 July 1991: 24pp

#44 Aug 1991: 24pp

#45 Sept 1991: 24pp

#46 Oct 1991: 24pp

#47 Nov 1991: 24pp

#48 Dec 1991: 24pp

#49 Jan 1992: 24pp

#50 Feb 1992: 38pp

#51 March 1992: 24pp

#52 April 1992: 24pp

#53 May 1992: 24pp

#54 June 1992: 24pp

#55 July 1992: 24pp

#57 Sept 1992: 24pp

#58 Oct 1992: 24pp

#59 Nov 1992: 24pp

#60 Dec 1992: 24pp

#61 Jan 1993: 24pp

#62 Feb 1993: 24pp

#63 March 1993: 24pp

#64 April 1993: 24pp

#65 May 1993: 24pp

#66 June 1993: 24pp

#68 Aug 1993: 24pp

#69 Sept 1993: 24pp

#70 Oct 1993: 24pp

#71 Nov 1993: 24pp

#73 Jan 1994: 24pp

#74 Feb 1994: 24pp

That’s a total of 1,079 pages on this title. More articles in this series, and others you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.


  1. Don Leibold

    I am loving this close study/review of Gaspar Saladino’s work. I hope you are planning a look at his contributions to Blood: A Tale by J.M. DeMatteis and Kent Williams. I’d love to know your thoughts.

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