GASPAR SALADINO in HOUSE OF SECRETS

All images © DC Comics. From HOUSE OF SECRETS #16, Jan 1959

Unlike its sister title, HOUSE OF MYSTERY, Gaspar Saladino’s involvement with HOUSE OF SECRETS was minor. He lettered no stories or features inside the book and just eleven covers. The first one, above, was a fill-in for regular cover letterer Ira Schnapp. Gaspar’s style, more angular and with wider letters than Schnapp, is the main clue. The original run ended in 1966. When editor Joe Orlando revived it in 1969, the majority of the covers had no lettering, relying instead on the storytelling of fine cover artists like Neal Adams, Berni Wrightson and Michael Kaluta. Some covers that did have lettering were handled by other letterers like Joe Letterese. Both books were often places for promising new artists to get some experience, but Orlando seemed to favor HOUSE OF MYSTERY with the exception of the story in HOUSE OF SECRETS #92 by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson that led to the launch of SWAMP THING. Gaspar Saladino was the letterer of that new title, but the initial story in this book was lettered by Ben Oda. When artists from the Phillippines were hired to provide stories for DC’s anthologies, they filled many of the pages of this title, and those were often lettered in the Phillippines too. When the book was cancelled during the “DC Implosion,” it was combined with another similar anthology, THE UNEXPECTED to use up inventory and hopefully combine readerships.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #86, June-July 1970

Saladino did a fine new logo for the Orlando relaunch, similar to the one he did for HOUSE OF MYSTERY, but I like this one better. Unfortunately, it soon became distorted and lost all the qualities that made it great. The Saladino caption on this cover makes an interesting but puzzling image into an intriguing mystery.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #91, April-May 1971

Here you can see how the logo has been essentially ruined. The open letters have been made thicker by adding to the inside spaces, distorting those spaces and destroying Gaspar’s well-crafted shapes. Sadly, this version was used on the rest of the series. Saladino’s bottom blurb works fine, increasing the drama with the threat of death.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #97, April-May 1972

Again, Gaspar’s scroll and creepy lettering add a lot to this cover.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #104, Jan 1973

I think this word balloon is by Saladino, but I’m not positive. I will count it for him, as it doesn’t look like the work of Joe Letterese, the other most frequent cover letterer.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #109, July 1973

There’s no mistaking Saladino’s display lettering in the balloon on this cover, and it helps sell the bombastic speech of the showman.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #143, Dec 1976-Jan 1977

The caption on this cover definitely looks like Gaspar’s work, though the lettering may have been reduced in size inside the border perhaps to add quote marks, but the balloon is probably by John Workman, possibly a late addition.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #144, Feb-March 1977

Gaspar’s three blurbs on this cover tell the story, and have a nice variety of styles.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #148, Oct-Nov 1977

Gaspar’s blurb at the bottom of this cover is creative and effective, but take a moment to compare this logo with the one on issue #86, above. It really has become an embarrassment.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #149, Dec 1977-Jan 1978

At least some of the covers continued to have wonderful and scary art like this one, and Saladino’s burst adds to the impact.

From THE HOUSE OF SECRETS #153, Aug-Sept 1978

Gaspar’s final work on the book, his word balloons have letters held in red to add emphasis.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 16, 86, 91, 97, 104, 109, 143-144 (143 is partial), 148-149, 153, a total of eleven. More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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