GASPAR SALADINO in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (1984)

All images © DC Comics. From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #6, Jan 1985

In 1984, DC Comics was trying something new with several of their popular titles. They had a new offset printed format with higher quality printing and paper than the typical letterpress comics they’d always put out, but which would have to sell at a higher price. They aimed them at the direct market, comic shops and retailers who would take them on a non returnable basis. At the same time they didn’t want to lose their newsstand buyers, so for a year there were two titles for this and other books. A new LEGION OF SUPERHEROES began with a new first issue, and came out monthly in the improved format and going to the direct market, while the existing comic continued with new material too. At the end of twelve months, the existing title was renamed TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES and began reprinting the stories from the other title one year later. This was based on the “hardcover, softcover” model used in book publishing. It worked for a while, and when the LEGION stories were reprinted in TALES OF, they had new covers. Gaspar lettered some of the covers in both series, but more for TALES OF than for LEGION. He didn’t letter any of the stories inside. I’ll discuss LEGION first, then the TALES reprint covers. Early LEGION covers had no lettering, and that was also true for other issues, but eventually Gaspar’s work became more common there. His first LEGION lettering was for the cover above, the caption under the logo.

From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #10, May 1985

Gaspar did the bottom open lettering on this cover as well as the solid lettering on the poster. Both work well.

From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #11, June 1985

I love the banner lettering on this cover, and I can’t think of a better use for rounded, bouncy letters.

From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #18, Jan 1986

Gaspar has established a somewhat rounded style of block letters for this title that work well on INFINITE MAN, and the top two lines provide good contrast.

From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ANNUAL #2, Oct 1986

Gaspar also lettered the caption on this Annual cover, using different approaches on each word that all work together well.

From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #30, Jan 1987

Sometimes the lettering is the star, or at least co-star of a cover, and this is a good example. The contrast between the upbeat wording and the art reveals it as an ironic statement, and makes the reader want to know more.

From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #40, Nov 1987

Gaspar added a creative touch to STARFINGER by putting a small star in the A. Everyone must have liked it, he did the same thing on other covers where the character’s name appeared.

From LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #51, Oct 1988

This one is really a tour-de-force. The large lettering follows the perspective of my logo, and also works as a huge word balloon. Awesome!

From TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #326, Aug 1985

The first of the new covers over the reprints from LEGION, this book continued the numbering from the original series. The burst makes reference to “the stories you’ve heard about,” and newsstand readers could read them here at a lower price, though on cheaper paper with poorer printing.

From TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #329, Nov 1985

These covers often seemed to take a more melodramatic approach than the other title, and Gaspar was a good choice to letter them. This one year later idea would probably never work today, where spoilers for everything abound.

From TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #337, July 1986

Gaspar makes CATASTROPHE seem pretty awful with his effective lettering.

From TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #340, Oct 1986

Even in pink, Saladino’s flaming letters for HOT are effective.

From TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ANNUAL #4, Oct 1986

More effective melodrama on the one TALES Annual with Gaspar’s lettering. TALES ended in 1987, and the above version of LEGION in 1989, but there were more versions, and the franchise remains popular. I’ll show more Gaspar lettering on other Legion books in the next article.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers:

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (1984): 6, 10-11, 15, 18-21, 23-31, 40, 42, 44, 47, 49, 51, Annual 1-2

TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: 326-334, 337-342, 344, 346, 349-350, 352-354, Annual 4

That’s 48 covers in all. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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