GASPAR SALADINO in MARVEL PREMIERE Part 1

All images © Marvel. From MARVEL PREMIERE #6, Jan 1973

Among the many Marvel Comics titles of the 1970s that began with the word Marvel, this is one that Gaspar Saladino did a lot of work for. It ran 61 issues from 1972 to 1981, and there’s enough of his work to warrant two parts. I’ll look at covers in this part and inside page lettering in Part 2. In the blurb above, only the top line is hand-lettered, the bottom line is type, probably press-down type, and in a style Gaspar seemed to be using a lot around this time, perhaps to add variety. I don’t like it as much as his own lettering. His rough letters with texture inside have far more energy. Danny Crespi also did letters similar to this at times, but I feel sure these are by Saladino.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #8, May 1973

Gaspar’s balloon lettering is generally wide and angular. Notice that his letter S often has a wide horizontal center stroke. His question marks, like the one in the caption, are also distinctive, though they don’t appear on covers that often.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #10, Sept 1973

Danny Crespi’s balloon lettering was also wide, but tended to look more rounded, and his open letters often did too. These have lots of sharp corners.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #12, Nov 1973

When Gaspar had room, his display lettering often used creative styles, as in the bottom caption here, though it’s unfortunate it covers some of the figure.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #15, May 1974

Another subtle Saladino style point is a letter I with serifs at the beginning of a word, as in the bottom burst here.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #16, July 1974

Like veteran Marvel letterer Artie Simek, Gaspar made balloon shapes that approached a rectangle rather than an oval when the words fit better that way. It’s seen here in the first balloon. When he wanted to emphasize open lettering, he gave it a second outline around the outside to add thickness, as seen here on DRAGON. Note that the inner shapes have only the single outline.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #18, Oct 1974

There’s another serif I in the round blurb here, and a smaller one in the bottom caption.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #20, Jan 1975

Marvel liked to reverse blurbs, as on the first one here, which sometimes makes it harder to detect style, but the letters of BATROC are very Gaspar.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #21, March 1975

Cover lettering requires skill in knowing what and how to emphasize things, the bottom caption here is a great example of Saladino’s ability to do that.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #22, June 1975

The small lettering on this cover is not clearly in Gaspar’s style, but his creative touches, like the mask and ties on the upper blurb and the style of NINJA in the lower one point toward him.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #23, Aug 1975

Death is one of the most frequent words on comics covers, and Gaspar always made it ominous and exciting.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #24, Sept 1975

Both blurbs are reversed here, but Marvel’s way of doing it was different from DC Comics. They reversed the small lettering, but simply filled around open letters with black, changing the letter size and structure in subtle ways. Here it all worked out fine and looks good except for the very thin section of the S in SUMMERKILL.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #29, April 1976

Writer/Editor Roy Thomas must have loved having Gaspar letter covers like this, where his style fit well with the 1940s feel of the image. Gaspar didn’t start lettering until late 1949, but he certainly absorbed the look of 1940s comics.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #30, June 1976

Gaspar was also a good match for the energy and excitement of Jack Kirby art, his lettering had the same qualities.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #35, April 1977

More dynamic lettering to match the energy in the art.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #36, June 1977

Not many actual 1950s comics had lettering this well done, in my opinion.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #37, Aug 1977

The Saladino lettering on the bottom caption here reminds me of similar work he did for DC Comics when he lettered covers there.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #43, Aug 1978

This relatively small lettering still has impact, helped by the energy of the shapes around the blurbs.

From MARVEL PREMIERE #55, Aug 1980

As the title entered the 1980s, Jim Novak was sometimes doing covers, and his work is very close to Gaspar’s at this point, so there are some I’m not calling either way, but this one is definitely by Saladino.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 6, 8, 10, 12, 15-16, 18, 20-24, 29-30, 35-37, 43, 55. That’s 18 in all. Inside page lettering in Part 2. More articles in this series are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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