GASPAR SALADINO in MASTER OF KUNG FU

All images © Marvel. From MASTER OF KUNG FU #26, March 1975

This series perhaps inspired by the 1972 “Kung Fu” TV show, continued the numbering from SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION where it appeared in the last two issues, and ran 109 issues from #17 to #125, 1974 to 1983. Gaspar Saladino lettered some of the covers, some page ones, and also a few full stories. I’ll begin with covers. On the first one, above, he did the two blurbs. The thin outlines on the open letters are typical, as is the small banner for AT LAST!

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #27, April 1975

The style of this caption is similar, and notice the sharp corners on these open letters. The other main cover letterer at the time was Danny Crespi, and his open letters tended to be more rounded in general.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #33, Oct 1975

The style of MADNESS here is typical for Saladino, a controlled rough brushwork look.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #74, March 1979

After a few years of doing only inside page lettering on this title, Gaspar returned to covers with this issue.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #77, June 1979

The treatment of BLOOD is in Gaspar’s scary style with rough outlines and texture.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #84, Jan 1980

While Gaspar’s work on many Marvel books ended in the 1970s, on a some he continued a few more years. DRAGON is very much in his style.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #89, June 1980

A completely different style for DRAGONS on this one.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #90, July 1980

This fine blurb works as a sign on the wall.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #94, Nov 1980

Saladino often used this layout for cover blurbs with an arched bottom line around a small word in the center.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #95, Dec 1980

This blurb should have been larger, but the figure placement made that difficult.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #96, Jan 1981

I love the limited color palate on this cover. Gaspar’s banner adds excitement. I wonder if the yin-yang symbol was his idea or drawn in by cover artist Mike Zeck?

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #99, April 1981

I’m not sure this one is lettered by Saladino, but the styles in the arrow suggest it is.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #104, Sept 1981

The final Gaspar cover has his script style on FEATURING.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #30, July 1975

Now on to inside page lettering, and this one was a chore! It looks back to comics of the 1950s where a third or more of the page is lettering. Gaspar had done plenty of those. Marvel hired him to do just the first page on many stories in the 1970s, I think because they thought it might sell comics to browsers. I can’t imagine many browsers wading through this long first caption.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #31, Aug 1975

On the next issue there was little for Saladino to do, perhaps as payback. The credits are in type. Wonderful title.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU ANNUAL #1, Aug 1976

Saladino did page one lettering for the only Annual produced for this series. The story title is very much in his style.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #43, Aug 1976

Gaspar lettered this entire issue, and used his own first name in the credits. He was not yet getting printed credit at DC Comics.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #46, Nov 1976

Usually he put in the letterer’s name on the rest of the story, and their work was often quite different. Great dry-brush work on SPIDER in this long title to make that word pop.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #48, Jan 1977

Another long title made more interesting by emphasizing just three words of it and making the rest small.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #54, July 1977

More clever choices for emphasis and design in this title.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #56, Sept 1977

There was so little room for this long story title that Gaspar used headline type. It doesn’t look good.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #60, Jan 1978

This one is more like it!

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #61, Feb 1978

Here the title has unusual letter shapes and glass shine marks to add interest.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #62, March 1978

Having resisted the temptation thus far, here Saladino uses the standard oriental style in the title that prevailed for many years, and which is disliked now by those of Asian descent.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #63, April 1978

Lower case for this quiet title for variety.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #65, June 1978

Here the title has meanings that Gaspar could use for style choices, and the result is great.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #66, July 1978

A busy page, but at least the title is short.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #68, Sept 1978

Saladino liked angular letter shapes, in this title they’re extremely so. Not as successful as many of his other titles in my opinion.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #69, Oct 1978

The style of RAGE adds drama and contrast.

From MASTER OF KUNG FU #72, Jan 1979

Gaspar’s final story lettering for the book was this full story. The title and captions are beautifully balanced with the art. He’s credited himself as GASPAR S. to match the colorist credit style.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 26-27, 33, 74, 77, 84, 89-90, 94-96, 99, 104. That’s a total of 13. Below are the details of his story lettering.

#30 July 1975: page 1 only

#31 Aug 1975: page 1 only

Annual #1 Aug 1976: page 1 only

#43 Aug 1976: 17pp

#46 Nov 1976: page 1 only

#48 Jan 1977: page 1 only

#54 July 1977: page 1 only

#56 Sept 1977: page 1 only

#60 Jan 1978: page 1 only

#61 Feb 1978: page 1 only

#62 March 1978: page 1 only

#63 April 1978: page 1 only

#65 June 1978: page 1 only

#66 July 1978: page 1 only

#68 Sept 1978: page 1 only

#69 Oct 1978: page 1 only

#72 Jan 1979: 17pp

That’s a total of 49 pages. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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