GASPAR SALADINO in METAL MEN

All images © DC Comics. From METAL MEN #3, Aug-Sept 1963

METAL MEN was the creation of writer/editor Robert Kanigher with artists Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. After a four issue tryout in SHOWCASE, it ran 56 issues from 1963 to 1978, though there were two long gaps in publication after issue #40. Gaspar Saladino lettered most of the first 19 issues and a few after that, and he lettered most of the covers from issue #32 on after Ira Schnapp, the previous cover letterer, had left the company. The early cover above is one that Gaspar did as a fill-in when Schnapp wasn’t available, and it shows him trying to fit into the Schnapp style, though his wider and more angular letters are different. Notice the word INVISIBLE in the top blurb is broken by open lines at the bottom, something Saladino liked to do with such words. I’ll look at covers first, then stories.

From METAL MEN #30, Feb-March 1968

By late 1967, Gaspar was doing the majority of the cover lettering, having gradually taken the lion’s share from Schnapp at the request of Editorial Director Carmine Infantino. Saladino’s mandate was to give DC’s overall design look a fresh approach, and he’s no longer trying to stay in the Schnapp model, but going his own way. The top blurb is full of energetic, creative display lettering.

From METAL MEN #33, Aug-Sept 1968

Sales may have been dropping, and a new approach was tried with a new art team. The logo has been modified and simplified by Gaspar, and his lettering on the top line and signs is effective and exciting.

From METAL MEN #36, Feb-March 1969

The original Schnapp logo is back on this issue, and Saladino does a rare round cover blurb with several styles that work well together and some texture.

From METAL MEN #39, Aug-Sept 1969

As the original run drew to a close, DC was desperate to attract readers, and the title characters are not even seen on the cover, at least in their usual way. Gaspar’s large open blurb conveys the drama and has fine brush lettering on BEAST.

From METAL MEN #46, June-July 1976

A revival issue with art by Walt Simonson includes lots of Saladino cover lettering in the banner and on three blurbs.

From METAL MEN #54, Oct-Nov 1977

Near the end of the series, Saladino’s cover blurbs make this sound like the final issue, but there were two more.

From METAL MEN #1, April-May 1963

Saladino was writer/editor Robert Kanigher’s favorite letterer, they worked together often, and did so on this title’s early years.

From METAL MEN #1, April-May 1963

In addition to the main story, Gaspar lettered some of these short features too.

From METAL MEN #4, Oct-Nov 1963

At times, lettering these stories was no picnic. Almost half this page is lettering. Gaspar makes things work by going beyond the panel borders where necessary.

From METAL MEN #7, April-May 1964

The design of these splash pages was always clear and inviting, and the title on this one is intriguing.

From METAL MEN #9, Aug-Sept 1964

As you might expect with metal characters, there were often sound effects, which Saladino always handled well.

From METAL MEN #14, June-July 1965

The ability of the characters to be torn apart every issue and be rebuilt was one of their attractions, and Chemo was probably their best villain. Lots of action enhanced by a dynamic story title.

From METAL MEN #19, April-May 1966

Kanigher knew how to appeal to kids, and Gaspar’s display lettering sells it.

From METAL MEN #47, Aug-Sept 1976

Saladino also lettered a few of the later issues, as here. I can’t help thinking the sound effect is a tribute to long-time Batman artist Dick Sprang.

From METAL MEN #50, Feb-March 1977

Issue #50 was mostly a reprint, but with new framing pages lettered by Gaspar to go with the reprinted ones he also lettered.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 3, 30, 32-39, 41, 46-48, 52, 54-55. That’s 17 in all. Below are the details of his story lettering. All feature the Metal Men except as noted.

#1 April-May 1963: 25pp, Metal Facts and Fancies (hereafter MF&F) 1pp

#2 June-July 1963: 25pp, MF&F 1pp

#3 Aug-Sept 1963: 25pp

#4 Oct-Nov 1963: 25pp, MF&F 1pp

#5 Dec-Jan 1963-64: 25pp

#6 Feb-March 1964: 25pp

#7 April-May 1964: 25pp, MF&F 1pp

#8 June-July 1964: 25pp, MF&F 2pp

#9 Aug-Sept 1964: 25pp, MF&F 1pp

#10 Oct-Nov 1964: 25pp

#11 Dec-Jan 1964-65: 24pp, MF&F 1pp

#12 Feb-March 1965: 25pp, MF&F 1pp

#13 April-May 1965: 26pp, MF&F 1pp

#14 June-July 1965: 25pp, MF&F 1pp

#15 Aug-Sept 1965: MF&F 1pp

#16 Oct-Nov 1965: 24pp

#17 Dec-Jan 1965-66: 25pp

#18 Feb-March 1966: 24pp

#19 April-May 1966: 24pp

#21 Aug-Sept 1966: 24pp

#47 Aug-Sept 1976: 17pp

#48 Oct-Nov 1976: 17pp

#50 Feb-March 1977: 4pp (new, the rest reprints)

#51 April-May 1977: 17pp

Thats a total of 538 pages. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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