GASPAR SALADINO in NEW GODS

All images © DC Comics. From THE NEW GODS #1, Feb-March 1971

When DC Comics accomplished the recruitment of Marvel Comics’ top artist, Jack Kirby, they were giddy with excitement, crowing “KIRBY’S HERE!” on early covers and house ads. The initial deal was for Jack to edit, write and draw four titles, and this one was the center of his Fourth World saga. As with other DC Kirby titles, the covers had a mixture of type and Gaspar Saladino lettering, he did the two captions at the bottom of this one, though the word READ is probably type. The logo was developed by Jack, who found an advertisement with letters he liked, which he cut up and pasted together. Gaspar did his version based on that. Kirby did eleven issues in 1971-72 that sold well at first, but perhaps it was not the blockbuster DC was hoping for. The book was revived by others for eight more issues in 1977-78, and as with all the Kirby DC creations, continued in new popular series later. Saladino did cover lettering for many issues of the first several series, and lettered just one inside story.

From THE NEW GODS #2, April-May 1971

There’s lots of Saladino lettering on the second issue cover, but also some type. ORION is a larger and wider version of what he did on the first cover with a second outline to make it read better. On both, the notch on the right side of the R is barely there. On the first issue, it’s lowered, as is usual for Gaspar, here it’s centered. There’s headline type in the bottom banner and the caption above it as well as lettering, possibly done by Gaspar on DC’s headline machine.

From THE NEW GODS #3, June-July 1971

These captions are all lettered by Saladino. I like the rough treatment of DEATH.

From THE NEW GODS #4, Aug-Sept 1971

The top blurb here is headline type, the rest is Saladino lettering, including the first word balloon on the series covers.

From THE NEW GODS #6, Dec 1971-Jan 1972

I think this is all Saladino hand lettering except MANHUNTER, which is the font Albertus created in 1932-40 by Berthold Wolpe. Gaspar may have put it into his caption using press-down type, DC usually had a selection of that from Letraset. Another pop culture use was all the signs in the Patrick McGoohan TV show, “The Prisoner.”

From THE NEW GODS #8, April-May 1972

Generally I don’t think the mix of type and hand lettering on these covers works very well, it often seems mismatched. The type at the top is bland and dull compared to Saladino’s exciting caption at the bottom.

From THE NEW GODS #11, Oct-Nov 1972

The final Kirby issue has only Saladino lettering, which I feel works better. I like the Art Deco approach on the open letters of the bottom caption, though I don’t know if it’s really the right choice for the character.

From NEW GODS #1, June 1984

In 1984, DC republished the original Kirby issues in a prestige format with new covers and a new final issue from Kirby. Fans were now eager to see it, and Jack was pleased with the project, though it extended into a separate graphic novel, The Hunger Dogs. I did the new logo and Gaspar lettered most of the covers.

From NEW GODS #2, July 1984

One good thing about these reprints is the much simpler trade dress and cover text. Here Saladino’s work shines in two large blurbs, letting the dynamic art do the rest.

From NEW GODS #5, Oct 1984

I just love The Bug, both the character and the Saladino lettering for him.

From NEW GODS #6, Nov 1984

At last! I don’t know if the bottom burst was drawn by Kirby, or by Saladino, but either way it works well around Gaspar’s lettering.

From NEW GODS #15, April 1990

In 1989 DC relaunched the title again without Kirby, and it ran 28 issues to 1991. Gaspar lettered several of the covers beginning with this one. Sadly, his script lettering for YOURS TRULY, THE is held in yellow, and hard to see.

From NEW GODS #16, May 1990

There are small details in this Saladino bottom blurb that delight me: the subtle up and down stagger of the letters, the connection of the TR, and the way the right side of the R overlaps rather than joins like the rest.

From NEW GODS #23, Feb 1991

Another fine blurb on this cover by Gaspar, making miles of difference between two similar words. Note the unusual and creative shape of the O in the second one.

From NEW GODS #22, Jan 1991

Saladino’s only story lettering for any of these series was for this issue, a fill-in, as the rest were by others. I love the lower case title, and the scroll caption for the credits.

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

THE NEW GODS (1971): 1-11

NEW GODS (1984): 1-3, 5-6

NEW GODS (1989): 15-17, 19, 23-24

That’s 22 in all. The inside story above was 24 pages. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.