GASPAR SALADINO in OTHER BATMAN TITLES

All images © DC Comics. From BATMAN FAMILY #7, Sept-Oct 1976

This article covers four Batman titles that I thought didn’t have enough Saladino work for separate articles. First up is BATMAN FAMILY, which ran to 20 issues from 1975 to 1978. The title was a victim of the DC Implosion, but most of the features moved into DETECTIVE COMICS. Above is the first cover with Gaspar’s lettering. At the time there was no one really guiding cover design, and this one is kind of a jumble, with too much going on and no focal point, in my opinion. Gaspar’s two blurbs describe what’s inside at least. Earlier covers had lettering by others or used only type. From this point on, Gaspar lettered most of them.

From BATMAN FAMILY #10, March-April 1977

By 1977, the trade dress (all the information at the top) was simpler, and the cover design is much improved. The new DC Bullet by the Milton Glaser studio helps. Notice that the tail of the second balloon goes behind the ray gun, something letterers were told not to do if it could be avoided. It would have been pretty hard to avoid it here, and I think it works okay.

From BATMAN FAMILY #14, Oct 1977

Artist Jim Aparo did his own story lettering, but rarely lettered his covers. I like the diminishing sizes of these balloons, but covering Batgirl’s hand should have been avoided. That could have been a placement choice by whoever assembled the cover in the DC production department, cover lettering was done on separate paper and pasted in place, or often a photostat of it was.

From BATMAN FAMILY #17, April-May 1978

For a few issues, this title joined the Dollar Comics line with an expanded size and all new stories. I’m sure Saladino lettered the blurbs in the top banner, I’m less sure about the ones on the cover art, but he might have done those too.

From BATMAN FAMILY #20, Oct-Nov 1978

The final issue included a wraparound cover with Saladino lettering on both halves, but I’m just showing the front cover here with his fine rough open lettering for RAG MAN.

From BATMAN FAMILY #9, Jan-Feb 1977

Gaspar also lettered two stories inside the books, this one featuring Robin and Batgirl…

From BATMAN FAMILY #15, Dec 1977-Jan 1978

…and this Man-Bat story with early work by artist Michael Golden. Here Gaspar was able to list himself in the credits, something that became standard for letterers in mid-1977. I feel sure the story title was penciled by Golden and inked by Saladino.

To sum up, Gaspar lettered these BATMAN FAMILY covers: 7-12, 14-17, 20, eleven in all, or if you count the back cover of 20, twelve in all. He lettered these stories:

#9 Jan-Feb 1977: Robin & Batgirl 17pp

#15 Dec 1977-Jan 1978: Man-Bat 9pp

From BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #1, Aug 1983

Next up is this title, which ran 32 issues from 1983 to 1986, and then split into two new titles. One of them, ADVENTURES OF THE OUTSIDERS, continued with the same numbering until 1987 and issue #46. The other title began with #1 and was simply THE OUTSIDERS, and will be covered later, but I will include ADVENTURES OF here. Gaspar only lettered covers for this series, quite a few of them. The first, above, lays out the premise of the book in two well-made word balloons. Saladino also designed the logo and did the top blurb.

From BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #4, Nov 1983

Gaspar knew just when to add drama with a burst balloon, and his scroll caption is also great. I live the melting letters in the second line.

From BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #9, April 1984

The best part of this cover is the cocky word balloon at bottom right, probably written by series creator Mike W. Barr.

From BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #23, July 1985

The captions on this cover add a great deal to the drama and excitement, and I like the notched borders and subtle drop shadow on the lower one. That second caption would be a great addition to many other covers with heroes in trouble.

From BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #32, April 1986

The final issue of this series, as well stated by Saladino…

From ADVENTURES OF THE OUTSIDERS #34, June 1986

…but rolling right on with this new title. The reason was that THE OUTSIDERS would debut as a new series on higher quality Baxter paper with new stories, while ADVENTURES would also continue with new ones for a few months, then would reprint the stories from the other title. A marketing thing to increase sales, I guess. It only worked for a while. Gaspar’s caption has some interesting color holds, not something he would have been involved in, or known about until he saw the printed book, that’s the colorist’s choice.

From ADVENTURES OF THE OUTSIDERS #37, Sept 1986

I love the Saladino caption on this cover, the calm styles are a great contrast to the cover art. Sorry the image is a bit blurry, best I could find.

From ADVENTURES OF THE OUTSIDERS #40, Dec 1986

The cover copy is unclear here as to what’s exploding, but the word EXPLODE by Saladino is certainly exciting.

To sum up, Gaspar lettered these covers for BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS: 1-2, 4, 6, 9-13, 15-16, 19-23, 26-32 and these for ADVENTURES OF THE OUTSIDERS: 34-37, 40-41, 44, 46, for a total of 31 covers.

From BATMAN: BRIDE OF THE DEMON Jan 1991

In 1991 there was this stand-alone graphic novel of 92 pages lettered by Saladino. I think It was more successful than the earlier ARKHAM ASYLUM probably because the art was more typical comics art, something which Gaspar could handle perfectly. I love the sound effects and the old-style dashed whisper balloons in the second example.

From BATMAN ’66 #3, Nov 2013

In 2003, DC Comics moved to an all-digital workflow, and letterers like Gaspar Saladino who only lettered by hand were no longer able to get work from the company. Gaspar had no interest in digital lettering, and he turned 76 in 2003, so while he might still have been doing a little lettering here and there, he was essentially retired at that point after working at DC since late 1949. When this new series began, based on the 1960s Batman TV show, someone at DC had the brilliant idea of asking Saladino to letter some of the covers. He was able to letter with pens on paper, as he always used to, and DC scanned the result and incorporated it into their digital files. Gaspar had not been doing cover lettering at DC since the early 1990s, but his work here is very much like what he had been doing decades earlier, though there are some elements that show his age and declining motor skills. Still, I loved this work, and was so happy he was able to do it, and bring his DC lettering career into an incredible eighth decade. He did seven covers before health issues forced him to stop, and I’m just going to show them all here without further comment. Note that he did not do the blurb above the logo on this first one, but he did the one used on the other covers.

From BATMAN ’66 #4, Dec 2013
From BATMAN ’66 #5, Jan 2014
From BATMAN ’66 #7, March 2014
From BATMAN ’66 #8, April 2014
From BATMAN ’66 #9, May 2014
From BATMAN ’66 #10, June 2014

My favorite of these seven covers is Saladino’s work on issue #9, I think it comes closest to what he was doing in the prime years of his cover lettering, from 1968 to 1978. Gaspar passed in 2016, and his legacy at DC has never been in doubt, but work on covers isn’t credited, so I’m happy to be able to do that in these posts.

Other articles in this series are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog, along with more you might like.

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