Gaspar Saladino began his long career as a comics letterer at DC Comics in the fall of 1949 when he was hired by editor Julius Schwartz. He was soon also doing lots of lettering for Julie’s office mate Robert Kanigher, and when Gaspar was not busy lettering pages for those editors, he would take work from other DC editors. Gaspar worked in the DC offices for his first few years, working 9 to 5 first at a desk in the production department alongside Ira Schnapp, Ray Perry and others, and soon at a drawing board right in the office of Schwartz and Kanigher. Gaspar was a 1945 graduate of Manhattan’s School of Industrial Art (later the High School of Art and Design), and many of his classmates also went on to careers in comics. Some classmates Gaspar probably knew included Carmine Infantino (class of 1943), Joe Orlando, Charles “Jerry” Grandenetti, Jack Abel (class of 1944), Joe Giella (also class of 1945), Sy Barry (class of 1946) and Alex Toth (class of 1947). Gaspar renewed his friendship with those classmates at DC, and made new artist friends like Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. While DC kept Saladino busy five days a week, he would occasionally take lettering jobs at other publishers to work on at home in the early to mid 1950s, I think often at the request of his artist friends. The earliest example I know of is above, a seven page story that the Grand Comics Database suggests was penciled by either Murphy Anderson or Sy Barry. I think the latter is more likely. The page has some of the style points of his work at DC in 1951, including the title style, a fancy open initial capital M in the first caption, and his wide, angular letter shapes.
With this article, I begin detailing Gaspar’s comics lettering at publishers other than DC and Marvel. When I searched for his work at those companies, I looked at every story published by DC from 1950 to 2003, and by Marvel from 1965 to 2003. It was time consuming, but rewarding in that I found many examples so far unnoticed by other researchers. When it comes to all the other comics publishers though, I can’t be that thorough, I have to use the Grand Comics Database as my guide, relying on the identification skills of other fine experts who’ve found Gaspar’s work. I went through all the Saladino credits at the GCD from the beginning to about 2005 (by then all reprints), and looked at every example listed for publishers other than DC and Marvel. In almost all cases I was able to find scans of the stories online, fortunately. A few of those citations I thought were incorrect, but most were spot on, and when I confirmed Gaspar’s lettering on a title, I looked at other consecutive issues before and after to see if I could find more. I found a few more, but the GCD listings are generally accurate, and I feel comfortable relying on them. Once you know it, Saladino’s lettering style, it’s distinctive and easy to spot, so that makes identification easier.
Gaspar didn’t do many stories for other publishers in the 1950s, I’ll show pages from all of them here. In future articles I’ll discuss his work from the 1960s on for seventeen other publishers. Gaspar was good and he was fast, and he managed to fit quite a bit of work beyond DC and Marvel into his busy schedule. I’ll say up front that it’s likely I and others have missed some from this decade and going forward, and if other examples turn up later, I’ll add them.
By 1953, Gaspar was already lettering lots of war stories at DC for editor Robert Kanigher, and one of Kanigher’s main war artists was Jerry Grandenetti. This seven page story for Pines is penciled and inked by Grandenetti, who no doubt asked Gaspar to letter it. Saladino was still figuring out story titles at the time, and this one is not so good, but perhaps he just inked what Grandenetti penciled there. The balloon lettering and sound effects are very typical of his work at the time.
Gaspar and artist Carmine Infantino were certainly friends and liked working together by 1953. In fact, at some point in the 1950s, Gaspar began working in Carmine’s home to help him meet his DC deadlines. They also worked on these two romance stories for Prize, under editor Joe Simon, who probably added the typeset top caption and title to the first six page story, while the second seven pager is all by Saladino. Note the open initial capital letters in captions over a black shape, something Gaspar often did at DC.
Saladino was also lettering lots of western stories for DC for Julie Schwartz in the 1950s, so doing one for Charlton was not a stretch, but I’m not sure how Gaspar was brought in on this seven pager. The GCD suggests it might be penciled by John Belfi. He attended Gaspar’s high school probably in the 1930s, and did some work for DC in the 1940s, but before Saladino started there. Perhaps this is actually penciled by one of Gaspar’s regular DC artists instead.
This story has art by another graduate of the School of Industrial Design in 1947, Dick Giordano, a mainstay at Charlton in the 1950s, later one at DC. This seven page story has the same publication date at the western story above, so perhaps Giordano gave Gaspar both stories at the same time. The story title here is still a bit off-model for Saladino, but again perhaps he just inked what was penciled.
I’m less sure about this story, “Hair-Pin Curve,” four pages. The letter shapes look about right for Gaspar, but the space between lines of lettering is tighter than he usually worked, but I will call it for him. Possibly that was at the request of the artist or editor. The GCD suggests Gil Kane as a possible penciler, I don’t see that myself, but I don’t know who it might be. Researcher Nick Caputo suggests it might have been prepared for another company that went out of business and then sold to Charlton.
These stories total 45 pages. From 1956 to 1962 I’ve found no work by Saladino other than at DC, where he was kept very busy. Going forward, he next began working at Western Publishing (Dell) in 1963, and I’ll write about that next time. Many other articles about Gaspar’s lettering can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.