In the early 1950s, DC editor Robert Kanigher oversaw a popular and successful line of war comics. This book ran from 1952 to 1977, then was retitled SGT. ROCK, which I will cover separately. Gaspar Saladino was hired by editor Julius Schwartz in late 1949 to letter his comics, and he was soon sitting in the office Schwartz shared with Kanigher. They had moved over from All-American Comics together when that company merged with National (DC) around 1946. Kanigher and Schwartz both loved Gaspar’s lettering, and he was soon very busy working on all their titles. He seemed to have an affinity for Kanigher’s war books, and for many years lettered most of the stories inside. When regular cover letterer Ira Schnapp wasn’t available, Gaspar was sometimes given those assignments, and later, when Schnapp left the company in 1968, Saladino became the regular cover letterer, though by that time he was no longer lettering stories because he was too busy elsewhere. I’ll look at his covers first, then go back to the stories. The one above has a fine burst word balloon and two well-designed captions, all full of exciting display lettering (the one above the logo is by Schnapp from a previous issue). Sgt. Rock and Easy Company had become the stars of the title with issue #81, and they were featured in every issue from then on.
This second fill-in cover features a new Sgt. Rock logo by Saladino under the main logo by Schnapp. The jagged-edged blurb is again full of handsome display lettering enhanced by color holds.
The caption on this cover is definitely by Gaspar, but the word balloon might be by cover artist Joe Kubert, who could also letter. His style is similar to Saladino’s, but less even and bouncier. The sound effects could be by either.
The blurb at lower right fills the open space nicely on this final fill-in cover. Sometimes on fill-in covers, Gaspar tried harder to fit in with Ira Schnapp’s style, but on these he simply went his own way, and the lettering is better for it.
From this point on, Saladino was the regular cover letterer, though somehow Schnapp lettering appeared on issue #198, well after he had left the company. Perhaps that cover was held in inventory for a while. This issue is all reprints, and Saladino gets every character and story in with fine display lettering.
Gaspar’s lettering is angular and dynamic, making him the perfect choice for war comics covers and stories, though he did equally well on other genres. By this time, with almost twenty years experience, he’d developed a wide range of effective styles.
Large Saladino word balloons with a mix of solid and open display lettering were common on war covers, adding to the drama.
Saladino and Kubert worked well together, each adding to the other’s strengths. Joe left room for the lettering to be a good size, Gaspar filled the spaces expertly.
This cover is an effective nod to op art styles of the time, and the light blue background highlights the figure and the lettering.
Few DC titles without superheroes lasted 200 issues let alone 300, and the war ones may have succeeded where other genres failed because of Kanigher’s writing and Kubert’s art. They also tried to change with the times, even though most of the stories took place in the 1940s.
War is loud, and Saladino’s word balloons were often loud to match, adding to the excitement.
For this cover Saladino had extra work to do on that envelope, and he did it well.
Another large reprint issue, with Kubert’s clever layout and Saladino’s fine lettering making it seem less crowded and jumbled than many such covers.
Kubert had also become the war title editor in 1968, and by this time the book had a new logo he may have designed, perhaps in collaboration with Saladino. The top line is definitely by Gaspar.
Adding strong patterns to open lettering, as with TIGER here, can make them hard to read, but this example works okay. I like the angular S in SEE.
Is the hawk shape around the bottom blurb by Kubert or Saladino? I’m not sure, but it looks great.
Another eye-catching caption shape, this iron cross is probably by Saladino.
One of Saladino’s final cover lettering assignments on this title, though he would do many for SGT ROCK when it was renamed. The blurb on the right in the top banner and the ’76 are his.
Now we’ll look at Saladino’s story lettering, and he was there from the first page of the first issue. Some of his story titles at this early period in his career were not so good, but on the war books he seemed to find his way early. His balloon lettering is angular, wider, and a somewhat larger than the work of his contemporaries, and I feel it was a great match for this genre. Obviously editor Kanigher did too.
In addition to all the longer stories, Gaspar lettered some of the short fillers in early issues, like this one by Irwin Hasen. Later they were done by others. The handwritng here is quite different from what he did in later years.
Another fine title on this story, and it’s short so could be large. Gaspar’s sound effects were often called for and always strong.
More Saladino sound effects. Some artists preferred to ink their own, but in my opinion Gaspar’s looked best.
While many stories at this time were full of text and balloons, the war stories seemed more open, and with room for a strong title. In the last two panels, Gaspar makes things fit by running balloons over the panel border, something Ira Schnapp did often.
Even Gaspar’s radio balloons were full of energy, with large spikes and very jagged tails.
While most stories were about Word War Two, other eras were touched on, as here, where Saladino’s sound effects again play a strong role.
This story title is a nice change of pace, and similar to things he was doing in DC’s romance books, also for Kanigher.
The titles continue to impress. The sound effects on this page are probably by artist Irv Novick, not as good as Saladino’s in my opinion, but they do the job.
Great title and sound effects by Saladino on this one.
When a title word suggested a particular graphic treatment like the wooden pieces here, Saladino was on it.
I find this story title particularly energetic and exciting, enhanced by the white inside.
This is the first title mention of Easy Company, not sure if it’s the same one that Sgt. Rock would head in a few years, as it was one of the common company nicknames.
The mix of lower case and tall capitals in this title is appealing, as is the large sound effect.
A rare starring role for a woman in this he-man title. The color in BATTLE really sells it.
The first regular installment of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, which would be this book’s lead feature from here on. For a long time there was no feature logo, but usually a mention of Easy Company in the title or on the first page. Joe Kubert lettered some of the early Rock stories himself.
Here’s a good example of Rock narrating the story, as he often did. Kubert had not quite settled on his final look yet.
When your letterer is great at sound effects, why not write a story that features them?
Air war stories were also popular, as this World War One tale shows, and there was usually more room for sound effects.
Here we see a regular feature top line beginning to be used, which I think is by Kubert, and the title is a rare sideways one.
Air war stories found their lead with this character, a German World War One ace. Kanigher’s focus on the enemy made it memorable, and Saladino would soon do a better logo for him.
Here’s the Rock and Easy feature logo in final form on a nice scroll, perhaps added by Saladino. The title with open drop shadow commands attention, helped by the burst around it. Fine work by Gaspar.
This splash page intro has amusing caricatures of the creators by Kubert, and lots of fine lettering by Gaspar. Soon after he would stop lettering stories for the book probably due to other commitments.
Here are the covers I found with Saladino lettering: 157, 170, 173, 182, 190-197, 199-255, 257, 259-265, 267-281, 284, 290, 293, 295-296. That’s 97 in all. Below are the details from the many stories he lettered. Easy Company becomes EC and Sgt. Rock and Easy Company becomes SR, with Enemy Ace as EA.
#1 Aug 1952: Last Performance 6pp, Private Diary 1pp, Dig Your Foxhole Deep 8pp, Radar Feet 6pp, SOS Seabees 6pp
#2 Sept 1952: Champ 8pp, Second Best 6pp, This Ain’t The Army 1pp, A Letter From Joe 6pp, Private Diary 1pp, Survival for Shorty 6pp
#3 Oct 1952: Patrol 8pp, No Exit 6pp, Private Diary 1pp, Lucky Charm 6pp, Frightened Hero 6pp
#4 Nov 1952: Last Man 8pp, Special Delivery 6pp, Soft Job 6pp,
#5 Dec 1952: Battle Souvenir 8pp, Baby Face 6pp, This Ain’t the Army 1pp, Private Diary 1pp, T.N.T. Bouquet 4pp, Ranger 6pp
#6 Jan 1953: Killer Sub 4pp, Sgt. Route Step O’Malley 1pp, Last Laugh 6pp
#7 Feb 1953: Dive Bomber 8pp, I The Gun 6pp, Counterattack 4pp, Mountain Trooper 6pp, Private Diary 1pp
#8 March 1953: Toy Soldier 6pp, Pusan Pocket 6pp
#9 April 1953: Runaway Hero 6pp, Fatal Choice 6pp, Eyes of the Artillery 6pp
#10 May 1953: Soldiers of the High Wire 6pp, Deadlock 6pp, Fighting Mess Sergeant 6pp
#11 June 1953: Scratch One Meatball 6pp, Guerrilla Fighters 6pp, Combat Report 6pp, Soldier’s Luck 6pp
#12 July 1953: Flying Blind 6pp, Death Relay 6pp, End of the Line 4pp, The Big Drop 6pp
#13 Aug 1953: Ghost Ace 6pp, Combat Fever 6pp, Phantom Frogman 6pp, Minutemen of Saratoga 6pp
#14 Sept 1953: Drummer of Waterloo 6pp, Double or Nothing 6pp, Soldier Without Armor 6pp, Killer Tank 6pp
#15 Oct 1953: Thunder in the Skies 8pp, Tourist with T.N.T. 6pp, A Sunday Walk 4pp, The Fifteen-Minute War 6pp
#16 Nov 1953: The Million to One Shot 8pp, Battle of the Bugles 6pp, Traffic Cop Soldier 6pp
#17 Dec 1953: The White Death 6pp, Sword for a Statue 6pp, Battle Without Bullets 6pp, Washed-Out Cadet 6pp
#18 Jan 1954: The Duel 6pp, Frontier Fighter 6pp, Delayed Action 6pp, Wake Up–And Fight 6pp
#19 Feb 1954: The Big Ditch 8pp, No Rank 6pp, G.I. Tarzan 6pp
#20 March 1954: Abandon Ship 6pp, The Flying Crackerbox 6pp, The Blue and the Gray 6pp
#21 April 1954: Diary of a Flattop 24pp
#22 May 1954: Ranger Raid 8pp, Killer Clock 6pp, The Billion Dollar Umbrella 6pp, The Door 6pp
#23 June 1954: Jungle Navy 8pp, Quiet Please – War 6pp, The Dry-Run Sub 6pp, The Hounds and the Hare 6pp
#24 July 1954: Surprise Landing 6pp, Last Ditch 6pp, Kindergarten Patrol 6pp, Borrowed Wings 6pp
#25 Aug 1954: Take ‘Er Down 6pp, Battle Junk 6pp, Unluckiest G.I. 6pp, Operation Avalanche 6pp
#26 Sept 1954: Sky Duel 6pp, Battle Baton 6pp, Bullet for a Spy 6pp
#27 Oct 1954: Diary of a Frogman 8pp, Beachhead in Reverse 6pp, Secret of the Maginot Line 6pp, Touchdown Gun 6pp
#28 Nov 1954: Detour–War 6pp, The Iron Fox-Hole 6pp, The Runner 6pp, Battle Postcard 6pp
#29 Dec 1954: Grounded Fighter 6pp, The Wayward Jeep 6pp, Fort Lighthouse 6pp
#30 Jan 1955: Torpedo Raft 6pp, Battlefield Payoff 6pp, 20th Century Trojan Horse 6pp, Frogman’s Treasure 6pp
#31 Feb 1955: Target for Tommy 6pp, The Golden Foxhole 6pp, Jackpot Parachute 6pp
#32 March 1955: Glory Dive 6pp, Feathered Fighter 6pp, Sea Soldier 6pp
#33 April 1955: Fighting Gunner 8pp, No Foxhole Today 6pp, Battling Bazookaman 6pp
#34 May 1955: Point-Blank War 8pp, Frogman Attack 6pp, Rainy Day Soldier 6pp, Lost: One War 6pp
#35 June 1955: Frontline Tackle 8pp, Battle of the Broken Bow 6pp, I.O.U.- One Pair of Dogtags 6pp
#36 July 1955: Foxhole Mascot 8pp, Air-Conditioned War 6pp, Doughfoot With Wings 6pp
#37 Aug 1955: Walking Battle Pin 8pp, Book Sergeant 6pp, Flivver Fighter 6pp, Foxhole in the Sky 6pp
#38 Sept 1955: Floating Pillbox 8pp, The Flag on No-Man’s Hill 6pp, Bombing Bus Driver 6pp
#39 Oct 1955: Trench Trap 8pp, Under Three Flags 6pp, The Windmill War 6pp, Deliver: One Rifle 6pp
#40 Nov 1955: Tank Hunter 8pp, Frogman Combat Book 6pp, AWOL Fighter 6pp
#41 Dec 1955: Jungle Target 8pp, Parade for a Statue 6pp
#42 Jan 1956: Shadow Targets 8pp, Battle Line 6pp, Combat Size 6pp, Soldier in the Dark 6pp
#43 Feb 1956: A Bridge for Billy 8pp, Man Against Tank 6pp, Soldier of Misfortune 6pp, Operation Decoy 6pp
#44 March 1956: Thunder in the Desert 8pp, Soldier On The Spot 6pp, The Talking Gun 6pp, Invasion Beach Taxi 6pp
#45 April 1956: Diary of a Fighter Pilot 8pp, Frogman Battle Album 6pp, G.I. Without a Gun 6pp, Shortcut–War 6pp
#46 May 1956: Prize Package 8pp, Absent War 6pp, Salute to a Mustang 6pp, Split-Second Combat 6pp
#47 June 1956: Flying Jeep 8pp, Wooden Soldier 6pp, Target Town 6pp, Clay Pigeon Sub 6pp
#48 July 1956: Front Seat 8pp, Wanted: Fighting Man 6pp, Foxhole Town 6pp, Battle Bell 6pp
#49 Aug 1956: Landing Postponed 8pp, The War That Wasn’t There 6pp, Negative Soldier 6pp, The Talking Drum 6pp
#50 Sept 1956: Mop-Up Squad 4pp, Combat Summons 6pp, Battle League 6pp
#51 Oct 1956: Battle Tag 6pp, The Talking Gunsight 6pp, The Iron Horse 4pp, The Phantom Sergeant 6pp
#52 Nov 1956: Pony Express Pilot 6pp, Streamboat Corporal 6pp, Battle Time 4pp, Wall for a Fighting Man 6pp
#53 Dec 1956: One Ringside–For War 6pp, A Target Called Tommy 6pp, The G.I. Who Hooked a Sub 6pp, The Camera Patrol 6pp
#54 Jan 1957: No-Man’s Street 6pp, C.O.D.–Combat On Delivery 6pp, Battle Star for a Tree 6pp, Battle Line 6pp,
#55 Feb 1957: No Rest for a Raider 6pp, Flight Report 6pp, The Invisible G.I. 6pp, Battle Binoculars 6pp
#56 March 1957: You’re Next 8pp, Combat Carousel 4pp, The Tree in No-Man’s Land 6pp, Face of the Enemy 6pp
#57 April 1957: Ten-Minute Break 6pp, The Big Eye 6pp, Battlefield Bow 4pp, Silent Gun 8pp
#58 May 1957: The Fighting Snowbird 6pp, Sleepytime Soldier 6pp, The Golden Gladiators 2pp, No Fighting Room–Upstairs 6pp, Battle Hats 6pp
#59 June 1957: The Mustang Had My Number 8pp, The Silent Sergeant 6pp, Sweep Your Alley 6pp, Battle Zoo 6pp
#60 July 1957: Ranger Raid 6pp, The Main Battery 6pp, Whirlybird Pilot 6pp, Invisible Battleground 6pp
#61 Aug 1957: A Pigeon for Easy Co. 6pp, Sgt. Time 6pp, The Green Gun 6pp, Battle Sun 6pp
#62 Sept 1957: Trigger Man 6pp, Fence Fighter 6pp, Mile-Away War 6pp, The Battle Key 6pp
#63 Oct 1957: The Big Toss 8pp, Deliver: One Tank 4pp, Three Stripes to Omaha 6pp, Sky Battleground 6pp
#64 Nov 1957: The New Hand 6pp
#65 Dec 1957: Scramble–War Upstairs 6pp, Paper Tiger 6pp, The Big Overhaul 6pp, Desert Frogman 6pp
#66 Jan 1958: Gunner Wanted 6pp, Combat Size 6pp, A Piece of Cake 6pp
#67 Feb 1958: Push-Button War 6pp, Out In Front 3pp, Stay Down–And Fight 6pp, Boiling Point 9pp
#68 March 1958: Combat Log Book 6pp, Battle Star Beach 6pp, Pilot for a Sub 6pp, End of the Line 8pp
#69 April 1958: Combat Cage 13pp, Open Up 6pp, Broomstick Pilot 6pp
#70 May 1958: Torpedo Tackle 13pp, Combat Cool 6pp
#71 June 1958: Flying Mosquitoes 8pp, Second-String Soldier 6pp, Combat Crossroads 6pp, Mile-High Booby Trap 6pp
#72 July 1958: No. 1 Pigeon 10pp, Fighting Man 8pp, Clear Tracks to War 6pp
#73 Aug 1958: Shooting Gallery 12pp, A Straight Run to Wonju 6pp, The Soldier Saw Red 6pp
#74 Sept 1958: Ace Without Guns 12pp, The G.I. and the General 6pp, The Fighting Mosquitoes 6pp
#75 Oct 1958: Blind Night Fighter 12pp, Steel Hedgerow 6pp, Field Strip 6pp
#76 Nov 1958: Clipped Hellcat 13pp, The Anthill 6pp, The Big Marker 6pp
#77 Dec 1958: Jets Don’t Dream 13pp, The Pin-up Tank 6pp
#78 Jan 1959: Battle Nurse 13pp, No Sunset for a Jet 6pp, Town for a Green Apple 6pp
#79 Feb 1959: No Easy Road 6pp, Patrol to Nowhere 6pp
#80 March 1959: The Sparrow and the Hawk 13pp, Tank Bait 6pp, Fit For a Fighter 6pp
#81 April 1959: The Rock of Easy Company (hereafter EC) 6pp, Fighting Footsteps 6pp, Umbrella Pilot 6pp, EC 6pp
#82 May 1959: Gun Jockey 13pp, The Lonely Jet 6pp, EC 6pp
#83 June 1959: EC 11pp, Flying Baby Sitter 6pp, The D-Day Sun 8pp
#84 July 1959: EC 13pp, Flameout 6pp, Cleared to Combat 6pp
#85 Aug 1959: EC 11pp, G.I. Cage 5pp, Something for the Sarge 8pp
#86 Sept 1959: Last Ride for a Mustang 6pp, Bring Up the Bazooka 6pp
#87 Oct 1959: Tiger Twister 6pp, Worm’s-Eye-War 6pp
#88 Nov 1959: EC 13pp, Frogman Anchor Jockey 6pp, A Sarge is 10 Feet Tall 6pp
#89 Dec 1959: EC 13pp, Salute to a Buzzard 6pp, Junk Pile Fighters 6pp
#90 Jan 1960: A Jet Called Ace 6pp, Rearguard 6pp
#91 Feb 1960: EC 13pp, EC 4pp, EC 8pp
#92 March 1960: EC 13pp, Bait for a Desert Hawk 6pp, The D-Day Commandos 6pp
#93 April 1960: EC 13pp, Nightmare Jet 6pp, The Comeback Tank 6pp
#94 May 1960: EC 13pp, Test for a Snowbird 6pp, The Last Commando 6pp
#95 June 1960: EC 13pp, Topsy-Turvy Fighters 6pp, 3 Tanks to Tangu 6pp
#96 July 1960: EC 13pp, Bring Back Your Ship 6pp, Two Men–One Hill 6pp
#97 Aug 1960: Secret of the Ace’s Helmet 6pp, You Can’t Borrow a Star 6pp
#98 Sept 1960: EC 13pp, Last Bell for a Jet 6pp, A Patrol Lasts Forever 6pp
#99 Oct 1960: We’re Still Flying 6pp, Booby Trap Tank 6pp
#100 Nov 1960: Baby-Sitter in the Sky 6pp, Four-Legged Tank 6pp
#101 Dec 1960: EC 15pp, One of Our Jets is Missing 10pp
#102 Jan 1961: EC 13pp, Green Apple Ace 6pp, Frogman Fury 6pp
#103 Feb 1961: EC 18pp, Who Says You Can’t Sink an Island? 6pp
#104 March 1961: EC 13pp, My Rival, The Jet 6pp, Combat Racket 6pp
#105 April 1961: EC 13pp, No Home For A Frogman 6pp, Double Bait 6pp
#106 May 1961: EC 13pp, Valley of Missing Aces 12pp
#107 June 1961: EC 13pp, The Sixty-Second Ace 6pp, Underwater Cowboy 6pp
#108 July 1961: EC 13pp, Ace On My Wing 12pp
#109 Aug 1961: EC 15pp, Drop One For Me 10pp
#110 Sept 1961: EC 15pp, Return of the Ghost Bomber 10pp
#111 Oct 1961: EC 13pp, Bring Back the Enemy’s Flag 6pp, Butterfingered Bombardier 6pp
#112 Nov 1961: EC 13pp, The Fighting Blip 6pp, Tell it to the Marines 6pp
#113 Dec 1961: EC 13pp, Target of the Black Ace 6pp, Big Bazookaman 6pp
#114 Jan 1962: EC 13pp, The Doomed Crew 6pp, Santa Claus Commando 6pp
#115 Feb 1962: EC 13pp, No Glory for George 6pp, Kindergarten Fighter 6pp
#116 March 1962: EC 13pp, One Must Get There 6pp, The Tank Was a Lemon 6pp
#117 April 1962: EC 13pp, No-Ace Squadron 6pp, The Sarge was a Mule 6pp
#118 May 1962: EC 13pp, Kamikaze PT Boat 6pp, The Seesaw Aces 6pp
#119 June 1962: EC 13pp, Battle Eagle 6pp
#120 July 1962: EC 15pp, The Fort had a Heart 10pp
#121 Aug 1962: The Sergeant With Borrowed Stripes 10pp
#122 Sept 1962: Battle of the Bucket Ship 12pp
#123 Oct 1962: EC 13pp, The Secret Convoy Killer 6pp, Pick Up the Pieces 6pp
#124 Nov 1962: EC 18pp, Flattop Tank 7pp
#125 Dec 1962: EC 13pp, Wings of Shame 6pp
#126 Jan 1963: EC 15pp, The Fort That Wouldn’t Stay Up 10pp
#127 Feb 1963: EC 25pp
#128 March 1963: EC 17pp, The Ghost Patrol 8pp
#129 April 1963: EC 13pp, The Drowned Bomber 6pp, Undying Ski Fighter 6pp
#130 May 1963: EC 15pp
#131, June 1963: EC 15pp
#132 July 1963: EC 15pp, Wings for a Washout 10pp
#133 Aug 1963: EC 19pp, The Candy Spad 6pp
#134 Sept 1963: EC 15pp, The Mouse and the Tiger 10pp
#135 Oct 1963: EC 15pp
#136 Nov 1963: EC 15pp, I The Bazooka 10pp
#137 Dec 1963: EC 17pp
#138 Jan 1964: EC 15pp
#139 Feb 1964: EC 15pp
#140 March 1964: EC 25pp
#141 April 1964: EC 15pp, Operation Egg 10pp
#142 May 1964: EC 15pp
#143 June 1964: EC 15pp
#144 July 1964: EC 15pp, Tin-Can Tank 10pp
#145 Aug 1964: EC 15pp
#146 Sept 1964: EC 15pp, No Score for a Frogman 10pp
#147 Oct 1964: Intro 1pp, Sgt Rock of Easy Co. (hereafter SR) 15pp
#148 Nov 1964: Intro 1pp, SR 15pp, The Sour Milk-Run 10pp
149 Dec 1964: SR 15pp, Jackass Patrol 10pp
#150 Jan 1965: SR 15pp, Kite Jockey 9pp
#151 Feb 1965: Enemy Ace (hereafter EA) 15pp
#153 April 1965: SR 11pp, EA 14pp
#154 May 1965: Slowpoke Spad 9pp
155 June 1965: SR 15pp, EA 10pp
#156 July 1965: SR 17pp
#157 Aug 1965: SR 15pp
#158 Sept 1965: SR 24pp
#159 Oct 1965: SR 16pp
#160 Nov 1965: SR 15pp
#161 Dec 1965: SR 15pp, Mig Bait 9pp
#163 Feb 1966: SR 15pp, My Hands are a Bomb Bay 9pp
#164 Feb 1966: Intro 1pp
#165 March 1966: SR 15pp
That’s an impressive 3,560 pages on this title. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.