GASPAR SALADINO in OUR FIGHTING FORCES

All images © DC Comics. From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #85, July 1964

Like the other DC Comics war titles, this one, running from 1954 to 1978 was edited by Robert Kanigher for many years, and he used his favorite letterer, Gaspar Saladino on most of the stories until the mid 1960s. Gaspar returned to letter lead stories for the final two years. Ira Schnapp was the regular cover letterer, but Gaspar filled in for him occasionally, as on the cover above, which has his wider and more angular balloon and caption lettering. When Schnapp left the company in 1968, Saladino became the regular cover letterer. I’ll continue with covers first, then stories.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #104, Nov-Dec 1966

By 1966, interest in World War Two was waning, and DC tried to gain new readers with a series about the war in Vietnam. The strong new Capt. Hunter logo is by Saladino, and his caption works well in the open area of the art.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #108, July-Aug 1967

A new Schnapp logo replaced Gaspar’s on this cover, but the jagged caption is by Gaspar with dry brush lettering on KILL.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #112, March-April 1968

With this issue, Saladino became the regular cover letterer.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #113, May-June 1968

Saladino’s lettering is getting more confident here, and adding energy and excitement to the image.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #117, Jan-Feb 1969

The treatment of THINGS in this burst balloon is unusual and effective.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #121, Sept-Oct 1969

I like this Hellcats logo by Saladino better, and the large display lettering in the balloons adds to the drama.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #124, March-April 1970

The formation of The Losers gathered featured characters from this and two other books and they headlined this title for the rest of its run. I’m guessing the large logo box was the idea of Joe Kubert, now the editor of the war titles.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #132, July-Aug 1971

Kubert played with the Losers feature logo in his cover art in many ways, while the logo by Saladino became smaller. Here again the large display lettering in the balloons dominates the image.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #147, Feb-March 1974

I suspect this Losers logo is by Kubert, but the balloons and fine banner caption are by Saladino.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #154, April 1975

For a while Jack Kirby took over the book and The Losers, which gained a better logo by Saladino and, in this case, a caption by him as well with interesting style choices.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #178, March-April 1978

Near the end of the run, Ira Schnapp’s title logo was replaced by this excellent new Saladino one, and he also did the balloons and the bottom blurb in perspective. The book was cancelled with many others during the “DC Implosion” a few months later.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #1, Oct-Nov 1954

Saladino lettered most of the stories in the series for its initial decade. The book was an anthology with no continuing characters at first.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #1, Oct-Nov 1954

He also lettered the captions on this filler page, the logo is by Ira Schnapp. While it seems to be setting up a series, this is the only one I found.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #2, Dec 1954-Jan 1955

Gaspar’s story titles on the war books seem to improve before ones in other genres, suggesting he found the subject easier to design for. It didn’t hurt when the artist left plenty of room.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #4, April-May 1955

Here we see Saladino developing some of his signature title styles, flaming letters and block letters with rough edges.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #6, Aug-Sept 1955

Gaspar’s sound effects were often an important part of these stories, and when there was room, they were large and impressive.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #11, June-July 1956

This story title is on a log I think Gaspar also drew, or at least inked. Captions in the rest of the story were on smaller logs.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #17, Jan 1957

Saladino always tried to find appropriate styles, like the one here for CLOUD.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #23, July 1957

His radio balloons were full of crackling energy.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #37, Sept 1958

Making a story title work inside a word balloon is tricky, but this one succeeds.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #45, May 1959

Beginning with this issue, Gunner and Sarge became the lead feature. Saladino’s story title commands attention.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #71, Oct 1962

Gunner and Sarge were soon joined by a German Shepherd, Pooch.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #90, Feb 1965

It was the era of peace marches and anti-war rallies, and DC tried to fit into that mindset where it could.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #96, Nov 1965

For a while Sgt. Rock’s brother was tried as a lead feature, but he didn’t last long. More fine flaming letters from Saladino in the title.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #99, April 1966

Capt. Hunter’s stories took place in Vietnam in the next new feature, with fine title lettering by Saladino. It lasted a while longer. Around this time Gaspar stopped lettering stories regularly as he was too busy elsewhere.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #124, March-April 1970

He did find time for this story by John Severin featuring an unusual title.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #170, Nov-Dec 1976

After Jack Kirby’s run ended, Saladino came back as the regular letterer of The Losers until the book was cancelled.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #177, Jan-Feb 1978

It’s hard to see, but on this story Gaspar was finally allowed to add his own name to the credits, as DC finally caught up with what Marvel had been doing for over a decade.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #181, Sept-Oct 1978

A new backup spy feature was begun with Saladino lettering, but this was the final issue, and it went no further.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 85, 104, 108, 112-122, 124-138, 140-151, 154-155, 159-162, 166, 169-171, 174, 178, 180. That’s 54 in all. Below are the details of his story lettering. Features are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#1 Oct-Nov 1954: Human Booby Trap 6pp, Battle Stamps 1pp, The Pied Piper Private 6pp, Tag for a Tail Gunner 6pp, Front-Line House 6pp

#2 Dec 1954-Jan 1955: Mile-Long Step 6pp, Frogman Delivery 6pp, Combat Chauffeur 6pp, Battle Tourist 6pp

#3 Feb-March 1955: Winter Ambush 8pp, PT Boat Slide 6pp, Walkie-Talkie Quarterback 6pp, Flying Truck 6pp

#4 April-May 1955: The Hot Seat 8pp, Battlefront Water Boy 6pp, Danger Dictionary 6pp, Battle Flare 6pp

#5 June-July 1955: The Iron Punch 6pp, The Tortoise and the Hare Went to War 6pp, A Flower for the Front 6pp, G.I. Model 6pp

#6 Aug-Sept 1955: The Sitting Tank 8pp, Battlefield Taxi 6pp, Combat Bugle 6pp, War Around the Clock 6pp

#7 Oct-Nov 1955: Battle Fist 8pp, T.N.T. Duel 6pp, The Dynamite Decision 6pp

#8 Dec 1955-Jan 1956: No War For a Gunner 8pp, Battle Ramp 6pp, Fit to Fight 6pp, Objective Nowhere 6pp

#9 Feb-March 1956: Crashlanding At Dawn 6pp, Empty-Handed Soldier 6pp, Battle Map 6pp, The Safe War 6pp

#10 April-May 1956: Grenade Pitcher 8pp, Fair Weather Fighter 6pp, Junkman’s War 6pp, Three Doors to War 6pp

#11 June-July 1956: Diary of a Sub 8pp, Private Diary 1pp, Return to Beach Red 6pp, Combat Inch 6pp, Beached Frogman 6pp

#12 Aug 1956: Jump Seat 8pp, War Bird 6pp, Tank for Beach Green 6pp, Hitch-Hike to War 6pp

#13 Sept 1956: Beach Party 6pp, Hickory-Foot Soldier 6pp, Compliments Of 6pp, The Green Pigeon 6pp

#14 Oct 1956: Unseen War 6pp, Tank on the Run 6pp, Twin Punch 4pp, PT Boat Log 6pp

#15 Nov 1956: Target for a Lame Duck 6pp, Foxhole Break 6pp, Torpedo for a Frogman 4pp, The Mountain 6pp

#16 Dec 1956: Night Fighter 6pp, Cover Me 6pp, Jungle Enemy 6pp, Battle Page 6pp

#17 Jan 1957: Anchored Frogman 6pp, The Cloud that Went to War 6pp, Battle Mirror 6pp, The Unsinkable Gun 6pp

#18 Feb 1957: The Cockpit Seat 6pp, G.I. Speed-Box 6pp, The Sands of War 6pp, Flak Alley 6pp

#19 March 1957: The Flying Corridor 6pp, Underwater Obstacle 4pp, Step This Way–War 6pp

#20 April 1957: The Floating Pilot 8pp, Combat Thumb 6pp, The Weapon 4pp, Ring Around the Battlefield 6pp

#21 May 1957: The Bouncing Baby of Company B 6pp, One Man Task Force 6pp, Borrowed War 6pp, Lonely Captain 8pp

#22 June 1957: 3 Doorways to War 8pp, TNT Passenger 6pp, Battle Slot 6pp, Count the Guys on Hill 90 6pp

#23 July 1957: Tin Fish Pilot 8pp, Police Up The Area 6pp, Rookie Tank 6pp, Don’t Fire Back 6pp

#24 Aug 1957: Frogman Duel 6pp, Keep Going 6pp, A Bundle for Baker 6pp, The Wall Around the War 6pp

#25 Sept 1957: Dead End 6pp, The Fort Without a Name 6pp, The Face of a Fighter 6pp, Wooden Gun 6pp

#26 Oct 1957: Tag Day 6pp, Battle Light for Easy 6pp, Finger Man 6pp, The Soldier Without a Name 6pp

#28 Dec 1957: All Quiet at C.P. 6pp, Private Battlefield 6pp, Pressure Point 6pp, Floating Pigeon 6pp

#29 Jan 1958: Letter to a Jet 6pp, Bottom of the War 6pp, Tank Wrecker 6pp

#30 Feb 1958: Fort for a Gunner 7pp, War is a One-Way Street 6pp, Don’t Miss 6pp, Dry Run Frogman 6pp

#31 March 1958: Silent Sub 6pp, Wanted–War 6pp, The Pigeon Run 6pp, T.N.T. Ringer 8pp

#32 April 1958: Paper Work War 6pp, Wait Here For Us 6pp, Easy Does It 6pp, Checkpoint 6pp

#33 May 1958: Frogman in a Net 13pp, Silver Star for a Tin Can 6pp

#34 June 1958: Calling U-217 14pp, Ace on my Back 6pp, Stop–War Going On 6pp

#35 July 1958: Mask of a Frogman 8pp, Tiger Alley, 6pp, Dry Run 6pp, No War Before Breakfast 6pp

#36 Aug 1958: Steel Soldier 12pp, Flying Jungle Fighter 6pp, Proud Gun 6pp,

#37 Sept 1958: Frogman in a Bottle 12pp, Way Out In Front 6pp

#38 Oct 1958: Sub Sinker 13pp, Rubber Stamp 6pp, The War is Over 6pp

#39 Nov 1958: The Last Torpedo 6pp, No Holiday for a G.I. 6pp, The Face of War 6pp, No Man’s Ocean 6pp

#40 Dec 1958: The Silent Ones 13pp, Diary of Two Aces 6pp, Jackpot Target 6pp

#41 Jan 1959: Battle Mustang 13pp, Unknown G.I. 6pp

#42 Feb 1959: Sorry – Wrong Hill 13pp, Bull’s-Eye Fort 6pp, Fire Jumper 6pp

#43 March 1959: Rendezvous for a Jet 6pp, Reef of No Return 6pp

#44 April 1959: Big Job for Baker 6pp, Torpedo Bait 6pp, Last Man In 6pp, Ready Rifle 6pp

#45 May 1959: Gunner & Sarge (G&S hereafter) 13pp, The Third Enemy 6pp, The Lonely Tank 6pp

#46 June 1959: G&S 13pp, Battle Funnel 6pp

#47 July 1959: G&S 11pp, Pigeon for a Tiger 6pp, The Three Unknown Commandos 8pp

#48 Aug 1959: G&S 12pp, Frogman on Ice 6pp, Grandpop’s Jet 6pp

#49 Sept 1959: G&S 13pp, Ace–Minus One 6pp, Tanks on the Hour 6pp

#50 Oct 1959: G&S 13pp, It’s Always Six O’Clock 6pp, The Walking Bridge 6pp

#51 Nov 1959: G&S 13pp, Frogman Trap 6pp, Combat Check 6pp

#52 Dec 1959: G&S 13pp, Home Town Jet 6pp, Non-Stop Patrol 6pp

#53 Jan-Feb 1960: G&S 13pp, Bomber Party 6pp, I Can’t Win 6pp

#54 March-April 1960: G&S 13pp, Fighting Switch 6pp, G.I. Shock Absorbers 6pp

#55 May-June 1960: G&S 13pp, Tic-Toc Sub 6pp, The Flying Bridge 6pp

#56 July-Aug 1960: G&S 13pp, Letter to a Frogman 6pp, Ace on the Spot 6pp

#57 Sept-Oct 1960: G&S 13pp, The Frogman and the Porpoise 6pp, Soften ‘Em Up 6pp

#58 Nov-Dec 1960: G&S 18pp, UDT 3 is Missing 6pp

#59 Jan-Feb 1961: G&S 13pp, No Place to Land 6pp, Beach Prize for a Frogman 6pp

#60 March-April 1961: G&S 13pp, Balloon for a Hawk 12pp

#61 May-June 1961: Pass to Peril 15pp, Ace in the Snow 10pp

#62 July-Aug 1961: G&S 13pp, Tank Jockey 6pp, Battle Mess 6pp

#63 Sept-Oct 1961: G&S 13pp, Wanted: An Ace 6pp, Time Bomb Tank 6pp

#64 Nov-Dec 1961: G&S 13pp, Frogman in a Fog 6pp, They Took Away the Sky 6pp

#65 Jan 1962: G&S 13pp, Combat Gunner 6pp, Chained Lightning 6pp

#66 Feb 1962: G&S 13pp, Ski-Trooper in a Frying Pan 6pp, The Secret Battle Eye 6pp

#67 April 1962: G&S 13pp, The Sitting Duck’s Last Stand 6pp, Dogtag Hero 6pp

#68 May 1962: G&S 13pp, The Blind Snowbird 6pp, Loser Take All 6pp

#69 July 1962: G&S 13pp, T.N.T. Mailman 6pp

#70 Aug 1962: G&S 13pp, Periscope Pigeon 6pp, Gunner and the Bird 6pp

#71 Oct 1962: G&S 15pp, Battle of the Ghost Ships 10pp

#72 Nov 1962: G&S 15pp

#73 Jan 1963: Pass Out the Silver Stars 4pp, Buck Fever 6pp

#74 Feb 1963: G&S 13pp, The Flattened Point 4pp

#75 April 1963: G&S 15pp, No Target for a Frogman 10pp

#76 May 1963: G&S 15pp, No Place for a PT Boat 10pp

#77 July 1963: Double-Cross 4pp, G&S 13pp

#82 Feb 1964: Prisoner of the Runaway Fort 10pp

#83 April 1964: G&S 15pp, The Blind Tank 10pp

#84 May 1964: G&S 15pp, Score or Scram 10pp

#85 July 1964: The Flying Coffin 10pp

#86 Aug 1964: Battle Seas Hitchhiker 10pp

#87 Oct 1964: G&S 15pp

#90 Feb 1965: G&S 16pp, Number One 9pp

#91 April 1965: G&S 15pp, Aces Always Die On The Last Day Of The War 10pp

#92 May 1965: G&S 15pp

#93 July 1965: Bring Me Back, Buddy 10pp

#94 Aug 1985: The Zep and the Mosquito 9pp

#95 Oct 1965: Foul-Ball Frogmen 9pp

#96 Nov 1965: Lt. Rock the Fighting Devil Dog 15pp

#99 April 1966: Capt. Hunter 15pp, Odds on Death 9pp

#111 Jan-Feb 1968: Lt. Hunter’s Hellcats 14pp

#124 March-April 1970: Parable 8pp

#170 Nov-Dec 1976: The Losers 12pp

#171 Jan-Feb 1977: Losers 12pp

#172 March-April 1977: Losers 11pp

#173 May-June 1977: Losers 11pp

#174 July-Aug 1977: Losers 12pp

#175 Sept-Oct 1977: Losers 12pp

#176 Nov-Dec 1977: Losers 12pp

#177 Jan-Feb 1978: Losers 13pp

#178 March-April 1978: Losers 13pp

#179 May-June 1978: Losers 11pp

#180 July-Aug 1978: Losers 12pp

#181 Sept-Oct 1978: Losers 11pp, H.Q. Confidential Super-Spy 10pp

That’s 2,185 pages on this series, as usual lots of Gaspar war lettering. More articles in this series and others you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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