GASPAR SALADINO in REX THE WONDER DOG

All images © DC Comics. From REX THE WONDER DOG #43, Jan-Feb 1959

Unlike some comics publishers such as Dell, DC rarely title featured animals unless they were cartoon-inspired funny animals, but Rex was an exception. Writer Robert Kanigher made the stories exciting, setting them in different time periods and many locations around the world, even in the past and outer space. He and editor Julius Schwartz made a minor success of the idea that ran 46 issues from 1952 to 1959. The art initially was by Alex Toth, but Gil Kane soon took over Rex’s stories, and a frequent second feature, Detective Chimp, had art by Carmine Infantino. Gaspar Saladino was friends and work-mates with all those people, and he lettered many of the stories throughout the run. The regular cover letterer was Ira Schnapp, but Gaspar filled in for him on the cover above, his only cover for the series. (There are two others not by Schnapp, but also not by Saladino in my opinion.) Schnapp’s logo is one of his best, and Gaspar’s blurb below it works well. His word balloon shows his typical wide, angular style. THE ADVENTURES OF was always part of the title, but I’m skipping it in this article to save keystrokes.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #1, Jan-Feb 1952

When the series began, Saladino was still fairly new to comics lettering, having started about two years earlier, but his balloon lettering was always solid and professional. His story titles took a while to reach the same level, but this one is pretty good. Note his style point of open letters against a black shape in the upper captions.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #3, May-June 1952

The usual lineup for the book was two Rex stories with a second feature between them. This is an early one of those that appeared only once.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #4, July-Aug 1952

With the fourth issue, this became the regular second feature, a mix of humor and drama with a smart chimp, the pet of a Florida sheriff, who is able to solve mysteries and help capture criminals. Saladino lettered many of his stories, too.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #5, Sept-Oct 1952

Rex’s life began during World War Two, and some of his adventures take place in that setting, at least in early issues.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #10, July-Aug 1953

While Rex’s stories were dramatic, Bobo the chimp’s were often played for humor as well.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #11, Sept-Oct 1953

It didn’t take long for writer Kanigher to start adding elements that were selling in other comics, like this dinosaur, even if the concept was far-fetched. It’s Rex vs. Rex.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #16, July-Aug 1954

Once the stories slipped away from reality, any idea was fair game, as seen here. While Rex’s first master in WW2 was Major Dennis, later he was most often with that man’s son Danny on his adventures.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #20, March-April 1955

Sound effects were not often a main story feature in this book, but when they were, Gaspar did fine ones.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #23, Sept-Oct 1955

On Detective Chimp, Infantino’s version of Bobo became increasingly stylized and cartoony, and in the first panel here he even talks to the readers.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #34, July-Aug 1957

By this time, with a few more years of experience, Saladino’s story titles had greatly improved. The crocodile texture here is impressive.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #41, Sept-Oct 1958

Another place where sound effects by Saladino add to the drama.

From REX THE WONDER DOG #46, Sept-Oct 1959

By the final issue, Kanigher was trying science fiction ideas to help sell the book, but it wasn’t enough to keep it going. Still, there can’t be many comics featuring a “real life” animal that lasted as long.

To sum up, in addition to the cover of issue #43, here are the details of Saladino’s story lettering. All stories feature Rex unless otherwise noted.

#1 Jan-Feb 1952: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#2 March-April 1952: 10pp, 6pp, 8pp

#3 May-June 1952: 8pp, Winged Fury 8pp, 8pp

#4 July-Aug 1952: 8pp, Detective Chimp (DC) 8pp, 8pp

#5 Sept-Oct 1952: 10pp, Leapin’ Lena 6pp, 8pp

#6 Nov-Dec 1952: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#7 Jan-Feb 1953: 10pp, 8pp

#8 March-April 1953: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#9 May-June 1953: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#10 July-Aug 1953: 8pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#11 Sept-Oct 1953: 10pp, 8pp

#12 Nov-Dec 1953: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#13 Jan-Feb 1954: 10pp, 8pp

#14 March-April 1954: 10pp, 8pp

#15 May-June 1954: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#16 July-Aug 1954: 8pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#17 Sept-Oct 1954: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#18 Nov-Dec 1954: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#19 Jan-Feb 1955: 8pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#20 March-April 1955: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#21 May-June 1955: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#22 July-Aug 1955: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#23 Sept-Oct 1955: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#24 Nov-Dec 1955: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#25 Jan-Feb 1956: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#26 March-April 1956: 10pp, 8pp

#27 May-June 1956: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#28 July-Aug 1956: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#29 Sept-Oct 1956: 8pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#30 Nov-Dec 1956: 10pp, 8pp,

#31 Jan-Feb 1957: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#32 March-April 1957: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#33 May-June 1957: 10pp, 8pp

#34 July-Aug 1957: 10pp, 8pp

#35 Sept-Oct 1957: 10pp, 8pp

#37 Jan-Feb 1958: 10pp (1)

#38 March-April 1958: 10pp, DC 6pp, 8pp

#39 May-June 1958: 10pp, DC 6pp

#40 July-Aug 1958: 10pp, DC 6pp

#41 Sept-Oct 1958: 10pp (1)

#42 Nov-Dec 1958: 11pp, 8pp

#43 Jan-Feb 1959: 11pp (1)

#44 March-April 1959: 10pp, DC 6pp, 9pp

#45 May-June 1959: 10pp, 10pp

#46 Sept-Oct 1959: 10pp, DC 7pp, 8pp

That’s a total of 954 pages. More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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