All images © DC Comics. From SECRET ORIGINS #1, Feb-March 1973

The first DC Comics title with this name was a 1961 annual-sized one-shot. It was a hit, and the idea continued in other titles. In 1973, the company tried it as a regular title, and Gaspar Saladino lettered a few of the covers. The logo is by Schnapp from the 1961 version. The blurb above it is hand-lettered by Saladino, though the thin letters suggest the reverse white-on-black photostat wasn’t done well. Gaspar also lettered the blurb at bottom left. This series lasted seven issues.

From SECRET ORIGINS #2, April-May 1973

On this cover Gaspar lettered the large names above the wide panels, the rest is typeset.

From SECRET ORIGINS #5, Nov-Dec 1973

These were all reprinted stories, and here Gaspar had more to do explaining the three images. As always, his scary lettering is effective and adds to the drama.

From SECRET ORIGINS #6, Jan-Feb 1974

On this cover Saladino lettered the flag in the top image and I think also did his own version of the Blackhawk logo in the lower one. It’s not curved as much as the regular logo, which probably wouldn’t have worked here.

From SECRET ORIGINS #1, April 1986

In 1986, editor/writer Roy Thomas brought back the idea in a new series, but this time with newly written stories and art, and it was popular enough to last until 1990 with 50 issues. Generally it was a mix of long-running DC characters and new ones, sometimes one of each in an issue. Gaspar Saladino lettered some of the covers and also several stories for the book. The top logo is by Alex Jay, and this Superman logo is by the Milton Glaser studio, but Saladino did THE GOLDEN AGE and the blurb below the logo. It’s interesting to realize that Gaspar started at DC in 1949 when it was still technically in its Golden Age, and even lettered stories featuring the original Justice Society of America back then.

From SECRET ORIGINS #2, May 1986

This cover shows how the series often tied a Golden Age character with a newer version. Gaspar’s blurb at the bottom plays up the number 2.

From SECRET ORIGINS #4, July 1986

On the other hand, this character began in 1978, and I lettered his first appearance. Gaspar’s scroll caption is curved, though the lettering is not, but it works fine.

From SECRET ORIGINS #6, Sept 1986

The theme of two origins per issue is made the regular plan here, usually one from the past and one from the near present. In addition to the center blurb, Gaspar lettered the creator credits.

From SECRET ORIGINS #9, Dec 1986

Roy Thomas used this book to not only retell old stories but create new ones, as here. Gaspar does a new logo for Skyman as part of his cover lettering.


Gaspar’s burst at upper left is about all the lettering there was room for on this cover.

From SECRET ORIGINS #16, July 1987

‘Mazing Man’s entry inside was just a single page, but Gaspar’s burst blurb sells it well.

From SECRET ORIGINS #22, Jan 1988

Some DC characters had several versions to explain, as here. Gaspar’s caption should have been a bit larger to read well.

From SECRET ORIGINS #29, Aug 1988

The banner at the bottom is mostly Saladino lettering, including new logo versions for both characters.

From SECRET ORIGINS #10, Jan 1987

Gaspar lettered five stories for the book beginning with this one teaming him with artist Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. The title is intriguing and the balloons work well.

From SECRET ORIGINS #27, June 1988

For this issue, Saladino lettered two stories featuring Zatanna. The title of this one is stylish and fresh, while the rectangular balloons make readers curious to know more.

From SECRET ORIGINS #32, Nov 1988

This story page about the Martian Manhunter has great sound effects and display lettering. In the third panel a lettering correction on the second balloon was begun but not finished, moving the tail to the right side but unconnected and leaving a gap where it had been before.

From SECRET ORIGINS #50, Aug 1990

In the final issue Gaspar was reunited with his friend artist Carmine Infantino for a story they probably both enjoyed. Gaspar’s SPACE MUSEUM in the story title is better than what was used on the original stories.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers:

SECRET ORIGINS (1973): 1-2, 5-6

SECRET ORIGINS (1986): 1-2, 4-6, 9, 14, 16, 22, 29, Annual 1

That’s 15 in all. Below are the details on his story lettering.

#10 Jan 1987: And Men Shall Call Him Stranger 10pp

#27 June 1988: Zatara and Zatanna 15pp, Zatanna 13pp

#32 Nov 1988: Justice League of America 38pp

#50 Aug 1990: Space Museum 9pp

That’s 85 pages in all. More articles in this series and others you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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