GASPAR SALADINO in SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE

All images © DC Comics. From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #4, Oct-Nov 1975

This was a horror anthology similar to its predecessor SECRETS OF SINISTER HOUSE, but connected only through appearances by DC’s horror hosts like Eve, Destiny, and Abel. It ran to 1982 with 46 issues, many with cover lettering by Gaspar Saladino, though some covers had no lettering. Gaspar also did the logo. DC’s horror books, which they preferred to call “mystery” titles, were fairly tame compared to horror comics of the past, and had no trouble getting approval from the Comics Code Authority. They were often filled out with art from Phillippine artists, but were also a place for upcoming talent to try their storytelling skills. The series was cancelled for a while as part of the “DC Implosion” of late 1978, but returned the following year.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #15, Aug 1979

Gaspar’s top scroll caption touts the return of the series, though how much reader demand there was is unknown. My guess is that’s just hype. The bottom caption border is interesting, with a burst in one corner around the 3 and the rest in the style of ragged paper.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #18, Nov 1979

I think the top blurb here is by DC production man and letterer Joe Letterese carried over from a previous issue, the balloon and bottom caption are by Saladino. The two styles of display lettering in the caption work well together to convey atmosphere.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #20, Jan 1980

The editing had passed to Jack C. Harris, but Joe Orlando was still involved as the cover artist on this issue. Saladino’s balloon hits the right note.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #23, April 1980

Saladino’s caption just fills the available space here and adds to the drama.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #24, May 1980

The special balloon styles by Gaspar on this cover suggest that no one else can hear these ghostly/demonic characters. I’m not sure the magenta color hold on the letters is a good choice, but it does match the demon’s color scheme.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #27, Aug 1980

I love this Saladino caption, both the drippy shape of the border and the style of ISIS. Does the pun in the text help it or hurt it? Not sure.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #28, Sept 1980

The top banner by Gaspar was also used on other titles as DC increased the price and page count. The fine, expressive caption is also by him.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #37, June 1981

Both captions here have Saladino lettering, but I’m not sure who did the Mister E logo. I would have made the top caption larger, but the production person assembling the cover wanted to avoid covering the shrunken head in the background.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #41, Oct 1981

This Joe Kubert cover returns the book to its main theme perfectly. Gaspar’s large display lettering in the balloons adds drama that regular lettering would have missed.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #46, March 1982

The final issue features an unusual story title at the top by Saladino enhanced with texture but a bit hard to read. No matter, it still works once you get it.

From SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #41, Oct 1981

Saladino lettered only one three-page story for this book, first page above. Someone else lettered the Abel balloon at the top, probably added by the editor after the story was finished. Gaspar has done his credit his favorite way, just his first name in script.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 4, 15, 18, 20, 23-25, 27-31, 34, 36-41, 43, 45-46. And, as I said, his story was three pages. More articles in this series and others you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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