GASPAR SALADINO in SGT. ROCK

All images © DC Comics. From SGT. ROCK #309, Oct 1977

Sgt. Rock and his Easy Company crew had long been the stars of the DC Comics title OUR ARMY AT WAR, and he was so popular that in 1977 that title was renamed for him and ran another 121 issues to 1988. Then there were a series of Specials that became a new Sgt. Rock series running to 1992, as well as Annuals and later miniseries and one-shots. He is by far the longest-lasting DC war hero, and perhaps the longest in comics, certainly the one with the most appearances. This was largely due to the writing of Robert Kanigher and the art of Joe Kubert, but the dynamic, exciting lettering of Gaspar Saladino also played a part. Though he had lettered many stories earlier in the character’s career, by this time he was doing only cover lettering. Joe Kubert was a letterer himself, and he also lettered some of the covers, and at times they both had lettering on the same covers. The first example of Saladino’s cover work, above, is small and not impressive, but he would have a strong presence on many later ones.

From SGT. ROCK #315, April 1978

The jagged open letters on this cover representing radio talk work well.

From SGT. ROCK #318, July 1978

This fine split Kubert cover is enhanced by Gaspar’s large blurb at the bottom.

From SGT. ROCK #320, Sept 1978

Often the balloons on this book were large, with large display lettering to add to the drama.

From SGT. ROCK #342, July 1980

Gaspar’s top blurb includes an interesting variation on the character’s name.

From SGT. ROCK #356, Sept 1981

Another creative variation on this cover.

From SGT. ROCK #359, Dec 1981

Here’s a good example of Kubert and Saladino working together. The top blurb is by Saladino, the balloon lettering is by Kubert, or possibly one of his sons (Andy and Adam), who carried on his lettering style.

From SGT. ROCK #361, Feb 1982

Again, a dynamic top blurb by Saladino and balloon lettering by Kubert.

From SGT. ROCK #363, April 1982

The carved letters on this cover seem like part of Kubert’s art, but the letter shapes suggest they’re by Saladino to me. The top blurb is type.

From SGT. ROCK #367, Aug 1982

The very fat open letters of Saladino’s top blurb here read well and add much to the story.

From SGT. ROCK #368, Sept 1982

This fine Saladino caption uses a variety of styles that work well together, and the texture is ideal on a war cover. The balloon and probably the sound effect are by Kubert.

From SGT. ROCK #370, Nov 1982

This lettering tour-de-force by Saladino must have taken a long time to do. I can see Kubert saying to him, “this makes up for all the easy ones.” And Gaspar would have laughed and agreed.

From SGT. ROCK #373, Feb 1983

No one did burning open letters better than Saladino, and see how well the solid line above contrasts and connects with them.

From SGT. ROCK #378, July 1983

Gaspar might have used an Old English style on this top blurb, but perhaps thought it wasn’t appropriate. What he did works fine.

From SGT. ROCK #390, July 1984

When large display lettering was called for, Gaspar always came through. He would have added a thin black outline around the solid letters for a second color, white in this case, hard to see here, or possibly removed by the color separator.

From SGT. ROCK #403, Aug 1985

Here’s a creative one-use logo by Kubert, something he did occasionally, and a fine caption by Saladino.

From SGT. ROCK #406, Nov 1985

Taking on hard topics was nothing new for Kubert and Kanigher. Saladino’s handsome lettering adds to the classy cover.

From SGT. ROCK #408, Feb 1986

Kanigher and Joe Kubert’s tribute to one of the seminal creators of comics, and someone they both worked with for years. The balloon shape is by Kubert but the letters are by Saladino, who also did the top credits.

From SGT. ROCK #416, June 1987

This Saladino scroll cleverly employs a large B and S that works for both words.

From SGT. ROCK #422, July 1988

Gaspar’s top blurb celebrates the Kuberts of two generations working together, a rarity in comics. For many years The Joe Kubert School trained budding comics artists, with his sons among his first students, and later teachers there too. SGT. ROCK often had backup stories by students, some of whom went on to have long and successful comics careers. Sadly, this was the last regular issue.

From SGT. ROCK SPECIAL #1, Oct 1988

The character then moved to a series of Specials, often reprints, that morphed into a new series that lasted to 1992. Gaspar did lettering for many of these covers too, but images are hard to find, so I’ll only show this first one. He lettered the scroll under the logo and the blurb in the box at lower left, and of course the logo is also his, one of his first and longest-lasting.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on the following covers: 309, 315-316, 318-320, 342, 356, 359-374, 377-381, 383-385, 387-394, 401, 403-412, 414-418, 420-422, Special 1, 3-6, 8-13, new series #14.

That’s a total of 71 covers. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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