GASPAR SALADINO in SHADE, STARFIRE and STARMAN

All images © DC Comics. From SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #2, Aug-Sept 1977

There are lots of DC Comics titles beginning with the letter S, here are three unrelated ones with a relatively small amount of lettering by Gaspar Saladino, mostly on covers. SHADE was the creation of Steve Ditko with dialogue from Michael Fleisher, and Gaspar lettered four covers in the eight-issue run. The first example, above, has three matching balloons with style variations that add a lot to the story and explain the character relationships in a compact way. My guess is they were written and perhaps pencilled in by Ditko.

From SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #3, Oct-Nov 1977

I feel that Ditko was at his best in this series artwise, and Saladino matched him with fine lettering. Look at the diverse styles in that bottom caption.

From SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #6, April-May 1978

More exciting art and dynamic lettering on this cover.

From SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #8, Aug-Sept 1978

In the final published issue, Gaspar had only two balloons to letter. The tail for the right one is to the white-coated character, and he wisely didn’t cross the foreground leg with it. It works fine. This book was a victim of the “DC Implosion,” and another issue appeared in CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE.

From STARFIRE #1, Aug-Sept 1976

Not the Teen Titans character, this was an eight-issue series with a sword and sorcery/science fiction theme. Gaspar’s blurbs and balloons help tell the story and entice readers to buy the comic.

From STARFIRE #6, June-July 1977

Clearly it wasn’t selling well, so changes were touted in this Saladino bottom banner. They weren’t enough to keep it going.

From STARFIRE #3, Dec 1976-Jan 1977

Gaspar lettered the inside pages on just this one issue, his large title shines.

From STARMAN #1, Oct 1988

Starman is another name that DC used several times over the years. This version had a good run of 45 issues from 1988 to 1992. Gaspar lettered some of the covers. The next version began in 1994 and had an even longer run of 83 issues to 2010. There Saladino lettered two issues but no covers. On the cover above, I’m not sure who designed the logo, but Gaspar did the blurb below it.

From STARMAN #18, Jan 1990

Just when I thought I’d seen every style in Saladino’s repertoire I came to this one! The oddly inflated letters suggest internal pressure to me.

From STARMAN #21, April 1990

Here’s a great example of using contrasting styles to add interest to a blurb. The top line is very fat block letters, the R barely reads as such, while the bottom line is organic dry brush lettering with a pen outline to hold a second color.

From STARMAN #45, April 1992

Gaspar wasn’t being asked to do cover lettering very often by 1992, which is a shame. As this example shows, he was still able to do fine work. the word ECLIPSED is almost a character logo for Eclipso.

From STARMAN #10, Aug 1995

Here’s a page from one of the two stories lettered by Saladino for the 1994 character with the Starman name, the one probably best known today.

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

SHADE THE CHANGING MAN (1977): 2-3, 6, 8

STARFIRE (1976): 1-4, 6-8

STARMAN (1988): 1-2, 18, 21, 23-24, 28, 38, 45

That’s 20 in all. Below are the details of his story lettering for these titles.

STARFIRE #3 Dec 1976-Jan 1977: 17pp

STARMAN #10 Aug 1995: 22pp

STARMAN #11 Sept 1995: 22pp

That’s a total of 61. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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