GASPAR SALADINO in STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES

All images © DC Comics. From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #110, Aug-Sept 1963

In 1952, with interest in superheroes waning, National (DC) Comics decided to launch several war titles, and for one they converted STAR SPANGLED COMICS to STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES, a name that worked well for the subject. Though editor Robert Kanigher was already assigned to two of the new war titles, ALL-AMERICAN MEN OF WAR (converted from ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN, itself repurposed from ALL-AMERICAN COMICS) and OUR FIGHTING FORCES, this one was initially edited by others, mainly Murray Boltinoff. At first the numbering was continued from STAR SPANGLED COMICS, but just for three issues, #131-133, then new numbering began, but with #3, which makes no sense, but there you go. Gaspar Saladino lettered four stories for early issues 3-5, but with issue #13 he began lettering most of the stories. I think that’s a clear indication of when Kanigher was given the editorial reins, though the Grand Comics Database doesn’t list him as editor until a few issues later. (Robin Snyder points out this is also indicated by the artist assignments, Kanigher favorites also begin with issue #13). Gaspar was lettering most of the stories edited by Kanigher and his office mate Julius Schwartz, and only doing work for other editors occasionally. I think Saladino liked war stories, his work on them always seems fitting and appropriate, and he continued to letter most of the stories for this series until 1963, when his story lettering began to slack off, and it mostly ended in 1965, probably due to other work like Batman stories for Schwartz. Unlike many other titles, Saladino only filled in for regular cover letterer Ira Schnapp once, on the cover above, where his square display lettering stands in contrast to Ira’s more rounded look. With issue #139 in 1968, Gaspar became the regular cover letterer through the end of the series, which actually continued with another name change. I’ll look at covers first, then stories.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #139, June-July 1968

Saladino’s first cover as regular letterer retains part of Ira Schnapp’s previous series logo over Gaspar’s Enemy Ace logo. The bottom blurb looks like it was done with a brush rather than a pen.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #140, Aug-Sept 1968

Balloon lettering for this and other war titles was often filled with large display lettering to up the drama. Frequent cover artist Joe Kubert usually left room for that, and may have pencilled in what he wanted. The bottom caption has great bounce, adding interest.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #142, Dec 1968-Jan 1969

With this issue, a new and I think better logo for Enemy Ace is in place. Gaspar has relettered WAR STORIES and added the blurb to the right of that as well as the large balloon. The left margin of a cover was usually the one place where lettering could come close to the edge, as it was not trimmed off, but sometimes part of the front cover was rolled around to the back cover during folding and trimming, or this could just be a poorly-trimmed scan, I use what I can find.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #144, April-May 1969

Note the bottom caption on this cover touting work by Neal Adams and Joe Kubert. For decades, DC had not acknowledged creators other than sometimes allowing artists sign their name, but things were changing, comics fans were becoming more important to sales, and new editor Joe Kubert knew that, though he wasn’t able to have such large cover credits again on this book.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #149, Feb-March 1970

The Viking Prince story was a reprint, but Saladino’s large blurb and Kubert’s art sell it well. Most readers would not have seen those 1950s stories anyway.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #151, June-July 1970

The logos on some issues took odd turns, I think choices made by new editor Joe Kubert. He may have pencilled WAR and had Gaspar ink it, Saladino did the new STAR SPANGLED banner and the rest of the lettering. The Unknown Soldier, which begins here, became the lead feature, and later took over this book.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #156, April-May 1971

This WAR is all Saladino, as is the rest of the lettering except for type in a few places.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #162, April-May 1972

Gaspar shows his skill with inscribed letters on the tomb, always tricky, as well as brushed-on graffiti.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #168, March 1973

The logo on this cover looks to me like Gaspar had nothing to do with it. The top line might be type, perhaps Kubert did this version of WAR himself, but that’s a guess. The large, dramatic balloons are by Saladino.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #178, Feb 1974

More exciting balloons from Saladino as the trade dress (all the stuff at the top) continues to drift from one look to another.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #194, Dec 1975

On this cover, Unknown Soldier gets his own Saladino logo (probably, not sure about it), and I think he’s also relettered the main logo and provided the blurb in the top banner as well as the balloon.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #204, Feb-March 1977

The final issue shows where things were headed as the book continued with the same numbering as THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER after this. Saladino had to reletter the actual book title one more time here.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #3, Nov 1952

Gaspar’s story lettering for the early issues looks just like what he was doing for editor Kanigher on the other war titles, which suggests these might have been edited by Kanigher and given to Boltinoff, or whoever edited the early issues, but that’s a guess. The lettering is large, wide, and angular, professional and appealing, adding a lot to the stories.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #4, Dec 1952

On this page, notice how Saladino angles and lines up the bubble tails of the thought balloons. Somehow that adds depth.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #13, Sept 1953

Here’s where I think Kanigher took over as editor, since Gaspar lettered all four stories in the issue.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #15, Nov 1953

The artists often gave Saladino room for large story titles, and he took advantage of that. His titles for war stories were more confident and bold sooner than on other genres generally.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #18, Feb 1954

Sound effects were an important part of many war stories, and Gaspar’s were dynamic and exciting. The treatment of TRIGGER in the title is unusual for him and effective.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #23, July 1954

More strong sound effects. The shapes and heavy outlines on some remind me of what Harvey Kurtzman and Ben Oda were doing on the EC war titles, perhaps they influenced Saladino.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #26, Oct 1954

Some Saladino style points: the open letter over a black shape to begin the first caption, the wavy edges of the lower captions, and the radio balloon with large triangular points.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #32, April 1955

When a special style suggested itself, as with the riveted letters in this title, Gaspar did a fine job with it. BATTLE, made with a brush, makes a good contrast.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #40, Dec 1955

Another example is the icy letters on this title, nicely contrasted by the rough broken outlines of WAR.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #51, Nov 1956

As you can imagine, every possible story idea the writers could think of was used to fill the issues, I like the title of this one.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #66, Feb 1958

A different kind of pigeon, a human one, is featured in this story.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #79, March 1959

Occasionally lettering became the focus of a story too, as in this example.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #84, Aug 1959

After years of no continuing characters, Mademoiselle Marie, a French resistance fighter, was introduced in this issue with what would be considered a sexist story title today. And of course she wore Paris fashions and was always wearing makeup and very clean…at least in the beginning of the story. It may have been a bit of a shock for the main audience of young boys, and she did not last very long, but continued in other titles.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #90, April-May 1960

The book was cut to bimonthly in 1960, usually a sign of falling sales, and Kanigher and his writers came up with a new gimmick they thought would be popular, combining World War Two soldiers and dinosaurs on the previously unknown Dinosaur Island. It was a hit, and continued for years.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #101, Feb-March 1962

If dinosaurs worked, why not a robot too? As with many DC titles, anything that sold was okay.

From STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #125, Feb-March 1966

There was plenty of action, and artist Joe Kubert could draw anything, including his own sound effects, as here. Readers approved. This was the final interior story lettered by Saladino, as his workload continued to increase.

To sum up, I found Saladino cover lettering on these issues: 110, 139-144, 146-171, 173-174, 177-182, 184-186, 188-189, 194, 200-202, 204. That’s 51 in all. Below are the details of his story lettering. Recurring features are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#3 Nov 1952: General for a Day 6pp, Booby Trap 6pp

#4 Dec 1952: The Hot Rod Tank 6pp

#5 Jan 1953: Jet Pilot 6pp

#13 Sept 1953: No Escape 6pp One-Ton Terror 6pp, Battle Detective 6pp, Command Performance 6pp

#14 Oct 1953: I Faced a Firing Squad 6pp, Secret Invasion 6pp

#15 Nov 1953: The Big Fish 6pp, Tin Helmet 6pp, War Record 6pp, Jinx Commander 6pp

#16 Dec 1953: The Yellow Ribbon 6pp, Combat Cameraman 6pp

#17 Jan 1954: All Quiet 6pp, Turnabout 6pp

#18 Feb 1954: The Gladiator 6pp, Human Trigger 6pp, Ninety-Day Wonder 6pp, Warrior Shepherd 6pp

#19 March 1954: The Big Lift 8pp, The Last Weapon 6pp, War Under the Sphinx 6pp

#20 April 1954: The Battle of the Frogmen 6pp, Medal for a Saddle 6pp, Floating Fort 6pp, Suicide Squad 6pp

#21 May 1954: Dead Man’s Bridge 8pp, The 60-Minute General 6pp, Texans Are Terrific 6pp, Tank Trap 6pp

#22 June 1954: Death Hurdle 8pp, The Trench 6pp, Desert Sailor 6pp

#23 July 1954: The Silent Frogmen 6pp, Full Field Pack 6pp, One-Man Road Block 6pp, Jackpot Flight 6pp

#24 Aug 1954: Death Slide 6pp, The Top Hat G.I. 6pp, Booby Traps, B.C. 6pp, The Human Periscope 6pp

#25 Sept 1954: S.S. Liferaft 8pp, Battle Playground 6pp, Cold War 6pp, Kid Brother 6pp

#26 Oct 1954: Bazooka Man 6pp, The Sea Trigger 6pp, Paratroop Pirates 6pp, The Flag on the Hill 6pp

#27 Nov 1954: Taps for a Tail Gunner 6pp, The Old Man 6pp, Condemned Tank 6pp, Private War 6pp

#28 Dec 1954: Tank Duel 6pp, The Man Who Owned No-Man’s Land 6pp, The Glass Hero 6pp, General Mud 6pp

#29 Jan 1955: A Gun Called Slugger 8pp, Supply Truck Commando 6pp, 3 Texas Troopers 6pp, Torpedo Punch 6pp

#30 Feb 1955: Thunderbolt Tank 8pp, Battle Nursery 6pp, Delayed Action 6pp, Winged Destroyer 6pp

#31 March 1955: Tank Block 6pp, The C.O. Was A Kid 6pp, Foxhole Paratrooper 6pp

#32 April 1955: Bridge to Battle 8pp, The War Hawk 6pp, Fighting Engineer 6pp, Dusty Victory 6pp

#33 May 1955: Pocket War 8pp, Wanted–Hero’s Helmet 6pp, Souvenir Soldier 6pp, The Mothball Champ 6pp

#34 June 1955: Fighting Snowbirds 8pp, The Tank with a Memory 6pp, High Wire Soldier 6pp, Boomerang Booby Trap 6pp

#35 July 1955: Zero Hour 8pp, Duel in the Deep 6pp, The Silent Machine Gunner 6pp, Desert Admiral 6pp

#36 Aug 1955: A G.I. Passed Here 8pp, Four-Legged Tank 6pp, The Stone Hero 6pp, Close Shave 5pp

#37 Sept 1955: A Handful of T.N.T. 8pp, Champion Dud 6pp, Battle Winds 6pp, One-Man Company 6pp

#38 Oct 1955: One-Man Navy 8pp, Battlefied Collector 6pp, Front Line Pin-Up 6pp, Stars in my Tin Hat 6pp

#39 Nov 1955: Flying Cowboy 8pp, Glass Gun 6pp, Combat Comedian 6pp, Balloon Fighter 6pp

#40 Dec 1955: Desert Duel 8pp, Iceberg War 6pp, T.N.T. Trail 6pp, Private Battle 6pp

#41 Jan 1956: A Gunner’s Hands 8pp, Combat Cabbie 6pp, The Tank That Wasn’t There 6pp, Parachute – Do Not Open 6pp

#42 Feb 1956: Sniper Alley 8pp, No Medal for Marty 6pp, High Battleground 6pp, The Backstage Battle 6pp

#43 March 1956: Top Kick Brother 8pp, Trench Battle 6pp

#44 April 1956: The Walking Fort 6pp, Hard Luck Hero 6pp

#45 May 1956: Flying Heels 8pp, Bull’s Eye Correspondent 6pp, Jive Tank 6pp, Battle Cake 6pp

#46 June 1956: Gunner’s Seat 8pp, Talking Guns 6pp, War On Wheels 6pp, The Battle Downstairs 6pp

#47 July 1956: Sidekick 8pp, The Ghost Raider 6pp, Bull’s-Eye Letter 6pp, Battle Parade 6pp

#48 Aug 1956: Battle Hills 8pp, The Real War 6pp, Bazooka Battle Roll 6pp, Underground Soldier 6pp

#49 Sept 1956: X Marks the War 6pp, Battle Beat 6pp, One Medal On Loan 6pp

#50 Oct 1956: Combat Dust 6pp, Convoy Watchman 6pp, Cliff-Hanger 4pp, Sub Hunter 6pp

#51 Nov 1956: Battle Pigeon 6pp, Time Bomb Foxhole 6pp, Soldier On Ice 4pp, Frogman Stand-In 6pp

#52 Dec 1956: Cannon-Man 6pp, Dusty Sailor 6pp, TNT Kid 6pp, Rendezvous Raft 6pp

#53 Jan 1957: Combat Close-Ups 6pp, Battle Anchor 6pp, The Rock Sergeant 8pp

#54 Feb 1957: Flying Exit 6pp, The Attacking Wind 6pp, Ride a Shooting Star 6pp, Bronze Star Ridge 6pp

#55 March 1957: The Burning Desert 6pp, The Walking Snowbird 6pp, Back Street Battle 6pp, Diary of a Tin Pot 6pp

#56 April 1957: The Walking Sub 6pp, Waiting Mine 6pp, The Fighting Link 6pp, Postcard War 6pp

#57 May 1957: Call For a Frogman 8pp, Combat Umbrella 6pp, Attack Time 6pp, Periscope Rescue 6pp

#58 June 1957: Waist Punch 8pp, Tank In Town 6pp, The G.I. and the Turtle 6pp, Easy Island 6pp

#59 July 1957: Kick In the Door 8pp, The Soldier on Four Wheels 6pp, The Track of the Treads 6pp, Frogman Battleground 6pp

#60 Aug 1957: Hotbox 6pp, Torpedo Alley 6pp, Combat Steeplechase 6pp, Three Pieces of War 6pp

#61 Sept 1957: Tow Pilot 6pp, Make Your Move 6pp, Special Delivery Dud 6pp, Bullet Clock 6pp

#63 Nov 1957: Flying Range Rider 8pp, Set Up a Line 6pp, It Can’t Get Rougher 6pp, The Monkey Wrench 6pp

#64 Dec 1957: Frogman Ambush 6pp, So Long to Easy Company 6pp, One Man Platoon 6pp, Halfway Escort 6pp

#65 Jan 1958: Frogman Block 6pp, Foxhole Fever 6pp, G.I. Weather Bird 6pp, Postage Stamp Pilot 6pp

#66 Feb 1958: Flattop Pigeon 12pp, No Man’s Mountain 6pp, Thunderbolt Rider 6pp

#67 March 1958: Ashcan Alley 8pp, The Easy Way 6pp, Autograph Hill 6pp, Low-Priority Target 6pp

#68 April 1958: The Long Step 8pp, The Big Cushion 6pp, Battle Alphabet 6pp

#69 May 1958: Sub On My Doorstep 6pp, Sixty Second Day 6pp, Dress-Parade Soldiers 6pp

#70 June 1958: No Medal For a Frogman 8pp, Tight Spot 6pp, Same Old War 6pp, The Waiting Gun 6pp

#71 July 1958: Shooting Star 13pp, Fire Fight 6pp, The End of the Sea Wolf 6pp

#72 Aug 1958: Silent Fish 12pp, The Big Hurdle 6pp, War Wears White Gloves 6pp

#73 Sept 1958: The Mouse and the Tiger 12pp, Tin Pot Lottery 8pp, Silent Walkie-Talkie 6pp

#74 Oct 1958: Frogman Bait 13pp, A Tree Stands on Tarawa 6pp, Bush-League Battle 6pp

#75 Nov 1958: Paratroop Musketeers 13pp, Shotgun Frogman 6pp, No Man’s Helmet 6pp

#76 Dec 1958: Odd Man 13pp, The Tall Order 6pp, Flying Pinch Hitter 6pp

#77 Jan 1959: Room To Fight 13pp, Flight Deck Ace 6pp, Commando Sword 6pp

#78 Feb 1959: Fighting Wingman 6pp, Hop, Skip, and Jump War 6pp, No Combat Report Today 6pp, Medal for a Marine 8pp

#79 March 1959: Zero Box 13pp, Why Go Back? 6pp, The Khaki Wall 6pp

#80 April 1959: Top Gunner 13pp, Why Are We Waiting? 6pp, A Guy Called Sarge 6pp

#81 May 1959: Khaki Mosquito 13pp, Ace on a Wall 6pp, Boot Hill for Baker 6pp

#82 June 1959: Ground Flier 13pp, The Next Man 6pp, Trench Trap 6pp

#83 July 1959: Jet On My Shoulder 13pp, A Stripe For St. Lo 6pp, War Doesn’t Sleep 6pp

#84 Aug 1959: Mademoiselle Marie (hereafter MM) 12pp, Blind Bomber 6pp, No Flag for a Sand Fly 6pp

#85 Sept 1959: MM Raid 13pp, Flattop Mosquito 6pp, Who’s Left? 6pp

#86 Oct 1959: MM 13pp, U-Boat to Nowhere 6pp, Combat Kayo List 6pp

#87 Nov 1959: MM 13pp, School for a Frogman 6pp, Get One For Smitty 6pp

#88 Dec 1959: MM 14pp, The Glass Hill 6pp, The Sergeant is a Monkey 6pp

#89 Feb-March 1960: MM 13pp (page 1 title only), We Made Ace 6pp, Sink That Sub 6pp

#90 April-May 1960: The War That Time Forgot (hereafter TWTTF) 11pp, No Ammo for A Company 6pp, MM 8pp

#91 June-July 1960: MM 13pp, Cry “Wolf” Mission 6pp, Iron Cross Vs. Bronze Star 6pp

#92 Aug-Sept 1960: TWTTF 13pp, Buddy for a Mustang 6pp, You’ll Never Make It 6pp

#93 Oct-Nov 1960: Goliath of the Western Front 13pp, The Bridge that Couldn’t Be Bombed 6pp, Desert Mosquito 6pp

#94 Dec 1960-Jan 1961: TWTTF 17pp, Ghost Ace 8pp

#95 Feb-March 1961: TWTTF 13pp, The Human Torpedo 6pp, Gunner From the Past 6pp

#96 April-May 1961: TWTTF 13pp, Bodyguard for a Flattop 6pp, The Nothing Ace 6pp

#97 June-July 1961: TWTTF 17pp, The End of Lady Luck 8pp

#98 Aug-Sept 1961: TWTTF 13pp, No Room to Fight 6pp, Last Shot of the Triggerfish 6pp

#99 Oct-Nov 1961: TWTTF 13pp, Blind Tank 6pp, Double Jinx Fort 6pp

#100 Dec 1961-Jan 1962: TWTTF 13pp, The Flippers of Doom 6pp, Stragglers Never Come Back 6pp

#101 Feb-March 1962: TWTTF 13pp, The Unsinkable Wreck 6pp

#102 April-May 1962: TWTTF 13pp, The Town That Wouldn’t Die 6pp, Sergeants Are Made Not Born 6pp

#103 June-July 1962: TWTTF 15pp, Stars and Stripes Against Swastikas 10pp

#104 Aug-Sept 1962: TWTTF 13pp, The Silent Tin Can 4pp

#105 Oct-Nov 1962: TWTTF 15pp, Flower for a Fighter 6pp, The Last Charge 4pp

#106 Dec 1962-Jan 1963: TWTTF 13pp, The Flying Island 6pp, Battle Odds 6pp

#107 Feb-March 1963: TWTTF 13pp

#108 April-May 1963: TWTTF 17pp, Jump Into Two Wars 8pp

#109 June-July 1963: TWTTF 13pp, The Castaway Torpedoman 6pp

#110 Aug-Sept 1963: TWTTF 15pp

#111 Oct-Nov 1963: TWTTF 15pp

#112 Dec 1963-Jan 1964: TWTTF 15pp, No Escape from Stalag 7 10pp

#113 Feb-March 1964: TWTTF 15pp, General Sarge 10pp

#114 April-May 1964: TWTTF 15pp

#115 June-July 1964: TWTTF 15pp

#116 Aug-Sept 1964: Baker’s Dozen 10pp

#117 Oct-Nov 1964: TWTTF 15pp

#118 Dec 1964-Jan 1965: TWTTF 15pp

#119 Feb-March 1965: Desert Rat 10pp

#121 June-July 1965: TWTTF 15pp, Wanted: 4 Tiger Tanks 10pp

#125 Feb-March 1966: TWTTF 15pp

That’s a total of 2,448 pages on this book, lots of lettering!. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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