The first DC Comics science fiction anthology, running from 1950 to 1973, was the idea of editor Julius Schwartz, a long-time science fiction fan. Before entering comics, he had been a science fiction writer’s agent, and had plenty of friends in that arena. Some of them were tapped as writers for the book. Julie had hired Gaspar Saladino to letter stories for him in late 1949, and he did lots of them, but surprisingly his first story for this series was not until issue #5. Soon after he was lettering the majority of stories for the book, and that continued until Schwartz stopped editing it in 1964. The main cover letterer on all DC titles was Ira Schnapp, but Gaspar filled in for him on a few issues of this title, and after Schnapp left the company in 1968, he became the regular cover letterer. I’ll look at covers first, then stories.
Gaspar’s lettering style used wider and more angular letters than Schnapp, but here his story title blurb is trying to imitate Ira rather than using his own styles.
The next fill-in by Saladino was ten years later, and by this time Gaspar was more comfortable lettering covers and using his own styles. I like the way the story title fits into the comet tail.
Trying to boost flagging sales, editor Jack Schiff introduced two new superheroes. Animal Man was the bigger success, though I don’t think calling him A-Man was helpful.
More successful was Deadman, sometimes with wonderful Neal Adams art as seen here. Gaspar’s dramatic burst caption adds to the tension.
This begins Saladino’s role as the regular cover letterer for the series, though the logos are still from Ira Schnapp. This clever Neal Adams cover is much improved by Gaspar’s burst balloon. He took a chance having the tail go behind the white figure, but it works okay.
With this issue the book returned to its roots and to Julius Schwartz, but now was nearly all reprints except for the covers. Saladino provided a new logo and lettering to reintroduce Adam Strange.
This issue was a rare exception, containing a new Adam Strange story, as promoted in Gaspar’s caption.
Gaspar’s top blurb here shows how skilled he had become at cover lettering. The treatment of WOODEN is one that only Ira Schnapp is likely to have done previously.
With this issue the book became a longer reprint anthology with lots for Gaspar to detail in his cover blurbs. He makes them all exciting and intriguing.
Lots more great lettering by Saladino on this cover, and look at the variety!
The final few issues were back to regular size, and some had a combination of Ira Schnapp’s original lettering and new Saladino lettering, as on this last cover. The caption and oval balloon are by Gaspar. The story title is type.
Now to the large amount of story lettering by Gaspar. Compare this story title with what he was doing on covers in the 1970s, and you can see how much Saladino improved in the area of large display lettering. Nothing wrong with this title, and it has some Art Deco style on the first line and that “vanishing” effect on the second, but it’s stiff and not yet as appealing as his later title work. The caption has torn edges to add interest, and an open letter against a black shape at the beginning, typical of Gaspar’s early work.
More early Saladino lettering on a story that uses an idea later recycled for Adam Strange.
The first continuing character in this book, the feature logo is by Ira Schnapp, the rest is by Saladino. By this time, Gaspar was lettering most of the stories in this title.
Captain Comet was almost a superhero, and he was more successful than Chris KL-99 and lasted longer. Again the feature logo is by Schnapp, the rest is by Gaspar.
A year later you can see improvement in Gaspar’s story title, it’s bolder, larger, and more confident.
Many of these pages were full of text and very time consuming, like this one, where there were also newspapers to letter. This is why Gaspar told me that back then he felt nine pages was a good day’s work.
A handsome title on this story adds to the appeal.
Gorillas and other monkeys and apes were considered a good selling point, and they appeared often in stories and on covers at DC.
Another creative title effect.
Here’s what writers knew and thought about computers at the time.
In 1959 several of the DC anthologies were gaining new continuing features to help sales. In STRANGE ADVENTURES there were three that alternated, one per issue, beginning with the Space Museum stories with art by Carmine Infantino. Gaspar lettered many.
Another was about future detective Star Hawkins, often saved by his robot assistant Ilda, with art by Mike Sekowsky.
My favorite of the new features was The Atomic Knights with art by Murphy Anderson. The feature logo is by Schnapp, the rest is by Saladino, though Murphy drew the notebook.
While The Atomic Knights had a full-size feature logo, the other two had only these small banners to let readers know they were continuing characters.
One other feature that appeared only twice in this book but more often in its sister title MYSTERY IN SPACE. Saladino makes good use of the angled layout.
When editorial duties moved from Julie Schwartz to Jack Schiff and others in 1964, Gaspar followed Julie to new assignments and rarely had time to letter stories in this book, though he did a few like this one, perhaps at the request of his friend, artist Gil Kane.
Much later he lettered one Deadman story, possibly at the request of artist Neal Adams. By this time, Gaspar was very busy doing covers, house ads, and logos, but he fit this story in.
To sum up, here are the covers with Saladino lettering: 51, 63, 178, 190, 194, 202, 208-209, 211-229, 234-244. That’s 38 in all. Below are the details of Saladino’s story lettering, features are abbreviated after the first appearance.
#5 Feb 1951: The Man Who Could Vanish 10pp
#6 March 1951: Stars and Their Legends 1pp, The Vampire World 8pp
#7 April 1951: The World of Giant Ants 10pp, The Man With 100 Lives 8pp, Hollywood – 3000 A.D. 8pp, The Adventures of Chris KL-99 (hereafter CKL) 10pp
#8 May 1951: Evolution Plus 10pp, Time Capsule From Tomorrow 10pp, Professor Brainstorm 1pp, The Great Rocket Hoax 8pp
#9 June 1951: Captain Comet (hereafter CC) 10pp, Push-Button Paradise 8pp, The Mad World 10pp, CKL 10pp
#10 July 1951: CC 10pp, The Other Earths 10pp, The Experiment of Dr. Sylvan 8pp, The World That Drowned 10pp
#11 Aug 1951: CC 10pp, Prophecy of Doom 8pp, CKL 10pp
#12 Sept 1951: CC 10pp, The Brain-Masters of Polaris 10pp, Exiled From Earth 10pp
#13 Oct 1951: CC 8pp, Artist of Other Worlds 10pp, The Man Who Televised Time 4pp,
#14 Nov 1951: CC 10pp, The Price of Peace 8pp, The First Interplanetary War 2pp, The Secret of Rocket XX-99 6pp
#15 Dec 1951: CC 8pp, The 1000-Year-Old Man 4pp
#16 Jan 1952: CC 8pp, The Secret of Easter Island 8pp, Robbie the Robot 1pp, The Touch of Death 6pp
#17 Feb 1952: CC 8pp, The Last Days of Earth 8pp, The Brain of Dr. Royer 8pp
#18 March 1952: CC 8pp, Girl in the Golden Flower 6pp, One-Way Trip to Mars 4pp, The Man in the Mystery Mask 8pp
#19 April 1952: CC 8pp, The Canals of Earth 6pp, The Man Who Killed Himself 4pp, The Exile of Space 8pp
#20 May 1952: Smugglers of Space 8pp, The Man Who Mastered Time 6pp, CC 8pp
#21 June 1952: CC 8pp, The Genius Epidemic 6pp, The Monster That Fished For Men 4pp, The Boy Who Changed the Future 6pp
#22 July 1952: CC 8pp, The Hands From Nowhere 6pp, A Matter of Size 2pp, The Robot Who Made a Man 8pp
#23 Aug 1952: Meet Your Masters–The Ants 8pp, The Ghost Planet 4pp, CC 8pp
#24 Sept 1952: The Golden Egg From Saturn 6pp, The Martian Joke 4pp, The Mystery of Atlantis 2pp, The Magic Room 6pp, CC 8pp
#25 Oct 1952: CC 8pp, The Spaceship Moon 6pp
#26 Nov 1952: CC 8pp, Gateway to the Future 6pp, The Master of Mind Over Matter 4pp, Mars–On Channel 8 6pp
#27 Dec 1952: CC 8pp, The Case of the Twice-Told Tale 4pp, The Last Humans 6pp
#28 Jan 1953: CC 8pp
#29 Feb 1953: CC 8pp, The Secret of the Life-Ray 6pp, The Man With the Super-Spectacles 6pp, The Space-Ship from Nowhere 6pp
#30 March 1953: CC 8pp, A Letter From the Future 6pp, Great Ant Circus 4pp, The Cosmic Idiots 6pp
#31 April 1953: Human Time Capsules 8pp, The Magic Typewriter 6pp, The Four-Dimensional Forceps 6pp, CC 6pp
#32 May 1953: CC 6pp, The Atomic Invasion 6pp, Probability Zero 6pp
#33 June 1953: CC 6pp, The Phantom Teleview 6pp, The Snows of Mars 6pp, The Hunters From the Stars 6pp
#34 July 1953: CC 6pp, 30th Century Coin Collector 6pp, The Space Hermit 4pp, The Star Oscar 6pp
#35 Aug 1953: CC 6pp, The Time Killer 6pp, The Aquarium of Tomorrow 6pp, The Road to Nowhere 6pp
#36 Sept 1953: CC 6pp, Man Into Martian 6pp, Do Not Open Till Doomsday 6pp, Experiment in Destiny 6pp
#37 Oct 1953: CC 6pp, Amazing Ratios 1pp, The Man Who Saw the Future 6pp, The Wonder Toys 6pp, The Strangest Show on Earth 6pp
#38 Nov 1953: CC 6pp, The Space Twister 6pp, Detour Through Time 4pp
#39 Dec 1953: CC 6pp, The Negative Invasion 6pp, The Carbon-Copy Genius 6pp, Phantom Earth 6pp
#40 Jan 1954: CC 8pp, From Eternity to Here 6pp, Earth’s Unlucky Day 4pp, The Return of the Conqueror 6pp
#41 Feb 1954: CC 8pp, The Amazing Inventions of Hiram Thistle 6pp, Last Day On Earth 4pp, The Spy From Space 6pp
#42 March 1954: I Delivered Mail From Mars 6pp, The Eternal Prisoner 6pp, The Eye-Dropper World 6pp
#43 April 1954: CC 6pp, The Traffic Cop of Space 6pp, The Man Who Was Three Men 6pp, The Elephant Who Saved the Earth 6pp
#44 May 1954: CC 7pp, A Switch In Time 6pp, The City That Went Mad 6pp, The Man Who Couldn’t Die 7pp
#45 June 1954: The Gorilla World 8pp, No Eyes Can See Me 6pp, The Interplanetary Counterfeiters 6pp, Saturn–Beware 6pp
#46 July 1954: I Flew a Flying Saucer 6pp, The Body Pirate 6pp, Star Salesman 6pp, CC 6pp
#47 Aug 1954: The Man Who Sold the Earth 6pp, Hands Across the Universe 6pp, The Super-Perfect Servant 6pp, Worlds Within Worlds 6pp
#48 Sept 1954: The Human Phantom 6pp, The Three-Minute Genius 6pp, The 21st Century Film Library 6pp, The Radar Man 6pp
#49 Oct 1954: The Invasion From Indiana 6pp, The Brain Giants 6pp, Mars On Earth 6pp, CC 6pp
#50 Nov 1954: The World Wrecker 8pp, Earthman–Copyright 1954 4pp, The Man Who Stopped the Clock 6pp
#51 Dec 1954: The Man Who Stole the Air 6pp, Warning From Another World 6pp, The Amazing Secret of Jules Verne 6pp, The Metal That Mastered Men 6pp
#52 Jan 1955: Prisoner of the Parakeets 6pp, Twinkle, Twinkle, Deadly Star 6pp, The Flying Saucer Boomerang 6pp, Interplanetary Postcard 6pp
#53 Feb 1955: The Human Icicle 6pp, Martian Masquerade 6pp, Interplanetary Swap Shop 6pp, The Millionaire Robot 6pp
#54 March 1955: The World’s Mightiest Weakling 6pp, Interplanetary Camera 6pp, The Robot Dragnet 6pp
#55 April 1955: The Gorilla Who Challenged The World 6pp, Movie Men From Mars 6pp, The Day the Sun Exploded 6pp
#56 May 1955: The Fish-Men of Earth 6pp, Explorers of the Crystal Moon 6pp, The Sculptor Who Saved the World 6pp, The Jungle Emperor 6pp
#57 June 1955: The Spy From Saturn 6pp, The Moonman and the Meteor 6pp, The Riddle of Animal X 6pp
#58 July 1955: I Hunted the Radium Man 8pp, Dream-Journey Through Space 6pp, The Invisible Masters of Earth 6pp
#59 Aug 1955: The Ark From Planet X 6pp, The Super-Athletes From Outer Space 6pp, Legacy From the Future 6pp, The World That Vanished 7pp
#60 Sept 1955: Across the Ages 6pp, Orphan of the Stars 6pp, World at the Edge of the Universe 6pp
#61 Oct 1955: The Mirages From Space 6pp, The Thermometer Man 6pp, The Amazing Two-TIme Inventions 6pp
#62 Nov 1955: Invasion From Inner Space 6pp, The Watchdogs of the Universe 6pp
#63 Dec 1955: I Was the Man in the Moon 6pp, Strange Journey to Earth 6pp, Catastrophe County, USA 6pp
#64 Jan 1956: The Man Who Discovered the West Pole 6pp
#65 Feb 1956: The Prisoner From Pluto 6pp
#66 March 1956: The Human Battery 6pp, The Strange Secret of the Time Capsule 6pp
#67 April 1956: The Martian Masquerader 7pp, The Talking Flower 6pp
#68 May 1956: The Man Who Couldn’t Drown 6pp
#69 June 1956: The Gorilla Conquest of Earth 6pp
#70 July 1956: Earth’s Secret Weapon 6pp, The Mechanical Mastermind 6pp
#71 Aug 1956: Zero Hour for Earth 6pp, The Living Meteor 6pp
#72 Sept 1956: The Skyscraper That Came To Life 6pp, The Time-Wise Thief 4pp, The Man Who Lived Nine Lifetimes 6pp
#73 Oct 1956: The Amazing Rain of Gems 6pp
#74 Nov 1956: The Invisible Invader from Dimension X 6pp, Earth’s Secret Visitors 6pp, Build-It-Yourself Spaceship 6pp
#75 Dec 1956: Secret of the Man-Ape 6pp, Mystery of the Box from Space 6pp
#76 Jan 1957: The Tallest Man on Earth 6pp, The Robot From Atlantis 6pp
#77 Feb 1957: The World That Slipped Out of Space 7pp, The Mental Star-Rover 6pp
#78 March 1957: The Secret of the Tom Thumb Spacemen 6pp
#79 April 1957: A Switch In Time 6pp
#80 May 1957: Mind Robbers of Venus 6pp, The Anti-Invasion Machine 6pp, The Man Who Cheated Time 6pp
#81 June 1957: Secret of the Shrinking Twins 6pp
#82 July 1957: Secret of the Silent Spacemen 6pp
#83 Aug 1957: Assignment in Eternity 6pp
#84 Sept 1957: The Toy That Saved the World 6pp
#86 Nov 1957: The One-Hour Invasion of Earth 6pp
#87 Dec 1957: The Interplanetary Problem-Solver 6pp
#88 Jan 1958: The Gorilla War Against Earth 7pp
#89 Feb 1958: Prisoner of the Rainbow 6pp, Detour in Time 6pp, Mystery of the Unknown Invention 6pp
#90 March 1958: Amazing Gift From Space 6pp
#91 April 1958: The Midget Earthman of Jupiter 8pp, The Amazing Tree of Knowledge 6pp
#94 July 1958: The Fishermen of Space 8pp, The Boy in the Moon 6pp, Elevator to the Future 6pp
#95 Aug 1958: The Boy Who Saved the Solar System 6pp
#96 Sept 1958: The Menace of Saturn’s Rings 7pp, The Man Who Aged Backwards 6pp
#100 Jan 1959: The Amazing Trial of John (Gorilla) Doe 9pp
#101 Feb 1959: The Giant From Beyond 9pp, Prize Fish of Venus 8pp
#104 May 1959: World of Doomed Spacemen (1st Space Museum, SM henceforth) 9pp
#105 June 1959: Space Scoop–2159 A.D. 8pp
#106 July 1959: Genie in the Flying Saucer 9pp
#107 Aug 1959: The Strange Case of the Earth-Spy 8pp, Peril of the Planet-Eater 8pp
#108 Sept 1959: The Human Pet of Gorilla Land 9pp, The Martian Earth-Trap 8pp
#109 Oct 1959: The Warning from One Million B.C. 8pp
#110 Nov 1959: Mystery of the Space-Robots 8pp
#112 Jan 1960: Menace of the Size-Changing Spaceman 9pp, Tomorrow’s Hero 8pp
#113 Feb 1960: Deluge From Space 8pp, Menace of the Shrinking Bomb 8pp
#114 March 1960: Secret of the Flying Buzz Saw 9pp, The Case of the Martian Witness (1st Star Hawkins, SH hereafter) 8pp
#115 April 1960: The Great Space-Tiger Hunt 9pp, SM 8pp
#116 May 1960: Invasion of the Water Warriors 9pp, SH 8pp
#117 June 1960: Challenge of the Gorilla Genius 9pp, The Rise of the Atomic Knights (1st of series, AK hereafter) 16pp
#118 July 1960: The Turtle-Men of Space 8pp, SM 8pp
#119 Aug 1960: Raiders of the Giant World 9pp, SH 8pp
#120 Sept 1960: The Attack of the Oil Demons 9pp, The Strangest Day on Earth 8pp, AK 8pp
121 Oct 1960: Invasion of the Flying Reptiles 9pp, SM 8pp
#122 Nov 1960: David and the Space-Goliath 9pp, SH 8pp
#123 Dec 1960: Secret of the Rocket-Destroyer 8pp
#124 Jan 1961: The Face-Hunter From Saturn 9pp, Earth’s One-Man Space Fleet 8pp, SM 8pp
#125 Feb 1961: The Flying Gorilla Menace 9pp, The Super Athlete from Earth 8pp, SH 8pp
#126 March 1961: Return of the Neanderthal Man 8pp, The Interplanetary Tourists 8pp, AK 9pp
#127 April 1961: Menace From the Earth-Globe 8pp, SM 8pp
#128 May 1961: The Man With the Electronic Brain 9pp, Come Home From Earth 8pp, SH 8pp
#129 June 1961: The Most Dangerous Man on Earth 8pp, AK 9pp
#130 July 1961: The Invisible Space-Dog 8pp
#131 Aug 1961: Emperor of the Earth 8pp, The 60 Million-Mile Long Weapon 9pp, SH 8pp
#132 Sept 1961: Toyride to the Stars 8pp, AK 9pp
#133 Oct 1961: The Invisible Dinosaur 9pp, SM 8pp
#135 Dec 1961: Fishing Hole in the Sky 8pp, The Jigsaw Weapon World 8pp, AK 9pp
#136 Jan 1962: The Robot Who Lost its Head 9pp
#137 Feb 1962: Parade of the Space-Toys 9pp, Meteor-Rider of the Universe 8pp, SH 8pp
#138 March 1962: The Man Who Climbed Into Space 8pp, AK 8pp
#139 April 1962: SM 8pp
#140 May 1962: SH 9pp
#141 June 1962: Battle Between the Two Earths 9pp
#142 July 1962: The Return of the Faceless Creature 9pp
#143 Aug 1962: The Two-Way Time-Traveler 8pp, SH 8pp
#144 Sept 1962: The Imaginary Dooms 9pp
#146 Nov 1962: Perilous Pet of Space 9pp, SH 8pp
#147 Dec 1962: The Dawn-World Menace 9pp, AK 16pp
#148 Jan 1963: Earth Hero Number One 8pp
#149 Feb 1963: SH 8pp
#151 April 1963: Invasion Via Radio-Telescope 8pp, The Marriage that Menaced Earth 8pp
#152 May 1963: The Martian Emperor of Earth 8pp
#153 June 1963: Threat of the Faceless Creature 10pp
#154 July 1963: Earth’s Friendly Invaders 9pp, The Beast The Broke the Time Barrier 8pp
#155 Aug 1963: SH 8pp
#156 Sept 1963: The Man With the Head of Saturn 9pp
#157 Oct 1963: The Immortality Seekers 9pp
#158 Nov 1963: The Mind Masters of Space 9pp, Earth’s Forbidden Inventions 8pp, SH 8pp
#159 Dec 1963: Yes, Virginia–There Is a Martian 6pp, Star Rovers 11pp
#160 Jan 1964: Captives of the Eclipse 10pp
#161 Feb 1964: Earth’s Frozen Heat Wave 8pp, No Yesterday–No Tomorrow–No Nothing 9pp, SM 8pp
#162 March 1964: Mystery of the 12 O’Clock Man 9pp, The 13-Day Wonder 8pp, SH 8pp
#163 April 1964: The Creature in the Black Light 12pp
#173 Feb 1965: SH 8pp
#174 March 1965: The Ten Ton Man 9pp
#182 Nov 1965: SH 8pp
#211 April 1968: Deadman 17pp
That’s a total of 2,584 pages if my math is right, a substantial amount. More articles in this series you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.