GASPAR SALADINO in THE BEST OF DC

All images © DC Comics. From THE BEST OF DC #2, Nov-Dec 1979

In the early 1970s, DC had had great success with tabloid-size comics, and in 1979 they explored the other direction, digest-size. Many supermarkets and big box stores had racks for comics that size, which was well-utilized by Archie Comics, and DC thought they could compete with a line of reprints. This title did well, running to 71 issues by 1986, and I’m sure many readers enjoyed them. I never liked the small art size, and when superhero comics were used in them, the lettering often had to be enlarged to be readable, making a mess of many page layouts. In the beginning, type was used on covers to describe the contents, with issue #2, above, being the only one lettered beautifully by Saladino, but starting with issue #14 he lettered the majority of the rest of the run, and sometimes did logos for it as well.

From THE BEST OF DC #14, July 1981

This example has both a logo and appealing cover lettering by Gaspar. It’s possible these logos were billed as part of the cover lettering, but as they were sometimes reused later in the series, probably not.

From THE BEST OF DC #18, Nov 1981

One problem with doing this article is that good images of many of the covers are hard to find. This blurry one is the best I could do here. I like the fact that the cover includes a promotional gag for the issue, and there was a rare new story in it.

From THE BEST OF DC #19, Dec 1981

DC had been drowning in reprints through the 1960s, but the amount of those had declined in the 1970s, so readers were more interested in them again. And many purchases of these books were probably by those who were not regular DC readers anyway, so it was all new to them. I love this scroll caption by Saladino, really selling the dichotomy.

From THE BEST OF DC #21, Feb 1982

Usually the covers were new even if the contents were not, and there are many fine ones, often with appealing Saladino lettering.

From THE BEST OF DC #25, June 1982

I like Saladino’s large numbers in the captions of these issues, but what exactly is a kid-pal? Not sure that wording would work today. These digests were something of a cottage industry for certain DC production staffers, who spent lots of time at home pasting larger copies of the lettering onto the pages as a freelance job. They all also had to be recolored I think.

From THE BEST OF DC #37, June 1983

Perhaps the best use of the digest format was reprinting funny animal stories from the 1950s by creators like Sheldon Mayer, who did this new cover. Often the lettering was large enough to pass unchanged, and it gave Gaspar a chance to do some humorous lettering and captions, which most of the DC line did not at the time.

From THE BEST OF DC #46, March 1984

The round caption on this cover also has some fun with the famous Superman motto, and that SUPERLAD was a tricky design that Gaspar did well.

From THE BEST OF DC #55, Dec 1984

Another funny animal cover with a lettering joke that must have amused Gaspar when he was lettering it. My guess is the gag was by cover artist Chuck Fiala.

From THE BEST OF DC #68, Jan 1986

Sugar and Spike were another good use of the digest format, and some had new stories by creator Sheldon Mayer. I love his cover on this one, and the balloon is great too. Gaspar even gets to use his spooky lettering at the top.

To sum up, these are the covers lettered by Saladino: 2, 14-15, 18-19, 21-34, 36-37, 39-50, 52-59, 62, 64-70. That’s 49 in all. I have to admit I did not look inside these for new work by Gaspar. They were almost all reprints, so I doubt there was any.

Other articles in this series are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog with more you might enjoy.

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