All images © Marvel. From THE DEFENDERS #7, Aug 1973

This Marvel team title ran 152 issues from 1972 to 1986. Gaspar Saladino lettered some of the covers in the 1970s, as well as many story first pages, and one complete story. I’ll look at covers first. The one above has his wide, angular balloon lettering, energetic burst with open display lettering, a curved arrow caption, and well-drawn open letters at the bottom. Most cover lettering at Marvel from previous years was by Artie Simek or Sam Rosen, but Rosen stopped lettering in 1972, making room for others to get those assignments. In addition to Gaspar, the other main cover letterer in the 1970s (especially after Simek died in 1975) was staffer Danny Crespi, but others did some as well. Saladino’s lettering was generally more angular and had more sharp corners than Crespi’s.

From THE DEFENDERS #9, Oct 1973

The reversed and/or inked around open letters in the caption make it harder to identify, but the balloon lettering here is all pure Saladino, so I’m sure the caption is too.

From THE DEFENDERS #15, Sept 1974

Notice the way some parts of MAGNETO extend up to the panel border in the first caption, a typical Gaspar idea.

From THE DEFENDERS #17, Nov 1974

Another cover with typical Saladino balloon lettering.

From THE DEFENDERS #18, Dec 1974

It’s hard to say how I know this lettering is by Saladino, even though it’s not so typical for him. There are subtle clues that come from looking at so much of his work that are hard to explain.

From THE DEFENDERS #48, June 1977

The first line of this blurb is type, the open letters in perspective are by Gaspar.

From THE DEFENDERS #74, Aug 1979

On this final cover lettering by Gaspar, NIGHTHAWK RESIGNS uses a display lettering style he liked, where the letter shapes were done with a thick round pen point, then the sharp corners were added with a much smaller point. It’s a style I imitated myself.

From THE DEFENDERS #8, Sept 1973

In the 1970s, Marvel often hired Gaspar to letter just one page, usually the first page, of their stories, I surmise because they thought his dynamic style and superior design skills might convince newsstand browsers to buy the book. This was done most often on stories lettered by those with less skill or less dynamic styles, but that wasn’t always the case. Here Saladino’s large, exciting title adds drama, and the rest of the lettering by Charlotte Jetter is quite different. Though Gaspar was never credited on these, the style difference makes most of them easy to spot.

From THE DEFENDERS #10, Nov 1973

I think Gaspar was paid extra for this work, probably double his page rate, so it was a win for him. I’m not sure how the letterers of the remaining pages felt about it, like Tom Orzechowski here, but they probably would have preferred to do the entire story themselves.

From THE DEFENDERS #11, Dec 1973

This story title benefits from Gaspar’s brushed lettering outlined with a small pen point.

From THE DEFENDERS #12, Feb 1974

The joined T’s on TITAN here are clever. The giant arrow pointer on the final caption is rather odd.

From THE DEFENDERS #16, Oct 1974

A busy cover with lots of lettering, but Gaspar found room for a beautifully designed ALPHA.

From THE DEFENDERS #17, Nov 1974

More sedate title lettering here to fit the space, but I love the final burst balloon.

From THE DEFENDERS #22, April 1975

In my opinion, no one did flaming letters as well as Saladino.

From THE DEFENDERS #23, May 1975

Snaky letters with texture were also right up Gaspar’s alley.

From THE DEFENDERS #26, Aug 1975

The heavy outlines around the title are not typical of Saladino, possibly he did a double outline that was filled in by someone else.

From THE DEFENDERS #30, Dec 1975

There are some Art Deco style elements in this lettering perhaps inspired by Dr. Strange, and Ditko’s Art Deco approach to him, but that’s a guess.

From THE DEFENDERS #39, Sept 1976

The new typeset intro at the top takes room away from the title, but Gaspar still makes it exciting and creative.

From THE DEFENDERS #41, Nov 1976

On this title, the contrast of the small script words makes it more interesting.

From THE DEFENDERS #45, March 1977

A large burst balloon that includes the story title.

From THE DEFENDERS #47, May 1977

The shorter the title, the larger it could be lettered. John Costanza, the letterer of the rest of the pages, usually did his own splash page lettering, but perhaps he didn’t receive this story before Gaspar was given the first page.

From THE DEFENDERS #50, Aug 1977

This combined burst balloon and story title is by Saladino, the credits are by someone else, neither him nor Costanza I think.

From THE DEFENDERS #51, Sept 1977

Poor printing makes the reversed lettering here hard to read, not Gaspar’s fault. His title works well.

From THE DEFENDERS #52, Oct 1977

I’m not sure if this banner is by Gaspar or the artists, but it’s a beauty!

From THE DEFENDERS #53, Nov 1977

Lots of P’s in this story title.

From THE DEFENDERS #54, Dec 1977

For a change, a very organic story title to match the art.

From THE DEFENDERS #55, Jan 1978

Here’s the first page of the only complete story by Saladino, and therefore, the only credit for him in the series. Penciller Carmine Infantino was an old friend and might have asked for him.

From THE DEFENDERS #57, March 1978

Another example of contrasting styles in the title to add interest.

From THE DEFENDERS #60, June 1978

The curved story title here may have been pencilled in by Ed Hannigan.

From THE DEFENDERS #65, Nov 1978

Gaspar could make even a silly title seem dramatic.

From THE DEFENDERS #66, Dec 1978

Contrast in the title for variety, a round caption and a curved credits banner, all well done by Saladino.

From THE DEFENDERS #67, Jan 1979

More great Gaspar lettering, and some rare whisper balloons with dashed borders.

From THE DEFENDERS #68, Feb 1979

Gaspar’s final page 1 for the series, and a nice perspective title.

To sum up, these covers have Saladino lettering: 7, 9, 15, 17-18, 48, and 74, seven in all. Details on his story lettering is below.

#8 Sept 1973: page 1 only

#10 Nov 1973: page 1 only

#11 Dec 1973: page 1 only

#12 Feb 1974: page 1 only

#16 Oct 1974: page 1 only

#17 Nov 1974: page 1 only

#22 April 1975: page 1 only

#23 May 1975: page 3 only

#26 Aug 1975: page 1 only

#30 Dec 1975: page 1 only

#39 Sept 1976: page 1 only

#41 Nov 1976: page 1 only

#45 March 1977: page 1 only

#47 May 1977: page 1 only

#50 Aug 1977: page 1 only

#51 Sept 1977: page 1 only

#52 Oct 1977: page 1 only

#53 Nov 1977: page 1 only

#54 Dec 1977: page 1 only

#55 Jan 1978: 17pp

#57 March 1978: page 1 only

#60 June 1978: page 1 only

#65 Nov 1978: page 1 only

#66 Dec 1978: page 1 only

#67 Jan 1979: page 1 only

#68 Feb 1979: page 1 only

Thats a total of 42 pages. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.


  1. Mike

    Three different ways to spell Keith’s name: Giffen, Griffen, Giffin.

    Rushing, or some in-joke I’m not aware of?

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