All images © DC Comics. From THE DEMON #1, Aug-Sept 1972

Jack Kirby’s arrival at DC in early 1971 was huge news for fans, but his Fourth World saga of connected titles were running out of steam and not selling well a year and a half later. As those titles were headed for cancellation, Jack created a second wave of books, and this was one of them. It ran for 16 issues, and there was Gaspar Saladino lettering on all the covers, but often with type as well. I’m not sure whose idea that was. The logo was designed by Gaspar from a sketch by Len Wein, and the circular blurb is by Saladino, as is the banner over it, but the words in that banner are type. Was this a last-minute change that replaced something lettered? Possibly. Gaspar was the perfect choice for scary lettering as in THE DEMON in that blurb. One oddity is that the period is missing from the exclamation point after it, perhaps an error made when the negative photostat was pasted in. Many of the covers that followed also combined hand-lettering and type. Gaspar didn’t letter any of the stories inside the books.

From THE DEMON #2, Oct 1972

There’s lots of Saladino lettering on the second issue: above the logo, word balloons, and in the lower caption, but also some type there. Was this copy added after Gaspar’s lettering was finished? Or did Saladino ask for typeset there?

From THE DEMON #3, Nov 1972

The combination of type and Saladino lettering is even more puzzling on this cover. REINCARNATORS and MEET JASON BLOOD are his work, the rest is type. I don’t see how anyone other than Saladino could have planned this, so perhaps he was experimenting on this book himself with combining type and his hand lettering.

From THE DEMON #5, Jan 1973

The entire top blurb on this cover is Saladino’s effective lettering, with EVIL WITCH in a scary style.

From THE DEMON #8, April 1973

The title at the top and the thought balloon on this cover are by Saladino, with no type other than the trade dress at the top.

From THE DEMON #10, July 1973

The demonic word balloon with scary letters and rough double outlined balloon is fine work by Saladino on this cover. The caption at the top has a handsome scroll shape by Saladino, but is filled with headline type. I’m thinking this is again Saladino experimenting. Headline type could be done in the DC Production Department on a machine they had that set it one letter at a time on photographic paper. Somewhat time consuming to do, but a lot quicker than getting type from a type house outside the company. Perhaps Gaspar was doing this himself.

From THE DEMON #14, Nov 1973

More headline type is at the top of this cover, but the rest is hand-lettered by Saladino. Some of the bottom blurb is cut off on the right side, but that may just be the way this cover image was cropped.

From THE DEMON #15, Dec 1973

Headline type at the top of this cover again, and then the mysterious missing balloon copy. As reported by Mark Evanier, Gaspar’s original lettering in the second balloon began with KILL HIM! DC asked for those two words to be in a red color hold, so the separator should have added it to the magenta and yellow plates and removed it from the black plate. The removal happened, but the adding was forgotten. Apparently the cover was printed before anyone noticed the error. It should have been caught in cover proofs sent by the separator in Connecticut to the DC offices in Manhattan, but something went wrong in that backup system.

From THE DEMON #16, Jan 1974

All type at the top of this cover except for Gaspar’s IMMORTAL ENEMY. The more I look at these, the more likely it seems that Saladino was the one creating these type and lettering combinations. I don’t think they’re particularly successful, and I would have preferred he do it all in his own excellent hand-lettering. In any case, this was the last issue of the original Kirby run.

From THE DEMON #5, Nov 1990

As with all of Jack Kirby’s DC creations, they were often revived by others. In 1990, The Demon appeared in a new long-running monthly series. Gaspar did lettering for only one of the covers, above. As far as I’m concerned, his work was still excellent and I wish they had used him more.

To sum up, Saladino lettered all 16 covers of THE DEMON in it’s original Kirby run and issue 5 of the 1990 series, 17 in all. More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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