Gaspar Saladino’s lettering career at DC Comics was a long one. He began in late 1949, hired by editor Julius Schwartz, and he continued to letter stories until 2002. Along the way he also became the company’s style setter on logos, house ads and covers from 1968 to 1978, and did more of that work until the early 1990s. I think Gaspar’s longest association with one character has to be The Flash. When Schwartz decided to revamp and revive the golden age character in 1964, he tapped Saladino to letter many of the stories until Gaspar got too busy to do that regularly in 1968. At that point he was lettering most of the covers after the departure of his predecessor Ira Schnapp, and continued to do so until the Silver Age Flash series ended in 1985. When a new series began in 1987, Saladino was the regular cover letterer for a while, and in 1993 he became the regular story letterer again, a role he continued until he was pushed out by digital lettering in 2002. I’m going to cover the 1959 series in this post, first covers, then stories. The 1987 series will be in a separate article. The cover above has a caption and sign by Ira Schnapp, but I think the note pinned to the tree is by Saladino, his first cover lettering on the book.
The same sign appears on the first page of this story in issue #161. The work is different but the styles are similar, both by the same hand. The cover and story were meant to be in the same issue, but something went wrong and they appeared in different ones. Gaspar often worked closely with Flash artist Carmine Infantino, and he may have been asked to do that note on the cover by Carmine before the cover was turned in to editor Schwartz. I’ll still count it as Saladino’s first cover lettering for the series.
At this time, Ira Schnapp was still the regular cover letterer, but when Ira wasn’t available, Gaspar was often asked to fill in. This cover uses type at the top and on the newspaper, but the large blurb at the bottom is by Saladino. It definitely adds excitement to the rather dull cover art and type, helped by the bright colors.
By this time, Gaspar was taking on the role assigned to him by Editorial Director Carmine Infantino to update the DC Comics style on covers, though Schnapp was still lettering some of them. The creepy balloon lettering at the top is effective, though the color treatment makes it hard to see the balloon border and pointer. The blurb right of the logo is uneven, showing that Saladino was still figuring out how to do this, but the Flash balloon is strong and effective.
Here we see Gaspar taking full control of a cover with confidence in his lettering abilities. The white lettering is done with a dry brush, and no one did that better than Saladino, then reversed by the DC production department as was the rest, to read on the black background. The logo at the bottom is not the same as Ira’s at the top. Instead it’s Gaspar’s version. His THE has more energy, for instance. I doubt Saladino was paid any extra for filling most of this cover, but he should have been.
Giant reprint issues like this one were appearing occasionally in many DC titles in addition to regular issues. Only the cover was new, and this creative design gave Gaspar a chance to do some large, impressive display lettering in the black areas, while much of the art was pulled from earlier covers. Saladino’s work is again more about half the cover.
Some regular issues were also pretty busy, as this one, with Saladino lettering at the top, center, and bottom.
The lettering in these balloons is not regular balloon lettering, it’s display lettering, larger and with more variety for emphasis than what’s usually seen on story pages. The caption at the bottom is steeply angled to add interest, though that might have been the choice of the production person who put Gaspar’s blurbs on the art. Cover lettering was nearly always done on separate art paper, and generally photostats were made and pasted down.
I’ve never been a fan of covers where the art is divided by story as it is here, but Saladino’s lettering makes it work better. The trade dress at the top is too large, too.
By 1978, the trade dress was simpler and less intrusive, helped by the Milton Glaser Studio DC Bullet symbol and full cover art. Gaspar’s question mark caption shows why he was the very best at this!
The trick with a long-running series is to keep it fresh, and Saladino’s creative lettering helps with that. I love his treatment of THE TRICKSTER in the bottom caption.
Burst captions are always a good way to get attention, and Saladino’s were dynamic and full of energy.
DC did not do many multiple panel covers. This one is effective, and Saladino’s display lettering in the balloons adds to the drama.
This final issue of the series, the numbering of which began in the 1940s with the Golden Age FLASH COMICS, was indeed a farewell to long-time Flash artist Carmine Infantino, but Gaspar would be back when a new series began in 1987.
Gaspar’s story lettering for the Silver Age Flash began on his SHOWCASE appearances, and continued with the first issue of the new series (picking up the numbering from the Golden Age version with issue #105). This story from the second new regular issue brings in one of Flash’s most effective opponents, Gorilla Grodd. The logo is by Ira Schnapp, the rest of the lettering is by Saladino.
Many of the images I have for early Silver Age Flash stories are from the recolored collected editions, I can’t find ones from the actual comics, but at least the lettering is reproduced well. The Kid Flash logo is again by Schnapp, but Saladino’s story title is bold and impressive, and his lettering works fine.
I loved these stories when they came out, and they still look good to me. Artist Infantino was at his best, and the bottom caption shows his fondness for pointing hands.
When editor Julius Schwartz decided to bring back the Golden Age Flash in this issue, comics history was made, and the return of the Golden Age characters had begun. More of those crazy pointing hands. I don’t know if they were inked by Saladino or by the inker of the art Joe Giella, either is possible.
Saladino didn’t letter all the Flash stories, but he did a lot of them. Here both the caption and word balloon are italic, perhaps that saved him a bit of time, I don’t know. The story title is perfect, and the character art nearby is cool too.
Not only did FLASH writers Gardner Fox and John Broome do exciting stories, they came up with some of the greatest villains ever. Saladino makes good use of the icy connection in his caption.
Another great villain and a clever costume idea. Also, Infantino’s future cities were the best. Again the character art on each side of the first caption is a fine addition.
Infantino and Saladino work together to create a memorable title for this story. PUNCH has never been more dynamic.
Every series needs a change of pace now and then, and this humorous story was a good one. There’s one of those pointing hands again. Saladino’s time as the regular FLASH story letterer was growing short, after issue #174 he only did that occasionally.
Issue #200 was something of a special event, and Gaspar came in to letter it. His story title shows the rock poster style he was influenced by at the time, and it’s full of creative elements, including an hourglass.
For some of the larger reprint issues, Gaspar did the contents page using a wide variety of styles, and here putting some of them in perspective.
After a long absence on stories, Saladino lettered this issue in 1981. His story title is great. Note that by this time full credits were listed, including letterer, and Gaspar’s is just his first name in script similar to his signature, his preferred method.
Saladino’s final story lettering for the series was on this issue. Thought balloons were still common, but would fade away in a few years. The sound effects are classic Gaspar.
To sum up, these covers have Saladino lettering: 159, 167, 176, 178, 180-208, 210-213, 215-234, 237, 239, 244-245, 248-249, 251-257, 261, 263-264, 266, 285, 288-289, 292-293, 295-301, 303-315, 318-319, 324, 327-346, 349-350. That’s a total of 133.
Below are the stories lettered by Gaspar. Features are abbreviated after the first appearance. Where he lettered only one of two stories, the story number is in parentheses.
#105 Feb-March 1959 Flash 12pp, 13pp
#106 April-May 1959: F 15pp, 10pp
#107 June-July 1959: F 10pp (2)
#108 Aug-Sept 1959: F 10pp, 14pp
#111 Feb-March 1960: F 13pp, Kid Flash 12pp
#112 April-May 1960: F 13pp, KF 12pp
#113 June-July 1960: F 12pp, 13pp
#114 Aug 1960: KF 12pp (2)
#115 Sept 1960: F 13pp, Elongated Man 12pp
#116 Nov 1960: KF 11pp (2)
#117 Dec 1960: F 13pp, 13pp
#118 Feb 1961: F 14pp, KF 11pp
#119 March 1961: F 14pp (2)
#120 May 1961: F 25pp
#121 June 1961: F 12pp, 13pp
#122 Aug 1961: F 15pp, KF 10pp
#123 Sept 1961: F 25pp
#124 Nov 1961: F 16pp (1)
#125 Dec 1961: F 25pp
#126 Feb 1962: F 13pp, 12pp
#127 March 1962: KF 10pp (2)
#128 May 1962: F 18pp (1)
#130 Aug 1962: KF 11pp (2)
#131 Sept 1962: F 24pp
#134 Feb 1963: F 15pp (1)
#135 March 1963: F 25pp
#136 May 1963, F 15pp, 10pp
#137 June 1963: F 25pp
#138 Aug 1963: F 14pp, KF 11pp
#139 Sept 1963: F 25pp
#140 Nov 1963: F 10pp (2)
#142 Feb 1964: F 13pp, 12pp
#143 March 1964: F 25pp
#144 May 1964: F 15pp, KF 10pp
#145 June 1964: F 12pp (2)
#146 Aug 1964: F 13pp (1)
#149 Dec 1964: F 14pp (1)
#150 Feb 1965: F 12pp (1)
#151 March 1965: F 25pp
#153 June 1965: F 25pp
#154 Aug 1965: F 15pp (1)
#156 Nov 1965: F 24pp
#158 Feb 1966: F 10pp (2)
#159 March 1966: F 12pp (1)
#161 May 1966: F 14pp, 10pp
#162 June 1966: F 24pp
#163 Aug 1966: F 15pp (1)
#164 Sept 1966: F 14pp, KF 10pp
#165 Nov 1966: F 24pp
#167 Feb 1967: F 13pp, KF 10pp
#168 March 1967: F 23pp
#170 May 1967: F 23pp
#171 June 1967: F 23pp
#172 Aug 1967: F 13pp, 10pp
#173 Sept 1967: F 23pp
#174 Nov 1967 F 23pp
#200 Sept 1970: F 23pp
#229 Sept-Oct 1974: Contents 1pp
#232 March-April 1975: Contents 1pp
#293 Jan 1981: F 12pp (1)
#328 Dec 1983: F pp2-23 (22pp)
That’s a total of 1,219 pages on this series, a substantial amount of work. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.