GASPAR SALADINO in THE INCREDIBLE HULK Part 1

All images © Marvel. From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #160, Feb 1973

After an unsuccessful and short run in his own title in the early 1960s, The Hulk gradually became popular through appearances in other Marvel comics and landed a co-starring role in TALES TO ASTONISH with The Sub-Mariner. Hulk took over that title as a solo feature with issue #102 renamed THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and was a smashing success, running 374 more issues to 1999. Gaspar Saladino lettered covers and a few stories as well as many first pages of stories lettered by others from 1973 to 1980. I’ll look at covers in this part, and inside pages in Part 2. The cover above has typical scary Saladino lettering in NIGHTMARE. It looks like he started with squarish serifs in the N, then kind of did his usual organic shapes on the rest.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #164, June 1973

Gaspar’s balloon lettering is wide and angular. Another frequent cover letterer at the time was Marvel staffer Danny Crespi, and his lettering is also wide but a bit more rounded. These balloons are by Gaspar, and the caption is very much in his style too.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #165, July 1973

AQUON in this cover lettering is slightly similar to DC’s Aquaman logo. The word FEATURING above it is in Gaspar’s script style.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #167, Sept 1973

The electric, energy-filled balloon shapes on this cover are typical of Saladino, as is the bottom blurb.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #170, Dec 1973

I like the letter shapes in VOLCANO on this cover.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #171, Jan 1974

The tails on these balloons are not well done. I think Marvel often had Saladino leave the tails off so they could be added later when the lettering (or a photostat of it) was pasted on the cover. Whoever did that here missed the idea that the tail should point toward the center of the balloon where it’s attached to it.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #173, March 1974

Notice how in the word COBALT the inner shapes have a thinner outline than the rest. Gaspar did all the outlines in that smaller pen point first, then did a second outline around the outside to add weight and emphasis.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #174, April 1974

I’m not positive Saladino lettered this one, but I think he did. Crespi rarely did telescoping, as we see here below the logo. In the last caption only ONE is lettered, the rest is type, something Gaspar did occasionally with a headline machine or press-down type.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #181, Nov 1974

This cover is famous as the first appearance of Wolverine, later of the X-Men. Gaspar’s lettering style is most obvious in the lower case THE used twice.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #182, Dec 1974

The staggered letters in BETWEEN under the logo are not something Saladino did often, and they’re a bit hard to read. The rest of the lettering is better.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #184, Feb 1975

The special balloon styles on this cover add excitement, and I’m a bit surprised they weren’t turned black, but they work better this way.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #187, May 1975

Another case where the tail added to the burst balloon isn’t right, it should have been curved more, but it works fine.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #193, Nov 1975

I like the bottom banner caption here, strong block letters.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #194, Dec 1975

LOCUST is very Saladino. There wasn’t much room for the burst balloon, so Gaspar stacked the words. I would have put AGAINST AN on one line and ARMY OF on one line to get rid of that extra space, but it works okay.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #200, June 1976

The 200th Anniversary celebrated here is deceptive, as The Hulk was not in many of those early issues, but the lettering in the burst is excellent.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #205, Nov 1976

An easy way to suggest a robotic or energy-based character is with lightning bolt tails, as here.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #210, April 1977

Some of this open lettering is rounded, more in Danny Crespi’s style, but Gaspar sometimes did that too, and the rest is in his style.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #215, Sept 1977

I’m not as sure about this one, but I think it’s by Saladino.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #217, Nov 1977

Lots of creative Saladino style on this cover. LOST SOULS is probably reversed.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #227, Sept 1978

The top blurb has several Saladino style points: the larger first letter, angular small text, and a rough, notched outline.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #232, Feb 1979

The reversed bottom caption makes the style harder to identify, but the lower case THE is very Saladino.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #233, March 1979

Another different version of BATTLE on this cover. Gaspar rarely repeated himself. The hand-lettered banner over the logo is much more interesting to me than the type version on previous covers shown above.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #248, June 1980

Most of Gaspar’s cover lettering at Marvel stopped by 1979, but this one looks like his work to me.

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #253, Nov 1980

As does this one. No one else did organic scary lettering like MONSTER in quite the same way.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 160, 164-165, 167, 170-171, 173-174, 181-182, 184, 187, 193-194, 200, 205, 210, 215, 217, 227, 232-233, 248, 253. That’s 24 in all. Part 2 will cover his story lettering. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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