The creation of writer/artist Mike Grell, WARLORD had a tryout in 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #8, then went right to its own series. This is a bit surprising, but Grell had been working at DC since 1973, and had become a fan favorite on titles like GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW. There was a gap of several months between issues 2 and 3 suggesting Grell had prepared the first two for a tryout and needed some time to get on schedule when it became a series. The book was popular and lasted to 1988 with 133 issues, though Grell had moved on by then. Gaspar Saladino lettered several stories, including the first one, and many of the covers. I’ll look at covers first. The logo and top line were designed by Grell. Though it reads THE WARLORD, the indicia used only the main word. On the cover above, Gaspar lettered the blurb on the right side of the top banner, imitating the logo style.
Gaspar often imitated the style of the logo’s top line, as here, though it never quite looked the same to me. The bottom banner also imitates a logo a bit.
The tail on this Saladino word balloon doesn’t point toward the character’s mouth. Either it was added later by the person assembling the cover who got it wrong, or the balloon was intended by Gaspar to be placed lower.
On this cover, Saladino lettered the line under the logo and the story title at the bottom, which is handsomely curved to fit the space.
There are some rounded E’s in this caption echoing the logo again, but mostly it’s Gaspar doing what he does best.
A good number of WARLORD covers had no lettering, Grell’s art was clear and dynamic, as was the cover art of those who followed him. This one has a beautifully crafted scroll with three styles of display lettering that work together well.
For contrast, here’s a short story title with texture to add interest, and Saladino also lettered around the inset circle at the bottom.
Getting this story title to work in a circle was not an easy task, but Gaspar makes it look that way, and it echoes the giant moon in the art perfectly.
You knew a DC title was a success in the early 1980s when it hosted one of their free previews, something only added to their top titles. It helped that Arak had a somewhat similar theme. Lots of Saladino lettering here, a top blurb and one in the main image as well as the sidebar.
If I wasn’t already reading the series, I think this beautiful cover might have changed that. Gaspar’s creative and dynamic lettering is all over it, helping sell the ideas and contents.
The staggered vertical title on this cover is unusual and effective, with texture and flames to add interest. Gaspar also did the top blurb except for my Arion logo.
For a change, and with a new cover artist, a surprisingly patriotic and political cover. Saladino’s open lettering under the logo is perfectly presidential.
Sometimes just a little texture makes one word stand out, as in this blurb.
Saladino also lettered two Annual covers, this is the first, touting the map inside.
The top blurb here emphasizes the most important word, enticing readers to look for more.
More than ten years in, Grell’s logo still looks fresh and appealing. Gaspar’s blurb below it has creative letter shapes and a heavy, rough outline to grab attention.
As the series wound down, someone added calligraphic credits under the logo. It might have been Gaspar, I’m not sure. He certainly did the blurb at the top.
Though lettering (and coloring) credits were not yet allowed by DC, Gaspar lettered the first issue of the series, no doubt following Grell’s pencils for the story title and credits.
Saladino did not letter another story until this one for a backup feature, five years later, and by this time getting to add his own credit. The story title is terrific.
Saladino lettered just one more Warlord story for this issue, where his sound effects stand out and add excitement. I should add that an Omac backup feature lettered by Gaspar appeared in issue #37, but I’ve already covered it in my entry for CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE, it was technically reprinted in WARLORD.
To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 2, 6, 9-10, 13, 19-20, 34, 39, 42-48, 50-53, 55-61, 64-69, 71, 84, 86, 91, 93, 96, 98, 101, 105-107, 109, 111, 114-115, 119, 122-123, 126, 129-131, 133, Annual 4, 6. That’s 58 in all. Below are the details of Gaspar’s story lettering.
#1 Jan-Feb 1976: Warlord 18pp
#49 Sept 1981: Claw 8pp
#82 June 1984: Warlord 17pp
That’s a total of 43 pages. More articles in this series and others you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.