YOUNG ROMANCE was the first romance comic, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1947. It was a huge success and ran 124 issues at Prize, but in 1963 that company got out of comics and sold the property with its sister title YOUNG LOVE to DC, who continued the numbering of both. This one ran 84 more issues to 1975. Gaspar Saladino lettered only a few stories inside the book, though early DC issues often had one or two of his “Romance in Fashion” fillers, usually one page each with both art and lettering by Gaspar. I’ve written more about that HERE. For some reason Saladino lettered the first DC cover, above, but most were lettered by Ira Schnapp until he left the company in 1968. After that, Gaspar did most of them. I’ll look at covers first, then inside pages. The cover above has Saladino’s wide, angular balloon lettering, the caption is trying to follow Schnapp’s style, but is still more angular than what Ira usually did.
By the time of this cover, Saladino was using his own styles, and working more confidently on covers. His top blurb and balloon are full of energy and drama.
With this issue, Gaspar was the regular cover letterer. The balloon shape is odd, an oval is used for speech balloons, thought balloons have scalloped edges. Perhaps Gaspar did this as a speech balloon and the DC production person assembling the cover corrected the tail at the editor’s request but not the balloon shape.
For a long time I thought this unusual logo was not by Saladino, but I’ve come around to that idea after studying all his logos of the time HERE. The heart caption is charming and rather sedate for Gaspar.
The blurb on this cover is more typical of Saladino’s creativity and energy. I think he also did the album covers.
Gaspar was influenced by rock posters and other graphics of the time meant to appeal to teens, as the open letters in this blurb show.
Like his other styles, Saladino’s handwritten script evolved over time. By 1970 it had become truly elegant, as seen here. His own handwriting was not too different.
A more bland Saladino logo has replaced the previous one by this issue, and type is beginning to show up amid the hand lettering. Romance comics were falling out of favor with readers. Times had changed, and DC tried to change with them, but many teenage readers had other things to read and watch and listen to that they liked better.
This and other DC titles stayed alive with cost cutting by running many more reprints, though older stories were often given “facelifts”: revised hair and clothing styles. Note the appearance of Page Peterson in the sidebar, something that might attract new readers. Gaspar’s lettering is as wonderful and creative as ever.
Rather than trying the soap opera route like YOUNG LOVE, this title seemed to go for trashy sensationalism. Editors usually wrote the cover text, some were better at it and more up to date than others. This one seems like the wrong approach, but DC would try anything to help sales at this point. From here on, most of the covers used type rather than Saladino lettering.
From the second DC issue, this fashion feature appeared occasionally, with art and lettering by Gaspar Saladino. I’ve written more about that HERE. In brief, Gaspar had studied fashion art in school, and tried to break into that field with little success before joining DC Comics in late 1949 as a letterer. Someone, perhaps Gaspar himself, suggested he use those skills for this feature, and it appeared in all the DC romance books. He inked them with a dry brush, something he was quite good at, giving these pages a different look from the rest of the comic.
Readers often sent in fashion suggestions, making the job easier for Saladino, and his approach was right out of the slick fashion magazines.
Gaspar lettered more stories for this book than YOUNG LOVE, but I’ve still found only a few. As with that title, though, I am missing interior scans for quite a few of the later issues, so I may have missed some. On the other hand, those later issues were largely reprints, so maybe not.
The rock poster influence is seen in this story title.
This title, on the other hand, is just large and fun. I love the way the F runs down into the story.
For the large reprint issues, Gaspar did some contents pages like this elegant example. Again, I may have missed a few due to not having images to check.
Another fine one with handsome script to add variety.
To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 125, 149, 152-172, 177-195. That’s 42 in all. Below are the details of his inside page lettering as far as I know it.
#126 Oct-Nov 1963: Romance in Fashion (RIF) 1pp, 1pp
#127 Dec 1963-Jan 1964: RIF 1pp, 1pp
#128 Feb-March 1964: RIF 1pp
#129 April-May 1964: RIF 1pp
#130 June-July 1964: RIF 1pp, 1pp
#137 Aug-Sept 1965: RIF 1pp, 1pp
#138 Oct-Nov 1965: RIF 1pp
#140 Feb-March 1966: Winter In My Heart 7pp
#155 Aug-Sept 1968: He’ll Break Your Heart 10pp
#156 Oct-Nov 1968: Surfbunnies 10pp
#158 Feb-March 1969: Driftwood 10pp
#200 July-Aug 1974: Contents 1pp
#202 Nov-Dec 1974: Contents 1pp
That’s a total of 50 pages. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.