GASPAR SALADINO LETTERING ON TWO UNPUBLISHED STRIPS

This and all Doc Savage images are © Condé Nast

Two newspaper strips I’ve never seen with lettering by Gaspar Saladino turned up in my Facebook feed this weekend. This one was done in 1978 by comics artist Dave Cockrum. The writer credit might be a pen name or a real relative of Doc Savage creator Lester Dent, I haven’t found out anything more about that.

The usual plan for new strip ideas submitted to syndicates who might buy them was to create one Sunday strip and at least a week of six Daily strips, though two or three weeks was more common. I found the Doc Savage Sunday at THIS site, but it has each panel scanned individually. This is panel 3 with some excellent Saladino title and text lettering.

Panel 4 gets the action moving. I’m guessing Gaspar was hired by the creators. At the time he was lettering THE WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERHEROES strip for DC Comics, and would have been well known to Dave Cockrum when Dave worked at DC.

I found some original Dailies at the Heritage Auction site. This one must be from the first week, where the characters were being set up. If the strip had sold, these introductory strips might have been run separately in newspapers before the strip joined their regular lineup. I’ve stacked the panels vertically to showcase Gaspar’s fine lettering.

There are also strips like these with lettering but no inks, suggesting this is as far as the project went, and probably intended to be week two of Dailies. Perhaps the creators found out that rights for such a project were already tied up elsewhere by the intellectual property owner Condé Nast.

From THE UNEXPLAINED, 1979, all images © Copley News Service

The other strip from 1979 seems like an action/horror one with a fine lineup of creators: writer Marv Wolfman and artists Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, all successful in comics for many years. In a 2020 tweet, Marv said the strip was sold to Copley, and this Sunday and three weeks of Dailies were prepared, as well as a promotional poster, but not enough newspapers were willing to buy the feature to make it financially feasible, so it went no further. The images I found are probably from the syndicate’s promotional package that would have gone out to prospective buyers at newspapers across the country.

Three dailies on a single page as they would have gone to buyers, I’ve also added some panels enlarged to show the lettering and art better. The strip looks like one I would have enjoyed reading. The lead character, Dr. Raven Winters, might have had some connection to Baron Winters in the comics series NIGHT FORCE by Wolfman and Gene Colan published by DC in 1982, or maybe Marv just liked the name and reused it.

Another page of Dailies with some fine display lettering by Saladino. Too bad it wasn’t a success, but the days of serious continuity strips were already in decline by 1979 in favor of humor ones. I’ll be adding these strips to my Gaspar Saladino career overview HERE once this is up on my blog.

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