GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS ADS Jan-April 1969

All images © DC Comics. From ACTION COMICS #371, Jan 1969

There are so many ads lettered by Saladino in 1969 that I’m dividing them into three articles, and this is the first. Gaspar had settled into his role as the new style-setter for the company, replacing Ira Schnapp in that role, and if anything he was busier than Ira ever was at this time producing ads, logos and cover lettering at a furious pace. Carmine Infantino had wanted him to give DC’s design presence a fresh look, and Gaspar delivered. The ad above follows his preferred style of some large display lettering to grab attention and a small amount of other lettering below. The teaser art between the lettering might be by Gaspar, or it could be by cover artist Nick Cardy. I suspect the latter. Whoever wrote the cover text and ad copy set up a good enticement for readers to buy this Batman reprint issue, but DC was still putting too much of their focus on past successes in my opinion.

From ACTION COMICS #371, Jan 1969

Here’s a good example of how to present a Christmas-themed comic without ever mentioning Christmas. Of course, other holidays can then apply equally well. Gaspar’s large display lettering at the top has a psychedelic feel meant to appeal to young teens, but I don’t know how many of them were interested in DC’s teen humor characters and stories, and these were all reprints from long-defunct titles.

From ACTION COMICS #371, Jan 1969

This half-page ad seems specific to this one issue of Superboy, but the ad lettering by Saladino could have applied to other titles. I’m not sure it was. A small technical note: an ellipsis is three dots denoting a pause in thought or speech. Gaspar sometimes used just two dots instead, but the idea came through.

From AQUAMAN #43, Jan-Feb 1969

The layout of the display lettering on this ad is kind of strange…why did Gaspar arrange the top line so that the exclamation points are so small? There was plenty of room below. Perhaps he was just in a hurry and didn’t want to redraw it, or possibly there was more ad copy originally that was removed. As it stands, this is amusing.

From AQUAMAN #43, Jan-Feb 1969

Another ad that could work as a generic and apply to other titles, and I think this one was, or at least the word BLOCKBUSTER was reused on other ads. The black telescoping on that word is interesting, broken up by openings as if cracking from impact. The burst is also unusual, a dry-brush line surrounded by thinner inked lines, and dotted texture inside. The concentric circles draw additional attention to the on-sale date.

From AQUAMAN #43, Jan-Feb 1969

DC was trying to revive their teen humor line, but despite four large NEW displays by Gaspar, it was really old stuff and old ideas being recycled. This is actually two half-page house ads, and I will count it as such, even though the lower word NEW on each might be the same.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #140, Jan 1969

While some of the other ads from this period used less ad copy, this one for the romance line used a lot, and it’s all made more interesting by Saladino’s energy, creativity, and variety of styles. The logos for the first two titles are by Ira Schnapp, the third is one by Gaspar was never used on the book, so probably lettered by him just for this ad.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #383, Jan 1969

This ad copy seems relevant to the present! Again the lettering layout is a bit odd, but it works fine.

From ACTION COMICS #372, Feb 1969

I was too old for weekend cartoons in 1968-69, so I never saw any of these, but the ad lettering makes them sound great.

From ACTION COMICS #372, Feb 1969

The Phantom Stranger had had a brief series in the early 1950s. This revival, which I think involved him more in the stories than the first one, was a success for DC, and had a long run. As a sort of cross between superhero and horror character, Gaspar has a chance to use both those styles in this ad. Note that even while appearing in a February cover-dated comic, and cover-dated February itself, the on-sale date was for December 1968, showing the usual two-month advance given on cover dates in hopes it would keep comics on display at retailers longer. Ads and other work were likely produced at least a month or two before that.

From ACTION COMICS #372, Feb 1969

DC’s war titles were not getting much promotion at this time, unless they were 80-Page Giant reprint collections. Large block letters seem a good choice for the subject and command attention.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #377, Feb 1969

Bat Lash’s SHOWCASE issue soon led to his own series, and the tagline of the book continued to be the main selling point in house ads. I don’t think there were nearly as many DC fans buying westerns as there were buying superheroes, which is a shame, because this one was a cut above the rest, and deserved a longer life than it had.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #377, Feb 1969

While the ad copy for this new “mystery” title is intriguing, I think it’s all hot air, no comics outlets were going to open at midnight to sell it. Great logo and lettering by Gaspar, who probably also did the background art behind the lettering.

From BATMAN #209, Feb-March 1969

I like Gaspar’s snow-covered COLD in this ad, and he’s done a new version of his BINKY logo as well as one for PEGGY that I don’t think appeared anywhere else, though it might have been used as a story logo.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #141, Feb 1969

DC continued to promote their new version of Wonder Woman in the romance line. Not a bad idea, but the ad copy here seems to be talking down to readers and typically trying to use hip slang but doing it poorly. Note that Gaspar did a new version of his Wonder Woman logo just for this ad.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #202, Feb 1969

Great Saladino display lettering in this ad makes the rather silly cover idea more interesting in my opinion. BEWARE is Gaspar’s horror style at its best, and the pattern in the last line, probably made with the tip of a stiff, wide brush, is well done too.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #378, March 1969

More lame slang in this ad, but Gaspar does a fine job of lettering it. This again feels like whoever wrote the ad copy is talking down to readers instead of inviting them aboard as equals, something Stan Lee was so good at over at Marvel. And once again the focus is on DC’s past glories rather than anything new.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #378, March 1969

At least DC had made one great move: hiring Neal Adams as an artist, and putting him on covers. The quality of the cover art here is the main selling point, and possibly buyers were a little disappointed to find the same old artists inside the book instead of this excellent new one. The burst is the best thing about Gaspar’s lettering here, though I also like the subtle open drop shadow on TWO.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #378, March 1969

Sadly, the best ideas DC could come up with for their heroes at this time often made them criminals or put them in static arenas like a courtroom rather than using their powers and abilities. Gaspar’s lettering does its best to sell this rather bland setting and idea.

From AQUAMAN #44, March-April 1969

On the other hand, new editor Joe Orlando, a veteran of EC Comics, knew how to make his new horror revamps appealing with the help of Saladino’s fine horror lettering. It had me at ASSORTING THINGS!

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #179, March-April 1969

While the original idea of this book was mismatched detective partners played for humor, Angel’s character was the more popular one, and you can see that beginning to surface here in the ad copy’s GLAMOUR-ACTION ISSUE, and her appearance twice on the right side.

From ACTION COMICS #375, April 1969

It’s a sad commentary on the times that a comic featuring female superheroes was considered daring. The cover lettering on that one is also sad, “See our Fighting Females do their thing!” What was their thing exactly? I love the display lettering by Saladino with the giant DC, but this is more of the company trying to relive past glories. I do like the cover design and lettering on that Flash cover, though. This ad was also used in halves.

From ACTION COMICS #375, April 1969

The giant display lettering on this ad was generic enough to use with other titles, and probably was. As I said earlier, I haven’t spent as much time in this series looking at every page of every comic from the time period, so I can’t be sure.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #83, April-May 1969

DC’s war titles were getting little attention in house ads, the top one of this pair of half-pagers is a rare exception, and Enemy Ace was another feature that deserved that attention. Bat Lash, at least, did get a good number of house ads. This counts as two ads for Gaspar, as each half-pager could be and probably was used separately.

From CAPTAIN ACTION #4, April-May 1969

The ad copy is brief and to the point on this one, with a large question mark to intrigue readers.

From DC SPECIAL #3, April-June 1969

DC and Saladino revamped the look of the long-running SHOWCASE title with this new logo and trade dress. Ira Schnapp’s DC bullet is still there, but eclipsed by the large DC in a burst by Gaspar. This is a rare third-page ad for the time, probably created to replace an old one in this reprint title.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #205, April 1969

DC was also trying to bring new life to the long running STRANGE ADVENTURES by returning it to its science fiction roots and Adam Strange, though the stories inside were reprints. It succeeded for a few years. The repetitious display lettering by Gaspar works pretty well.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #205, April 1969

Another generic ad that could be used for many different titles. Gaspar’s lettering adds excitement, as always.

To sum up, I found 30 ads lettered by Saladino in books with January to April cover dates, though in some cases I’m going by the first month in the indicia rather than the one on the cover. Plenty more to come! Other articles in this series, and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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