GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS ADS Jan-June 1968

All images © DC Comics. From ADVENTURE COMICS #364, Jan 1968

Gaspar Saladino’s ads for comics with 1968 cover dates were much greater in number than the ones for 1967 issues, and in essence he and Ira Schnapp had traded places. Ira was still doing some ads, but far fewer than Gaspar. Saladino was now the new style setter for the company, and I feel he did a fine job of selling the product with exciting, dramatic, and powerful display lettering, as seen in this first example. The word DRAMA is still a bit tentative to my eye, and POWER uses the jagged ends favored by Artie Simek at Marvel Comics, but the overall effect is impressive. I also love the bottom banner with a skillful dry-brush MISS. By comparison, Ira Schnapp’s DC Bullet symbol seems sedate and old-fashioned. This ad ran on an inside cover, hence no color. Another version with color may have been used elsewhere.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #364, Jan 1968

At the time, much of DC’s focus was toward the past. Their Giant reprint titles sold well, and were promoted often in house ads, even while new stories got little attention. Gaspar does a fine job of making this reprint issue seem interesting and exciting, and he also did the cover lettering, as was now the case more and more often. One thing I don’t get is why the page of story art shown is reversed, but Gaspar had nothing to do with that. Look at all the variety and creativity in the display lettering seen here, yet it works together well.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #364, Jan 1968

Another ad where Gaspar is trying out his creative wings with clever textures inside some of the letters. Ad copy was usually supplied by the editor of the book, but many of Gaspar’s best efforts seem to come from ads with much less copy than Ira Schnapp usually had to deal with. Perhaps this was the influence of Infantino supporting Gaspar’s new cleaner approach. Less copy meant what there was could be larger and more impressive. The Ira Schnapp cover lettering and logo on this example again seems sedate compared to the ad lettering, even while Lois is tearing down part of her logo.

From ACTION COMICS #359, Feb 1968

While Ira Schnapp’s style preferences and references seem to have generally stopped at the 1940s, Gaspar embraced the psychedelic styles of 1960s rock concert posters and other new design ideas of the era, as seen in the lettering here. Gaspar was 41 for most of 1968, so not a youngster, but he had a family, and perhaps his kids were into things that influenced his taste, or perhaps it was just Gaspar looking around for styles that would appeal to young readers. Schnapp tried to use some of these ideas at the end of his career, but it wasn’t as convincing or as well done.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #365, Feb 1968

Gaspar is making great use of the space available to him in this ad, and the contrast between the block letter WHY’s and the rest makes it more interesting. I can understand why some readers then and now thought Saladino’s ideas not a good follow up for the DC traditions established by Ira Schnapp, but I find them a much needed breath of fresh air. Often the books themselves were not as interesting as the lettering, but that would follow as new creators and editors were brought in and older ones retired.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #365, Feb 1968

I love Saladino’s artful approach to burning letters in BLAZING, with the letters being consumed at the top and full of ash-like texture at the bottom. Gaspar’s cover lettering on war titles like this one was always outstanding, and he did well on house ads for them too.

From THE ATOM #35, Feb-March 1968

Both Schnapp and Saladino did house ads for this Christmas-themed TEEN TITANS issue. I compared them in THIS article, I’ll just show Gaspar’s version here, but I like it better. More energy, more enticing display lettering, and the wreathe and book aren’t bad either.

From ACTION COMICS #360, March 1968

On the other hand, I don’t think this ad works well. LIKE LIGHTNING is hard to read, and IKE doesn’t match the rest. THE HAWK AND THE DOVE is a variation on Gaspar’s logo for SHOWCASE #75, or possibly an earlier version of it, but I don’t like it as much as the final version. For one thing, it emphasizes HAWK too much when the character names should be equal.

From ACTION COMICS #360, March 1968

This unusual ad is a teaser, as there’s no specific product or issue mentioned. I don’t know who did the mysterious silhouette of Superman, but most of the ad is block lettering by Saladino. As an example of modern graphic design it’s ahead of its time, I think, and reminiscent of some 1980s ads by DC art directors.

From ACTION COMICS #361, March 1968

More psychedelic design work from Gaspar around one of Ira Schnapp’s best late-career cover lettering jobs, on a fun idea for a cover. This one is rather far out there, but DC readers needed shaking up, in my opinion.

From ACTION COMICS #361, March 1968

There was a brief time at DC in the late 1960s when new younger editors were considered exciting enough news to promote in house ads, Joe Orlando being one. That didn’t last, but Joe had a long and successful career at DC all the same. Gaspar adds to the excitement with his energetic and varied lettering.

From AQUAMAN #38, March-April 1968

The cover of this comic has the first page of the story on it, and two logos, a small one in a circle at the top by Ira Schnapp, one of his last, and another lower down for the story by Gaspar. The ad copy explains that page 2 is waiting inside the issue, and I love the giant 1 and the exciting burst.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #373, March 1968

Both the logo and the ad lettering by Saladino for this Steve Ditko creation work much better for me than Hawk and Dove, and the silhouette by Ditko certainly helps make it intriguing. Gaspar was developing a unique horror style, and this logo is a good example.

From ACTION COMICS #362, April 1968

Who could resist the enthusiasm and energy of this lesson in display lettering by Saladino? Certainly not me! Not an inch of space is wasted, and it all works together well.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #77, April 1968

Gaspar must have worked closely with artist Howard Post on this ad, and perhaps Post drew and inked the word ANTHRO, as he did on the SHOWCASE tryout issue and the first series issue. Gaspar certainly did the other lettering, and may have inked the feature logo.

From ACTION COMICS #363, May 1968

This ad was a full-pager on an inside cover and ran sideways. I found it as a half-page version too, as seen here. DC was obviously proud of their new launches, and Gaspar helped make that point with his display lettering.

From ACTION COMICS #363, May 1968

Another example of a house ad with a small amount of copy or text that allowed Gaspar to do it large. This was a generic ad that could be and was used with other titles. I love the on-sale date in a prize ribbon.

From AQUAMAN #39, May 1968

Another new feature that had ads by both Schnapp and Saladino, see the Schnapp article linked above for his version. Gaspar’s is a full-pager enhanced with clever art probably by Bob Oksner. The feature logo is quite different from the one Gaspar did for the SHOWCASE issue it appeared in. This is again a teaser ad, with no specific product reference, something DC was doing more of at this time, and I think a good way to get readers searching newsstands.

From AQUAMAN #39, May 1968

Another teaser ad, one of several for Bat Lash, who isn’t even named here, and wouldn’t make his SHOWCASE debut for several months. Intriguing, I’d call it.

From BEWARE THE CREEPER #1, May 1968

I wonder who was writing the ad copy for some of these 1968 ads? They seem to have a different flavor from most of the ads in DC’s past. This is a clever way to sell two comics that have almost nothing in common. Gaspar’s large display lettering is riveting!

From FALLING IN LOVE #99, May 1968
From FALLING IN LOVE #99, May 1968

DC’s romance line had long been set apart from the rest of their comics in several ways, including usually only having house ads for other romance titles. Ira Schnapp’s lettering was a good fit for romance, but when he was gone, Gaspar stepped in with his own best efforts. I think he did fine. The elegant script styles of Schnapp are absent, but Saladino’s energy and enthusiasm works here too.

From ACTION COMICS #364, June 1968

This ad boasts of a new DC brand, but the trade dress, including Ira Schnapp’s DC bullet, has not changed. That would come, but not yet. It’s interesting to me that this ad references the previous ad copy for SECRET SIX, as if a dialogue was going on with readers through the ads. That was happening at Marvel Comics especially in their “Bullpen Bulletins” ads, but not so much at DC.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #369, June 1968

This ad is another clever one with two very sixties characters comparing tastes in humor comics. Sadly, readers were no longer very interested in this kind of teen humor at DC, much preferring superheroes and horror I think, while teen humor fans usually turned to Archie comics.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #369, June 1968

For comparison, another version of this generic ad with a different cover (beautifully lettered by Gaspar). I won’t count this as a new ad, of course, as only the on-sale date is new.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #369, June 1968

Both the character logos on this cover are by Ira Schnapp. Gaspar could have used them in his ad lettering, but he chose to do his own versions, which I like better. This Supergirl logo is similar to the one Saladino would design for her appearances in ADVENTURE COMICS in 1970. Gaspar has learned the effective use of arrow shapes, perhaps from seeing them on Schnapp ads in the past.

From SECRET HEARTS #128, June 1968

Gaspar struggled a bit replacing Ira Schnapp on romance ads. His usual styles were great for horror, science fiction and superheroes, but not so appropriate for subjects like this. The oddest thing here is 3 GIRLS, where the IRLS is lower case except for the R, making the lower case L read as an upper case I. The tag line to the right of that is by Schnapp.

From BATMAN #202, June 1968

An ad using the same top line and brand art as a previous one, but the rest of the lettering is new, and the word NEW is certainly emphasized. DC was struggling against the growing popularity of Marvel Comics, whose success they didn’t really understand, but at least they were trying new things.

To sum up, I found 27 ads lettered by Saladino in books cover dated January to June 1968, the rest will follow in the next post. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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