GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS ADS Jan-May 1970

All images © DC Comics. From ACTION COMICS #384, Jan 1970

As we begin ads in comics with cover dates from January to May, 1970 (work probably produced from September to December 1969), Gaspar has grown comfortable with his role as the style setter for DC. The majority of DC’s titles—and all the newest ones—feature his logos, nearly all the cover lettering is by him, and nearly all the house ads too. Gaspar was still also lettering plenty of story pages, with his main focus being war stories, but he did others in all genres. DC’s output was increasing, though a fair amount of it was reprints from the 1950s-1960s. Still, new editors and freelance artists were making their presence known, and the biggest shakeup of all was on the horizon: the move of Marvel mainstay Jack Kirby to DC with a roster of all-new creations. The ad above has fine display lettering by Saladino, but the books are full of reprints.

From ACTION COMICS #384, Jan 1970

With artist Carmine Infantino now running the creative end at DC, more artists were being hired as editors. In addition to Joe Orlando and Dick Giordano, others had a chance to try their ideas. This three-issue run in SHOWCASE was written, drawn and edited by Mike Sekowsky, the long-time artist on JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA and other titles. He probably designed the ad with his art surrounded by Saladino lettering running in all four directions. The ad is memorable, and it gave Gaspar a chance to use his upper and lower case style more than usual, but the feature went no further.

From ACTION COMICS #384, Jan 1970

It’s been said the most important topics in fiction are love and death. For younger male readers, love is not something they want to read much about, so death was most often used in comics, as here. DC was trying to get into more serious stories at this time, and away from the lighter fluff they had been selling for years. Gaspar’s lettering was dramatic and serious when needed, or silly and light, or could follow any direction requested. Versatile.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #388, Jan 1969

In the Superman-related titles, long-time editor Mort Weisinger had recycled his favorite ideas to death and was at least turning to new, younger writers like Cary Bates and Jim Shooter for stories, but I don’t know that making his heroes evil was the way to go. Gaspar sells the direction well.

From ACTION COMICS #385, Feb 1970

More turning heroes into villains with effective Saladino lettering. Gaspar’s treatment of STONE is clever, but a bit hard to read.

From ACTION COMICS #385, Feb 1970

Gaspar had been the visual glue holding together DC’s war titles for years, and his house ads and cover lettering for them were always effective.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #389, Feb 1970

The ad copy here shows the influence of the “Get Smart” TV show, using the main character’s most well-known gag line. It seems like a fun idea, even if it’s a desperate ploy to boost sales for the last of DC’s Hollywood humor books, and the ever creative new logo versions by Saladino work well together.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #389, Feb 1970

Death, anger, and despair. Why? Desperation to turn the tide against the rise of Marvel Comics perhaps.

From BATMAN #219, Feb 1970

Two half-page ads with fine Saladino work. At this time, Marvel was hardly doing any house ads, preferring to promote their books mostly on their Bullpen Bulletins page of chatty, engaging, humorous hype in the Stan Lee style. Perhaps they also thought they couldn’t compete with what Gaspar was doing in this area, and DC’s editors certainly couldn’t compete with Stan’s ability to charm readers.

From DC SPECIAL #6, Jan-March 1970

DC’s ideas about interacting with fans were brief responses in letter columns and impersonal ads like this one. They did have a page of coming attractions listing upcoming issues, Direct Currents, but it wasn’t nearly as appealing as what Marvel was doing.

From ACTION COMICS #386, March 1970

I find the ad layouts and lettering on these two half-page ads appealing and effective, but as usual DC was promoting reprints at least as often as new material. And, of course, Supergirl was all about romance.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #390, March 1970

This title and ad copy does nothing but reinforce how out of touch DC editors were with the audience they were seeking. THE NEXT HAPPENING is an interesting experiment, but hard to read, and the thin lettering in the center is a bit weak, and not one of Gaspar’s better efforts.

From BATMAN #220, March 1970

Here’s a much better ad for comics related to a new toy line and cartoon show. Well-crafted and creative display lettering by Gaspar makes it exciting. The story art by Alex Toth with lettering by newcomer John Costanza is appealing too.

From THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS #117, March 1970

DC was at least trying to be different with PHANTOM STRANGER, but STRANGE ADVENTURES was reprints, so not very different. This generic ad lettering could have been used with almost any two DC covers.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #217, March 1970

Gaspar makes good use of arrows to grab attention in another generic ad, the first one for AQUAMAN in a long time. I should repeat that I didn’t look for ads as thoroughly in these years as I did for my Ira Schnapp ad articles, and sometimes couldn’t find many from my usual online sources, so I could well have missed some.

From ACTION COMICS #387, April 1970

Different and Daring were definitely buzz words for DC ads at this time. This title was certainly different, but did not find much of an audience. Again, the ad copy could be applied to many other titles.

From ACTION COMICS #387, April 1970

An even more generic ad with minimal lettering that would work with any four covers. Only on-sale dates would need to be added. I actually think this is a bit too minimal, and why use the ACTION COMICS cover for the very issue this appears in?

From ADVENTURE COMICS #392, April 1970

This ad copy at least avoids lame attempts at hip slang, but it’s still kind of off-putting. Gaspar’s mix of solid and outlined letters adds some interest.

From ACTION COMICS #388, May 1970

Another minimalist generic ad that would work for almost any two humor titles.

From ACTION COMICS #388, May 1970

After all that generic minimalism, this copy-heavy ad is kind of a nice change, though it’s again all about reprints. Origins were of interest to fans who had missed out on the original stories, so that was a good selling point. Gaspar presents it well with varied and creative display lettering.

From ACTION COMICS #388, May 1970

Another minimalist generic ad that was used with other titles. The conundrum of whether DC should have periods vacillated back and forth over the years.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #393, May 1970

The ad copy MILE A MINUTE makes this ad a bit less generic, as it would apply best to stories involving vehicles. Lots of white space, but nothing wrong with that. I am puzzled by the different sizes of the two covers.

From AQUAMAN #51, May 1970

A helpless Wonder Woman and a manipulative Lois Lane. Not the best role models for female readers, I would say. Nice lettering, though.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #399, May 1970

Another ad that would work with many titles and having just a little lettering. These must at least have saved Gaspar some time.

I could continue with the rest of the 1970 ads I found, but it would make this article a little too long, so I’ll do that next time. To sum up, I count 26 ads by Saladino for these months. I’ll do a total for the year in the next article. Others in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

2 thoughts on “GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS ADS Jan-May 1970

  1. David Goldfarb

    That first ad for Jason’s Quest indicates that either “kinky” meant something quite different in 1970, or else a bunch of people at DC’s offices were rather ignorant.

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