GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS ADS June-Dec 1970

All images © DC Comics. From ADVENTURE COMICS #394, June 1970

This will be a shorter than usual post to finish out 1970 ads, just the way the year broke down best for me, and there were too many for a single post. At this time, Saladino was doing a lot of generic ads that could be reused with other DC covers. Some were, I can’t be sure if they all were, but this is a money-saving tactic that DC also used during Ira Schnapp’s tenure on house ads. I don’t know what Gaspar was being paid for ad lettering, but certainly it would have been more than his story page rate, and probably also more than his cover lettering rate, which was higher than the page rate too. At least that’s how it worked when I started at DC in 1977. This is a half-page ad, and it’s likely there were two on a page of comics art paper done at the same time, this being one. Gaspar was using concentric circles a lot as backgrounds, and tall DC letters, sometimes with periods, sometimes without. The tradition was that D.C. stood for Detective Comics, one of the first titles from the company that became their symbol, but Irwin Donenfeld, son of co-owner Harry Donenfeld from about 1938 on, said his father thought of it as representing Donenfeld Comics.

From BATMAN #222, June 1970

Officially the actual company name at this time was National Periodical Publications, as represented in this ad as N.P.P., but everyone still called it DC Comics. Gaspar’s display lettering for this ad is well done, but he was sometimes now leaving out any background and just going with white. I think that looks fine.

From BATMAN #222, June 1970

Here again the ad copy imitates the catch phrase of Don Adams in the TV show “Get Smart” on the top line. I recall it being a very popular comment. The rest of the ad copy calls these comics “grabbers,” something I don’t recall seeing anywhere else, but self-explanatory. I would agree. DC’s covers were becoming more dynamic and appealing due to the talent of artist Neal Adams and others who followed his lead.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #220, June 1970

Another generic ad that would work for any two “mystery” covers, and perhaps others as well. Gaspar’s lettering has great bounce and dry-brush texture inside some of the letters.

From ACTION COMICS #390, July 1970

Here’s an ad that’s not generic, it only works for this particular feature, though that feature proved popular and appeared more than once. Of course it was all reprints. The repetition of DC in the ad copy and lettering reinforces replacement on this cover of the long-running DC Bullet corner symbol with the DC of tall block letters in Gaspar’s DC SPECIAL logo. The move away from the Ira Schnapp bullet was gradual, and this was the beginning of it.

From ACTION COMICS #390, July 1970

There was also a trade dress change on the long-running Giant series, with Schnapp’s logo being replaced by a smaller Saladino one, as on this cover. That Giant by Gaspar is really more like cover lettering than a logo, and I’m considering it that. Gaspar’s ad lettering is appealing. The angles on the character names and the treatment of TM in BATMAN add interest. I like how the book seems to be gigantically thick, artistic license I guess.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #395, July 1970

These are perhaps the two most famous half-page teaser ads in DC Comics history, hinting at the imminent arrival of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World titles. To the world at large, The Great One was either the supreme deity or Jackie Gleason, but in comics, it was definitely Kirby. I particularly love Gaspar’s treatment of BOOM TUBE. Note that in the lower ad, DC is calling itself NATIONAL. At this time I was reading mostly Marvel comics, but on hearing of Kirby’s move to DC, it did indeed bring me back.

From BATMAN #223, July 1970

In this ad, the Schnapp DC bullet is still prominently displayed, and of course the name NATIONAL COMICS was part of it, though no one I knew ever called it that. Large block letters from Gaspar and a very simple round-cornered frame on this full-page generic ad.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #222, Aug 1970

On this Giant we’re back to the original Schnapp Giant logo. Several others of various sizes and shapes were tried through this year. Perhaps editor Mort Weisinger, who would retire in a few months, made that call on his books. Gaspar’s treatment of STRANGEST is the best thing here.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #397, Sept 1970

Another somewhat generic ad that could be used with other similar titles, but only for another month or two. In addition to the Giant series, DC was also issuing another line of Super DC Giants, as seen here, continuing to pad their output with reprints.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #398, Oct 1970

The treatment of FUNNIEST is indeed fun and funny here. Not sure why there’s an opening in the dot over the I, that may be a printing or separations error.

From ACTION COMICS #394, Nov 1970

This generic ad was used many times with many different covers over the next few months.

From ACTION COMICS #394, Nov 1970

The ad copy, which nicely contrasts Science and Sorcery, was undoubtedly written by editor Julius Schwartz, and it harkens back to the busier ads of Ira Schnapp, as do these reprint titles.

From AQUAMAN #54, Nov 1970

Along with his three new Fourth World titles, NEW GODS, THE FOREVER PEOPLE, and MISTER MIRACLE, Jack Kirby also took on JIMMY OLSEN, causing me to buy that series for the first time in many years. I actually loved his work on the title, and even his handling of Superman. I didn’t know then that Superman’s face was often redrawn by DC’s regular artists after the stories were mailed to New York from Kirby’s home in California. If there was ever an appropriate use of the word BLOCKBUSTER, Kirby at DC was it! I would have preferred the cover larger and without the rough outlines around it, but in all this is a thrilling ad.

From ACTION COMICS #395, Dec 1970

I don’t think DC had promoted two consecutive issues of any title this well for decades. Did Kirby have any hand in the ad copy for these? Perhaps Mark Evanier will know. Gaspar’s display lettering makes it even more exciting.

From ACTION COMICS #395, Dec 1970

DC couldn’t wait to show off Kirby’s new titles, the images shown here are, I think, his uninked pencils, something DC almost never used in ads. This really was new for the company, and the hyperbole in the display lettering by Saladino was, for once, completely appropriate. Did many Marvel fans follow Kirby from Marvel to DC as I did? I think so, but I have no evidence. Sales on the Kirby titles were probably high at first, but of these, FOREVER PEOPLE and NEW GODS lasted only two years initially, and MISTER MIRACLE three. They and the Kirby characters became an important part of the DC Universe going forward, but it took a while for that to really kick in, and it was after Jack had left his unfinished epic behind.

To sum up, I’ve found 17 ads lettered by Saladino in this period, and adding in the 26 from earlier books with 1970 cover dates, there were 43 in all. Actually, there may well have been more. As we enter the 1970s, scans of comics online that I use for my research begin to include ads less often, making it harder to be sure I have them all. If more turn up, I will add them. Other articles in this series are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

One thought on “GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS ADS June-Dec 1970

  1. Mark Evanier

    Jack wrote some ad copy for them but very little (if any) of it was used. I remember he was horrified to find — in print — the ad calling him “The Great One!”

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