GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS ADS June-Dec 1980

All images © DC Comics. From ACTION COMICS #508, June 1980

Continuing with the rest of the ads lettered by Gaspar for books with these cover dates, we begin with the kind of half-page ad that had been appearing in DC issues for decades, promoting two titles that have some connection (both here are team-up books) and made more exciting and interesting by Saladino’s fine display lettering. This year was kind of Gaspar’s last hurrah as a major designer for DC house ads, and I feel he was still at the top of his game. Look at the energy and impact of THRILLS!

From ACTION COMICS #508, June 1980

DC’s digest comics were good sellers I think, and as mostly reprints, more profitable than all-new titles. Personally I never liked the small size of the art, but many did. Often the lettering had to be resized larger to be readable on the cheap newsprint paper, making a mess of the original page layouts, and therefore also making these versions unlike the original comics, but if all you wanted to do was read the stories, they were a bargain. Gaspar’s ad lettering has fun with the size issue. I don’t know who did the figure art, but it’s inked by Dick Giordano.

From ACTION COMICS #508, June 1980

This retelling of Batman’s origin, sort of, has intriguing ad text probably by writer and former Marvel editor Len Wein. DC was getting better at that.

From ACTION COMICS #508, June 1980

DC was putting lots of effort into their subscription ads at this time, there were many fine ones. This example is full of terrific display lettering by Gaspar. Ad lettering paid better than page lettering, and also better than cover lettering, and here’s a good reason why, this must have taken a long time to do.

From ACTION COMICS #508, June 1980

Another fine subscription ad lettered by Saladino, and that’s five house ads by him in one issue of ACTION COMICS. This was almost like his early days of doing all the house ads, and lots of them, in 1968.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #163, June 1980

Another subscription ad. I don’t like the design of this one as much, the art looks cobbled together from many sources, but there’s nothing wrong with the lettering.

From ACTION COMICS #509, July 1980

Jenette Kahn’s plan to add more pages and more backup features to the entire DC line had been thwarted by management in 1978, but now she was able to try it again without interference. The price of regular issues went up from 40 cents to 50 cents, but there was more story and a wider variety of features, some that had hardly been seen in a while. Yes, buyers took a hit financially to keep up with their favorites, but they got more for their money, and retailers were happy to make a little more profit on each sale. Gaspar’s lettering on this ad makes the dull layout more exciting.

From ACTION COMICS #509, July 1980

This upcoming tabloid teaming Marvel and DC’s best-known heroes for the second time was perhaps the biggest news of 1980 in the comics world. The first such tabloid from 1976 was a big hit, I’m guessing the second one was too. Gaspar’s ad lettering sells it well.

From ACTION COMICS #509, July 1980

It’s a sign of changing times that DC is promoting the creators in these ads, a welcome change in my opinion, after many years when creators were not even named. DC was now catering to collectors and comics specialty shops more than newsstands, and those buyers were looking for favorite writers and artists more than blindly following titles.

From ACTION COMICS #509, July 1980

Though promoted here as a new beginning for Wonder Woman, it was pretty much more of what had come before. It would take another year for the character to get a real revamp. Saladino’s lettering sure makes this one sound worth trying. Sadly, the printing and paper quality at the time was at it’s worst, and some of this ad is hard to read.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #474, Aug 1980

In August cover-dated issues, the expanded line with new 8-page backups was promoted in this double-page spread ad at the center of many issues, and with different Saladino lettering at the center of each. Below are a few of the other versions of this ad.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #165, Aug 1980
From GHOSTS #91, Aug 1980
From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #283, Aug 1980
From JONAH HEX #39, Aug 1980
From THE UNEXPECTED #201, Aug 1980

I suspect that many more DC titles published in August 1980 had one of these ads, and each had different lettering by Gaspar in the central arrow, though some only used the single page stamps ad shown earlier instead. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to digital scans that include ad pages for other likely candidates. Gaspar’s lettering for these ads is full of variety, and includes many new versions of the character logos and book titles designed just for these ads. It’s hard to know how to count them, but I’m going to call the six different versions I’ve found six new ads for Saladino, and if others come to light I will add them.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #471, Aug 1980

This is two half-page ads that might have been used separately, and I will count them as two for Gaspar.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #474, Aug 1980

I don’t recall anything about this Superman club, and I have no idea how long it lasted or how successful it was. As always, Gaspar’s lettering made it appealing. There was also a half-page version of this ad.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #474, Aug 1980

In addition to all the new backup features, DC also brought out a new version of The Teen Titans that would prove to be one of the company’s most popular launches of the decade. Before long they were giving Marvel’s X-Men serious competition due to the fine stories by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez. Gaspar’s lettering sells it well.

From ACTION COMICS #511, Sept 1980

There’s not much lettering by Saladino on this teaser ad for the upcoming tabloid, but it still counts. And after this, there were almost no new house ads for the rest of 1980-dated issues. I think DC had blown out their ad budget with all those spreads and other ads seen above.

To sum up, I found 22 new ads lettered by Gaspar in this period. Adding the 20 I found in the first five months of the year, that makes 42 ads for 1980 books, much more than the previous few years. As I said, this was kind of the last hurrah for Saladino on house ads at DC. There are more that I will cover next time in the final article in this series, but not very many per year. Other articles in this series are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog as well as others you might enjoy.

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