GASPAR SALADINO’S COMICS ADS May-July 1969

From ACTION COMICS #376, May 1969

Continuing with Gaspar Saladino’s very busy year on ads in comics with 1969 cover dates, DC’s long history was always a source of pride, even though its earliest years under the ownership of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson were never talked about, nor was the takeover from him by Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz. The Major’s last new title was Detective Comics, launched in 1937, but DC preferred to celebrate the anniversary of Batman’s first appearance in issue #27. Fair enough, it was what current readers were most interested in. Gaspar’s giant 30 is eye-catching. The blurb at upper left was meant to be hip, but was probably considered lame by teen readers. Saladino’s starry background works well, almost merging with the black area of the cover to create an appealing curved diagonal shape.

From ACTION COMICS #376, May 1969

On the top one of these two half-page ads, Gaspar’s display lettering is large and appealing. His ADVENTURE presages the logo he would do for the title a few years later. Below is a paid ad for the long-time advertiser Palisades Amusement Park. Ira Schnapp did many similar ads for them, this is Gaspar’s version, and I think his lettering stands out and attracts attention to a subject many readers had seen so often they were ignoring it. I believe this was the last new ad for the amusement park, which closed in 1971. Though I lived in New Jersey, I was never there.

From ACTION COMICS #376, May 1969

Gaspar could always be counted on for effective horror lettering, like his dry-brush treatment of GHOST here. More dry brush work fills in the background.

From ACTION COMICS #376, May 1969

DC was trying to shake things up in their long-running SHOWCASE series with a new logo and trade dress, and this series with art by newcomer Bernie Wrightson, one of a handful of young artists getting the chance to do work for DC alongside the company’s regular stable of long-time talent. Gaspar sells the idea brilliantly with two swords in SWORD and a horrific SORCERY. Though it ran in three SHOWCASE issues, it went no further.

From ACTION COMICS #376, May 1969

Short, sweet, and succinct ad lettering with a creative final word. That’s five house ads just in this one comic, so DC was upping their promotional game.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #380, May 1969

Giant arrows in perspective are always a good way to draw the eye to a subject. Having the text inside it lead directly into the cover lettering is a nice touch.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #380, May 1969

Lettering in perspective is another way to bring the eye into the picture, and it works well here. The open telescoping on FUTURE is not very accurate, but good enough.

From BATMAN #211, May 1969

You can’t get much briefer than this ad copy! Effective, and the concentric circles also pull one into the picture.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #206, May 1969

It made sense to promote war titles in other war titles, as here, but DC was not doing much of that at this time. Great burst by Gaspar.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #206, May 1969

Another version of SHOCKER and another giant arrow with perspective lettering. Both work well to garner attention, and the concentric circle backgrounds were an easy choice to fill the space.

From ACTION COMICS #377, June 1969

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD had become a Batman team-up title, and by this time he’d teamed up with all the likely superheroes, and the book was getting more creative, though the focus on dying characters was perhaps not the best way to go. Gaspar’s creativity shows up in small ways like the TH in THIS at the top and that wild version of BATMAN.

From ACTION COMICS #377, June 1969

In my opinion, no one did scary lettering better than Saladino. His organic shapes often seem covered in shaggy fur, as on 13 here, and the result is unsettling. Some of the smaller lettering is type, possibly Letraset adhesive letters one could press into place from a plastic sheet of them, or it might be headline type from DC’s headliner machine, which printed large photo-type one letter at a time on a narrow roll of photostat paper. Both were time-consuming, but the results looked good, and were common resources in the DC production department. Gaspar may have asked for that help to make a deadline, or simply because he liked the contrast.

From ACTION COMICS #377, June 1969

DC continued to push their Giant line of reprints with handsome Saladino ads like this one, mining their past for sales that many new titles couldn’t achieve. That 1 on the right side is possibly the largest number Gaspar ever produced in an ad. I particularly like the smaller lettering at the bottom of it, which is full of lively bounce.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #381, June 1969

This ad might be a first for DC in that it’s a collage of partially-seen covers running behind the lettering rather than an ad displaying entire covers, as had often been done before. This is called a line ad, advertising an entire line, and of course there were many more titles that didn’t make it into the collage, but I think it’s an effective promotion, as if to say, “We have so much for you!” Gaspar’s lettering is large and impressive. There was also a color version, but I like this one better.

From BATMAN #212, June 1969

Captain Action was based on a toy line, a short-lived but well-made series. Gaspar’s angled block lettering and large question mark work well in the first of these two half-page ads. In the Flash one, impossible seems to be the new buzz word. The Flash logo used with the lettering is an old one created by Ira Schnapp for story splash pages. This counts as two ads.

From BATMAN #212, June 1969

Gaspar’s ad lettering here is appealing, I like the brass of making the D in DC smaller to fit FROM above it. Perhaps the word HAPPENING in a mix of upper and lower case is indeed fun.

From CAPTAIN ACTION #5, June-July 1969

Another well-lettered ad for three war titles. My apologies for not rotating these sideways ads, as it makes the lettering too hard to see if I reduce them enough to run them normally.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #207, June 1969

SUGAR AND SPIKE by DC veteran Sheldon Mayer had been running for many years with little attention from superhero fans, so I’m surprised at the boast here that it was a super seller. If true, perhaps parents were buying it for their kids. It was a fine book, and Gaspar did well on the ad lettering.

From ACTION COMICS #378, July 1969

Another title celebrating Batman’s anniversary was this Giant reprint issue. The most modern thing in the ad is Gaspar’s lettering, which is full of energy. Look at the lower case A in BATMAN that makes room for the number 4. So clever.

From ACTION COMICS #378, July 1969

Saladino put lots of skill into these two half-page ads, the lettering seems to jump off the page. The tragedy and comedy masks are a nice idea, and the display lettering is all excellent.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #382, July 1969

One way that Gaspar differed from Ira Schnapp is that he usually preferred to letter a new version of a book’s logo in the ad lettering rather than use the cover logo, even when it was one he’d done. It made sense here, as the cover logo would not have fit as well. Again, this lettering jumps off the page and demands to be read.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #382, July 1969

This ad effectively breaks the lettering space into two side bars that help balance the divided cover.

From AQUAMAN #46, July-Aug 1969

The three main female stars at DC in 1969 (with Supergirl being the third), were often paired in ads and in stories. Once again, Gaspar does new versions of the logos that work better with the rest of his lettering.

To sum up, I found 26 ads lettered by Saladino in this part of 1969. I will do totals for the year in the next article. Other parts of this series, and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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