All images © DC Comics. From SUPERMAN #76, May-June 1952

Here we go with one of the most important DC Comics series. I’m dating this post 1939 for the original run of 423 issues because there will be another for the 1987 revamp. The letterer most associated with Superman’s first few decades is Ira Schnapp, and he lettered many Superman stories and covers until 1968, but when he was unavailable, Gaspar Saladino occasionally filled in for him, and that happened on the cover above. This is very early for Saladino cover lettering, and it may be his first. Despite the fact that he’d been lettering stories at DC since late 1949, Gaspar was not used to doing covers, and made a rookie mistake on this one by underlining the emphasized words in the balloons. It may have been in the script that way, but in comics scripts, underlining is one way to indicate bold italic display lettering, and that’s what he should have done. In general the lettering is trying to imitate Ira Schnapp’s cover work, but Gaspar’s lettering is more angular and often wider than Ira’s. I don’t know what the editor thought, but his next cover lettering on this title was about 14 years later! When Schnapp retired, Saladino became the regular cover letterer for many years, and he also occasionally lettered stories and inside pages, but was never a regular. I’ll look at covers first.

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All images © DC Comics. From SUPERGIRL #1, Nov 1972

While Supergirl was a popular character with long runs in ACTION COMICS, SUPERMAN FAMILY, and ADVENTURE COMICS, she wasn’t able to sustain her own monthly series for very long until the 1990s. The first one ran just ten issues, and Gaspar Saladino lettered all but one of the covers. Above, the top line is partly headline type, but Gaspar did the rest. I always liked his arrow captions.

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All images © DC Comics. From SUPER FRIENDS #15, Dec 1978

Super Friends was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series based on DC’s Justice League of America comics, but more cartoony and aimed at a younger audience, that ran from 1973 to 1986. DC’s comic book version had a good run of 47 issues from 1976 to 1981. Some early issues had cover lettering by Joe Letterese and others, but beginning with the issue above, Gaspar Saladino lettered many of them. If anything, the job was simpler than the average DC cover, but Saladino always did his best.

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All images © DC Comics, from SUPER DC GIANT #14, Sept-Oct 1970

This title was one of many efforts by DC Comics to reuse stories from their vast and varied past, in other words, a reprint title with no set theme. For readers new to the stories, it was a bargain. For some reason they began with issue #13, and at first issues were put out three at a time. Gaspar Saladino had lettering on most of the covers, though on some it was minor and type was also used. I’m beginning with this issue because I like Saladino’s story titles along the left side. He also did the logo, though TOP GUNS closely follows an Ira Schnapp one.

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All images © DC Comics. From SUPERBOY #69, Dec 1958

Superboy, the adventures of Superman as a boy in rural Smallville, first appeared in MORE FUN COMICS #101 in 1945, and had a popular run as the lead feature there. In 1949 his own title began, and it ran to 1977. Later relaunches continued regularly. Gaspar Saladino was never a story letterer for the feature or solo book, and only lettered a few individual pages that appeared inside, but he did letter many of the covers after regular cover letterer Ira Schnapp left the company in 1968, and he also did two fill-ins for Ira before that, the first is above. Gaspar’s balloon lettering is generally wider and more angular than Schnapps, his letter S is a good example, having a wide, straight center stroke with curves above and below. His display lettering in the caption is also more angular than Ira’s, and not yet as good, as it took him a while to find his footing on cover lettering.

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