24 Hours of Immortality!


As the creator of the seminal ACTION COMICS logo and refiner of the immortal SUPERMAN logo, visionary DC designer IRA SCHNAPP adapted the classic poster designs of Broadway and Hollywood for use in Metropolis and Gotham City.

Schnapp had been present at the moment of creation! From DC’s inception through comics’ Golden and Silver Ages, the typography of the company’s entire line was fashioned by this humble genius of design, whose story was told in DBB #372-381. Ira Schnapp… THE VISIONARY!

But time marched on… and as the tumultuous 1960s and 70s shook the Establishment to its core, the DC superheroes -- who had become SYMBOLS Gaspar Saladinoof the hated Establishment –- fell Gaspar Saladinoout of favor. Compared to the hip new Marvel superheroes, DC’s standard-bearers looked as square as the Bizarro world. Devastating Cancellations loomed. The company’s future was at risk. MAJOR BUMMER!

The Visionary had stored up a fabulous treasure of gold and silver. Would this wondrous legacy be lost forever? NO WAY! It would be infused with the rebellious spirit of a new generation, and preserved by ANOTHER humble genius of design. THIS man’s name is not well known. His incredible story has NEVER been told! One day it will be...

TODAY is the day! A day all comicdom will never forget! Because in the next 24 hours, on this site and on comic book sites all across the World Wide Web, this humble genius will be catapulted from obscurity to immortality!

Gaspar Saladino



THE DAWN of the Marvel Age flooded the comic book industry with light, but as the day wore on, Marvel’s ever-growing brilliance threatened to give good old DC a permanent case of sunstroke. After years of denial, DC was slowly, painfully coming to the realization that if their universe was to survive, changes would have to be made.

RELEVANCE was the order of the day as DC relaunched nearly its entire line. Among the many talented folks who worked at the company, one man in particular become a central player in the overhaul. His name is GASPAR SALADINO. Like his predecessor, Ira Schnapp, Saladino became an eye-witness to comic history in the making.

Saladino was there when the Emerald Archer shattered his hard-travelin’ partners’ power battery with a single unforgettable arrow; he sat ringside as the Man of Steel went up against the GasparHeavyweight Champion of the World; and he stood watchingGaspar from the shadows as the Dark Knight fought a mind-bending battle with the Clown Prince of Crime in Arkham Asylum!

Where did it all begin? How did this humble design genius become the heir apparent of the Visionary? How did Gaspar Saladino become the Treasure Keeper? FLASHBACK!


GASPAR SALADINO was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 1st. That's why TODAY is the perfect day to honor Mr. Saladino with “24 hours of immortality!”

As a kid, Gaspar was a rabid fan of comic strips such as Secret Agent X-9 (a daily spy strip by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond that debuted on January Gaspar22, 1934). Gaspar's love of cartooning led the youngster to enroll in Manhattan’s High School of Industrial Arts (later renamed the School of Art and Design).

“It was a new conception,” alumnus Carmine Infantino recalls. “A vocational school just for art. They didn’t have much hope for it, so they housed us in this old Civil War hospital building on 42nd Street.”

Infantino wasn’t the only famous name to attend the school. In fact, its astonishing alumni list reads like a Who’s Who of great comic artists: Neal Adams, Jack Adler, Joe Jusko, Frank Giacoia, Dick Giordano, Joe Giella, Larry Hama, Carmine Infantino, Joe Orlando, John Romita, Sr., Gaspar Saladino and Alex Toth.

Did Gaspar know these gigantic talents in school? "Joe Kubert I knew of," Gaspar recalls, "And I knew Carmine, and Gil Kane. I never knew Neal Adams until later on when I worked for him and with him. But I never came across him in school. I knew Joe Orlando. Joe was in my grade. Alex Toth was in the grade below me."

Did this future Murderer's Row of comic talent hang out together AFTER school? "Not really," says Gaspar. "We were all scattered across the five boroughs of New York City -– the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island -– so we didn’t really get together after school. But during school, we all saw each other."

In addition to budding artists, the school also had its share of budding businessmen -- including future DC bigshot SOL HARRISON, pictured BELOW in a high school drawing class with future DC colorist supreme, JACK ADLER.

Gaspar Saladino

SolBack then, Sol Harrison was an Art Major. “For me,” Mr. Harrison once joked, “They called it Major Art.” Harrison graduated in 1934, and began working in the engraving business.

“Sol Harrison was an alumnus of the School of Industrial Arts, and he would always come out and look at our portfolios,” Saladino recalls. Surprisingly, at this time, Saladino was NOT studying letterering. “I majored in cartooning,” says Saladino. “I was always in love with cartooning!”

But Sol Harrison didn’t pluck young Gaspar from high school and send him on his way to stardom –- at least not immediately. And DC was NOT the first company to employ him. "While I was in High School I did some inking for Lloyd Jacquet Studios," Gaspar says, "But that was just occasional one or two-page shots."
The Lloyd Jacquet shop, aka Funnies Inc., employed artists such as Carl Burgos and Bill Everett (pictured left, as painted by Alex Ross). Gaspar's classmate Alex Toth also did occasional spot illustrations for Jacquet, at the rate of $5.00 or $10.00 each. Publisher Martin MM1Goodman stole Carl Burgos and Bill Everett away from Jacquet, and hired them do the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner for Marvel Mystery Comics #1, the landmark title that launched the Atlas/ Timely/ Marvel empire.

"World War II ended in 1945," Saladino continues. "I was drafted into the Air Force after the war. I was stationed in Tokyo, Japan, which was wonderful. It was a very educational experience. I worked with the AACS (Airways and Air Communication Service), doing public relations. I didn’t do any lettering or artwork at all."

No lettering at all? How unfortunate ... for the A irways and Air Communication Service, that is! At any rate, Gaspar still thought of himself as a cartoonist at this point in time. That was about to change.

When Saladino returned to New York in 1947, he sidelined cartooning to concentrate on his calligraphic skills. "I didn’t really get into lettering until 1951, when I first started freelancing for DC. I gravitated toward lettering,” Saladino says, “because it seemed more natural.”

Natural indeed. ALL natural -- Gaspar's work is done strictly by hand, without the aid of a computer. "I’m computer illiterate," he admits, "I probably should have gotten into it, but I leave that to my wife, Celeste. She has more patience with it than I have." Mrs. Saladino probably developed that patience raising three children: Lisa, Peter, and Greg. Greg Saladino grew up to become a Police Officer in Florida.

"My first job at DC was lettering a Carmine Infantino western love story. Julie Schwartz was the editor." Saladino also lettered filler pages for DC titles such as Jimmy Wakley, Star Spangled War Stories, World’s Finest, and Mr. District Attorney.


The Silver Age of comics began in October 1956, with the publication of Showcase #4, featuring the debut of the Barry Allen Flash. FLASH FACT: The famous cover of Showcase #4 was laid out by one of Saladino’s first employers at DC -- editor Robert Kanigher. Pictured below is a Gaspar-lettered page recalling "Famous Flash covers."



Ira Schnapp (pictured below, as drawn by Neal Adams on the cover of Strange Adventures #207) was the visionary DC super-designer who had been the sole creator of DC’s logos and in-Irahouse ads since the company’s inception, and even before. In recognition of his predecessor’s unparalleled contributions to the company’s history, Gaspar calls Schnapp "Mr. DC." When did these twin titans of DC lettering first meet?

"I met Ira Schnapp when I first started freelancing at DC," Gaspar says. "I used to walk over to Ira's drawing table while he was lettering and look over his shoulder. I’d ask him questions about what he was doing, and he was only too happy to explain just what, exactly, was going on. He was very good that way. A very personable kind of guy."

Was Schnapp aware that the logos he was designing --including the original Action, Batman and Flash logos to name but a few of hundreds --would last for decades and become immortal?

"No, no, not at all," says Gaspar. "He didn’t have a favorite logo or anything. He never thought of it that way. To him, it was a job, and he was being paid -– not much, but certainly he was making a pretty good living when you consider there was a lot of unemployment in those days. Also, they didn’t have the fan base back then. There was nothing. The names weren’t even known, because no letterer signed their work. They weren’t allowed to. So the poor guy never got the recognition he deserved. It was sad when he left. It was as though he'd never been there. It all came down to business, though. It was to make money.”


As the Swingin' Sixties began, DC -- to make money -- relaunched the Justice Society of America, replacing the antiquated term "Society" with the snappier-sounding "League." Saladino lettered the first-ever Justice League story, in Brave and Bold #28 (Feb. 1960).

Three issues later, Saladino got to show off his calligraphical skills when he created the famous and often-imitated "New Member Joins The JLA" scroll seen below, featuring a sort of modified Old English lettering befitting a historic parchment comparable to the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution! From JLA #4 (April 1961):

Below: Original art for page seen above, from JLA #4 (April 1961):
The JLA met their Justice Society predecessors in the history-making JLA #21, “Crisis on Earth-One!” Here’s a page from the story, lettered by Saladino, naturally:

The greatest team-up in the history of comic book lettering occurred in Justice League of America #31 (Nov. 1964), “Riddle of the Runaway Room!” The story's splash page (seen below), featuring another JLA induction certificate, was lettered by The Visionary, Ira Schnapp...
...while the rest of the story, including the two chapter headings seen below, was lettered by Gaspar Saladino! Note the distinctive exlamation points, and the very Gasparian-looking semi-scripty rendering of the words "of the."
Below is Robby's fake cover celebrating the Schnapp/Saladino team-up, made using the Mike Sekowsky/ Murphy Anderson cover of JLA #31. "Visionary" logo by Fred Hembeck, "Treasure Keeper" logo by Todd Klein.
Gaspar's fresh and fun lettering style is very much in evidence In the copy-jammed image seen below, a FOX AND THE CROW house ad from February 1966. Note the thick, speedy-looking multiple Z's in "ZZZZZIP," and a total of three huge exclamation points (and a single small one), an excitable punctuation mark which Gaspar routinely added to whatever copy he was given to include in the ad.


Gaspar was still a freelancer, but by this time, “I began working almost exclusively for Julie and Bob,” Gaspar recalls, “It was almost like being on staff.” Julius Schwartz and Robert Kanigher were both huge Saladino fans. At this time, Kanigher was editing Sgt. Rock and the rest of DC’s war books, while Schwartz handled Flash, Batman and the JLA.

Below is a Photoshopped example of Saladino’s early work for Julius Schwartz, from Batman #184, September 1966, by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Sid Greene, the Gaspar-lettered splash page of “THE BOY WONDER’S BOO-BOO PATROL!”



Julie Schwartz was admired professionally, and beloved personally. Robert Kanigher (1915-2002) was respected for his work, but on a personal level -- well, let's just say the Gasparman was not exactly popular.

Kanigher prided himself on never missing a deadline, and he was equally demanding of his employees, especially freelancers. He seemed to take a kind of perverse delight in belittling them to the point of outright abuse.

“He was tough on the workers,” Mike Esposito said of Kanigher. “He almost gave Mort [Meskin] a nervous breakdown!” Even the affable Neal Adams once called Robert Kanigher a “beast in human disguise.” So how did freelancer Gaspar Saladino get along with Kanigher, the infamous terror of freelancers?

"He was the way he was," Gaspar says. "He was a very good editor, he knew what he wanted. At this stage of the game, why say anything bad about him? He was really a very hard guy to get along with, but still, as far as work, all the work he did was good."


The Silver Age was just hitting its stride when DC co-founder Harry Donenfeld passed away in February 1965. The following year, Carmine Infantino was named DC Art Director, and a year after that, the company was sold to the Kinney National Services for $60 million.

DC’s new owners, Kinney National, had made their fortune running parking lots and funeral homes. They were low-rent mobsters who knew little of comics. Jack Kirby boldly satirized their takeover of DC in a plotline about an “Intergang” takeover of the Daily Planet (see panel right, from Jimmy Olsen #133).

Kinney proceeded to make numerous changes at DC, mainly by promoting from within the company. They named Sol Harrison publisher. Harrison insisted, “If I can’t have Jack Adler as my assistant, I’m leaving,” so Jack Adler stayed too. And Carmine Infantino was made Editor In Chief. Three of Gaspar Saladino’s fellow School of Industrial Arts alumnus were now running DC Comics.


Infantino called comics “an industry which has never been truly appreciated.” And as DC’s new head honcho, he set out to change that. “Perhaps the time has come!” Infantino declared hopefully. He made Saladino the company’s premiere house ad designer and cover letterer. Now 40 years old, Saladino was lettering virtually every cover DC published, as well as designin g almost every house ad.Edge

Robert Kanigher had a nervous breakdown in 1967, and left DC. Who could Infantino find to take over editing Kanigher’s war books? He thought of his pal Joe Kubert, who had earlier left DC to do the “Green Berets” daily newspaper strip. The strip had recently ended, so Kubert was available.

“Carmine and I had known each other a long time, since we were kids,” Kubert remembers, “Carmine and Irwin Doneneld called me up to the office and proposed that I come back to DC. They proposed an association that sounded good to me.” Once back, Joe immediately reconnected with his old friend Gaspar.

Below: BLAZING battle action in a masterful DC ad, courtesy of Kubert (cover art) and Saladino (lettering on cover as well as ad). The word "BLAZING" seems genuinely on fire, even in black and white, the phrase "THRILL PACKED" looks jagged and truly packed with thrills, "GIANT" looks appropriately gigantic, and the final "EXPLOSIVE" looks edgy, exciting, and... explosive!


The Gaspar WAR Cloud!

The "TAG CLOUD," a popular internet gimmick, is a visual depiction of the word content of a web site. Words are represented in different sizes and fonts, indicating their relative presence on the site. DIAL B for BLOG has introduced a number of comic blogging innovations in the past, including Ani-Motion and TruScan -- now, it's time for ANOTHER bombastic blogging breakthrough! I, Robby Reed, author of this article and creator of this web site, proudly present... The Gaspar WAR Cloud!
THE END? Hell no! We’re out to immortalize Gaspar Saladino in 24 hours, and we’re just getting started! Watch for a new chapter of THE TREASURE KEEPER to be posted EVERY TWO HOURS for the next 24 hours, consecutively.

You read it correctly! I, Robby Reed, author of this article and creator of this web site, will not sleep until Gaspar Saladino takes his rightful place among the pantheon of comic book superstars!
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