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THE TREASURE KEEPER - PART TWO OF TWELVE
A NEW STAR ON THE DC HORIZON

Marvel comics was giving DC its first serious competition in years, and making DC’s line look outdated in the process. So when popular Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko suddenly quit Marvel following various business and creative disputes, the entire industry was shocked. Ditko went over to DC, and began penciling several brand new titles for the company, featuring new characters.

Pictured above is a Gaspar Saladino-designed ad promoting Steve Ditko's CREEPER as “A New Star on The DC Horizon” (words which apply equally to Gaspar himself), and seen below is Gaspar's electrifying ad for Ditko's Hawk and Dove.

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Jack Adler colored all of DC’s covers at this time, and Saladino lettered most of them. The two worked well together, and had known each other since high school. “Gaspar is a great letterXer and a close friend,” Adler once said.

Doing covers meant Saladino was no longer confined to the cramped spaces of comic interiors. He now had a huge new canvas on which to display his ability to transform mere words into explosive, emotion-packed blurbs. In recognition of his abilities, Infantino gave Saladino complete freedom to design cover blurbs and lettering as he wished. He was often given type-free artwork. He designed the blurbs and balloons, placing them where he saw fit.

Pictured below is the original artwork for the cover of Action Comics #358, January 1968 (the printed cover is shown right). It show that Gaspar did his lettering on a piece of vellum, which was then photostated. The stat was then cut out by hand and rubber-cemented in place. New lines were drawn to fill in any gaps. New lines on the bottom of the "Action" logo box are visible under the word "guilty".

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Pictured below is the original art for Brave and Bold #97, August 1971, side by side with the final printed cover by Nick Cardy, lettered by Gaspar!
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GASPAR SALADINO: "THE BEST THERE EVER WAS!"

According to Clem Robins, a 2004 Harvey Award Nominee for his lettering on DC/ Vertigo's’s 100 BULLETS series, Robins has also recieved a 2007 Eisner nomina tion, anda 2000 Wizard nomination. "I never win any of these damn things," Clem jokes, "But I do get nominated." Gaspar and Clem are pictured below at a 2004 party at Klaus Janson's house.

“Working on top of pencil art had some wonderful benefits," Robins says, "At DC, pencilers were required to rough Xin balloons and sound effects. Some of them were quite good at it, and letterers took their cues from the pencillers. If you look at some old Silver Age DC books, it's interesting to see the difference between the work of a first-rate letterer, like Gaspar, on different pencillers. Gaspar is the best there ever was! Every letterer works in Gaspar's shadow. His stuff looked different on Joe Kubert, or Gil Kane, or Carmine Infantino, or Mike Sekowski, or Bruno Premiani. Sound effects looked different, balloon shapes looked different, the sense of pace and layout was different. This made the letterer much more the servant of the penciler. I think this was as it should be. I miss it, but you can't turn back the clock.”

BELOW: Two key Silver Age splash pages lettered by Gaspar, "Menace of the Matter Master" from Brave and Bold #35, art by Joe Kubert; and the history-making "Flash of Two Worlds" from Flash #123, art by Carmine Infantino.

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"Carte blanche with sound effects and placement"

Saladino loved lettering covers, and enjoyed the creative control he was given in doing them. “It allowed me some artistic expression that the interiors lacked,” he says. “I had carte blanche with sound effects and placement. There weren't many egos to deal with, and it was Xa very collaborative effort.”

Of all the greats he worked with, Gaspar has a special regard for Alex Toth. "Alex had such a visual brain, he could sit down and sketch out a page, he knew from the beginning exactly how it was going to go. Gil Kane was Xthe same way. They were all like that back then. Alex, Gil, Joe Kubert and Neal Adams -- they all had very keen minds, but Alex Toth was really ahead of his time. While the rest of us were riding around in Chevys, Alex had a Studebaker! What a beautiful car!"

Below is a selection of late 1960s DC house ads for titles ranging from "The Flash" and the original "Secret Six" to "Sugar & Spike" and "Love Stories." The lettering on the COVERS featured in the ads, as well as the ADS themselves, was all done by Gaspar Saladino:

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The Gaspar SCI-FI 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. In our last installment, we debuted the Gaspar WAR Cloud -- now, it's time for The Gaspar SCI-FI Cloud!
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GasparThe ads and covers shown here, and thousands more like them, cemented Gaspar Saladino’s position as Ira Schnapp’s heir apparent. And in the coming years, Saladino would come to be regarded by many of his peers as “the letterer’s letterer!”

A torch had been passed! A legacy had been assumed! And the gold and silver treasure stored up by The Visionary was infused with the rebellious spirit of a new generation and preserved for all time by a NEW star on the DC horizon… GASPAR SALADINO!

NEXT: Gaspar’s electrifying ads sell DC comics using just...

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