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GasparTHE TREASURE KEEPER - PART THREE OF TWELVE
FIVE WORDS OR LESS

The Treasure stored up by Visionary designer Ira Schnapp had been passed down to the new star on the DC horizon: GASPAR SALADINO! Saladino was destined to bring DC’s aging design ethic into a rebellious new era.

Which letters are the hardest to write? According to veteran letterer Tom Orzechowski (pictured below), "The letter “X” is the toughest. Seriously. I‘ve probably drawn “X” more often than anyone in the history of written language, and Gasparhalf of them were lousy. After that, numeral “8” is the one that will give you nightmares. Letters “J,” “R” and “S” will show the most variety. I’d bet money I spotted the letterer on the ‘40s stories in the Black Canary Archive by his “J”s. I’m sure it was Gaspar Saladino."

Hopefully Orz didn't actually bet any money on this, because Gaspar confirmed to me that he never worked on the Black Canary series! Sorry Tom. Gaspar's distinctive J's can't be found in Black Canary, but they CAN be found in most of the hundreds of in-house ads he did for DC.

Ads by Ira Schnapp tended to be stuffed full of dynamic copy which set scenes, and posed questions. Their goal was to arouse a reader’s curiosity. Saladino tackled his share of this kind of ad, including THIS copy-jammed promo for Tomahawk (55 words!):

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"GASPAR MADE EVERYBODY LOOK GREAT!"

Veteran letterer Todd Klein (pictured right) observes that “Schnapp was more conservative, with classic letter-forms and design ideas from showcard lettering and the art deco era. Gaspar's work is full of creative touches, design flair and energy.”

Designer/ letterer Richard Starkings, pictured below left, calls Saladino “the Xmaster and originator of the more elaborate DC style of lettering.”

According to letterer Clem Robins (pictured below right), a 2004 Harvey Award Nominee for his work on DC/Vertigo’s 100 BULLETS series, “We're supposed to be overlooked. That's the whole point. Stay in the background, and let the artists andwriters take center stage. There was a difference betw een Gaspar Saladino's Xwork and everybody else's, and it wasn't subtle. He made everybody look great, and yet he still stayed in the background.”

How did Saladino go about creating DC's in-house advertising and cover lettering? “They'd give me the copy," Gaspar says, "And sometimes I would get xeroxes of the penciled cover art. They left the style of the type and placement of the balloons to my discretion. I’d do a rough, and show it to Sol Harrison. Then, after I got Sol's approval, I’d finish the ad. It wasn’t a complicated process, and it was all done in a day. No ad or cover ever took longer than one day to finish.”

BELOW: This unpublished Neal Adams Deadman cover gives an idea of what Saladino usually had to work with when lettering: A penciled cover sketch with a roughly placed balloon indicating the words he was to letter. Gaspar did the rest!

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WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

Many of the ads created by Saladino consist of little more than a few powerful words. So basically, he was given a xerox of the cover of the book being advertised, along with a note which said as little as "FOR THRILLS!" and he did the rest, designing the ad from start to finish, rendering his own designs completely by hand with just a Speedball pen. Saladino rarely if ever left out his favorite piece of punctuation, the exclamation point! His goal was to make readers feel the raw emotion described by each word.

If you’re thinking that very little can be done with just a few words, you’ve never seen an ad designed by Gaspar Saladino. Here's a collection of DC house ads Gaspar Saladino brought to life by adding just five words... or LESS!

FIVE WORDS!
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FOUR WORDS!


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THREE WORDS!
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TWO WORDS!
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ONE WORD!
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NEXT: Legend says a young boy once pulled a sword from a rock, signifying he was destined to become a KING! In the comic book version of this story, the sword is a pen, and the rock is known as… The Gaspar Stone! NEXT: Discover the real truth behind one of comicdom’s greatest secret legends...



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