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GasparTHE TREASURE KEEPER - PART FOUR OF TWELVE
The SWORD In The STONE!

For years, pros have whispered that the legendary source of Saladino’s gigantic talent was something called the “Gaspar Stone.” What does this mean? Where did this legend come from? How could anyone possibly get their talent from a STONE? It's time to reveal all!

Designer Richard Starkings explains: “Gaspar had a stone on which he would grind down the nibs he used for lettering, and so create the perfect point for his line. Todd Klein, Bill Oakley and others who seek to letter in his style have been described as ‘kissing the Gaspar Stone.’

The legend is true! "I did keep a stone on my desk," Gaspar says, "A sandblock, actually, and I used to sharpen the point of my pen on it. The stone consisted of several layers of Gasparsand-strip. It was an inch wide by about three inches long. After the top piece wore out, you’d just peel it off and use the piece underneath."

Excalibur, the famous sword of legend, was once embedded in a stone! Anyone could try to remove it, but only the future King would succeed. The legendary Gaspar Stone was the same! Anyone could sharpen a pen upon it, but then they withdrew a mere sharpened pen. Gaspar alone withdrew a SWORD! And with that enchanted sword, he fashioned a bold new lettering style that came to define DC comics at middle age.

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SWORD and SORCERY!

One of DC’s boldest new heroes was the murdered circus performer who lives again as DEADMAN! The unlikelihood of such a character getting his own series was summed up by Neal Adams. In his preface to the Deadman hardcover volume, Adams warned, “The guy is dead. He talks to semi-eastern gods.”

So how did the character come abo ut? According to Deadman co-creator Arnold Drake, “One wind blowing in the Sixties was from the East: the search for enlightenment via Eastern mysticism.”

How did the mystical Deadman feel when his circus-strongman pal “Tiny” once got seriously injured? Here’s the high-impact answer in a DC house ad designed by Saladino, whose lovingly-rendered words were worth 1,000 pictures!

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Gaspar had a lot of fun with his mystery-comic work, using a scratchy, spooky style of lettering that foreshadowed his later designs for  "Arkham Asylum," (which we'll cover later in this series). He worked on the mystery titles with his old pal Joe Orlando (pictured left).

"Joe was the editor of DC’s mystery line," Gaspar says, "And DC gave him complete freedom with that stuff. He revamped the whole line, and I did new logos on most of the books for Joe, and lettered the covers. We had known each other since high school, and we knew exactly where we wanted to go with them." BELOW:
Imagine thrills, chills and (heh, heh) a few more Gaspar MYSTERY ads...
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DC's heroes -- both future and present -- also got into the supernatural act. From Adventure Comics #369, here's the Legion versus super-sorcerer Mordru, cover by Neal Adams and Gaspar:
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The Justice League of America took to having midnight seances in spooky graveyards, and emphasizing their supernatural cast members, both friend and foe alike!
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According to Mark Evanier, “Artists used to beg to have Gaspar assigned to their pages. His work is crisp and filled with personality, and is sometimes the most artistic thing on the pages it adorns. Many of the newer letterers have clearly based their own approaches on the fine calligraphy of Mr. Saladino.”

BELOW: Super heroes? Big deal! In a JLA story written by Denny O'Neil, cover by Joe Kubert, lettered by Gaspar, seen below), magic gave a KID super powers to match the even the JLA teamed with the JSA!
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Enter the gateway to other worlds with Strange Adventures, Neal Adams, Gaspar Saladino and Adam Strange... sorcerer?!?! Holy Zeta beam!
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Here's the Gaspar-lettered cover for Sword of Sorcery #1 drawn by Mike Kaluta...
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...and here's a Gasparian in-house ad for the futuristic yet retro swordsman IRON WOLF, created by Howard Chaykin and featured in DC's Weird Worlds comic book, strangely touted here as "much MORE than a comic book." I guess it was a lifestyle.
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The Gaspar MYSTERY 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. We've previously shown you the WAR and SCI-FI Clouds -- now, keeping with our sword and SORCERY theme, it's time for The Gaspar MYSTERY Cloud!
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XGaspar and Gil!

Saladino worked with ALL the greats, but he was especially fond of one artist in particular, a well-known comic veteran who had started in the business when he was just 16 years old.

Born in Latvia, his given name was Eli Katz. “He could break down a story in 10 minutes for a rough,” Saladino recalls. Comic fans may be more familiar with Eli Katz’ adopted name: Gil Kane.

“I worked with a lot of wonderful people,” Saladino says, “but I was especially fond of Gil Kane. We lived in the same borough, Brooklyn.” BELOW: An eye-catching Green Lantern house ad designed by Saladino and featuring Gil Kane's definitive version of the Emerald Warrior.

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The in-house ad below features a new GL logo, which was designed by Saladino. DC surely got their money’s worth out of THIS particular ad! It was reused SO many times (with different covers in the middle) it became almost numbing. MORE for your money.. and BETTER!
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Saladino knew Kane well. "Gil and I were friendly from school onward. I met his girlfriend, she became his wife, and I was an usher at his wedding. Gil’s page layouts were absolutely great. He was an exceptional master at layouts. He could just sit down and do a page layout instantly. "

Seen below is the original art for Gil Kane's Green Lantern poster, featuring a "signature" supposedly by the Emerald Crusader himself, but actually by Gaspar!
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There was only room for ONE top comic company, and DC, quickly losing ground to Marvel, was desperate to get back on the winning track. A rebellious new generation was shaking the "Establishment” to its core, and Superman -- who had worked long and hard to turn himself into a SYMBOL of the hated “Establishment” -- found he had SUCCEEDED, but in so doing, he had become his own worst enemy.
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Superman was a prisoner of his own respectability! BUMMER! His stodgy image was damaging sales of his once best-selling title, and killing his friends' comics as well. There was only one solution...
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NEXT: A new year brings a new beginning for Superman! But it also brings... war, campus riots, and a Presidential resignation! Can the DC Universe endure? Look! Up in the sky...


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