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GasparTHE TREASURE KEEPER - PART SIX OF TWELVE
DIANA'S MEMORY ALBUM

Ace DC letterer Gaspar Saladino had been there the day Superman shouted “Kryptonite Nevermore!” He had watched Batman’s eerie transformation from smiling daytime Gasparpatrolman to dark creature of the night. Now, Saladino would add his distinctive touch to the modernization of the amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman!

Like most of DC’s superheroes in the early Seventies, Wonder Woman was facing a popularity crisis. At a time when Superman’s red and blue uniform seemed a bit out of date, WW’s star-spangled bathing suit looked positively antiquated. It was as if time had passed her by completely… and there was a REASON for that.

“I was the sole editor and writer of Wonder Woman for 22 years,” Robert Kanigher once told Alter Ego magazine. During Kanigher’s tenure, he was completely unaware of what the rest of the comic world was doing: “I never read or saw a comic book. Even after I began writing them, I never looked at them. Once I proofed a book of mine, I never looked at it. Or anything that anybody else was doing.”

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Kanigher’s insular approach sufficed for more than two decades, but if you don’t keep up with the times, they’re eventually going to pass you by. In 1972, WW was in huge trouble. "Sales were so bad,” Mike Sekowsky recalls,”That the book was going to be dropped.” SUFFERING SAPPHO! Changes had to be made.
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First change: Jack Miller was appointed as the title’s new editor, with Denny O’Neil as writer and Mike Sekowsky (later Don Heck) and Dick Giordano as the art team. Soon, Sekowsky took over editing the book as well as plotting, writing and drawing it -- taking Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince in a radical new direction. Here's the ad, by Gaspar:
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First job: kill off WW’s long-suffering boyfriend, Steve Trevor. "Frankly he was just too dumb and boring for the new Wonder Woman," Sekowsky confessed. He viewed the star-spangled version of WW as “dowdy, grim, short, fat, square, frumpy.” And Sekowsky should know – - he drew Wonder Woman in "Justice League of America" for many years. HOLA!

So the Amazing Amazon lost her Amazon powers, and became a globe-trotting, white jumpsuit-wearing, Diana Rigg-like adventurer. And Gaspar Saladino was there to provide the lettering that gave WW a dynamic new look.

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Gaspar and his wife Celeste have two grown children, Greg and Lisa. "Years ago, my daughter Lisa worked in the DC production department for a short while," Gaspar recalls, "If they wanted a cover lettered overnight, they’d give her the copy (words) that needed to be lettered, with a xerox of the artwork, and she’d bring it home to me. I’d do all the lettering on a piece of vellum, and she brought back to the DC offices the next morning. It worked very well for the short time she was at DC."

Below is a Saladino-designed house ad promoting the new WW to girls:
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Veteran Letterer TODD KLEIN recalls, "Gaspar usually accepted any assignment, even if it had an impossible deadline. Sometimes, when Gaspar missed one of those impossible deadlines, he'd give Lisa a note to deliver, explaining that he'd have the work in a few days. Those notes were written in Gaspar's beautiful handwriting, and they were so attractive, we never had the heart to say anything about the deadlines!"

BELOW:
DC tried to interest female readers by cross-promoting the NEW Wonder Woman and the OLD Lois Lane in this ad by Gaspar (Lois Lane cover lettered by Ira Schnapp):
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XTHE GASPAR LOVE 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 shown you the Gaspar WAR Cloud, and the SCI-FI Cloud -- now, it's time for... The Gaspar LOVE Cloud!
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Diana Prince also teamed up with Batman in Brave and Bold (several times), and DC tried to entice adventurous Supergirl fans into trying out the new WW. Here's the Gasparian in-house ad featuring DANGER and THRILLS:
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The O’Neil/Sekowsky version of Wonder Woman lasted 26 issues (Sept. 1968 - Jan. 1973), and saved DC from the embarrassment of having to cancel one of their flagship titles. Meanwhile, Diana's younger counterpart, WONDER GIRL, aka "Wonder Chick," was a VERY popular member of the mostly-male TEEN TITANS!

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Wonder WOMAN lost her star-spangled uniform, but Wonder GIRL got a sexy NEW outfit! Here’s how it looked, drawn by Nick Cardy and lettered by (who else) Gaspar!
Imitating her older counterpart, Wonder Girl also underwent some radical changes (along with the rest of her fellow TEEN TITANS), and (sadly) gave up her beautiful new red costume for a dull gray jumpsuit.

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Here's a classic Gaspar cover blurb, further enhancing an eye-catching and memorable cover painting by Jeff Jones:
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Below is a classic example of Gaspar's evocative cover blurbage, this time mixing standard block printing with Asian-style lettering to promote an appearance by new WW's wise Oriental sidekick/ mentor, the incredible I-Ching!
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Yes, the times were definitely changing -– Gaspar had created a swinging new logo for the revamped Wonder Woman and her incredible mentor, I-Ching... but what about the REST of the DC universe?
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NEXT: A truckload of new titles requires a truckload of new logos! But THIS time, they would have to look as hip and groovy as the current restless generation of comic book buyers. Who would tackle this daunting task? One guess! Don't miss...


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