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GasparTHE TREASURE KEEPER - PART TEN OF TWELVE
Gaspar THE FRIENDLY GHOST!

We’ve been concentrating on Gaspar Saladino’s DC work, however, he also worked extensively for Marvel comics doing splash pages and covers –- but to my knowledge, he NEVER received printed credit for his work there!

As Todd Klein recalls, “For a while in the 1970s-1980s, Gaspar would letter just the title pages for many of Marvel's books. You can tell which ones easily by looking at them. The lettering is much different, and usually not as good, on the rest of the book.”

Clem Robins adds, "I was 21 when I began working for Marvel, and it was almost six months before they allowed me to do any splash pages. My first Marvel story was an issue of Human Fly. If you saw Gaspar's splash next to one of my interior pages, you would have a textbook example of why they didn't let us new guys do splashes. But my title work has improved slightly in the past thirty years, or at least I think it has."

Gaspar the Friendly Ghost's Marvel work was NOT limited to splash pages -- he also lettered numerous COVERS for Marvel, several of them milestone issues introducing new characters who would prove hugely popular!

GasparGaspar's Marvel Milestones

As DC Comic's premiere lettering designer during the Seventies, Gaspar was present for most of the companies' historic moments. Saladino lettered Green Lantern #76, where Green Arrow shattered GL's power battery with a single arrow; he had ringside seats to the fight of the century between Superman and Muhammad Ali, and he stood watching from the shadows of the ground-breaking Arkham Asylum.

But few people are aware that Gaspar, a freelancer who worked for many different companies, also lettered more Gasparthan his share of MARVEL milestones.

Saladino is pictured right holding a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #129, a landmark issue because it featured the introduction of The Punisher, who went on to star in a moderately successful feature film (starring Thomas Jane, pictured left).
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Here's Marvel Feature #1 featuring the origin of the Defenders, cover by Neal Adams, lettered by Gaspar The Friendly Ghost!
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The Incredible Hulk #181, cover lettered by Gaspar, featured the introduction of a new character. Although he's extremely obscure, you just might possibly have heard of him. His name is Wolverine.
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Wolverine eventually joined a very obscure superhero team that almost no one has heard of. They debuted on the Dave Cockrum cover seen below, which was lettered by Gaspar. The team is known as The X-Men.
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Speaking of the X-Men, here's the original art for Neal Adams' unpublished cover of X-Men #56 (original series). Gaspar did the beautiful perspective-perfect lettering, a perfect echo of the book's logo. But it was decided that the figures obscured the logo, so a new cover was done, and this one never saw print.
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BELOW: Splash page of Avengers #138, (August 1975), credited to Charlotte J., but actually lettered by Saladino.
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Captain America #195’s title page says D. Bruce Berry lettered the story -- and he did, but just its interior. Gaspar Saladino lettered the splash page (pictured below)! Gaspar's distinctive handwriting/ lettering is clearly visible in the name Falcon.
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Why did Marvel hire Saladino as a ghost letterer? “There was a letterer shortage,” Mark Evanier recalls, “and Marvel was using a couple of folks who were okay for Xlettering the balloons but (it was felt) unable to do good story-title lettering or the other special captions and credits that usually go on the first page of a story. So the company began the practice of having Saladino letter opening pages whenever possible. The idea was that the rest of the job would go to one of those letterers who wasn’t, they felt, as strong at display lettering.”

Pictured below is the splash page of Iron Man #75 (June 1975). The lettering is credited to Karen Mantlo, but she actually lettered only the story’s interior. Again, Saladino ghosted the story’s splash page, pictured below:

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After leaving Marvel to do "New Gods" et al for DC, King Kirby later returned to Marvel, "greater than ever," and an uncredited Gaspar Saladino was there to help announce it to the world on the cover of Captain America #193 (January 1976)!



Gaspar lettered the cover of the Fantastic Four's landmark 200th issue -- the team's much-ballyhooed 17th Annive rsary spectacular! (The one where Doctor Doom sees his unmasked face reflected in a thousand mirrors and goes stark raving mad.)

The Unicorn and the Red Ghost in battle again, in Iron Man #15, drawn by George Tuska and lettered by Gaspar, complete with distinctive exclamation point!
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Shellhead's "Double-Sized 150th Anniversary Issue" cover by Gaspar, with a little help from longtime Iron Man artist Bob Layton. And naturally, there's that distinctive exclamation point again!

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Not many people are aware that Gaspar did the logo and cover lettering for ANGEL LOVE, a DC mini-series starring hip teen characters created by Barbara Slate.
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Mad #147, "NO! Remember, Mad said it first!" and Mad #328, featuring a "Love Connection" spoof by Mort Drucker, both lettered, uncredited, by Saladino:
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Did an uncredited Gaspar letter the covers of the first few issues of Marvel's Kool-Aid Man promotional comics? OH YEAAHH! And here they are:
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NEXT: Superman battles Spider-Man and Muhammad Ali, the Teen Titans meet Wolfman and Perez, and I bet you can guess who's there to letter it all -- PLUS... You have to SEE it to BELIEVE it ... "THE GASPAR HERO CLOUD!" It all happens...


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