September 1, 1926 |
Brooklyn, New York
|Area(s)||Letterer, logo designer|
|Pseudonym(s)||Gaspar, L.P. Gregory|
|Notable works||Numerous DC Comics and Marvel Comics logos
Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man
|Awards||Shazam Award, 1971, 1973|
Gaspar Saladino (born September 1, c. 1926, in Brooklyn, New York) is an award-winning letterer and logo designer who worked for over 50 years in the comic book industry, mostly for DC Comics. He has over 3,000 credits on the Grand Comics Database. Eventually Saladino went by one name, "Gaspar," which he wrote in his trademark calligraphy. Veteran award-winning comic book letterers Todd Klein, Tom Orzechowski, and Clem Robins all claim Saladino was the best letterer they ever saw.
From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, Saladino did the titles, lettering, and sound effects for all DC Comics covers. For a period in the 1970s, he was also "page-one letterer" for many Marvel Comics books. Saladino is widely celebrated for the distinctive lettering work he did for DC's Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Dave McKean), giving characters their own fonts, and lending the Joker's dialogue a wild, ink-spattered manic intensity.
Early life and education
Saladino was born in Brooklyn and went to Manhattan's High School of Industrial Arts, where he majored in cartooning. A number of Saladino's high school contemporaries also later went on to distinguished careers in the comics field, among them Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Joe Orlando, Jack Adler, and Alex Toth. While still in school, Saladino did some professional inking — mostly one-pagers — for Lloyd Jacquet's "Funnies, Inc."
After graduating from high school, Saladino was drafted into the U.S. Air Force, where he was stationed in Tokyo and worked with the Air Force's Airways and Air Communication Service.
Saladino's lettering career began in 1951 when he left the fashion industry, where he had worked as an illustrator. His first job was on Jimmy Wakely #9, a "cowboy romance" comic published by DC. He did much of the lettering for the humor strips of Henry Boltinoff in Action Comics. In the late 1950s and 1960s, Saladino was a mainstay on DC editor Julius Schwartz's books, like Strange Adventures, Mystery in Space, Justice League of America, The Flash, Showcase, and many more.
When Carmine Infantino came on as DC's editorial director in 1966/1967, Saladino was taken off interior lettering, and assigned the task of lettering virtually every cover DC published. This changed the whole line's look, from long-time cover letterer Ira Schnapp's sedate style to Saladino's more dynamic, organic look. All the same, during this period, Saladino lettered the interiors for the new title Swamp Thing. It was in the pages of Swamp Thing that Gaspar created the conceit of defining a character-designed lettering style, with Swamp Thing's distinctive outlined, "drippy" look.
Even though Saladino was in effect DC's house letterer, he was never on staff, and maintained his freelance career. In the late 1960s, while still working for DC, Saladino began freelancing for Marvel, using the pseudonym "L.P. Gregory" (possibly to avoid getting in trouble for working for both Marvel and DC simultaneously), lettering titles like Iron Man," The Avengers and Tales to Astonish.
In the mid-to-late 1970s Saladino became the uncredited "page-one letterer" for many Marvel Comics titles. For some reason during this time there was a shortage of qualified comic book letterers. Marvel was forced to hire some letterers who they felt were acceptable for lettering the captions and dialogue balloons of a normal interior page, but unable to do good "display lettering": the story title lettering and other special captions and credits that usually went on a story's first page. So the company began the practice of having Saladino letter opening pages whenever possible. The rest of the book was completed by one of the less-qualified letterers.
In 1976, perhaps reflecting his experience with both companies, Saladino was assigned the job of lettering the historic DC-Marvel crossover book Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man. He also lettered the oversize special issue Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. By 1977, Saladino was lettering most of DC's war comics, in addition to plenty of superhero and mystery stories.
In 1989, Saladino did his groundbreaking work on DC's Arkham Asylum. In the 1990s and into the early 2000s, Saladino worked mostly for DC and its Vertigo imprint, spending nine years as the regular letterer of The Flash, five years on L.E.G.I.O.N. and four on Hellblazer.
Saladino's output since 2002 has been minimal.
Saladino's default dialoguing style is curvy and naturally enmeshed with the artwork. His trademark is his big, bold exclamation marks, which he adopts for "effect. . . . They got attention and sales at the newsstand." Saladino always letters by hand, even in the era of computers, which he never uses. Likewise, his word balloons are done freehand, never with a template.
Whereas previous DC designer Ira Schnapp's house advertisements were known for their large blocks of stately text, Saladino's house ads employed the principle of "five words or less," with the words heavily stylized and frequent use of the exclamation point.
Gaspar used a sandblock to grind down and sharpen his pen nibs. The "Gaspar Stone," as it was known around comics circles, was an inch wide by three inches long, and consisted of several layers of sand-strip. "After the top piece wore out, you’d just peel it off and use the piece underneath."
Saladino designed the logos for DC's Swamp Thing, Phantom Stranger, Metal Men, Adam Strange, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Unknown Soldier, and Vigilante, among others. He also re-designed established character logos to make them more contemporary and stylish, such as with Green Lantern.
In 1974, with the launch of the short-lived publisher Atlas Comics, Saladino was hired to design logos for all the company's titles. He did the same thing in the 1980s for Neal Adams' Continuity Comics. During the 1980s, Saladino also designed the logos of some titles published by Eclipse Comics  and in the 1990s he designed product logos for the Lucky Mojo Curio Company, a metaphysical supply manufactory founded by Catherine Yronwode, the former editor-in-chief of Eclipse Comics.
Gaspar is married to a woman named Celeste. Together, they raised three children: Lisa, Peter, and Greg.
- Justice League of America (DC, 1962–1967)
- G.I. Combat (DC, 1979–1981)
- L.E.G.I.O.N. (DC, 1989–1994)
- Hellblazer (DC/Vertigo, 1990–1994)
- The Flash, vol. 2 (DC, 1993–2002)
- R.E.B.E.L.S. (DC, 1994–1996)
- Seekers Into the Mystery (DC/Vertigo, 1996–1997)
Saladino was recognized for his work with the Shazam Award for Best Letterer in 1971 and 1973.
- "Gaspar Saladino," ComicVine. Retrieved July 20, 2008.
- Kimball, Kirk. "Gaspar Saladino — The Natural," Dial B for Blog #489 (Sept.). Accessed May 18, 2011.
- Ancestry.com 1930 census records.
- Reed, Bill. "365 Reasons to Love Comics: #234," Comics Should be Good, Comic Book Resources (Aug. 22, 2007). Retrieved July 20, 2008.
- B.D.S. Interview with Gaspar Saladino in "Silver Age Sage," The Silver Lantern: A Tribute to the Silver Age of DC Comics (May 25, 2007). Retrieved July 18, 2008.
- Todd Klein, quoted in Bill Reed's "365 Reasons to Love Comics: #234," Comics Should be Good, Comic Book Resources (Aug. 22, 2007). Retrieved July 20, 2008.
- Kimball, Kirk. "Gaspar Saladino — Saga of the Swamp Thing," Dial B for Blog #496 (June). Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Mark Evanier quoted in Brian Cronin’s "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed" #66, Comic Book Resources (Aug. 21, 2006). Retrieved July 20, 2008.
- Gaspar Saladino at the Grand Comics Database Retrieved August 31, 2008.
- Kimball, Kirk. "Gaspar Saladino — A New Star on the DC Horizon," Dial B for Blog #490 (Sept.). Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Kimball, Kirk. "Gaspar Saladino — The Sword in the Stone!," Dial B for Blog #491 (Sept.). Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Kimball, Kirk. "Gaspar Saladino — Signs of the Times," Dial B for Blog #495 (Sept.). Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Kimball, Kirk. "Gaspar Saladino — Atlas Shrugged!" Dial B for Blog #497 (Sept.). Accessed May 19, 2011.