When comic book fans are asked to name the creative giants of the industry, a laundry list of renowned artists, writers, and editors is dutifully rattled off. However, missing from the standard "pantheon" of comic book greats are the other professionals whose important and memorable contributions are often overlooked.
One of these unsung collaborators is the comic book letterer, whose masterful typography and calligraphy skills bring clarity, drama, and excitement to the comic book experience. As a designer as well as an illustrator, I can't emphasize enough how challenging it can be working with letter forms and their ability to evoke subtle emotions...especially in the age before computers and ready-made fonts. Trust me, these guys were craftsmen in the truest sense.
Happily, the awareness of comic book letterers is slowly beginning to improve. Thanks to the efforts of my pal Robby Reed of the amazing Dial B for Blog, the great comic book letterers are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Robby's first look at these behind-the-scenes designers focused on Ira Schnapp, whose work graced DC Comics from the 1930's through the 1960's (including the famous logo of Action Comics). Now, as a sequel of sorts to his 10-part Schnapp series, Robbie takes a fascinating look at Schnapp's successor, Gaspar Saladino...who (at least to me) went on to become a sort of "Jack Kirby" of comic book lettering/type design.
Though his name isn't one you'll immediately recognize, chances are you've seen some of his incredible body of work. Spanning three decades, several comic book publishers, and countless covers, interiors, and house ads, Saladino's inventive and bombastic lettering was a major presence in the comics of my youth:
You owe it to yourself (and, better yet, to Gaspar) to check out The Treasure Keeper, Robby's 12-part story of Saladino (whose first name means "Treasure Keeper"). I was simply blown away by how much of Gaspar's work I recognized from all my years of reading and collecting comics, and I'm sure you will be, too. As with everything Robby does, it includes a staggering amount of research, visuals, and even an interview with legendary letterer himself!
Well done, Robby...and take a bow, Gaspar! Your contributions to the comic book art form will always be fondly remembered.