Mail Model

Bully the little stuffed bull, with help from his friend John DiBello, ran a DC subscription ad from 1972 the other day on his blog Comics Oughta Be Fun! as part of the 365 Days of DC House Ads feature.

'Sorry -- I Have No More DC Comics!' / Kids discuss subscribing by mail after newsagent tells them he's out of DC
Ad © 1971 DC Comics, f.k.a. National Periodical Publications. [enlarge]

I wasn’t quite reading comics at fourteen months old in December 1971, when the
issue from which this ad was taken — Batman #239, cover-dated February 1972 — was published. But I’ve seen it in back issues acquired since then and I know that it was repurposed, directly as well as in concept, over time.

For some reason, even before I’d begun visiting direct-market comics shops, I never subscribed to comics by mail. I saw the house ads, like I did the ads offering catalogs from back-issue dealers, yet my only subscription as a kid was a brief one to Marvel’s entertainment mag Pizzazz. Maybe I enjoyed browsing the spinner racks too much, or maybe I didn’t want to commit to a year’s worth of a whole series. Honestly, though, I just don’t remember seriously considering the idea; my parents surely would’ve been open to a sub as a birthday gift.

Bully surmises that this ad was penciled by Carmine Infantino. Infantino, now 87, famously drew The Flash, Batman, and more for DC in the 1960s, becoming its chief cover designer, then art director, editorial director, and in 1971 its publisher — highlights from an active career that spanned nearly five decades. As I told Bully, I’m sure that Infantino provided at least layouts or rough pencils for the piece; the whole first panel, that curly-haired kid, and the distant city skyline are all indicative of his work. Tommy’s face, however, suggests to me that either another penciler finished Infantino’s breakdowns and went heaviest on Tommy or that whoever inked it was directed to do the same.

Bully’s suggestion of Dick Giordano as inker has me less certain. He’s a likely circumstantial suspect, and he could be versatile, but it doesn’t definitively look like his work to me. Based on the prettiness of both Tommy and the silent girl I wonder if the inker isn’t maybe Bob Oksner.

One thing that’s for sure is the distinctive lettering of stalwart Gaspar Saladino, DC’s go-to letterer for covers and house ads in this era following the long tenure of Ira Schnapp. His work was frequently paired with Infantino’s cover layouts — as well as Infantino’s interior pencils on material edited by Julius Schwartz, from The Flash to Mystery in Space to Strange Sports Stories. Saladino, now 86, who signed his work simply “Gaspar” once letterers were finally credited, also created notable logos for DC and Marvel. Gaspar’s work was of such quality that for much of the 1970s, after the departure of its signature letterers Artie Simek and Sam Rosen, Marvel had Saladino letter the first page of many stories across many series, uncredited, to ensure solid display lettering on story titles.

The brain trust on the Grand Comics Database mailing list can zero in on exact credits for this ad if anyone can. I’ll report pertinent info back to Bully and here too.

Update from a day later: The verdict of a couple of folks on the list whose art-spotting abilities I respect say Giordano inked over Infantino, based on his romance work, and the more I’ve looked at it I’ve been coming around to the same opinion.

Related: Who’s Zoomin’ Who Gaspar Saladino
The Weird Worlds of Schwartz


  1. That sure takes me back. Heck, any Gaspar lettering takes me back; like you, though, early-mid '70s is my sweet spot.

    You're probably a better art spotter than I, but to my eyes that could easily be Giordano.


  2. I just updated the post to add some GCD eyes' votes for Giordano. Like I said, he could be versatile, and I've been suspecting that maybe Bully was right about him after all based on his more flowery romance work, although I realize it's gonna sound like a convenient change of heart to match the experts' opinions.

  3. So colors aside but letters included the art is Infantino/Giordano/Saladino. Love it!

  4. How am I to stomach a conversation where someone could think, even for one minute, that that's Giordano's lettering?

    And before you zap me with your phasers or whatever, let me say this:


  5. I realize it's gonna sound like a convenient change of heart to match the experts' opinions.

    You're one of the experts, Blam, as far as I'm concerned.
    I'll just ignore Joan.

  6. Honestly, though, I don't remember ever seriously considering the idea; my parents surely would've been open to a sub as a birthday gift.

    I'm in the same boat. I'm pretty sure I never seriously considered buying a subscription to a comic because it was a lot of money up front for delayed gain. Yeah, that $10 or whatever would buy me 12 comics over the course of a year, but it could also buy me 9 comics RIGHT NOW, and, well, I was a pretty "instant gratification" kind of kid.

    Maybe that's the same reason I never asked for a subscription as a gift - it's hard to wrap, and then you're not actually "getting" anything for your birthday for another month or two...

    Thanks for reminding me about Bully's blog, too. I used to go there more regularly, but like many blogs, it's fallen down my reading list of late. But I really need an effort to check it out more regularly, cuz he's got some great stuff.

  7. I never got a sub, either. The delayed gratification may indeed have been a big part of why. I'm also pretty sure that I just didn't trust the mail, condition-wise, and preferred to scan the racks at the drug store or, later, the comics shop (where I could subscribe via pull list by high school) for the sheer fun of it.

    Dunno if you're done tinkering, by the way, Blam, but I wanted to say that I really dig the latest logo redesign. The main lettering looks even tighter, brighter, and as LK might say more lickable than ever.


  8. @Arben, @Teebore — I'm beginning to think (semi-remember, even) that instant vs. delayed gratification was a part of it.

    @Joan — ...