Image © DC Comics.

I know I’m far behind on a title when the cover date is September and this is December! When I get to it, I’m enjoying the antagonistic pairing of Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, the two newest Green Lanterns of Earth, trying to cope with powers they don’t understand yet and situations way over their heads. Atrocitus and his Red Lanterns have invaded Earth and are setting it up as a new home base for Rage, infecting lots of Earth citizens in the process. Simon, a bit further along in his learning curve, confronts Bleez, the Red Lantern, and actually brings her out of the Rage for a while. Meanwhile someone unusual has appeared at Simon’s home. Jessica is frustrated by her inability to get the results she wants from her power ring. This leads to bad things for everyone.



Image © DC Comics.

Just arrived is this two-book slipcased set, each book measuring 12.5 by 8.25 inches. This often-reprinted story ran originally as four issues of the monthly BATMAN comic (see example above right), in 1986-87.

Book One of this set is an excellent oversized reprint of the collected story with blue-line painted color by Richmond Lewis. I approve of it in every way. Lots of extra material including new forewords by editor Denny O’Neil and writer Frank Miller, and drawn afterword and comments by artist David Mazzucchelli, plus house ads, cover art, etc.

Book Two attempts to recreate the original newsprint comics version of the original issues larger, but in my opinion fails completely. The covers, on glossy stock, look great. The rest is on newsprint and each page is scanned from copies of the original comics. The result is mushy blacks (with four colors of ink dots in them) rather than the crisp, if grayed down, blacks of the original printings. The colors may be somewhat close to those seen in the original comics (and different from the ones in Book One), but the newsprint paper color is also in the scans, and the original large dot color separations are now mushy small dot separations that blur everything. The right way to do this would have been to reprint the original four-color separations on newsprint. Possibly they no longer exist, I don’t know, but this version is not very much like the original comics. Frankly, I hate it, and think it makes everyone involved look bad. The one saving grace of Book Two is the inclusion of every Miller script page and every Mazzucchelli pencilled layout, as well as some inked pages.

The suggested retail price for this box set is $125. I hope at some point DC will consider offering the contents of Book One with the added material from Book Two in a single volume. That one would be welcome on my own bookshelf.



This and all images © Marvel.

Continuing my ongoing series about the cover lettering of Danny Crespi at Marvel Comics, mostly from 1974-1978. Photocopies of saved cover lettering from Danny’s files were compiled into a collection by letterer and friend Phil Felix during the 1980s when he worked with Danny on staff at Marvel, and Phil sent me copies. This time I’ll look at pages 33 to 36.  Page 33, above, has many characteristic style points of Danny’s own work on covers, including thick caption borders that extend past the corners (those extensions were trimmed off when photostatted and pasted on the cover art), generally bouncy and somewhat rounded open letters, an upturned right leg on the open R in “Deathcry,” and very wide standard lettering, as seen here on “The menace of the.” Uses of these captions are below. Continue reading

Title and Cover Design for Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE


Illustration © Robert McGinnis.

Continuing my series on these covers, this is the fourth and last of the group I worked on this year. Links to the other articles will be at the end.

On June 28th, 2016 I received the image above from Harper-Collins, the raw scan of the cover painting for “Neverwhere” by illustration legend Robert McGinnis, who is still painting at 90 after a long and celebrated career on paperback covers, movie posters and related media images. Neil had this to say on an approach to the title and type design: “I think probably Gothic. ‘Secret House of Forbidden Danger’ kind of thing.” Continue reading

No More Klein Overlays

overlaysWhen I began lettering comics in 1977, nearly every interior page was lettered on pencilled original art. Cover lettering was done on separate paper, then photostatted and pasted on the cover art along with all the other trade dress.

Some time in the 1980s, art began to be lettered on vellum overlays at least some of the time. There were two main reasons for this. One, if it was painted art, there was no other option. Two, if the artist was running late (very common), the lettering could be done on vellum laid over photocopies of the pencilled art, allowing the lettering and the inking to be done at the same time. When the DC Production department had the finished art and the lettering overlays, they would photostat the lettering and paste it onto the art. This became more and more common as time went on. Originally a premium was paid for lettering on overlays, possibly as a way to discourage editors from doing it by adding extra cost to their budget, but that went by the wayside over time. By the early 1990s I would say at least half of my lettering was on overlays.

In the early years of overlay lettering, when asked if I wanted my lettering vellums back, I would say, “No, just throw them away.” Some time around 1993 I decided to start accepting them back as art returns with the idea that I could sell them at conventions or by mail. Over the next ten years or so I accumulated several thousand pages of these lettering overlays, and did sell some from time to time, though they were never in any kind of demand.

When the switch came to digital lettering, of course, hand-lettering on either original art or overlays declined, and I think the last ones I received were from around 2003. And I never made a point of asking for them, but if someone decided to return them to me, I’d take them.

When I launched my website in 2007, one of the categories on my BUY STUFF page was vellum overlays, in lots of 5 or 10 pages. Originally there were about a dozen titles offered, plus grab-bags of miscellaneous items. They sold steadily. As of yesterday I was down to two titles. Today I received a large order for these overlays that essentially wipes out my remaining stock. A few examples from DEATHBLOW #11 (cover dated Dec. 1994) are above. They’ll go out to the buyer Monday, and vellum overlays will no longer be offered on my website. End of an era!