Cover art © Martin Hargreaves.

In the aftermath of 9-11, three children living in New York City: Susan, Charles and Murray Oakenfeld, are sent to live with an uncle in Canada who they’ve never met. Uncle Farley’s new home there is a very unusual one shaped like a large ship, and not long after the children arrive there, it proves to be one, a magical ship that embarks with them on a voyage on the Sea of Time. Fortunately, the ship seems to provide all the needs of the children and their uncle. Unfortunately, Uncle Farley does not know how to steer or direct the ship, and he’s nearly as clueless about its origin and nature as the children, though he has been on one previous voyage in it.

Before long the four are deeply involved in a struggle for power on the high seas of Time between a group of powerful Mermaids, who want to stop time altogether to preserve their way of life (meaning no one would ever age or die or be born) and others, including pirates, who want to stop them. Each of the children undergoes unusual adventures and changes, danger is ever present, and so are amazing wonders and equally amazing creatures.

I enjoyed this inventive fantasy and its appealing characters and complex plot. My only caveat is that new ideas keep coming in to change things I thought I understood, ideas that seem to have occurred to the author as he wrote rather than being part of his plan all along. I could be wrong about that, and in any case, the creative world and its inhabitants make for entertaining reading. Recommended.

Title and Cover Design for Neil Gaiman’s STARDUST


I’ve just received advance copies of “Stardust,” the second in a series of new paperback versions of Neil Gaiman books with wonderful cover paintings by illustration legend Robert McGinnis and titles and type design by me. I wrote about the first one, “American Gods,” HERE. This book’s release date is Sept. 27th, so it will be on sale soon. Here’s how the final cover was achieved. Continue reading

Ira Schnapp in MORE FUN COMICS

morefun105fcThis and all images © DC Comics.

MORE FUN grew out of the first comic published by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, NEW COMICS, begun in 1935. The title changed to MORE FUN with issue 7, then MORE FUN COMICS with issue 9 dated March-April 1936. When the Major’s comics were taken over by Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz, MORE FUN continued as the first title published by “Detective Comics, Inc.” now DC Comics. For many years it was an action-adventure anthology containing features of all types, with superheroes gradually filling the pages, including Doctor Occult, The Spectre, Doctor Fate, Congo Bill, Johnny Quick, Green Arrow and Aquaman. The title was edited by Mort Weisinger for a while, with Jack Schiff taking over with issue #83 in 1942. With issue #101 dated Jan.-Feb. 1945, a new feature, Superboy, was introduced, the stories of Superman as a boy. With issue #108 dated March 1946, all the superhero features moved to ADVENTURE COMICS, and the remaining issues of MORE FUN were mainly filled with humorous stories. Issue #121 dated April 1947 saw the introduction of a fantasy strip, “Jimminy and the Magic Book,” which was the lead feature until the series was cancelled with issue #127 dated Nov.-Dec. 1947.

As with other 1940s National (DC) comics I’ve looked through, Ira Schnapp’s involvement begins with issues dated in early 1945, which means his work for it was begun probably in the fall of 1944. Starting with cover lettering, issue 105 dated Sept.-Oct. 1945, above, is clearly lettered by Ira, the script style of “Featuring” is unmistakable. Some of the other lettering is his early display style seen on other covers he did in this period. Let’s see if we can follow his style back through a few earlier covers. Continue reading

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY #37

astro_city_vol_3_37Image © Juke Box Productions.

Kurt Busiek’s unlikely short story host “The Broken Man” is back with two stories about the importance and impact of music in Astro City, one from the days before there was a city about a traveling minstrel, the other about a music-inspired hero from the poor, black part of town in the early 20th century. Both stories are well told and nicely illustrated, and the framing stuff about Broken Man is funny, sinister and wacky, with the cover by Alex Ross as exhibit A. I admire Kurt’s ability to get to the roots of power fantasies by the downtrodden and make them ring true, while putting them in such colorful and entertaining packages. I also admire the lettering of Comicraft’s John Roshell on this issue, always and here in particular. I know how time-consuming that lettering for Broken Man must be.


Ira Schnapp in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS Part 2

worlds-finest-015fcThis and all images © DC Comics.

Determining which stories in WORLD’S FINEST were lettered by Ira Schnapp is the focus of this article, and on the early examples it’s not an easy task. For one thing, his style had not yet settled into the familiar one I see in many DC issues from 1946 on. For another, I don’t have great scans of some early issues. Let’s begin by looking at the story lettering for issue #15 dated Fall 1944, for which I do have good scans. Continue reading