This time I’m covering pages 21 to 24 of the collection of Marvel cover lettering from about 1974 to 1978—mostly by Danny Crespi—compiled by fellow letterer Phil Felix. Above is page 21. These are all lettered by Danny I believe. If you’re following the series, you should have picked up some clues by now about his style. One obvious one on this page are the heavy panel borders that often extend beyond the corners. Those extensions were cut off when the lettering was photostatted and pasted onto the cover art. Another clue is the right leg of the R in display lettering often turns up at the end. Not every time, but there are several examples here. Danny’s non-display or regular lettering is very wide and very even and regular with little or no “bounce.” Continue reading
In 1982, while on staff at DC, I was asked to create a framing device for the covers of a three-part WONDER WOMAN story. The idea was to make it look as much as possible like a hardcover book. There would be two large boxes, the top one for the DC symbol, WW logo (I designed it based on the Milton Glaser chest symbol), the price box, code seal, and room for large title lettering. The bottom one would hold the cover art. I drew it out in pencil, then inked all the borders and lines with technical drawing pens. The illusion of depth needed to make it work was helped by the application of a Zip-a-tone pattern that is meant to suggest the rough texture of a cloth book binding. The large box at lower left is for the UPC code, and it definitely hurts the attempted depth of the book spine, but there was nothing I could do about that.
A closer look at the upper right corner. The Zip-a-tone has shrunk with age, leaving gaps where the pieces once met. To get the shaded effect on the binding I scraped away some of the texture with an Exacto knife, being careful not to cut the film. That worked pretty well. Darker areas like the one along the top had two layers of tone. I had to allow for bleed, which is why the top, right and bottom edges look a little odd.
Here’s the first printed cover, WONDER WOMAN #291, May 1982. I also lettered the titles and spine copy separately and later, and it was all put together by DC Production, probably Bob LeRose. My frame was held in color, which I think works fine, though I wish they had put the spine copy and the outer borders of the boxes in colors too, so it would mesh better. Still, I think the overall effect is pretty good, and I didn’t mind getting paid extra for the frame. I see my name was even added to the credits, probably the first time that happened for me.
The second cover used different colors for the frame. This one is trimmed badly, leaving too much of the frame at the top, and not enough at the bottom, but that’s what bleed is for, and the printing quality was not as good then as it is now.
The third cover of the trilogy is just a little redder in the frame than the first one. A fun project, and the kind of thing I sometimes got to do just by being there on staff when an extra project came up.
By the way, the original frame art will be on eBay starting this evening, if anyone is interested in it.
On Alex Jay’s blog, he’s put up a post about Ira Schnapp’s High School Graduation in June, 1913. This was information that Alex and I shared some months ago, and I’d forgotten about it, so I’m glad to see his post. We were searching for the yearbook from his school for that year, and could find only the one before. Alex has posted some images and information from that yearbook which gives a general idea of the kind of classes Ira might have taken. Until Alex found this reference, we weren’t sure where he went to High School, or whether he graduated, so now that small part of Ira’s life is filled in. Thanks, Alex!
To recap, in 1984 letterer Phil Felix put together a large collection of photocopied cover lettering while working in the Marvel Bullpen alongside Danny Crespi, the Production Manager at the time, and a fine letterer himself. Most of the lettering is by Danny, as on this page, #17 in the collection, and it comes mainly from 1974-1978 when Danny was lettering most of Marvel’s covers. I’ve found many of the covers where it was used, and I’ll show them after each page. This article covers pages 17-20 of the Phil Felix collection. Note that the original lettering in black and white often looks better than on the printed covers where it sometimes gets lost in color and surrounding art. Continue reading
This is George Dunsford Klein, who had a long career in comics (known simply as George Klein) as an artist and inker. He was born in Louisiana in about 1915 (records differ) and grew up in Wyoming. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute and then moved to New York City where he took a staff job at Timely Comics, the precursor of Marvel Comics. He initially was a penciler and inker on super-hero stories but later moved to funny animal comics at Timely. Since he was on staff, much of his work there is unsigned and hard to identify. Continue reading