Author Archives: Todd

And Then I Read: DOCTOR FATE #18

Image © DC Comics.

The final issue of this run of DOCTOR FATE is the second half of a two-part story that mostly stands apart from the previous issues, with psychedelic art by Brendan McCarthy and a pretty good story by Paul Levitz. This issue drops us into everything midstream with no recap or explanation. I suspect these issues were intended to be an Annual, but that’s just a guess.

The best thing in it is that Khalid finally gets to meet the god who powers his helmet and himself, Thoth. Taking a break from battling evil creatures, Thoth and Khalid have a wonderful conversation about wisdom and free will that’s worth the price of admission. The rest of the issue is fun visually but somewhat predictable. There’s not much sense of closure at the finish, another signal this was not written as a final issue, but in the DC Universe, Doctor Fate will go on to other iterations, so perhaps that’s okay. We can imagine Khalid’s future in our own ways.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: WONDER WOMAN #11

Image © DC Comics.

The first modern-day story arc by writer Greg Rucka and artist Liam Sharp concludes with an issue full of delicious, lush coloring by Laura Martin. Diana and Steve Trevor have arrived in Themyscira at last, but one that’s strangely different than either of them remember. Diana has a hard time recognizing this at first, and when she does, with Steve’s help, she is devastated. What has gone wrong? Meanwhile, Wonder Woman’s handlers and friends are facing a threat from within their own ranks that will tear that group apart. Fine writing, wonderful art, great issue.

Recommended.

Incoming: STARSTRUCK, OLD PROLDIERS NEVER DIE #1

Image © Elaine Lee & Michael Wm. Kaluta.

So, a package arrived from IDW today. Looked like comics. I was puzzled. Didn’t recall lettering anything for IDW. When I opened it, I remembered. I’d done the work directly for Elaine and Michael, as I’ve done since this project began around 1980, and forgot that IDW was publishing the serialized form.

STARSTRUCK runs like a live wire through my professional comics lettering life. It was the first big project I did outside of DC Comics, allowed because it wasn’t being published in direct competition. (HEAVY METAL was the first American publisher, not considered so by DC.) Later I worked on more for Marvel, with special permission from DC, as I was still on staff there then. Later still I worked on it directly for Elaine and Michael again when I was a full-time freelancer, and pages I lettered were published by several more companies.

The lettering credit for this series is complicated. I’m listed as the sole letterer, but it’s not so. There were times when I wasn’t able to work on the series, and other letterers were used. Many of the pages in this issue were not originally lettered by me. Some were lettered by Ken Bruzenak, some by Tim Harkins, at least that’s my judgment based on style. Willie Schubert might be in there too. Michael and Elaine aren’t sure either. There are pages in upcoming issues lettered by John Workman, and then there are new pages here and in future issues that ARE all me. My assignment on the previously lettered pages was to tie things together by redoing all the narrative captions, and add anything new or different Elaine had decided on for this current version, which is expanded and added to from what was originally done. STARSTRUCK is constantly evolving. This storyline is all different from the previous IDW series, though, that was earlier material. If you’re a fan, as I am, you’ll want to check it out.

And Then I Read: LOST AMONG THE STARS by Paul Di Filippo

While I grew up reading lots of science fiction and fantasy short stories in magazines and anthologies, I rarely read them now. Somehow I’m more drawn to novels, where you spend more time in one created space. This collection by my friend Paul Di Filippo was a nice change, and brought me back to the pleasures of short stories, which must work with economy to grab the reader and get him involved quickly. If anything, as Paul says, it’s harder to write short than long, and he does it well.

“City of Beauty, City of Scars” tells of a city where social status is architectural and human flaws are unforgivable. As the girl narrating rises in society and in the levels of the city, her beauty must remain perfect, leaving no room for emotion. Her ambition must leave everyone, even her family behind, and will the reward be worth the price?

“The Kings of Mount Golden” is a story of rivalry between two men, one an inventor, the other his rich patron, over the woman they both love, and then her son, Brannock, who is raised by the patron, but fascinated by his real father, the inventor. Brannock tracks down his father, only to find himself poorly used for a machine that can swap the shapes of two people, his father’s latest invention.

In “Adventures in Cognitive Homogamy,” a scientist is seduced and abducted, but finds his skills used in ways he never expected, and his outlook changing.

“Desperados of the Badlands” imagines a future where technological skins enhance the senses and abilities of those who can afford them, or have jobs that provide them, like Ruy Lambeth, sent to capture vandals in Alberta, Canada’s Dinosaur Provincial Park. These vandals have skills equal to his own, though, and a secret weapon that might bring dinosaurs to life.

Those are a few of the fine stories in this anthology, which I enjoyed a great deal, and recommend.

THE DANNY CRESPI FILES Part 10

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 37 (above) to 40. On page 37, one item is not like the others. It has a much narrower panel border, the open lettering outlines are also narrower, and the textures are more delicate and perhaps a bit more artful. If you spotted it as “INFERNO,” you’re correct. That’s the work of Gaspar Saladino, clinched by his particular style of open R where the break in the right edge is below the center of the middle stroke, as if it was a P with the right leg added. Here are the sources I’ve found. Continue reading