Category Archives: Danny Crespi Files


This and all images © Marvel.

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, all of it is 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.

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Here are a few biographical details about Danny from census records found by Alex Jay. In 1930 the family lived on Junius Street in Brooklyn. They were father Sam Crespi, mother Sarah Crespi, Daughter Rachel (age 9) and son Daniel (age about 4). Danny’s birth year is given as “about 1926.” His parents were born in Turkey. By the 1940 census, the family was living on Claremont Parkway in The Bronx. Rachel is now listed as Ray. Social Security records give Danny’s mother’s maiden name as Sarah Asher, and have a birth date for Danny of Feb. 13th, 1926. His date of death is given as May, 1985.

This time we’ll look at pages 13-16 of the collection of cover lettering assembled by Phil Felix.

Page 13. This and all images © Marvel.

I believe all this cover lettering is by Danny. There are several versions of BLACKOUT and MURDER, probably trying different things for the same cover. The wobbly border around “OUT OF YOUR MIND!” is a style we haven’t seen before. Note that all the balloon and caption borders are thick and a similar line weight. Below are the places these were used that I could identify.

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Danny Crespi in the Marvel offices, 1982, photo © Eliot R. Brown.

Here’s an excerpt from the Danny Crespi interview conducted by D. Jon Zimmerman in David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW #9, dated March 1984:

DANNY: I used to collect lettering assignments from different places and go home and do them. But for presentation work, you’re supposed to wait around by your phone ’til they call you, then go over to the studio to work. I don’t like that. I don’t like to wait around for people to call me. I like to belong to one place. Well, about twelve years ago I called up Morrie Kuramoto — I don’t talk to him that often and once every twelve years is enough. (Laughter.) I didn’t even know if he was still working at Marvel, but I heard he was. I asked if he had any work for me. He said, “Hey, man, I can use a hand. Come on down!” Then he told me to bring my own pen-holders! I said, “What kind of a place is this?” Apparently they never had any spare fountain pens or anything.

ZIMMERMAN: What was it like?

DANNY: It was real small. there was no room. In fact, to get me a spare seat, I had to wait for when Marie Severin was working at home. They didn’t even have shelves for supplies. Morrie gave me things to do. The pay was low — all the comics companies paid low wages in those days. But it was steady work. I wasn’t on staff, but I felt I belonged there. I came to work every day. I would do corrections, paste-ups — everything the Bullpen does now. After I was freelancing there steady for a while, John (Verpoorten) offered me a job, and I said, “Yeah, sure,” even though the wages were too low. It cost me money to work there!

One day John asked me why I was going to other places to get extra work when Marvel had plenty of extra work to give me, if I wanted to work at night. He would go around to everyone and say, “I’ve got Crespi staying here at night and I want you to have your work ready for him to finish by the time you go home.” Eventually, I helped him run the bullpen. John used to stay at night when I was working until seven or eight o’clock in the evening, doing cover-lettering and cover copy for nine-tenths of the covers. (End of interview excerpt)

PAGE 9. This and all following images © Marvel.

This time I’ll be looking at pages 9 to 12 of the photocopied lettering collected by Phil Felix.

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Production Manager Danny Crespi at his desk in the Marvel Comics bullpen, March 1979, photo © Eliot R. Brown.

Continuing my occasional series on Danny Crespi and his cover lettering, from a large collection assembled by letterer Phil Felix in 1984. As I research this, I’m posting pages on Facebook, and when I began, many who worked with and knew Danny posted unsolicited comments about what a fine person he was, notes about his lettering, and personal memories. Here are a few.

Phil Felix: It’s nice to think that I have a small part in keeping Mr. Crespi’s name remembered, through this collection of his (and others’) work. He was a great guy and I’m really proud that I got to know him and learn from him.

Rick Parker: I owe my employment at Marvel to Danny Crespi and will be eternally grateful for having known him. There was never a man with a bigger heart. A great family man, too. He loved his kids and used to stay in the office after hours to do these cover blurbs and miss the rush hour traffic on the subway to the Bronx. He would call his wife every night and say, “What’s for dinner, Babe?” Treated everyone the same—with respect—from the president of the company to the cleaning lady. Never had a bad word to say about anyone. I still get teary when I think about him.

Janice Chiang: I was waiting for permission to go to lunch and Danny was on the phone cleaning and fine tuning the letterforms (of some cover lettering). I learned my most important lesson at his elbow. I watch for fifteen minutes as it was transformed to the final version. When hand or digital lettering sound effects, I don’t stop until I’m satisfied with it. Danny’s other valuable piece of advice was “Don’t burn any bridges.”

Tom Orzechowski: Danny’s title and blurb work was wonderfully right between Sam Rosen and Gaspar Saladino.

Dave Hunt: Everybody loved Danny including me. Marie Severin used to love to do cartoon caricatures of him.

Howard Bender: If it wasn’t for Danny I never would have had a job at Marvel, Danny was the one who hired me. God bless him.

Mike Carlin: Loved Danny! Loved this book o’ lettering, too!

Scott Edelman: Danny was one of the nicest guys in the world, even though when Mike Esposito, who was doing art corrections in the Bullpen back then, grandiosely said, “In six months, I’ll be running this company,” Danny quickly quipped, “Yeah. Into the ground.”

Clem Robins: Danny was a wonderful man. When I met his daughter Susan a few years ago, I said I felt like she was my sister, because Danny was like a father to me. She answered that people tell her that all the time.

Nel Yomtov: I owe Danny quite a lot, not only professionally, but personally as well. My favorite uncle—we were very close.

I’m sorry I never met Danny myself. This time I’ll be looking at pages 5 to 8 of the Phil Felix collection.

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This will be an occasional series, perhaps a long one, examining pages of photocopies mailed to me recently by fellow letterer Phil Felix. Phil told me he put together this large collection of Marvel cover lettering during his time working on staff in the Marvel bullpen (1983-1987). It all came from a giant manila envelope of saved pieces of original hand-drawn cover lettering that Danny Crespi had kept. Phil estimates the collection is at least 80% the work of Crespi himself. There are about 80 pages of cover lettering from hundreds of covers that Phil assembled onto letter-size paper, and it was copied often by Marvel staffers and letterers over the years. Phil reports that Danny told him he could keep the originals, but when Danny died in May 1985, Phil decided to return them to Danny’s family. I’ll be looking at a few pages in each blog post. The piece above came at the front of the collection. Despite what it says, not everyone listed contributed cover lettering, as there were also pages of logos, and a few other related items. For instance, there’s no cover lettering from me in these pages, I didn’t do any for Marvel until 1988 or so.

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