Category Archives: Items for Sale

ARTIE SIMEK (and Sol Brodsky) at Marvel Comics Part 3

From MARVEL TALES #95, March 1950. This and all images © Marvel.

In Part 1 of this series I outlined the career of letterer Artie Simek, and in Part 2 I discussed logos he might have designed for Timely (as Marvel was then known) mostly in the 1940s. We continue here with logos that first appeared with 1950 to 1952 cover dates, though some may have been done in late 1949, around the time publisher Martin Goodman ordered editor Stan Lee to lay off most of the staff and use up the backlog of inventory stories he’d accumulated. Simek survived that purge because he was needed to design logos and letter covers, as he did on this example. The drippy logo might have been inspired by those being designed by Al Feldstein at EC Comics, whose horror titles Goodman was imitating. The vertical book name at upper left also copies EC. The large caption has another style Simek liked, the wavy letters in DEATH, while the vibration lines on LIVING are unusual for him but effective. Note that for a while in the early 1950s, Timely was using a Marvel Comic bullet to identify their books. Keep in mind that this is all guesswork based on style, but at least in 1950 there wasn’t anyone else at the company designing logos other than Artie Simek as far as I know.

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Images © DC Comics and Marvel Comics respectively.

Here’s something new I’m trying: LOGO SKETCH CARDS. Sketch covers are popular now, comics with a blank cover except for the printed logo and trade dress that artists do marker sketches on at conventions. I thought, why not do marker sketches of logos on cover size art paper that people could buy and use to get sketches from artists? Each card is on Strathmore 400 Series drawing paper cut to cover size. The logos are drawn with Sakura Pigma markers which use waterproof, chemical resistant, fade proof, bleed free black ink. Both paper and ink are pH neutral, acid free. Logos are all black line work except for Batman, which has a gray india ink wash. If you’re getting a color sketch from an artist, the open areas can be colored by them. If you’re getting simply a marker sketch, the logo matches, and the entire card is original art, nothing printed. Each Logo Sketch card will come on an acid free backing board in a crystal clear comics bag. I’ll be at the Baltimore ComicCon this October 18-20 as a guest, and plan to have them for sale there for $30 each. If you’re going to the con and would like to commission a particular logo, message me on Facebook or email me and we’ll work out the details. Let me know if you like this idea! Thanks. More below.

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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!

A Testimonial

alphabetartA fan and patron named J M writes:

“I’ve been purchasing your Alphabet print series since it started so many years ago and, up until now, they’ve just been in sleeves because I didn’t have any place to put them, having lived with my parents and friends until recently. When I got my own place, one of the first things I did was display them above my fireplace, and I just wanted to thank you for making such great art and to show you how good they look together.”

Thanks, J M, you made my day!

Robert Heinlein in the Pulps

RAHeinlein1940sRobert A. Heinlein, early 1940s, image found online.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein has been a favorite of mine since I began finding his books in our grade school library in the mid 1960s. I also read him in the science fiction digest magazines on the newsstands at the time, like “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,” and others. Book publications of his work listed original copyrights from pulp magazines like “Astounding Science Fiction” beginning in 1939, and when I started going to art school in New York City in 1969, I was able to find some of those first publications still on the shelves of used book stores. Also in 1969 I bought “Heinlein in Dimension” by Alexei Panshin, a commentary on the man’s work which gave chronological lists of the stories and where they were published, which helped me find them. There were also pulp magazines for sale at the science fiction and comics conventions I attended beginning in the mid 1970s, including Midamericon in 1976, where I got to see Heinlein speak and acquired a book signed by him.  I continued to occasionally add to my Heinlein pulp collection into the 1990s, after which the issues I wanted were either impossible to find or too pricey. I’ve decided to put this collection of 13 Heinlein pulps on eBay beginning next Sunday, April 24th, and thought I’d show them here, after having one last look through the issues. Continue reading