HOWARD FERGUSON – A Detailed Lettering Study

From FANTASTIC COMICS #10, Sept 1940, © Fox Publications

In THIS article I outlined Howard Ferguson’s life and career as a comics letterer. Here I’ll look more closely at the lettering itself to see what’s distinctive about it, and then list all the examples I could find, and there are plenty. I’ve arranged them by company roughly in chronological order. Some companies have multiple entries when Howard worked for them at different times.

On the early page above, the title is well-crafted, with touches of Art Deco, like the A in Saunders. AND THE below that uses an angular style of lower case block letters that Howard often returned to. The credit in a scroll is artfully done, and the A in KARL is another style Howard often used especially on credits. He liked wavy lines, you can see them on the outlines of WHEEL OF DEATH, and on the first caption. Decorative first letters in captions or text are something that have been used for centuries, very elaborate ones were featured in medieval manuscripts, and they can be found in many older printed books at the beginning of each chapter. They were sometimes also used in comic strips and comics stories before Ferguson got started in lettering. His are simple but effective, often open letters with a black shape behind. This style was imitated by other letterers who liked it, notably by Gaspar Saladino early in his career. In fact, many of Howard’s “creative extras” were imitated by other letterers. Howard wanted his work to stand out and be noticed. Other letterers tried to up their game by following his lead. You would think this would make identifying his work harder, but to my eye, no one else did them quite like Ferguson.

From FANTASTIC COMICS #12, Nov 1940, © Fox Publications

On this story probably done a month or two later, Howard’s regular lettering is looking more even and consistent. Every letterer needs lots of practice to improve, and if you can get paid while doing so, all the better! I see that happening here. One of Ferguson’s characteristic letter shapes is clearer on this page, the C in the balloons has a small down stroke or serif at the top. The script THE at the beginning of two captions is a style Howard often used for that word.

From FANTASTIC COMICS #12, Nov 1940, © Fox Publications

All the features at Fox had creator bylines, in the style of newspaper strips of the time, but most of them were house names, not real people, which kept the actual creators anonymous. This feature’s byline began as Lance Ferguson, but when Howard started lettering it, it became Grant Ferguson, which was Howard’s middle and last name. Does that mean he was doing the art? I doubt it, Howard probably changed the byline as an in-joke, and editor Joe Simon let it ride because he thought it was funny. I imagine few readers noticed.

From MYSTERY MEN COMICS #17, Dec 1940, © Fox Publications

This is another one-page filler that probably has art by Howard as well as lots of great lettering, and he might have written it. I don’t know that the subject has anything to do with the stories in the issue. Comics set aside a certain number of pages for advertising, and when they weren’t all sold, fillers like this, which had been prepared ahead and held in inventory, could be used. Here we begin the issue and story listings. Many of the comics listed can be read at the COMIC BOOK PLUS website, except for those done for Marvel and DC Comics.

FOX PUBLICATIONS

BIG 3

#1 Fall 1940: Blue Beetle 15pp

#2 Winter 1941: Blue Beetle 15pp

#3 May 1941: Blue Beetle 18pp

#4 July 1941: Blue Beetle 18pp

BLUE BEETLE

#5 Nov 1940: Blue Beetle (1) 10pp, (2) 10pp, (3) 10pp

#6 March-April 1941: Blue Beetle (1) 15pp, (2) 10pp, (3) 10pp, Sub Saunders 8pp

#7 June 1941: Blue Beetle (2) 10pp, (3) 10pp

#8 Aug 1941: Blue Beetle (1) 15pp, (2) 10pp, (4) 10pp

FANTASTIC COMICS

#10 Sept 1940: Flip Falcon 6pp, Sub Saunders 8pp

#11 Oct 1940: Samson 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Sub Saunders 7pp

#12 Nov 1940: Samson 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Yank Wilson 6pp, Sub Saunders 7pp

#13 Dec 1940: Samson & David 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Yank Wilson 5pp Sub Saunders 7pp

#14 Jan 1941: Samson & David 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Yank Wilson pp1-2 only, Sub Saunders 7pp

#15 Feb 1941: Samson & David 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Yank Wilson 6pp, Sub Saunders 7pp

#16 March 1941: Samson & David 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Yank Wilson 6pp, Sub Saunders 7pp

#17 April 1941: Samson & David 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Yank Wilson 6pp, Sub Saunders 7pp

#18 May 1941: Samson & David 13pp, Yank Wilson 6pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Sub Saunders 7pp

#19 June 1941: Samson & David 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Sub Saunders 7pp

#20 July 1941: Samson & David 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp, Sub Saunders 6pp

#21 Aug 1941: Samson & David 13pp, Flip Falcon 6pp

#22 Sept 1941: Samson & David 14pp, Yank Wilson 6pp, The Queen of Evil 6pp, Captain Kidd 5pp

MYSTERY MEN COMICS

#14 Sept 1940: Blue Beetle 8pp, Lynx 5pp, D-13 8pp

#15 Oct 1940: Chen Chang 6pp, Lynx 5pp

#16 Nov 1940: Blue Beetle 10pp, Lynx 8pp, Captain Savage 3pp, Zanzibar 4pp

#17 Dec 1940: Blue Beetle 10pp, Lynx 8pp, D-13 8pp, Mystery Men Model Page 1pp

#18 Jan 1941: Blue Beetle 10pp, D-13 8pp, Lynx 8pp

#19 Feb 1941: Blue Beetle 10pp, D-13 8pp, Lynx 8pp

#20 March 1941: Blue Beetle 10pp, Lynx 8pp, D-13 8pp

#21 April 1941: Blue Beetle 10pp, Lynx 8pp, D-13 8pp

#22 May 1941: Blue Beetle 10pp, Lynx 8pp, D-13 8pp

#23 June 1941: Blue Beetle 10pp, Lynx 8pp

#24 July 1941: Blue Beetle 10pp, Lynx 8pp

SAMSON

#4 April 1941: Wing Turner 6pp

SCIENCE COMICS

#7 Aug 1940: Scientific Magic 1pp

#8 Sept 1940: Scientific Magic 1pp, Cosmic Carson 6pp, Scientifacts 1pp, Perisphere Payne 8pp

WEIRD COMICS

#6 Sept 1940: Dart 8pp, Blast Bennett 8pp, Weird Facts 1pp

#7 Oct 1940: Dart 10pp, Sorceress of Zoom 8pp, Weird Facts 1pp story and art (signed)

#8 Nov 1940: Dart 10pp, Marga 8pp

#9 Dec 1940: Dart 10pp, Blast Bennett 6pp, Eagle 10pp, Marga 8pp

#10 Jan 1941: Dart 10pp, Sorceress of Zoom 10pp

#11 Feb 1941: Dart 10pp, Sorceress of Zoom 10pp, Eagle 10pp, Marga 8pp, Blast Bennett 6pp

#12 March 1941: Dart 10pp, Sorceress of Zoom 10pp, Eagle 10pp, Marga 8pp, Blast Bennett 6pp

#13 April 1941: Dart 10pp, Sorceress of Zoom 10pp, Eagle 10pp, Marga 8pp, Blast Bennett 6pp

#14 May 1941: Dart 10pp, Sorceress of Zoom 10pp, Eagle 10pp, Marga 8pp, Blast Bennett 6pp

#15 June 1941: Dart 10pp, Sorceress of Zoom 10pp, Eagle 10pp, Marga 8pp, Blast Bennett 6pp

#16 July 1941: Eagle 10pp, Blast Bennett 6pp

WONDERWORLD COMICS

#17 Sept 1940: Yarko 8pp (includes Yarko Presents his Magic 1/2 page), Dr. Fung 8pp

#18 Oct 1940: Flame 9pp, Dr. Fung 8pp

#19 Nov 1940: Yarko Presents his Magic 1/2 page, Dr. Fung 8pp, Tex Maxon 8pp, Spark Stevens 8pp

#20 Dec 1940: Dr. Fung 8pp, Tex Maxon 8pp, K-51 5pp

#21 Jan 1941: Black Lion 8pp, Tex Maxon 6pp, Dr. Fung 8pp

#22 Feb 1941: Black Lion 8pp, Tex Maxon 6pp, Dr. Fung 8pp

#23 March 1941: Black Lion 8pp, Tex Maxon 6pp, Dr. Fung 8pp

#24 April 1941: Black Lion 8pp, Tex Maxon 6pp, Dr. Fung 8pp

#25 May 1941: Black Lion 8pp, Tex Maxon 6pp

#26 June 1941: Black Lion 8pp, Tex Maxon 6pp, Dr. Fung 8pp

#27 July 1941: Black Lion 8pp, Tex Maxon 6pp, Dr. Fung 8pp

From BLUE BOLT #5, Oct 1940, © Novelty Press

This Blue Bolt story steps back a bit in chronology. The regular lettering is less even on his early work, but Howard’s creative extras are in place at the beginning of each caption. Novelty Press was a subsidiary of Curtis Publishing, best known for The Saturday Evening Post, a slick magazine of high reputation. That’s probably why the Curtis name was not used on their comics.

NOVELTY PRESS / CURTIS

BLUE BOLT

#5 Oct 1940: Blue Bolt 10pp

#6 Nov 1940: Blue Bolt 10pp

#7 Dec 1940: Blue Bolt 10pp

#8 Jan 1941: Blue Bolt 10pp

#9 Feb 1941: Blue Bolt 10pp

#10 March 1941: Blue Bolt 10pp

From PRIZE COMICS #7, Dec 1940, © Prize

This lettering was probably done at least a month or two later than the previous example, as it’s more confident, and might be done with a wedge-tipped pen to give the lines variety, though it’s a bit hard to tell on this scan. Another Ferguson style point has emerged, the letter G has a horizontal serif in the middle extending both ways. Howard didn’t always do this, and did it less late in his career, but for a number of years it’s a good clue for identification. The character logo again uses wavy lines. One advantage of that is it hides small design flaws and is quicker than ruling straight lines. It also adds atmosphere.

PRIZE (Part 1)

PRIZE COMICS

#7 Dec 1940: Black Owl 9pp

#9 Feb 1941: Black Owl 9pp, Ted O’Neil 6pp

From MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #15, Jan 1941, image © Marvel

When Simon and Kirby began working for Timely, as Marvel Comics was known then, Howard of course came with them. I’m not sure if he had a seat in the bullpen alongside Jack Kirby, or worked at home, probably both. This early effort does not involve Kirby, and may not involve Simon either except perhaps as editor. It’s a rare example for the time with a writer credit, and the art is by long-time veteran Bob Oksner at the start of his career. Howard was still working out balloon shapes, the first one in the top panel is a thought balloon with many small scallops on the edge, but it doesn’t connect to the same person’s speech balloon below it. The boss’s burst balloon shape is an odd mix of scalloped edges, radiating line pairs, and a jagged tail. The open letters of the word inside get the emphasis across best. The regular lettering is now definitely being done with a wedge-tipped pen, which adds variety and interest to the letters.

From MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #15, Jan 1941, image © Marvel

Following Simon and Kirby into Timely/Marvel, Ferguson was able to letter some other existing features they didn’t write or draw, like this one. Here I don’t like the wavy panel border as much. Note that Howard adds emphasis to words by making them bold but not italic at this point.

From MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #20, June 1941, image © Marvel

Here’s a great house ad by Howard with lots of creative styles and dynamic lettering, no doubt commissioned by editor Joe Simon. The overlap of THEY and WANT on the first line is risky, but it reads fine. I don’t know who did the art.

From MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #26, Dec 1941, image © Marvel

From near the end of his Marvel work, the regular letters on this page are stretched horizontally, but still appealing. The caption styles are varied and creative. Howard didn’t do typical burst balloons in the last panel, but they work fine, even though he forgot to connect the tail on the left one. I don’t see any other lettering by Ferguson that’s this wide, perhaps it was an experiment he didn’t stay with.

TIMELY / MARVEL COMICS

ALL-WINNERS COMICS

#1 Summer 1941: Black Marvel 12pp, Captain America 13pp

#2 Fall 1941: Captain America pages 4-6, 8-9 only

CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS

#1 March 1941: Table of Contents 1pp, Captain America (4 stories) 8pp, 7pp, 16pp, 14pp, USA Comics House Ad 1pp

#2 April 1941: Possible partial pages in first story, A Message From Captain America House Ad 1pp

#4 June 1941: Captain America (story 1) pages 1-10 only, (story 3) 10pp (story 4) 13pp

#5 Aug 1941: Captain America (4 stories) 12pp, 15pp, 10pp, 6pp, Sentinels of Liberty House Ad 1pp, Headline Hunter 5pp, Hurricane 8pp

#6 Sept 1941: Captain America (3 stories) 16pp, 9pp, 16pp

#7 Oct 1941: Captain America (3 stories) 13pp, 15pp, 13pp

#8 Nov 1941: Captain America (3 stories) 13pp, 11pp, 17pp

#9 Dec 1941: Captain America (3 stories) 11pp, 13pp, 18pp

#10 Jan 1942: Captain America (3 stories) 11pp, 13pp, 16pp

DARING MYSTERY COMICS

#6 Sept 1940: Marvel Boy pp1-3 only

#8 Jan 1942: Silver Scorpion 8pp, Captain Daring 6pp

HUMAN TORCH

#2 Fall 1940: Fiery Mask 10pp

#4 Spring 1941: Human Torch (2 parts) 40pp

#5A Summer 1941: Human Torch (2 parts) 40pp

#5B Fall 1941: Human Torch (3 parts) 60pp

#6 Winter 1941: Human Torch (story 2) 18pp

#7 Spring 1942: Human Torch (2 stories) 20pp, 18pp

MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS

#13 Nov 1940: Terry Vance 7pp

#14 Dec 1940: Human Torch 12pp, Terry Vance 7pp

#15 Jan 1941: Human Torch 12pp, Terry Vance 7pp

#16 Feb 1941: Human Torch 15pp, Terry Vance 7pp

#18 April 1941: Human Torch 15pp, Vision 6pp

#19 May 1941: Human Torch 15pp, Terry Vance 7pp

#20 June 1941: Human Torch 15pp, Terry Vance 7pp, Angel 9pp

#21 July 1941: Human Torch 15pp, Terry Vance 7pp, Patriot 5pp, Vision 7pp

#22 Aug 1941: Terry Vance 7pp, Patriot 5pp

#23 Sept 1941: IFC House Ad 1pp, Human Torch 15pp, Patriot 5pp, Vision 7pp, Angel 9pp

#24 Oct 1941: Human Torch 15pp, Terry Vance 7pp, Vision 7pp, Angel 9pp

#25 Nov 1941: Vision 7pp, Angel 9pp

#26 Dec 1941: Human Torch 15pp, Angel 9pp

#27 Jan 1942: Human Torch 15pp, Terry Vance 7pp, Patriot 5pp, Angel 9pp

#28 Feb 1942: Human Torch 15pp, Patriot 6pp

#29 March 1942: Human Torch 15pp, Patriot 6pp

MYSTIC COMICS

#6 Oct 1941: Black Marvel 8pp

SUB-MARINER COMICS

#1 Spring 1941: Sub-Mariner (first story) page 1 only, (second story) 20pp, The Angel 20pp

#2 Summer 1941: Sub-Mariner (story 2) 20pp

U.S.A. COMICS

#1 Aug 1941: Defender intro page 1pp, Mr. Liberty 10pp

YOUNG ALLIES

#1 Summer 1941: Young Allies (6 chapters) 9pp, 10pp, 10pp, 10pp, 9pp, 9pp

From GREEN HORNET COMICS #9, Oct 1942, © Harvey Comics

Simon and Kirby did a small amount of work for Harvey at the same time they were at DC, so I’m putting it first. Here, Howard’s balloons have thinner borders, and are becoming more stylized, with perfectly round ends probably done with a circle template, and straight-edged horizontals. His question marks had been inconsistent, here he’s settled on the style he would use going forward, which looks like a small 2 over a dot.

HARVEY (Part 1)

CHAMP COMICS

#23 Oct 1942: Flags of the 28 United Nations (story & art) 2pp

GREEN HORNET

#9 Oct 1942: Green Hornet (2 stories) 8pp, 8pp, Spirit of ’76 7pp, Blonde Bomber 6pp, Zebra 8pp

#10 Dec 1942: Green Hornet (2 stories) 12pp, 8pp, Spirit of ’76 7pp, Blonde Bomber 6pp, Zebra 8pp

#11 Feb 1943: Green Hornet (first 2 stories) 10pp, 8pp, Mr. Q 8pp

#12 April 1943: Spirit of ’76 7pp

#13 July 1943: Green Hornet (first story) 10pp

From ALL-STAR COMICS #13, Oct 1942, image © DC Comics

DC had a sister company, All-American, where Simon and Kirby stories also appeared, though this one is not by them, so I don’t know why Howard was chosen to letter it. It has his creative extras and style points. The regular letters lean to the left more than usual, and now his emphasized words are bold and italic, as is more typical.

Front cover of STAR SPANGLED COMICS #13, Oct 1942, image © DC Comics

DC had their own regular cover letterers like Ira Schnapp, but this one is clearly by Howard, and it’s a beauty over a great layout by Kirby, an effective design in every way.

From BOY COMMANDOS 3, Summer 1943, image © DC Comics

You can see everyone in top form on early issues of BOY COMMANDOS, including Howard. This again has the more stylized balloon shapes, and one round caption has a triple border. Even the poster lettering in the second panel stands out.

From STAR SPANGLED COMICS #29, Feb 1944, image © DC Comics

One of the last Simon and Kirby stories produced before they went into military service, and what a fun one, with great Ferguson lettering. His regular letters seem a little smaller than usual.

NATIONAL (DC) COMICS

ADVENTURE COMICS

#77 Aug 1942: Hourman 8pp

#78 Sept 1942: Hourman 8pp, Sandman 10pp

#79 Oct 1942: Hourman 8pp, Manhunter 9pp, Sandman 10pp

#80 Nov 1942: Sandman 10pp

#81 Dec 1942: Sandman 10pp

#82 Jan 1943: Sandman 10pp

#83 Feb 1943: Sandman 10pp

#84 March 1943: Sandman 10pp

#85 April 1943: Sandman 10pp, Manhunter 9pp

#86 June-July 1943: Sandman 10pp, Manhunter 9pp

#87 Aug-Sept 1943: Sandman 10pp, Manhunter 9pp

#88 Oct-Nov 1943: Sandman 10pp, Starman 9pp

#89 Dec 1943-Jan 1944: Sandman 10pp, Manhunter 9pp

#90 Feb-March 1944: Sandman 10pp, Manhunter 9pp

ALL-STAR COMICS

#13 Oct-Nov 1942: Spectre 6pp

#14 Dec 1942/Jan 1943: Sandman 6pp

#15 Feb-March 1943: Sandman 6pp

#16 April-May 1943: Sandman 6pp

#17 June-July 1943: Sandman 6pp

#19 Winter 1943: Sandman 5pp

BOY COMMANDOS

#1 Winter 1942-43: Boy Commandos (4 stories) 12pp, 12pp, 12pp, 12pp

#2 Spring 1943: Front Cover, Boy Commandos (4 stories) 12pp, 12pp, 13pp, 9pp

#3 Summer 1943: Boy Commandos (4 stories) 12pp, 10pp, 12pp, 11pp

#4 Fall 1943: Boy Commandos (Chapter 1 only) 6pp

#5 Winter 1943: Boy Commandos (stories 1, 3-4) 13pp, 10pp, 12pp

#6 Spring 1944: Boy Commandos (stories 1 & 4) 11pp, 11pp

DETECTIVE COMICS

#66 Aug 1942: Boy Commandos pages 1, 8-12 only

#67 Sept 1942: Boy Commandos 12pp

#68 Oct 1942: Boy Commandos 12pp

#69 Nov 1942: Boy Commandos 12pp

#70 Dec 1942: Boy Commandos 12pp

#71 Jan 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#72 Feb 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#73 March 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#74 April 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#75 May 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#76 June 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#77 July 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#78 Aug 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#79 Sept 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#80 Oct 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#81 Nov 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#82 Dec 1943: Boy Commandos 11pp

#83 Jan 1944: Boy Commandos 12pp

#85 March 1944: Boy Commandos 12pp

WORLD’S FINEST COMICS

#8 Winter 1942: Boy Commandos 13pp

#9 Spring 1943: Boy Commandos 13pp

#10 Summer 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#11 Fall 1943: Boy Commandos 12pp

#12 Winter 1943: Boy Commandos 10pp

#15 Fall 1944: Boy Commandos 12pp

STAR SPANGLED COMICS

#12 Sept 1942: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#13 Oct 1942: Front Cover, Newsboy Legion 13pp

#14 Nov 1942: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#15 Dec 1942: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#16 Jan 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#17 Feb 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#18 March 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#19 April 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#20 May 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#21 June 1943: Newsboy Legion 12pp

#22 July 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#23 Aug 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#24 Sept 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#25 Oct 1943: Newsboy Legion 10pp

#26 Nov 1943: Newsboy Legion 13pp

#27 Dec 1943: Newsboy Legion 11pp

#28 Jan 1944: Newsboy Legion 11pp

#29 Feb 1944: Newsboy Legion 11pp

From PRIZE COMICS #40, March 1944, © Prize

With Simon and Kirby away, the studio broke up, and Howard found work at Prize. These feature logos and title are stellar Ferguson work.

PRIZE (Part 2)

PRIZE COMICS

#36 Nov 1943: Transpo-Hank (magic trick) 1pp

#37 Dec 1943: Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 12pp, Magic Marksman 1pp

#38 Jan 1944: Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 12pp, Flying Fist’s Magic Page (art & lettering) 1pp

#39 Feb 1944: Yank & Doodle 12pp, Through the Looking Glass 1pp

#40 March 1944: Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 12pp, Ted O’Neil 8pp, Flying Fist Magic Page 1pp

#41 April 1944: Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 12pp, Flying Fist & Bingo 8pp

#42 June 1944: Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 12pp, Ted O’Neil 8pp, Worldbeater & Unghh 8pp, Airmale 8pp, Flying Fist & Bingo 8pp

#43 July 1944: Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 12pp, Worldbeater & Unghh 8pp, Airmale 8pp

#44 Aug 1944: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp

#45 Sept 1944: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp

#46 Oct 1944: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp

#47 Nov 1944: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp

#48 Dec 1944: Worldbeater 8pp

#49 Jan 1945: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp, Strange Facts Scrapbook 1pp, Prize Comics Magic Page 1pp

#50 Feb 1945: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp, Prize Comics Magic Page 1pp

#52 April 1945: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp, Ham & Eggs 5pp, Herc 1pp, Sir Prize 7pp

#53 May-June 1945: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp, Peter Pelican 6pp, Sir Prize 7pp, Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 9pp

#54 July-Aug 1945: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp, Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 9pp, Caveman Frolics 6pp, Sir Prize 7pp

#55 Sept-Oct 1945: Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp, Sir Prize 7pp, Jason 8pp, ‘Tis True 1pp, Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 9pp

#56 Nov-Dec 1945: Sir Prize 7pp, Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 9pp, Jason 8pp, Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp

#57 Jan-Feb 1946: Sir Prize 7pp, Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 8pp, Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp

#58 March-April 1946: Sir Prize 7pp, Yank & Doodle & Black Owl 8pp, Boom Boom Brannigan 12pp

From TALLY HO (no number), Dec 1944, © Baily Publishing

This odd one-shot is famous as the first published comics credit for legendary artist Frank Frazetta. It also has a rare lettering credit added by Ferguson. He was picking up odd jobs where he could. This is the earliest lettering credit in comics that I know of. It might be the first.

BAILY PUBLISHING

TALLY HO

No number, Dec 1944: Snowman 8pp

CAMBRIDGE HOUSE

STAR STUDDED COMICS

No number, 1945: Captain Combat 8pp, Ghost Woman 8pp, Commandette 8pp, Red Rogue 8pp

SPOTLIGHT PUBLISHERS

BEE 29 THE BOMBARDIER

#1 Feb 1945: Gee Gee the Talking Horse 6pp, Spot & Dot 6pp, Eeny Meeny & Moe 6pp

TWINKLE COMICS

#1 May 1945: Adventure in Africa 5pp, Hooch & Pooch 7pp, G.I. Fun 1pp, Hop & Pop 4pp, Ella 4pp, Superstitious Aloysius 6pp

From STUNTMAN #2, June-July 1946, © Harvey Comics

Back in New York, Simon and Kirby’s work never looked better, and Ferguson’s lettering is also excellent, but the new titles didn’t sell, and Howard was facing the personal tragedy of his wife’s death.

HARVEY (Part 2)

ALL-NEW COMICS

#13 July-Aug 1946: Stuntman page 1 only

BLACK CAT COMICS

#4 Feb-March 1947: Danny Dixon Cadet 7pp, Soapy Sam 3pp

#5 April-May 1947: Danny Dixon Cadet 7pp, Duke of Broadway 10pp

#6 June-July 1947: Danny Dixon 6pp, Duke of Broadway 9pp

#7 Aug-Sept 1947: Duke of Broadway 10pp, Vagabond Prince 10pp

#8 Oct-Nov 1947: Vagabond Prince 12pp

BOY EXPLORERS

#1 May-June 1946: Boy Explorers 12pp, Duke of Broadway 12pp

#2 Sept-Oct 1946: Boy Explorers 14pp

JOE PALOOKA COMICS

#5 July-Aug 1946: Boy Explorers 6pp

STUNTMAN

#1 April-May 1946: Stuntman (3 stories) 13pp, 10pp, 12pp

#2 June-July 1946: Stuntman (2 stories) 12pp, 12pp, Duke of Broadway 10pp

#3 Oct-Nov 1946: Stuntman 12pp

TERRY AND THE PIRATES

#3 April 1947: Boy Explorers 8pp

#4 June 1947: Boy Explorers 6pp

From CLUE COMICS #13, March 1947, © Hillman

What a beautiful circus-style title on this story, the only one I found lettered by Howard at Hillman.

HILLMAN

CLUE COMICS

#13 March 1947: King of the Bank Robbers 8pp

From HEADLINE COMICS #23, March-April 1947 © Prize

At Prize again, Howard was present for the beginnings of Simon and Kirby’s crime comics, but then his work stopped when he moved to Detroit for two years. This story title is amazing. There are subtle changes in his regular lettering, the small serifs in the C and G are gone.

PRIZE (Part 3)

HEADLINE COMICS

#23 March-April 1947: The Last Bloody Days of Baby Face Nelson 7pp, The Doctor is Missing 6pp, Red-Hot Blaze (2 stories) 7pp, 8pp, Crime Through the Ages 10pp, Comi-Crime 5pp

#24 May-June 1947: Red-Hot Blaze (4 stories) 9pp, 7pp, 8pp, 4pp, Grim Pay-Off for the Pin-Ball Mob 7pp, You Can’t Forget a Killer 8pp

#25 July-Aug 1947: Front Cover, Red-Hot Blaze (2 stories) 7pp, 7pp, Pay Up or Die 7pp, Comi-Crime 4pp

#27 Nov-Dec 1947: Front Cover 1pp

JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY

#1 Oct-Nov 1947: Front Cover 1pp

YOUNG ROMANCE

#1 Sept-Oct 1947: Front Cover 1pp

From ROMANTIC LOVE #1, Sept-Oct 1949, © Avon

When he got back to New York in 1948, no work was forthcoming from Simon and Kirby, so Howard picked up what he could elsewhere. This story has his lettering credit.

From WILD BILL HICKOK #1, Sept-Oct 1949, © Avon

So does this one, and there’s a magnificent feature logo by Howard. I think he was trying to reestablish his lettering credentials, but at the time letterers were rarely allowed to put their own name on stories. Somehow Ferguson managed it. I’ve included work on COW PUNCHER COMICS here from 1946, probably done before Ferguson went back to Detroit for two years.

AVON

COW PUNCHER COMICS

#6 March 1947: White Brother 6pp

#7 May 1947: Six-Shooter Serenade 8pp, Gold Makes a Ghost Town 8pp

ROMANTIC LOVE

#1 Sept-Oct 1949: No Other Love 11pp

SLAVE GIRL COMICS

#2 April 1949: Malu 10pp, Lost Princess 6pp, Malu 10pp, Flame Goddess 7pp

THE SAINT

#5 Feb 1949: The Saint (first story) 8pp

#6 April 1949: The Saint (stories 2 & 3) 6pp, 6pp

#7 Aug 1949: The Saint (first story) 8pp, (second story) page 1 only (third story) 10pp, Flash Harper 6pp

THE UNDERWORLD STORY

No number, 1950: Frosty Dugan 7pp

WILD BILL HICKOK

#1 Sept-Oct 1949: Wild Bill Hickok (2 stories) 10pp, 10pp

#2 Dec 1949-Jan 1950: Wild Bill Hickok (first story) 11pp, Kit West 10pp

#3 Feb-March 1950: White Brother 8pp

#4 July 1950: Showdown at Massacre Creek 7pp

#5 Oct 1950: Jeff Venture 8pp

GILBERTON

CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED

#59 May 1949: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 44pp

From STORIES BY FAMOUS AUTHORS ILLUSTRATED #6, Aug 1950, © Seaboard

Another example of Howard getting in his lettering credit, and fine work by him with lots of creative extras.

SEABOARD PUBLISHING

STORIES BY FAMOUS AUTHORS ILLUSTRATED

#6 Aug 1950: Macbeth by Shakespeare 30pp

#7 Sept 1950: The Window by Cornell Woolrich 45pp

#8 Oct 1950: Hamlet by Shakespeare 29pp

ST. JOHN

AUTHENTIC POLICE CASES

#14 Aug 1951: Diamonds C.O.D. 8pp, Police Smash Waterfront Crime Gangs 8pp

From BATTLE CRY #4, May 1952, © Stanley Morse

A beautiful title by Howard. His regular lettering continues with the revised C and G, and retains the small, angular question mark. The top caption is as stylish as ever.

From MISTER MYSTERY #15, Feb 1954 © StanleyMorse

Another creative title, I’m not sure how the ribbon-like texture areas were done. I haven’t talked about Howard’s letter J, it has a distinctive shape here and throughout his career, but it’s not a letter that shows up that often.

STANLEY MORSE

BATTLE CRY

#1 May 1952: Tale of a Tank 4pp

#2 July 1952: Section 8 7pp, Operation Exterminator 5pp, Meter Reader 6pp, A Plot of Land 4pp, A Pint of Plasma 5pp

#3 Sept 1952: Glory Hound 6pp, To the Victors 4pp, A Modern Army 5pp, Machinery 4pp, Gambler 6pp

#4 Nov 1952: Treatment 6pp, Gunfire 5pp, Paratrooper Boots 5pp, Buddies 5pp

#5 Jan 1953: Plan of Attack 5pp, Bawl Like a Baby 5pp, Infiltration 5pp, Going Home 5pp, Frustration 4pp

#6 March-April 1953: Up In Smoke 5pp, Dragon from the East 4pp, A Pair of Dice 6pp, Steel Foxhole 5pp

#7 May-June 1953: Run to Murmansk 5pp

#8 Aug-Sept 1953: Operation Rx 4pp

MISTER MYSTERY

#15 Feb 1954: Nightmare 4pp

WEIRD TALES OF THE FUTURE

#2 June 1952: City of Primitive Man 7pp

#3 Sept 1952: Desert Castle 6pp

#4 Nov 1952: Day of Doom 7pp, Engine That Came Through Time 7pp, Speck of Stardust 7pp

#5 Jan 1953: The Worm Turns 4pp, Else You’ll Be Dead 4pp, Under Her Thumb 4pp, Torture 4pp

From WIN A PRIZE COMICS #1, Feb 1955, © Charlton

Howard reconnected with Simon and Kirby in 1954, doing work like this for Charlton. His regular lettering is looking a bit uneven here, and he’s gone back to the serif G. Or could this be old work that sat in Simon and Kirby inventory for years? Joe Simon said in his book that rarely happened, they usually were able to sell everything they did.

CHARLTON

CHARLIE CHAN

#6 June 1955: Front Cover, Charlie Chan (3 stories) 6pp, 7pp, 7pp

#7 Aug 1955: Charlie Chan (first story) 6pp, (second story) page 1 top panel only

FROM HERE TO INSANITY

#11 Aug 1955: Front Cover, Expressions 1pp, Line ‘Em Up 2pp, Dorothy and Digby 4pp, Rex Mortgage M.D. 3pp, Walt Chisely’s 20,000 Lugs Under the Sea 6pp, Build It Yourself 4pp, Comet Feldmeyer 2pp, Tweetie Piper 1pp, Be A Successful 90-Pound Weakling 1pp

WIN A PRIZE COMICS

#1 Feb 1955: Uncle Giveaway 1pp, The Emissary 6pp, Win A Prize 1pp

#2 April 1955: Bullet Ballad 7pp, Sir Cashby of Moneyvault 4pp, Torpedoed 4pp, The Handsome Brute 5pp, The Bull 5pp

From FIGHTING AMERICAN #5, Dec 1954-Jan 1955, © Prize

When Ferguson also returned to Simon and Kirby work at Prize, taking over titles like this from Ben Oda, his lettering was subdued with few creative extras, but look at that clever balloon for the tiger in the first panel! Here the G again has a serif, something that seemed to come and go.

From YOUNG ROMANCE #90, Nov 1957, © Prize

Right at the end of his career, Ferguson’s lettering sometimes looked uneven, but he always came through with beautiful story titles. Here the G is without a serif again, but look at the familiar question mark and stylish opening caption.

PRIZE (Part 4)

FIGHTING AMERICAN

#5 Dec 1954-Jan 1955: Fighting American (3 stories) 8pp, 8pp, 6pp

#6 Feb-March 1955: Fighting American (3 stories) 8pp, 4pp, 10pp

#7 April-May 1955: Front Cover, Fighting American (3 stories) 8pp, 7pp, 5pp

YOUNG BRIDES

#21 March-April 1955: Front Cover, Cheating Lady 6pp, Marriage at Work 6pp, Bad Impression 7pp, Fair Weather Love 6pp

#22 May-June 1955: Those Two 6pp, The Pianist 6pp, Dream Love 6pp, Trail’s End 6pp

#23 July-Aug 1955: That Manning Boy 6pp, Steady Beau 2pp, Impossible Love 6pp, Ask Dan Wilson 2pp, The Day I Grew Up 6pp

#24 Sept-Oct 1955: Front Cover, Ask Mother 6pp, Bitter Bride 6pp, Riches or Romance? 6pp

#25 Nov-Dec 1955: Cafe Society Lover 8pp, A Little Understanding 6pp, Last Hope 6pp, Her Beautiful Visitor 5pp

#26 Jan-Feb 1956: Lydia’s Boy 7pp, Since You Got Glamour 6pp, Love & Lamb Chops 5pp, Dream Man 7pp

#27 March-April 1956: Front Cover, Good Marriage 7pp, Second Choice 6pp, Sad Wedding 5pp, Unattached Male 7pp

#28 May-June 1956: Front Cover, If You Could Only Cook 5pp, Under New Management 7pp, Aide to Marriage 6pp, New Boy in Town 7pp

#29 July-Aug 1956: Sound of Wedding Bells 6pp, Shadow-Wife 6pp, Nancy’s Sanctuary 6pp, Romance on the Run 7pp

#30 Nov-Dec 1956: In Love with a Tomboy 6pp, Here Comes the Bride 6pp, Family Jinx 6pp, The Way They Met 1pp, Unhappy Housewife 6pp

YOUNG LOVE

#64 April-May 1955: Kissing Game 6pp, Weeping Widow 6pp, Love Me, Love My Sister 6pp. Lovely Little Faker 6pp

#65 June-July 1955: Who Keeps the Faith 6pp, The Wild One 6pp, Foolishly Wise 6pp, Get Out of Town 7pp

#66 Aug-Sept 1955: Just for Spite 6pp, Till the End of Time 6pp, Past Mistakes 6pp

#69 Feb-March 1956: Front Cover, How’s the Family? 7pp, Bright Boy 6pp, Lady in the Jaguar 6pp, Girls Next Door 6pp

#70 April-May 1956: Front Cover, Too Late for Love 6pp, Big Disappointment 8pp, A Week in Frisco 5pp, Lovely Little Copycat 6pp

#71 June-July 1956: Easy Way Out 6pp, Love That Money 6pp, Birthday Present 7pp

#72 Oct-Nov 1956: And My Heart Came Tumbling Down 7pp, Love and War 6pp, Cinderella Story 6pp, I Dream of Jeannie 6pp

#73 Dec 1956-Jan 1957: Torch Song 7pp, Soldier’s Homecoming 6pp, Bust-up 6pp

YOUNG ROMANCE

#76 April 1955: Let’s Pretend 6pp, Lovesick Meddler 6pp, Unpleasingly Plump 4pp, Lover’s Helper 7pp

#77 June-July 1955: Security of Love 6pp, The Hangout 6pp, The Big Fish 6pp, My Husband’s Keeper 7pp

#78 Aug-Sept 1955: Front Cover, Meddling Mother-in-Law 2pp, What’s the Catch? 6pp

#79 Oct-Nov 1955: Poor Marcie 6pp, Problem Clinic 2pp, Castle in Spain 5pp

#80 Dec 1955-Jan 1956: Personal Message to Ruth 6pp, Gingerbread House 6pp, Old Enough to Marry 5pp, Lovesick 8pp

#81 Feb-March 1956: The Lady and the Truck Driver 7pp, A Match for Linda 5pp, He Had Only Me 6pp, Bring the Kids 7pp

#82 April-May 1956: Lost Little Lamb 6pp, Bundle From Heaven 6pp, Wild Flower 6pp, Repeat Performance 7pp

#83 June-July 1956: Dancing Doll 8pp, Lonely Heart 5pp, The Serious Type 5pp, Only You 7pp

#84 Oct-Nov 1956: Much Ado About Love 7pp, Poison Ivy 6pp, Swept Off My Feet 6pp, Romeo and Judy Ann 6pp

#85 Dec 1956-Jan 1957: Lizzie’s Back in Town 7pp, Lady’s Choice 6pp, Resort Romeo 6pp, My Cousin From Milwaukee 6pp

#86 Feb-March 1957: Reject 4pp

#87 April-May 1957: Rock ‘N’ Roll Sweetheart 5pp

#88 June-July 1957: Who Loves the Loser? 5pp, Unfinished Business 5pp, They’re Only Men 1pp

#89 Aug-Sept 1957: Trust in Me 5pp, Guessing Game 4pp, Pal Joannie 5pp, Rock Rock Rock Rock-a-Bye to Love 6pp, Goodbye My Darling 5pp

#90 Oct-Nov 1957: Girl in the Middle 5pp, Direct Approach 4pp, Sawdust Princess 5pp, Baby Sister 5pp, Something Missing 6pp

From BLACK CAT (MYSTIC) #60, Nov 1957, © Harvey Comics

In some of Howard’s final stories, he was returning to creative extras in a small way, like the bold and larger initial capitals in some of these captions. His THE in the story title is very familiar.

HARVEY (Part 3)

ALARMING TALES

#1 Sept 1957: Table of Contents 1pp, The Cadmus Seed 5pp, Logan’s Next Life 2pp, The Fourth Dimension is a Many Splattered Thing 5pp, Last Enemy 6pp, Donnegan’s Daffy Chair 4pp

#2 Nov 1957: Table of Contents 1pp, Hole in the Wall 6pp, Big Hunt 4pp, Fireballs 5pp, I Want to Be a Man 5pp

#3 Jan 1958: This World is Ours 5pp

#4 March 1958: Forbidden Journey 5pp

BLACK CAT (MYSTIC)

#58 July-Sept 1956: Mr. Zimmer (2 stories) 1pp, 5pp, Mysteryvision 5pp, Jim Bowie House Ad 1pp, Gismo 5pp, Help 5pp

#59 Sept 1957: Table of Contents 1pp, Today I Am A–? 5pp, A Weemer is the Best of All 5pp, The Great Stone Face 5pp

#60 Nov 1957: Table of Contents 1pp, A Snap of the Fingers 5pp, The Woman Who Discovered America 67 Years Before Columbus 2pp, A Town Full of Babies 5pp, The Ant Extract 5pp, Shadow Brother 5pp

If my math is right, I count 6,043 pages in all. For this index, I’ve only credited Ferguson on stories where I could find and check scans of the pages. There are a few credited on the Grand Comics Database that I couldn’t find, like WESTERN TALES 32 and 33 at Harvey (1956). If they turn up and have Howard’s work, I’ll add them. And I’m sure there are some I missed. Thanks to Harry Mendryk at the Kirby Museum site for his pioneering work on identifying Ferguson lettering for Simon and Kirby.

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