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

And Then I Read: HER MAJESTY, GRACE JONES by Jane Langton

Cover illustration by Emily Arnold McCully.

This is not about the singer, it’s a delightful novel for children written in 1961, but taking place in America in the 1930s. Grace and her family have moved from Boston to Ohio because Grace’s father was promised a factory job there, but when they arrive, that position has been put on hold. Grace, Will and their parents have a new home on a hill overlooking their new town, but almost no money. Everyone is angry with the factory owner, who keeps promising he will be in touch as soon as he can reopen that position, but meanwhile they must gradually sell off their belongings to get by.

Grace is full of imagination, and has decided that she’s secretly a child of the current King of England, and glories in her private royalty. She even writes the King a letter to see if he might help her family out in their hard times. Meanwhile, she and Will and their friends get into all kinds of trouble and adventures, always trying to think of ways to get a little extra money for the family.

When Petunia, the family car, has to be sold, Grace rebels by hiding out in the rumble seat and confronting the new owners angrily when they get the car home. This works out in the end, as the new owners are understanding, and agree to help out the family by taking them on errands in their former car. Other friends are found along the way, as everyone in the country is in much the same situation, waiting for better times to arrive. Grace haunts the mailbox waiting for the King’s reply. Will it ever come?

Recommended. (Previously titled “The Majesty of Grace.”)

And Then I Read: SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL 3

Image © DC Comics.

I find this is a title that goes in and out of focus for me. In focus, I like the story of an avian creature, Loma Shade, inhabiting the body of a human girl on Earth, Megan Boyer, who was formerly in a coma. Loma is reckless and now a criminal back on her homeworld, Meta, having stolen a madness vest, the means of her mental transformation, though her body remains there. On Earth, Loma is having lots of problems adjusting to human life, particularly because Megan turns out to be a cruel person who bullied and tortured many of those who knew her. It seems likely her coma was not accidental. Megan/Loma has made a few friends who try to help her, but mostly she’s hated.

Back on Meta, we follow the life of Loma’s friend Lepuck Ledo, and the search for the missing madness vest, and there things get hazy for me. Not sure where that’s going or why it’s important. Then there’s another hazy area, a threatening female form approaching Earth. Finally, there’s a Dial H for Hero backup that I can’t get interested in, but it’s just three pages.

I find parts of this book interesting, and want to read more, but I can only mildly recommend it.