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.
“Seattle Under Siege!” from GODZILLA #2, Sept. 1977. Very effective work by Danny. In fact, the letters are so strong, the caption box could have been eliminated. Danny did most of his cover lettering from 1974 to 1979.
“Ghost Town!” from MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #14, March 1976. This cover has too much lettering for my taste, but it all looks fine.
Unlike most of the work in this series, “The Ominous Owl!” is from an interior page, not a cover, the final page of DAREDEVIL #115, Nov. 1974. It does look like the work of Danny Crespi, though possibly it’s by the person who lettered the rest of the page, Charlotte Jetter. If Danny did it, it’s because the subject of the next issue wasn’t known to Charlotte when she lettered the page.
“Thirteenth Floor” from DEAD OF NIGHT #7, Dec. 1974. This lettering works fine.
Samurai!” from BLACK PANTHER #6, Nov. 1977. The rectangular box around SAMURAI is a little awkward, I would have just let those open letters float over the background art, but otherwise this is fine. The shaky style of some letters in that circle becomes hard to notice at the smaller size and held in a blue-green color.
“When a City Dies!” from THE INCREDIBLE HULK #237, July 1979. This works fine, could have been larger, since it’s nearly the only lettering on the page.
“Don’t try to stop me” word balloon from NOVA #14, Oct. 1977. Danny’s word balloons have distinctly wide and very even letters. It’s surprising I was able to find this one, I couldn’t find the other small word balloon on page 37.
“Inferno!” from IRON MAN #137, Aug. 1980. In addition to the clues previously mentioned that indicate this is by Gaspar Saladino rather than Danny Crespi, the date is beyond when Danny was regularly lettering covers. Gaspar was the primary cover letterer for DC Comics starting in the late 1960s, and he began doing the same for Marvel in the early 1970s.
“Himalayan Nightmare” is from MAN-THING #2, Jan. 1980, but probably created in the fall of 1979. It works quite well.
Page 38 of the Crespi Files is mostly by Danny Crespi, though the first caption at upper left is by Gaspar Saladino. Here are the sources I found.
“Dormammu!” from THOR ANNUAL #9, 1981. Again, the date is a solid indication that Danny Crespi didn’t do this one, even if the style wasn’t equally solid.
“Catspaw!” from DAREDEVIL #149, Nov. 1977. Effective lettering by Danny in a nice banner, though unfortunately placed over the foot and sign.
“Crimson Dust of Death!” from SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #30, May 1979. Very effective work by Danny.
“Five Super-Villains” from DAREDEVIL #123, July 1975. Nice lettering on this cover by Danny, though probably too much of it.
“I Killed Kid Colt!” from KID COLT OUTLAW #221, Dec. 1977. The style of the top line is borrowed from veteran Marvel letterer Artie Simek. The bullet holes in the character’s name are a nice touch.
“Shadows of the Past!” from MASTER OF KUNG-FU #92, Sept. 1980. That date suggests this isn’t by Crespi, and is either by Gaspar Saladino or Jim Novak, Gaspar’s best imitator.
“Through the Eyes of the Fly!” from SPIDER-WOMAN #30, Sept. 1980. Again probably not by Danny, and I don’t know who lettered this one. I didn’t find the circular blurb “It’s Action all the way!” or the word balloon on page 38.
Page 39 of the Crespi Files, mostly by Danny. Here are the sources I found.
“May the Farce be With You!” from HOWARD THE DUCK #22, March 1978. Fine lettering by Danny, and it’s interesting to see how the typical Marvel over-the-top cover blurb writing takes a comedic turn on this title. Perhaps it was written by series writer Steve Gerber.
“Savage is the Skull Crusher!” from MASTER OF KUNG FU #61, Feb. 1978. This is my favorite Crespi lettering in this post, very effective layout and lettering, and used at a good size, even though over a character.
Here’s an odd thing on IRON MAN #109, April 1978. The burst balloon at upper left has the same text as the one lettered by Danny Crespi on page 39, but is relettered by someone else, and not as well, in my opinion. The only reason I can think of is that Danny’s balloon was deemed too wide.
“Holocaust” from POWER MAN #47, Oct. 1977. I like the shape and texture behind that word in this work by Danny.
“Cap Smashes Thru!” from CAPTAIN AMERICA #249, Sept. 1980. Too late for Crespi, and this looks more like the work of Gaspar Saladino to me. Very stylish, and I like the use of “thru” instead of through because it fits better.
“A Death in the Family” from THE DEFENDERS #89, Nov. 1980. Again, too late for Crespi and very much in the style of Gaspar Saladino. The texture seems to have been removed from the letters in the printed version, probably just as well with the dark color they used.
“Into Death’s Dimension” from KULL THE DESTROYER #26, April 1978. Danny’s work here looks fine.
“Here I stand” from STAR WARS #4, Oct. 1977. I don’t care for the Crespi caption on this cover, but the word balloons look fine.
“Time to Kill” from GIANT-SIZE FANTASTIC FOUR #2, Aug. 1974. I’m not sure this is by Danny, but it probably is, a pretty early example of his cover lettering, if so.
Page 40 of the Crespi Files, all by Danny except the circular blurb at the left side, which is by Gaspar Saladino. I’ve been unable to find “Wilderness Fury” on a Marvel cover, nor the two solo names in the center. Here are the other sources.
“The Search for Steve Rogers” from CAPTAIN AMERICA #219, March 1978.
That circular blurb, from THE AVENGERS #203, Jan. 1981, and again the late date probably rules out Crespi. Gaspar’s “Crawlers” is wonderfully creepy!
“Surrounded by the Sandman” from SPIDEY SUPER STORIES #26, Sept. 1977. Effective lettering by Danny.
“Shoot-out in Scragg’s Saloon” from THE MIGHTY MARVEL WESTERN #39, June 1975. Fine lettering and caption border by Danny on this cover with too much copy.
“War in Pellucidar” from TARZAN #22, March 1979. The words WAR and IN are very close together, but don’t read together because of the very different styles. Space has been removed between IN and PELLUCIDAR, making that a bit hard to see as two words.
“Museum of the Mad” from THE INCREDIBLE HULK #198, April 1976. I love this lettering by Danny, and it works fine against the black caption fill, though the banner is then hard to see.
That’s it for this installment, more of the Crespi Files when I have time to research them.