Continuing my ongoing series about the cover lettering of Danny Crespi at Marvel Comics, mostly from 1974-1979. 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 41 (above) through 44. Everything on this page is by Crespi except “The Trial of Colossus,” which is by Gaspar Saladino. Sources follow.
“The Thing from the Black Belfry” from KULL THE DESTROYER #14, June 1974. From the cut marks visible between each line of this cover blurb, it was probably lettered in a rectangle, and then reworked to fit on a circle, which better fills the available space.
“Enter Salem’s Seven” from FANTASTIC FOUR #186, Sept. 1977. I like the bounce on these letters.
“Guest-starring the Uncanny X-Men” from POWER MAN $57, June 1979. Cut lines around X-MEN suggest it was a second try. Perhaps it was solid letters first, and then made into an outline version to pop the word in color.
“Scarlet Scarab” from THE INVADERS #23, Dec. 1977. The character letters are curvy and graceful on this one, and the reverse color treatment of the rest makes it more “villainous.” Very effective.
“The Trial of Colossus” from X-MEN #122, June 1979, by Gaspar Saladino. Note the color error under the SUS in COLOSSUS, which should be red. The perspective on that word is faked, it has no vanishing point, which is something Gaspar often did, and I bet no one noticed.
“First Issue” from GIANT-SIZE INVADERS #1, June 1975. The yellow letters on green don’t stand out or read well, but the key words are FIRST ISSUE, which read fine.
“Face of Fear” from CRYPT OF SHADOWS #18, July 1975. I like this, especially the word OF. Nice scroll caption, too. I haven’t found a source for the last word on the page, NIGHTMARE.
The Crespi Files page 42. “Tomb of Blood” and “Doctor Doom” are by Gaspar Saladino, “Space Gods” is probably by Jim Novak. The rest are by Danny Crespi. Sources follow except for “The Raging Fire Demons,” which I can’t find. That might not have been used.
“Tomb of Blood” from CAPTAIN AMERICA 253, Jan. 1981 by Saladino. No one could top Gaspar for creepy lettering, and BLOOD here is a good example. A personal aside: in the artist credit box, I think the lettering of the inker’s name RUBINSTEIN is by me. I was at a convention somewhere also attended by Joe Rubinstein, and he asked me to letter it in for him. Not positive this is that one, but it sure looks like it. My first Marvel cover lettering.
“Memory’s End” from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #12, Feb. 1980.
“Shoot on Sight” from WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS #30, July 1975. Texture in the word SHOOT makes it more effective, to my eye. Nice ragged-edged caption.
“Doctor Doom” from IRON MAN #150, Sept. 1981 by Saladino. You can imagine that this favorite Marvel villain had his name on many covers. I find this version very appealing. Note that Gaspar made the I in IRON a crossbar version, something I would never do, and generally dislike, but it works okay here.
“Prisoners of the Space Gods” from Fantastic Four #224, Nov. 1980 probably by Jim Novak. Jim was the best Gaspar imitator, and this could be by Saladino, but there are a few clues it’s not: the shapes of each S in PRISONERS, and the mix of round and square corners in SPACE GODS. Gaspar usually stuck to one or the other.
“Evil is the Orb” from GHOST RIDER #28, Feb. 1978. When is texture inside open letters too much? It’s a tough call, and color makes a difference. This one is a little hard to read, perhaps should have been less textured.
“The Beetle and the Badge” from SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #16, March 1978. Thanks to Ray Bottorf Jr. for finding it. I love the color, tying to the character’s hands.
The Crespi Files page 43. The top two and “Checkmate” are by Gaspar Saladino, “Satan had a Son” is by Irv Watanabe, and the rest are by Danny Crespi. I can’t find “Bloodbath.” Sources for the rest follow.
“Red Ronan” from AVENGERS #198, Aug. 1980 by Saladino. This reads fine, but the dark purple hides the drop shadow on RAMPAGE, making it look uneven. Note how Gaspar adds interest by extending the right legs on each R in RED RONAN.
“Death Race” from MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #80, Oct. 1981 by Saladino. Great texture and roughness add interest, and the dull orange color allows the moon to work as the light source.
“Satan had a Son” from CONAN THE BARBARIAN #113, Aug. 1980. I first thought this was by Crespi, but the shapes of each S made me unsure. The Grand Comics Database credits it to Irv Watanabe, so I’m going to assume that’s right.
“Disaster Area” from ETERNALS #15, Sept. 1977. The letters above DISASTER AREA are very narrow for Crespi, but everything else looks like his work, so either he had to do that to make it fit, or it’s patched in by someone else.
“Startling Suspense” from MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #25, 1977. Early issues of this title had no cover blurbs promoting the story inside, but I suspect sales were not great, so lettering like this tying them to the rest of Marvel’s comics became the norm later in the run. Danny may have done the logo as well.
“Transylvania” from GIANT-SIZE WEREWOLF #3, Jan. 1975. Another case where a combination of texture in the letters and a relatively dark color makes TRANSYLVANIA hard to read. Note the word NEW was done separately, but can be partially seen in pencil form on the original lettering.
“Checkmate” from INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #9, 1980. Beautifully lettered by Gaspar, and the dropped box caption is very effective. Thanks to Ray Bottorf Jr. for finding this one.
The Crespi Files page 44. Only two of these are by Danny Crespi: “Thing in the Dungeon” and “Shanna teams with Spidey.” The rest are by Gaspar Saladino except “World of Dinosaurs” (someone trying to imitate Gaspar and doing it badly, don’t know who) and “Assassins in the Night” which is probably by Jim Novak. Sources follow.
“Terrible Toymaster” by Saladino from MICRONAUTS ANNUAL #2, 1980. One clue that Crespi didn’t letter this is the cover date. Danny rarely lettered covers after 1979. The style is pure Gaspar, too.
“Thing in the Dungeon” by Crespi from KULL THE DESTROYER #25, Feb. 1978. Nicely done, but there are rather large spaces on either side of the second line.
“Cults and Robbers” by Saladino from SPIDER-WOMAN #14, May 1979. This was a tight fit, and CULTS has been moved away from the rest to make room for the dagger. Still reads well.
“World of Dinosaurs” by an unknown letterer from MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #73, March 1981. The letters of DINOSAURS aren’t bad, but the rest is a mess of oddly-matched letters and poor spacing. No doubt done by someone on staff in Production.
“Green Goblin Returns” by Saladino from SPIDEY SUPER-STORIES #48, Sept. 1980. Gaspar’s thin outlines work very well against the black caption background. Beautifully done.
“Shanna teams with Spidey” by Crespi from SPIDEY SUPER-STORIES #14, Dec. 1975. I like this one, very classy and strong. As a letterer, you love when the words even out in length like this.
“Assassins in the Night” from MASTER OF KUNG-FU #102, July 1981. Probably by Jim Novak. It doesn’t look like Gaspar’s work, but is similar in some ways.
“Together Again” by Saladino from CAPTAIN AMERICA #261, Sept. 1981. The color is really too dark for open letters, but it’s readable. Gaspar made it work.
That’s all this time, more when I have a chance to research them. Other parts of this series are listed on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog, where you can find more articles you might enjoy.