DannyCrespi1982byEliotRBrownDanny Crespi in the Marvel offices, 1982, photo © Eliot R. Brown.

Here’s an excerpt from the Danny Crespi interview conducted by D. Jon Zimmerman in David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW #9, dated March 1984:

DANNY: I used to collect lettering assignments from different places and go home and do them. But for presentation work, you’re supposed to wait around by your phone ’til they call you, then go over to the studio to work. I don’t like that. I don’t like to wait around for people to call me. I like to belong to one place. Well, about twelve years ago I called up Morrie Kuramoto — I don’t talk to him that often and once every twelve years is enough. (Laughter.) I didn’t even know if he was still working at Marvel, but I heard he was. I asked if he had any work for me. He said, “Hey, man, I can use a hand. Come on down!” Then he told me to bring my own pen-holders! I said, “What kind of a place is this?” Apparently they never had any spare fountain pens or anything.

ZIMMERMAN: What was it like?

DANNY: It was real small. there was no room. In fact, to get me a spare seat, I had to wait for when Marie Severin was working at home. They didn’t even have shelves for supplies. Morrie gave me things to do. The pay was low — all the comics companies paid low wages in those days. But it was steady work. I wasn’t on staff, but I felt I belonged there. I came to work every day. I would do corrections, paste-ups — everything the Bullpen does now. After I was freelancing there steady for a while, John (Verpoorten) offered me a job, and I said, “Yeah, sure,” even though the wages were too low. It cost me money to work there!

One day John asked me why I was going to other places to get extra work when Marvel had plenty of extra work to give me, if I wanted to work at night. He would go around to everyone and say, “I’ve got Crespi staying here at night and I want you to have your work ready for him to finish by the time you go home.” Eventually, I helped him run the bullpen. John used to stay at night when I was working until seven or eight o’clock in the evening, doing cover-lettering and cover copy for nine-tenths of the covers. (End of interview excerpt)

This time I’ll be looking at pages 9 to 12 of the photocopied lettering collected by Phil Felix.Crespi09PAGE 9. This and all following images © Marvel.

All the lettering on this page looks like the work of Danny Crespi to me. I remembered the one at upper right, and was able to find the rest with help from Kurt Busiek and Michael Styborski. Danny’s regular letters are very wide. His open letters are generally somewhat rounded. His balloon and caption borders are thick and distinctive.

09_SkullTheSlayer5_5-76“BLACK KNIGHT” and “SLITHEROGUE” from SKULL THE SLAYER #5, May 1976. Note that the tails were added when the cover was assembled, as was the standard procedure.

09_GiantSizeManThing4_5-75“Gorko, the Man-Frog” from GIANT-SIZE MAN-THING #4, May 1975. The EXTRA looks like a style Danny picked up from Gaspar Saladino, the other main cover letterer at Marvel then.

09_CaptainAmerica179_11-74“Golden Archer!” from CAPTAIN AMERICA #179, Nov. 1974.

09_Thor249_7-76“ODIN!” from THOR #249, July 1976.

09_MarvelTeamUp35_7-75“The Valkyrie shall DIE!” from MARVEL TEAM-UP #35, July 1975. Parts of the balloon above it are there but covered by another piece of lettering.

“Eaten Alive” from POWER MAN #31, May 1976.

09_MarvelDoubleFeature14_2-76“Stolen” from MARVEL DOUBLE FEATURE #14, Feb. 1976.

Crespi10PAGE 10. All by Danny Crespi except “SNOW VAMPIRES,” which is not from a cover, and I believe lettered by John Costanza, as several people suggested.

10_KidColtOutlaw195_6-75“WESTERN ACTION” from KID COLT OUTLAW #195, June 1975. A burst from this cover was on a previous page of the collection.

10_Avengers137_7-75“AVENGER is coming THRU!” from THE AVENGERS #137, July 1975. The alternate spelling of “through” is interesting. We don’t know who wrote the cover copy for any of these, but it was most likely the editor or assistant editor in most cases, carrying on from the previous decade when Stan Lee was probably writing most of them.

10_X-Men92_2-75“DOOM!” from X-MEN #92, Feb. 1975. Note that most of the open lettering from this page was filled with solid red (100% magenta, 100% yellow), which always stands out and reads well.

10_TombofDracula34_5-75“TRAP!” from TOMB OF DRACULA #34, May 1975.

10_VampireTales3_2-74“SNOW VAMPIRES” is from this house ad appearing in VAMPIRE TALES #3 dated Feb. 1974. Many thanks to Bob Heer for finding it. Other than the logos, this is probably all by John Costanza, a prolific story letterer for both Marvel and DC. His lettering has more curves and bounce than either Danny Crespi or Gaspar Saladino. He didn’t like to letter covers, so it’s nice to see his work represented by this interior example.

10_AmazingSpiderMan158_7-76“HAMMERHEAD” from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #158, July 1976.

10_CaptainAmerica197_5-76“ALONE!” from CAPTAIN AMERICA #197, May 1976.

Crespi11PAGE 11. OZ is from a logo possibly by Danny Crespi. “CHAMPIONS” and ‘RAMPAGE” are not by Danny, and I think “DOWN!” is by Gaspar Saladino. The rest is by Crespi, I believe.

11_MarvelTreasuryofOz_1975OZ is from this MARVEL TREASURY OF OZ #1, 1975. That and the rest of the logo could have been lettered by Danny Crespi. The cover lettering looks more like the work of Gaspar Saladino. A very similar OZ is on the Marvel/DC tabloid adaptation of MGM’s “Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” but that one has a wider O.

11_BlackGoliath2_4-76“ATOM-SMASHER” and “DIE!” from BLACK GOLIATH #2, April 1976. The closeness to the character’s head has made the added tail barely noticeable, but you still get the idea of who’s talking.

11_TwoGunKid130_6-76Balloon and burst from TWO GUN KID #130, June 1976.11_AdvonthePlanetoftheApes5_4-76Three balloons from ADVENTURES ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #5, April 1976. (A comic title which is too long!)

11_AmazingSpiderMan154_3-76“WEBBING” from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #154, March 1976. You rarely see thought balloons these days, this is a nice one.

“Doc Samson” from THE INCREDIBLE HULK #199, May 1976.

11_Champions6_6-76“CHAMPIONS” and “RAMPAGE” from THE CHAMPIONS #6, June 1976. None of the lettering on this cover looks like Danny Crespi to me. Notice the thinner line weight on the regular letters, the very different burst style, and the uneven open letters. I don’t know who it is by, though.

11_PowerMan26_8-75“Sweet sister” from POWER MAN #26, Aug. 1975.

Crespi12PAGE 12. The two bursts at bottom right are by Gaspar Saladino, I think the rest is by Danny Crespi. I’ve found most of them.12_GiantSizeChillers3_8-75“Night of the Gargoyle!” from GIANT-SIZE CHILLERS #3, Aug. 1975. Often Danny Crespi’s open lettering loses impact when the shape behind it is filled with black, but in this case they put the heavily-textured and thick outlines in red, which looks great. My favorite Crespi cover burst so far. Influenced by Gaspar Saladino, but definitely Danny.

“Welcome to your Death!” from AMAZING ADVENTURES #32, Sept. 1975.

“Savage Time!” from THE DEFENDERS #26, Aug. 1975. Again, Crespi’s open letters lose impact on the black background.

“Biggest Blazing Battle” from MARVEL TRIPLE ACTION #29, May 1976.

12_Godzilla10_5-78“YETIGAR!” from GODZILLA #10, May 1978. Another black burst with all white lettering this time. Negative or “reversed” photostats could be made in the Bullpen on their photostat camera and pasted in place, or the same effect could be done by the color separators.

12_EvelKnievel1_1975“EVEL KNIEVEL” from a Marvel toy-based custom comic created for Ideal Toys. The shape of the C and S in EXCLUSIVE are very Gaspar Saladino, as is the burst shape. The smaller burst was likely done for this cover, but not used, or is on the back cover. The caption is probably by someone else, the S in TRAPS is unlike anything Gaspar ever did. Perhaps it’s picked up from the story title inside.

More of these when I have time. Other articles you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.


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