THE DANNY CRESPI FILES Part 6

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This and all images © Marvel.

This time I’m covering pages 21 to 24 of the collection of Marvel cover lettering from about 1974 to 1978—mostly by Danny Crespi—compiled by fellow letterer Phil Felix. Above is page 21. These are all lettered by Danny I believe. If you’re following the series, you should have picked up some clues by now about his style. One obvious one on this page are the heavy panel borders that often extend beyond the corners. Those extensions were cut off when the lettering was photostatted and pasted onto the cover art. Another clue is the right leg of the R in display lettering often turns up at the end. Not every time, but there are several examples here. Danny’s non-display or regular lettering is very wide and very even and regular with little or no “bounce.” 

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“Monster Triumphant!” is from MARVEL SUPER-HEROES, Jan. 1976. On the original, the thin white spaces between the letters of MONSTER are memorable, but they are largely buried by the coloring here.

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“Nightmare!” is from MS. MARVEL #7, July 1977. The color on this one works very well, I like the white reverse on the bottom two lines.

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“The Hulk Cracks Up!” from SPIDEY SUPER STORIES #33, April 1978. The drop shadow on “Cracks Up” is lost here with the box filled black, but it still reads well.

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“A Duck Possessed!” is from HOWARD THE DUCK #14, July 1977. Note that the structure of these last two boxes is the same: straight open letters on the top line, wavy letters on the second. Works well on both.

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“Conan and Zula” from CONAN THE BARBARIAN #86, May 1978. On the original it said “Battles,” here it’s corrected to “Battle.” All the lettering is spooky, the outline on the two words at the bottom add emphasis.

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“Photon!” from NOVA #12, Aug. 1977. By making the open lettering fit the space, it gets smaller at the beginning and end, which kills some of the emphasis. In that case I would have made it overlap the circles and all be the same size.

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“Requiem for a Warlord” from JOHN CARTER, WARLORD OF MARS #3, Aug. 1977. The circle on the original and the doubled outlines are lost here, but it allows the lettering to fit the space better and be larger without impacting the art. That sort of decision was made by the person pasting the lettering on the art, which could have been Danny himself, or someone else.

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“Punisher” is from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #161, Oct. 1976. Looks fine, but in the other caption, “Nightcrawler” is made almost unreadable by the coloring. We may see that one again later.

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Page 22. Some of these are cut off, I’m guessing because they didn’t fit on the photocopier’s live area when Phil was first copying them. There’s enough to know what they all are. See if you can find the one NOT by Danny Crespi on this page. I’ll reveal it at the end of my source descriptions.

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“River of Death!” is from CAPTAIN AMERICA #208, April 1977. Danny’s shading and texture hold up well against the red color in the letters, very effective.

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“Spider Kill!” is from PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #5, April 1977. I love the whimsical spider webs between the letters.

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“They Come From Beyond the Grave” is from AVENGERS #131, Jan. 1975. Again, the heavier outlines on “Grave” are lost when the caption box is filled black, but it still reads well.

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“Cathedral Prime!” is from LOGAN’S RUN #7, July 1977. I like the caption shape on this one, and the rough outlines and drop shadow. In this case the color allows it to show nicely.

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“Silver Dagger!” is from DOCTOR STRANGE #5, Dec. 1974. Filling the caption box black buries the drop shadow, but the colorist has enhanced “Silver Dagger” nicely.

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“Luke Skywalker” is from STAR WARS #2, Aug. 1977. “Strikes Back!” is yellow on green, not very effective contrast, but readable.

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“Day of the Doom Wagon!” is from MS. MARVEL #5, May 1977. Danny didn’t often do open letters with no caption box, but it works well here, allowing the art to be more effective.

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“Dejah Thoris!” is from JOHN CARTER, WARLORD OF MARS #11, April 1978. Filling black around the open letters has made them look too thin to my eye.

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“Mutiny on the High Seas!” is from MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #27 of 1977. Love the scroll caption and the dot shading. The lettering is a little crowded and small, but it needed to clear the sword.

And the one I haven’t found a source for, “All-New” to “Thoth-Amon!” is by Gaspar Saladino. Notice the different style of burst on the top half: more points, deeper angles, and the rough edges Gaspar liked. On the arrow, the regular lettering is much narrower than Danny’s, and notice how the horizontal strokes touch each other on the E in NEW, something Gaspar did, but Danny did not.

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Page 23, all by Danny I believe, except the one at lower right. Some nice textures on HAVOC and SAVAGE LAND. I haven’t found all of these.

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“Havoc!” is from THE INHUMANS #10, April 1977. The texture works fine over a red color fill.

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“Savage Land!” from MARVEL TALES #81, July 1977. Again, the texture works against the red fill, and this lettering is very effective to my eye, with the banner caption adding depth.

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“In Death’s Dark Waters!” is from MS. MARVEL #8, Aug. 1977. The black fill kills the drop shadow again, but it still reads well.

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“Death by Fire” is from THOR #252, Oct. 1976. As usual, balloons are lettered without tails or connectors, which are added when the lettering is put on the cover art.

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“The Final Hour!” is from MS. MARVEL #4, April 1977. In this case, the lettering had no caption box or burst, but a burst was added before it was put on the cover, no doubt to make it read better. The added burst is also by Danny.

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“Son of Satan” from GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS #2, Oct. 1974. I wasn’t sure about the letterer at first, but the more I looked, the more Gaspar Saladino style points I found: the distortion of NEW, the small points on the burst, the bounce and angularity of FROM and IT CAME, the flames on HELL all look like the work of Gaspar to me.

I couldn’t find “House of Nightmare,” “Confrontation!” or the circle at upper right.

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Page 24, a tough one. I only found four of them.  “Zogg the Terrible” was the name of a monster toy produced by Ideal in 1977, so possibly that one was for a custom comic made to go with it, but I can’t find any evidence of one.

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“Worlds in Collision” is from FANTASTIC FOUR #153, Dec. 1974. Notice that as lettered it ended with a double dash, and the caption below it could easily have gone along with it. On the cover the first part now ends in an exclamation point. I theorize the second part was vetoed because it might give the impression the villain Doctor Doom was in the story, which he isn’t, and a new caption was made to feature “Mahkizmo,” the actual story villain. This cover is kind of a mess, the lettering does not fit well and is in too many different styles.

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“Star Jaws” is from SPIDEY SUPER STORIES #31, Feb. 1978. A Star Wars parody that’s enhanced by lettering slightly similar to the Star Wars logo.

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“Raknor the Slayer!” is from KA-ZAR #19, Dec. 1976. I like the white letters on black here for spooky lettering, but in the other caption it looks odd on the banner.

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“Asylum Earth” is from CAPTAIN MARVEL #49, March 1977. The squared letters are not typical for Danny, but I think it is by him, probably getting an idea from Gaspar.

That’s all I found on this page. Other parts of this series and more articles you might enjoy can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog. More when I have time.

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