Danny Crespi, 1982, photo © Elliot R. Brown.

This time I’m covering pages 25 to 28 of the collection of Marvel cover lettering from about 1974 to 1978—mostly by Danny Crespi—compiled by fellow letterer Phil Felix. I never met Danny but have an ever-growing respect and appreciation for his work seen in these photocopies of his hand-lettered cover titles and balloons.

This and all following images © Marvel.

Page 25 has some great examples of Danny’s work. I particularly love the bullet-ridden wood treatment of SHOOTOUT. Note that edges are trimmed off on the copies I have. Here are the sources:


“Stegron” from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #165 dated Feb. 1977. Note that, where I’ve identified Danny as the letterer of one piece of cover lettering, it’s almost certain he did the others as well, such as the speech balloon and burst balloon here.


“When Bites the Beaver!” from HOWARD THE DUCK #9 dated Feb. 1977. While the idea and villain are meant to be funny, to make that work the art and lettering have to be completely serious. Funny or comic lettering would ruin the humor.


“Menace of the Man Called Morbius!” from PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #7 dated June 1977. Notice the short upper stroke of the C in MENACE, an odd choice, but it works fine. As always, Danny’s caption borders are very thick, making for easier paste-up and coloring.


“Shootout at Hooker Flat” from KID COLT OUTLAW #205 dated April 1976. On the original lettering there is no caption box, it must have been added later, and was necessary to separate the lettering from the background. The handling of AT is unusual for Danny.


“The Demon from the Deep!” from CONAN THE BARBARIAN #69 dated Dec. 1976.


Page 26 all lettered by Crespi. All are identified below except for the circle at upper right.


“The Rampage of Razor-Fist!” from MASTER OF KUNG-FU #29 dated June 1975. The rough vertical lines inside RAZOR-FIST give the word texture and grit.


“This Savage Unchained!” from KA-ZAR #19 dated Dec. 1976. The caption box has been filled black, which makes the banner caption fail to work, especially on the right side. This sort of thing may have been done by whoever pasted the cover together, or it might have been a choice of the colorist and therefore done by the color separator.


“Slaughter on Ninth Avenue!” from OMEGA THE UNKNOWN #2 dated May 1976. In this case filling the rectangular caption box with black does no harm, and works fine. The word ON has been reversed (white on black), something done either in the Marvel production room with their photostat camera, or by the separator.


“The Scorpion Stings But Once!” from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #145 dated June 1975. They don’t write them like that anymore! We don’t know who wrote the cover copy on any of these covers, but the editor is the likely choice. Note all the heavy black around STINGS on the original is covered by blacking in the entire banner, again killing the effectiveness of it as a banner.


“The Hitman’s Back in Town!” from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #174 dated Nov. 1977. A thinner caption border than usual for Danny. Note the white type on red at the bottom. That kind of color knock-out had to be done by the color separator, following indications by the colorist.


“Swords, Sorcery and Savagery–” from MARVEL PREMIERE #34 dated Feb. 1977. Round captions are eye-catching, but can make for odd shapes if the words are made to fit inside the circle, as with CONAN here, larger in the middle. Works fine, though.


Another round caption from HOWARD THE DUCK #14 dated July 1977.


Page 27, all identified below with help from Ray Bottorf Jr. All lettered by Danny Crespi.


“Two Against the World!” from THE INCREDIBLE HULK #196 dated Feb. 1976. Danny’s burst shapes are unmistakeable once you’ve studied a few. There are large points that zig-zag in all directions, while most letterers try to get the points going directly away from the center. Works fine, just a different approach.


“The Deadliest Gun in the West!” from THE RINGO KID #24 dated Nov. 1975. The red color-hold words are harder to read than the ones with black outlines, but it works okay.


“Assault on Olympus!” from THE CHAMPIONS #3 dated Feb. 1976. The heavy outlines work well against the red background color.


“Death-dealing Samurai!” from MASTER OF KUNG-FU #20 dated Sept. 1974. Danny did not use serif letter forms often, but they look great here on SAMURAI.


Page 28, all lettered by Crespi, all identified below except the first round caption, which is actually from MASTER OF KUNG-FU #20, just above.


“The Day They Caught the Kid!” from KID COLT OUTLAW #197 dated Aug. 1975. The square and jagged outline on CAUGHT is a nice contrast to the very rounded outlines of the lines above and below it.


Burst balloon from THOR #249 dated July 1976. Note that the tail was added when the lettering was pasted onto the cover. The ink spot after ASGARD was a comma but perhaps smeared, and was fixed later after paste-up.


“Shanna teams with Spidey!” from SPIDEY SUPER STORIES #14 dated Dec. 1975. One of those rare cases where the word and line length fit perfectly in a rectangle. Nicely done.


“The Death-cult of Kara-Kai!” from MARVEL PREMIERE #19 dated Nov. 1974. Partial serifs on KARA-KAI just on the top left of each letter add interest and infer motion. I really like this one.

Other parts of this series can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog, as well as more articles you might enjoy. More of this when I have time.

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