This and all images © Marvel.

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 33 to 36.  Page 33, above, has many characteristic style points of Danny’s own work on covers, including thick caption borders that extend past the corners (those extensions were trimmed off when photostatted and pasted on the cover art), generally bouncy and somewhat rounded open letters, an upturned right leg on the open R in “Deathcry,” and very wide standard lettering, as seen here on “The menace of the.” Uses of these captions are below.


Top caption from STRANGE TALES #178 featuring Warlock, cover-dated Feb. 1975. I love the star at the bottom of the exclamation point.


Second caption from THE RINGO KID #24, Nov. 1975. Note that when Danny is identified as the letterer of one caption on a cover, it’s very likely he did all the cover lettering on it, including the Wanted poster on this one.


Third caption is at the bottom of this very type-heavy cover dated May 1975. The caption box is filled with black, and the small lettering is reversed to white. This eliminates Danny’s drop shadow, but still looks fine to me.


Final caption from page 33 is on this cover dated Dec. 1975. Could Marvel get away with publishing this today, I wonder?


Page 34. Note the rare production note to the right of the top caption calling for one positive photostat at 65%. That means this original lettering was reduced by one third for pasting on the cover art, and that art was reduced about another third for printing. The original lettering is 6.5 inches wide, so if my math is right, the printed caption should be about 2.75 inches wide. Danny worked quite large on much of his cover lettering. Uses below.


Top caption is on MARVEL TEAM-UP #39 dated Novl 1975. Again, the caption has been filled with black, eliminating the heavier outline on SLAY, but still works fine.


“Enter Psycho-Man!” is more lettering from the cover of GIANT-SIZE FANTASTIC FOUR #5, May 1975.


“Fantastic First Issue!” from GIANT-SIZE SUPER-HEROES #1, June 1974. As you can imagine there are tons of similar captions, thanks to Nicholas Caputo for identifying this particular one! Danny’s burst captions were not usually this strongly pointed, so I suspect he was imitating Gaspar Saladino there.


“The Hellcat Cometh!” from THE AVENGERS #144, Feb. 1976.


And “Panic in New York!” from THE INHUMANS #3, Feb. 1976.


Page 35. Interesting to see that some of the open lettering in the first two captions leans backwards a bit, something I haven’t seen from Danny anywhere else. Uses below.


“Red Raven Lives Again!” from X-MEN #92, Feb. 1975. Caption again filled black, still looks fine. The words LIVES AGAIN! are the only ones on page 35 that are laid out and inked with a ruler and triangle (for the angled sides), the rest is probably all freehand pencilling and inking with perhaps horizontal guidelines in pencil to keep it level. Danny did so many covers at this time any shortcuts would have helped.


Second caption on page 35 is from MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #10, July 1975.


Third caption from TOMB OF DRACULA #34, July 1975. Top line reversed, so the production request for that would have been “1 Neg.” Photostats could be positive or negative (reversed).


Last caption for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #146, July 1975. Nice banner caption on this one.


Page 36, all this lettering for just three covers, seen below.


The top third of page 36 is at the bottom of this cover from July 1975. Its a mess visually, with too many separate scenes and too much type and lettering. Danny was working hard for his money here! There’s a nice variety of lettering styles that go together well, but some of it dies visually when printed white on light green, a poor choice.


“The Dead Don’t Sleep!” from UNCANNY TALES FROM THE GRAVE #11, Aug. 1975. I don’t love the green color choice, but this one looks great otherwise.


“The Tomb of the Stalking Dead” from SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #13, June 1975. Note that Danny’s exclamation point was removed to make room for added quotes around DEAD. Either that word was considered misleading or it was a change requested by the Comics Code Authority.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this look at Crespi cover lettering, previous parts of this series and more articles you might enjoy can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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