Comic fans usually revere writers and artists and inkers (despite Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy). The most overlooked creators are often the letterers, especially the ones from the golden/silver/bronze ages. My favorite letterer whose style I could easily identify as a kid was Artie Simek.
Letters were painstakingly hand-drawn in those days. I am sure if you asked a non-fan, they thought a machine put the letters in the comics. Artie Simek spent his entire professional life perfecting this craft at Marvel and DC Comics.
Artie Simek became exclusive to Marvel during their 1960s rebirth. Many of the early Fantastic Four comics were lettered by Artie. Why do I like his lettering style so much? Number one, the letters are big, clear, and extremely easy to read. There’s a style to his letters that gets specially accented in the captions and credits. I love the way he drew those bold characters.
On this Defenders splash page, you can see that Artie designed Giant-Sized logos for the title of the story, slanted against the tornado. There’s a TS Eliot quote that Steve Englehart threw in there, giving Artie an opportunity to do some fancy calligraphy.
Nutty little details, like the “Y” peeking out of the top rim of the panel, just tickle me. Simek probably lettered all of Marvel’s major titles during the 1960s and 1970s: Fantastic Four, Avengers, Defenders, X-Men, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I also liked Sam Rosen, John Costanza, Tom Orzechowski, Gaspar Saladino and Todd Klein.
I always looked forward to seeing the name “Artie Simek” in the credits. Giving letterers a credit was unheard of before Stan Lee started doing it in Marvel Comics. Way to go Stan—and way to go, Artie! Nuff Said!
Link: Artie Simek Wikipedia page.
Update: Comments from my previous MovableType blog: