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Old 07-24-2011, 12:13 AM   #1
superggraphics
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Howard Ferguson Captain America Letterer Supreme

Howard Ferguson (Captain America's original letterer) was one of Timely/Marvel Comics best letterers in my humble opinion. At the time he was active in the industry no one but Howard could dress up a comic like he did. Legendary for leaving a swath of cigarette and coffee stains on all of his pages, his work always outshined the rest. The cigarettes and the coffee finally did him in but boy was he great!



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Old 07-24-2011, 05:48 AM   #2
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The first time I saw Ferguson's name was in the Joe & Jim Simon book "The Comic Book Makers." I don't recall whether it said he worked for Timely or the Simon & Kirby shop itself. But yeah, I can imagine that either Joe Simon or Martin Goodman gave Ferguson a quick layout sketch on a sheet of paper... which would have been more script than layout... and then he did the rest. The work itself suggests to me that Ferguson may have thought about becoming a draftsman, or a sign & sho-card painter. He did have a fine knack for balancing a page.

Thanks for putting this up here!
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Old 07-24-2011, 05:51 AM   #3
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http://bailsprojects.com/(S(eblm3f55...)/whoswho.aspx
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:43 PM   #4
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Here is some more great lettering goodness from Howard. Howard was indeed the letterer on all of Simon and Kirby's collaborative efforts up until the time he passed. I really love his work. His work on the Simon and Kirby issues of Captain America was among his best altho I enjoyed it all! I felt it was time to give the man some long overdue props! Enjoy!





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Old 07-27-2011, 05:24 AM   #5
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Sooo, sooo, sooo many thanks for this posting!

I have been a fan of HF for sooo long, it's crazy.

Even waaaay back when I didn't know his name--But I could spot his style.

Not only am I major Capt. America fan [but my deadlines prevent me from seeing the new film for at least another week--damn!]...but I've been a pro letterer for--dare I say it--27 years now....

I think I first made the name-connection to his work either in Simon's book--or maybe in an article in Alter Ego---not sure....but once I made the connection--it stayed with me.

Just a day or so ago, I was mid-flight on my way back home from Hawaii and was reading Golden Age Cap mags on my iPad---and my eyes were glued to Howard's letters and balloons. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

He definitely had a style that was prevalent over a number of Golden-Age publishers....Standard/Nedor...Timely and others. His was a stamp of quality...even if the art surrounding his work didn't quite stand up to his.


Kurt Hathaway
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:38 PM   #6
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Here is Joe Simon answering Mark Evanier's question about Howard at a 1998 SDCC panel:

Mark Evanier: What do you remember about Howard Ferguson?

Joe Simon: Howard Ferguson was the greatest letterer and Ben Oda was the second greatest letterer. Howard Ferguson was a middle-aged man from Detroit, and like everybody else in the business he was living hand-to-mouth. He came here, he got divorced; he brought his daughter, Elsie, to live with him. I think his wife left him, he said. He was the only letterer I ever heard of that could draw in a straight line without doing the penciled lines. Just like a machine and very, very creative. He was a big part of our effort, of our creativity. He was great with logos and designs, everything. We'd just rough out the stuff and give it to Howard, and he'd give us back beautifully-inspired, inked lettering and logos. The only problem was that there'd be coffee stains on every page. (laughter) He'd drink like 30 cups of coffee a day.

And here are some more of Joe's memories of Howard from his book 'Joe Simon: My life In Comics:'

In 1939 we (Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) brought in a letterer.

The letterer's name was Howard Ferguson, and he was the best ever in the business. Howard was from Detroit. His wife had left him, and he came to New York with his daughter Elsie, who was his pride and joy. She was maybe eight or nine years old at the time. Howard's mother was an "America Firster," one of the people who pressured the government not to get involved with World War II. The group had been organized by a Yale student. Its ranks included future President Gerald Ford and Sargent Shriver, the man who founded the Peace Corps. Howard didn't agree with the Firsters, so he had a lot of heated arguments with his mother, and held a lifelong grudge against her.

Howard was a chain smoker who drank coffee all day. When we got his pages, there were always coffee stains and cigarette burns on them. But he was unlike any other letterer in the business.

One time I brought Will Eisner in to see for himself. He came up to the studio.

"Will, look at this," I said.

Howard was working on a page, and usually when you letter, you do penciled guide lines first, so your lettering can fit neatly within the lines. But Howard didn't bother with this extra step.

"Wow," Eisner said. "I've never seen anybody do that before." The lettering was straight as can be. I mean, Ben Oda was great, but nobody could do the work that Howard Ferguson did.

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Old 07-27-2011, 01:09 PM   #7
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Absolutely amazing looking. Thank you so much for posting these!
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:17 PM   #8
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i think i'm going to join the Sentinels of Liberty, and fight spies and traitors in the USA. if i can find a dime, i'm on board.
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Old 07-28-2011, 09:09 AM   #9
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I'm thinking of doing a blog post on Ferguson, having read about him here and on the Simon & Kirby Museum site. Where did these images come from? Can I use them, or parts of them? Do you know of other examples, say some pages from Captain America or other work I might use? I did find a page from CA #1 on the S&K site that's large enough to use and looks like Ferguson's work (based on what I see here), but an even larger or higher rez scan would be great if I can find one. Thanks for any advice!
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Old 07-28-2011, 01:39 PM   #10
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Todd, PM sent.

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Old 08-03-2011, 11:05 AM   #11
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I've just posted an article on my blog about Ferguson. Thanks for your help, George.

http://kleinletters.com/Blog/?p=16000
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Old 08-03-2011, 03:31 PM   #12
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Todd, you are most welcome. And Thank You for all of the lettering goodness you've given us all over the years. You are one of the best and one of my most prized possessions is your Alphabets Of Desire print. But then, all of your prints are awesome!

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Old 08-04-2011, 07:33 AM   #13
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George, I've removed your comment about Ferguson being African-American. Someone checked with Joe Simon and it's not so.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:12 PM   #14
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That's kool. Attached is the link to where I came across that info.

http://www.sharkforum.org/2006/01/co...rds-are-l.html

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Old 08-06-2011, 09:44 AM   #15
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A biographical sketch of Ferguson posted at the Jack Kirby Museum, kirbymuseum.org/Ferguson
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