Howard Ferguson had a long, if not continuous, association with Simon and Kirby. Including the work from the 50’s that I questionably credit to Ferguson, Howard did 4068 pages of lettering for Joe and Jack. If Avon and Stanley Morse is included, I would credit 4551 pages of lettering to Ferguson. But my search for Ferguson lettering outside of Simon and Kirby is very incomplete and I am certain he did more lettering than what I have counted here.
It is clear that Howard Ferguson was Simon and Kirby’s preferred letterer, especially if he was indeed the letterer from 1954 on. When Ferguson lettered for Joe and Jack, he would letter more pages than other individual lettering for them. But oddly for the three transitions made by Simon and Kirby to a new publisher (DC, Harvey after the war, and Prize and Hillman) only once was Ferguson the initial letterer (Harvey). Ferguson was not even used for the Prize and Hillman work until possibly many years later.
Ben Oda also had a long association with Simon and Kirby. But there is a problem in determining how much lettering Ben did for Joe and Jack. Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty both started as Simon and Kirby productions but were later taken over by other editors. But exactly when that occurred is not clear. My judgement is that the last Simon and Kirby issues of Headline was September 1949 and for Justice Traps the Guilty June 1949. Using those dates I find that Oda lettered 8293 pages for Simon and Kirby. The total lettering by Ben for Simon and Kirby plus the other Prize editors was 13088 pages. The GCD has a lot of work credited to Oda besides those I have been reporting on here. I did try to verify a small number of them and was not satisfied that it was truly lettering by Oda. However Ben Oda had a long and productive career after leaving Prize Comics so I am sure that they 13088 I have credited to Oda is only a fraction of his total output.
Superman #327 (September 1978) “The Sandstorm That Swallowed Metropolis” by Ben Oda
As I have said, I have not tried to followed Ben Oda’s career outside of Simon and Kirby and Prize. But I have created a letter set for a comic that Oda lettered for DC in 1978. This is over two decades since Oda’s last work for Prize but his lettering has not changed too much. Oda’s question mark no longer takes the form of a ‘Z’ but rather more like a ‘2’. The lower portion of ‘J’ still has on a whole a gentle curve but is now has a more acute angular connection to the vertical shaft. More importantly Oda now adds a topping serif to his ‘J’. Here Ben was using simple drop caps in his captions, something he only did a couple of times early in his work for Simon and Kirby.
Someone has created an OdaBalloon font. I will not provide a link here because that sort of thing is apt to change. But if you are interested in it you can Google it and you will certainly find places to download it from. I have no idea on what part of Oda’s career this font is based on but overall it is a good match to the letter set that I provided from Superman #327 from 1978. In particular note the similarities in ‘J’ and the question mark. Oddly OdaBalloon has a small serif attached to the top of ‘C’. That is something I have never seen Oda do but it was characteristic of Howard Ferguson early in his career. Even more surprising is the small serif added to the top of ‘S’. I have not seen this done by either Oda or Ferguson. But as I said, I have not investigated Oda’s post 50’s career so it is possible that Oda may have picked these extra serifs at some time.
Although I had once wanted to investigate Ben Oda lettering I gave up the idea when I stopped contributing to the Simon and Kirby Blog. Along came Covid-19 and sheltering in place and I decided to give it a try. But my investigations ended up going beyond just Ben Oda. This study was based on the examination of 20,730 pages of lettering. Actually more because that does not include pages I examined and decided were not by the letterers I was studying. To be fair, even under isolation I did not have the time to examine every page with the same degree of care. But I did generate over 100 letter sets, more than actually appear in this serial post. The shear volume insures that mistakes were certainly made. Further I did not have access to all the comics that I once had so there some areas with unanswered questions. Despite such limitations, I feel it best to put my opinions out there. Other students of this topic may be able to point out my mistakes or present contrary opinions. Such is the nature of research.
Lettering S&K Chapter 1 The Beginning
Lettering S&K Chapter 2 Timely, DC and the War
Lettering S&K Chapter 3 Return from the War
Lettering S&K Chapter 4 The Oda Monopoly
Lettering S&K Chapter 5 Mainline and the Studio End
Lettering S&K Chapter 6 Post Studio
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