The first Marvel comic Novak can remember reading as a child was Daredevil #9, published in 1965. Novak broke into the business in 1975 with Marvel Spotlight #25, as a minor member of the "third wave" of creators, which included artists John Byrne and Frank Miller, and writers Roger Stern, Jo Duffy, Mark Gruenwald and Ralph Macchio.
He soon became a staff letterer (and occasional logo designer) at Marvel, ascending to production manager in the mid-1980s. A prolific worker, in the 1980s Novak was the regular letterer for such titles as Avengers (1981–1987) Doctor Strange (1980–1984), Fantastic Four (1980–1984), The Incredible Hulk (1981–1984), and Marvel Fanfare (1982–1991), when he lettered as many as five or six books per month. Fellow letterer Bill Oakley opined that Novak created the best shapes for speech balloons of any letterer he knew.
In the 1980s and early 90s (and even in 2000–2001), Novak was often paired with writer/artist Byrne, on such titles as The Avengers, Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Sensational She-Hulk, and Marvel: The Lost Generation. Over the years, Novak also lettered a number of titles written by Stern, including Captain America, The Avengers, Doctor Strange, Marvel Universe, The Spectacular Spider-Man and Marvel: The Lost Generation.
In the 1990s, Novak worked on many limited series and one-shots, as well as full-time lettering on Darkhawk, Green Goblin, Fantastic Four again, and Star Trek: Star Fleet Academy. In the 2000s, Novak's lettering work has been more sporadic.
- Captain America (1979–1982)
- Master of Kung-Fu (1980–1982)
- Doctor Strange (1980–1984)
- Fantastic Four (1980–1984, 1995–1996)
- The Avengers (1981–1987)
- Incredible Hulk (1981–1984)
- Marvel Fanfare (1982–1991)
- Sensational She-Hulk (1989–1992)
- Darkhawk (1994–1995)
- Green Goblin (1995–1996)
- Star Trek: Star Fleet Academy (1996–1998)