In case you haven't noticed this entire site is about me, but if you haven't had enough yet, below is a brief biography, and there are links at right to other interviews and articles.
TODD KLEIN BIO
Born in 1951, I grew up in a rural area of central New Jersey that is now overrun with suburban sprawl. I spent equal amounts of time exploring the woods and fields near home, and reading every work of imaginative fiction I could get my hands on, including comics. My grandfather, Rex Derr, a part-time jewelry engraver and sign painter, told me stories illustrated with quick sketches, and encouraged me to draw and write, and also introduced me to lettering. My parents, Phyllis and George, were also encouraging in all these things. I have two younger brothers, Doug and Russ, and the three of us enjoyed our childhood and remain close to each other, and to our mother, who lives not far from where we grew up. Doug works in advertising in New York City and Russ works in banking in California.
After discovering in high school that I had no particular interest in other careers, I spent two years in art school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the Kansas City Art Institute (1969-71), before running out of tuition money. I then worked at several boring jobs, including putting together instruction manuals for air conditioners. In my spare time, I began submitting art, and occasionally writing, to science fiction, fantasy and comics fanzines, with some success. In 1977, after putting together a portfolio, I applied for work at several New York comic book publishers.
At DC Comics I was offered a two-week trial in the Production Department, doing art and lettering corrections and paste-ups, to fill in for a vacationing employee. At the end of the two weeks, that employee decided not to come back, and a glorious career in comics began. Not well paid, then, but certainly glorious for a comics fan, where I met and worked alongside John Workman, who got me started with lettering, as well as many other comics professionals. I became a devotee of lettering master Gaspar Saladino at that time, and still cite him as inspiration and favorite letterer, though I also learned a lot by studying the work of others.
While on staff at DC from 1977 to 1987, I developed a freelance lettering career, working on many titles for DC, and also tried a few other things, such as writing comics, beginning with a few short mystery/horror stories for the DC anthologies like HOUSE OF MYSTERY, and continuing with a number of short backup stories in GREEN LANTERN on the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps. Eventually I bothered enough editors long enough to be offered a regular writing assignment on THE OMEGA MEN, which I wrote for it’s final year and a half. While a great learning experience, and a lot of fun, I found writing much harder than lettering, and since the mid 1980s I've stuck mainly to the latter.
In 1987 I left staff to become a lettering freelancer full time, mainly for DC, but for other publishers as well. It was during this time that I landed the dream assignment of lettering SANDMAN, written by Neil Gaiman, as well as BLACK ORCHID, BOOKS OF MAGIC, and two Death mini-series, all of which were much more interesting to work on than a great deal of my previous assignments. I felt an immediate connection to Neil’s work. Of all the writers I’ve worked with, Neil most often creates the kind of stories I’d like to read and even write myself, if I could. Neil and I continue to work together from time to time.
In 1986 I met Ellen Smiga, and found a soulmate and new life partner. We were married in 1989, and moved to the southern end of New Jersey, in an area that is less urban, and has the type of environment we both enjoy, being near both forests and the ocean, and having lots of wildlife and birds, which we enjoy seeing. In fact, it's one of the best areas in the country for birdwatching. I've been doing volunteer work for the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory in Cape May Point about once a week since 1990. Our one-acre mostly wooded lot includes a nice home for us and our pets, and with an addition in 1996, a great studio for me. Ellen has worked at several jobs here, but for the last 10 plus years has been in the business office of a local high school.
Another major career venture began in the mid 1990s when I was teamed with famed comics writer Alan Moore on the title SUPREME. I had worked with Alan a few times previously, but this was my first regular series with him. We formed a partnership that continued into the launch of the AMERICA'S BEST COMICS line published by WildStorm/DC from 1999 to 2006, and encompassing four major titles and several spinoffs. For the ABC line I also served as designer on covers and some interior pages, a new challenge that I enjoyed. Alan and I continue to work together.
In 2002 I began a new writing project, the Lettering half of THE DC COMICS GUIDE TO COLORING AND LETTERING COMICS, published in 2004 by Watson/Guptill. This was a lot of work, but a satisfying endeavor that allowed me to think through, condense, and convey what I've learned about lettering comics in my 30 years in the business.
I continue to keep very busy working in comics, and attend Comicon International in San Diego every summer, as well as other comics conventions occasionally. I look forward to new challenges, such as this website, which I've been laboring over since January 2007. I'm always happy to hear from friends and fans, so shoot me an email when you have a chance to let me know what you think of this site, and anything else I've been involved in. Use the CONTACT tab at the top of the page to do that.
All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.
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