Category Archives: Items for Sale




This week only, order as above on my BUY STUFF page, and your shipping will be refunded as soon as I receive the order. Brighten your holidays or purchase gifts of my 11 by 17-inch prints in collaboration with ALAN MOORE, NEIL GAIMAN, ALEX ROSS, J.H. WILLIAMS III, MARK BUCKINGHAM, BILL WILLINGHAM, SHAWN McMANUS, STEVE RUDE, DAVE GIBBONS, and GENE HA, all signed by those partners and myself, and available nowhere else. As always, we thank you for support, and wish you a happy holiday season!

Creating my KNOWLEDGE print


Images © Todd Klein, all rights reserved.

The alphabetical series of prints that I’ve been doing since 2007 had reached the letter K, and it seemed appropriate for me to reserve this one for myself alone, rather than team with another creator, as I had for the previous ten prints in the series (letters A to J). While thinking about that, I also realized this year was the twentieth anniversary of my very first signed print, “A Lettering Sampler,” created in 1993. I decided I would try to come up with a new print about lettering to become a companion piece to that one. I went through lists of words beginning with K, and settled on KNOWLEDGE as the one that would be prominent in the title. I thought Klein should also be in there, and settled on the complete title, “Klein’s Compendium of Calligraphic Knowledge.” Yes, I could have spelled Compendium and Calligraphic with initial letters K, but that was too cute for my taste. Reading it aloud, it has a nice alliteration anyway.


At first I wasn’t sure what would make up the body of the print, though I began making notes for that, but the title was set, so I drew that up on a large sheet of one-ply plate (or smooth) finish Bristol Board drawing paper left over from my staff days at DC Comics. I decided to work larger than printed size again, as I had for the J print, and the paper used is 13.5 by 20.5 inches. Above is the title penciled. I then gradually filled in the rest, working out what I wanted to say as I went along, an unusual way of working for me. “Compendium” means a concise summary of a body of knowledge, but in this case it’s more like “as much as I could get onto one piece of paper,” so take that with a grain of salt!


Here are the final pencils after over a week of working on it last March, when I had time between regular jobs. At the top I added PRESENTING, and in doing that settled on some decorative design elements that I used throughout the piece: circles and thin lines with arrowhead pointers. You’ll see them more clearly below.


Here are the first ink lines on the G of PRESENTING, made with an 0.20mm Castell Technical drawing pen, circle template and triangle for the vertical lines. That’s a thinner point on the tech pen than I usually use, but I wanted very thin lines here. The style of the letters in PRESENTING is Victorian, inspired by some of my old lettering sample books like THESE. The decorative elements are also Victorian in style. Not sure why, it just seemed like a good way to go this time.


Here’s more ink at the top. I decided to add circles around each letter in PRESENTING, and this was an afterthought, so I had to shorten some of the letters in CALLIGRAPHIC to keep them from touching the circles. This is the sort of adjustment I make as I go along, and I know I can always move things or adjust them further on the final scan before printing. For KNOWLEDGE, as you can see, I added a bevel around the edges of each letter and shaded one side to give it more depth.


Vertical lines on KNOWLEDGE were inked with the help of my t-square and a small triangle. For the angled lines I just followed the drawing, and for the curved sections I used a large ship’s curve, or on the small curves, a circle template. It was fun working on these large block letters, something I haven’t done much of in recent years.


As I worked my way down the page, there were some paragraphs I wanted to do in the style of very old typography. I have fonts for these, and I set the paragraphs in Adobe Illustrator, then printed them at the size I wanted for the print.


Laying that printout on my light box, I positioned the hand-lettered paper over it, and traced the type as best I could see it through the paper using my thin-pointed tech pen.


Here’s the same thing with the lights of the light box turned off, so you can see what I’ve already hand-lettered. I could have just pasted the type onto the image digitally, but this way the type has a looser, more organic feel that fits in well with the rest of the print.


Below that I had planned another row of circles filled with a few of the most common comics lettering styles and punctuation, but as I began inking it, I wasn’t happy with the way it was turning out. First, it seemed the circles were too large for what was in them, second, I thought I could get more items in the space by staggering smaller circles instead.


So I cut another strip of the paper and made a patch over that area, redoing the entire section and, I think, making it much better.


It took me about another two weeks to finish inking the lettering. I left a space at lower right for my signature inside the frame of the print this time. Since I was the only one signing, it would give a more balanced look to the final product.


Next I scanned the lettering and began the very lengthy and laborious process of touching up the hand-lettering in Photoshop and getting everything centered and positioned just as I wanted it. Above is a “before and after” of one small section. Many of the tiny imperfections I fix wouldn’t be obvious on the finished print, but I can’t help myself, once I start fixing things I can’t stop! Of course I still want it to look hand-lettered, and it does, but after retouching it looks like hand-lettering where the paper, pen, ink and my own hand were all cooperating perfectly throughout, not the way it actually happened. This process took me through April and into May, which is always a busy month for me. Finally in early June I had my final image and was ready to print it on my Xerox printer, which handles 11 by 17-inch paper.


I decided to print two versions this time. Above is the one printed on white card stock with the art at a smaller size, matching the dimensions and surrounding white space of my first print, “A Lettering Sampler.” I thought some folks might want to hang the two of them side by side, and this way the sizes match. The paper color on the old print may have been white originally, it’s now darkened to off-white, so it’s not a perfect match, but close enough. I only printed 50 of those, and will offer some in a special deal, more on that later. The rest I printed larger, with margins to match my other prints, on cream-colored card stock. I made 300 of those.


Next I needed to decide on a spot color to be hand-painted on each print. After some thought I decided to add color to the open sides of the letters in KNOWLEDGE, further enhancing the three-dimensional look of the bevels.


This was straightforward filling except for the curved areas of the O and G, where I would mimic the gradation of the black fills in color. I chose Indian Red from my set of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus liquid watercolors for three reasons. First, it’s a color I haven’t used. Second, Victorians favored earth tones, so that fit with the design style. Third, I have a wedge-tipped marker I wanted to use to sign my name that is purportedly “red,” but actually closer to this color.


After a few samples to make sure I had the color I wanted, I started work on the white copies first. The painting went slowly because I’d given myself areas with very thin outlines to fill, and that took time. Most of the prints will have one or more small paint spots overlapping the lines, but that just makes it look more hand-made, right? I got the white ones painted in June, but then other things needed my attention and I had to put the painting aside for a while. First, I was writing and researching a lengthy series of blog articles on DC Comics history, second, the San Diego Comicon was looming, and I always seem to have a work crunch before and after that. Finally, in early August I was able to get back to painting prints and finished the rest.


Just one thing remained to work out: signatures and numbering. In the space inside the art that I left, I signed my name in “red” on all the prints. None of my alphabetical prints were numbered, but I did number my first print, “A Lettering Sampler,” and saved the first ten. I decided, for the white copies, I would number them in a similar style (but there are only 50, of course), and sign them again in black below the art border to match the style of the older print.


I’m keeping the first five for myself, but I’ll be offering prints numbered 6 through 10 in matching sets, as seen above: the new print on white and the old print from 1993 on off-white paper, matching numbers. The other white prints will be offered individually on a first-come first-served basis, and of course the regular edition on cream paper will also be available. You can order them on my BUY STUFF page, along with all my other prints. Sorry, these sets are now sold out.

This print took a very long time to produce, and I have no one to blame but myself! Hope you find it worth the wait, and I look forward to hearing from you and filling orders. Posts about the creation of my other prints can be found on my SIGNED PRINTS page.



Images © Todd Klein, all rights reserved.

I’m pleased to announce that my newest signed print, representing the letter K in my alphabetical series, full title: KLEIN’S COMPENDIUM OF CALLIGRAPHIC KNOWLEDGE goes on sale today, Tuesday, September 17th. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of my very first signed print, “A Lettering Sampler,” the new print is also focused on lettering, fonts and font use. As with all my prints, it’s 11 by 17 inches, printed in black on sturdy card stock, and each print has hand-painted Indian Red watercolor on the title. Every print is signed in a similar red color. The edition is 300 copies, and sells for $16 plus shipping.


A second VARIANT edition of only 50 copies has been printed on WHITE card stock, sized to match “A Lettering Sampler,” double signed and numbered. I’m reserving the first 10, leaving 40 of this edition for sale on a first-come, first-served basis. The white variant is intended for those who want to hang it alongside “A Lettering Sampler.” It will also sell for $16 plus shipping.


Plus there is a VERY limited number, FIVE in all, matched sets of KNOWLEDGE and A LETTERING SAMPLER (numbers 6 through 10) available on a first-come, first-served basis for $50 plus shipping. Sorry, these are now sold out.

A description of the creation of this print will follow in my next blog post.

To order these or any of my prints, including past prints created in partnership with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Alex Ross, J.H. Williams III, Mark Buckingham, Bill Willingham, Shawn McManus, Dave Gibbons and Gene Ha, please go to my BUY STUFF page. Thanks, I hope to hear from you soon!

Act Today to get the NEW STARSTRUCK GN!


The new STARSTRUCK book is funded for full color on Kickstarter, but there’s still one day to go to support the project and reserve your own copy, with lots of bonus stretch goal extras (for $35). If you have any interest in the work of Michael Wm Kaluta, this is something you should put your money on!

Creating JOYRIDE Part 2


This and all images © Todd Klein and Gene Ha, all rights reserved.

Here’s the top half of the print completely lettered, though the lettering overlay is not correctly positioned on the art. The top line, a floating “time and place” caption in uncial style didn’t come out quite as I wanted the first time, so I lettered parts of it twice more. With that, I felt this part was complete enough to scan.


Lettering the bottom half of the print was next, and here I had two floating captions and a large title and credits. The title was the most important part of the print lettering artistically, and I gave it a lot of thought. Should I go with something Greek-looking? I felt that wouldn’t blend well with the art, I wanted something more rounded. In the end I came up with a style that is essentially Roman letter forms but with an Art Nouveau feel of organic curves and playful curls on the ends of some elements. I wanted to have a place for spot color inside the J, so I planned an opening inside the vertical stroke. While the title is large, I didn’t want it to steal too much attention from Gene’s wonderful flying horse, so I planned to have the letters go behind that. For the credits I went back to an Uncial style to match the time and place caption at the top.


I began inking the title outlines with my size 2 tech pen, using circle and oval templates where possible to keep the curves even and consistent, and a straight edge for the straight lines. While the shapes are worked out in pencil, I continue to make decisions about the final shape while inking, and can make further adjustments later after scanning if necessary.


Here’s the entire finished lettering for the bottom half of the print. I was happy with the title outlines, and planned to fill them in after scanning. Everything else here is final. Next I erased all the pencil lines and scanned each lettering vellum.


Here’s one section of the scanned lettering. As I’d hoped, working larger allowed me to be less fussy with touching up and correcting the scans. I did some of that where the pen hadn’t quite gone where I’d wanted, or the ink was a little too light or too heavy, but much less than usual. (All such corrections are made in Photoshop using the eraser and pencil tools mainly.)


Here’s the title and credits scanned and cleaned up. With all the lettering scanned, I was ready to digitally combine it with Gene’s finished art scan in Photoshop. There was some juggling of sizes to get everything to match up, but that didn’t take too long to work out.


Here’s the first panel completed, not as clear as the original, but the best I can do here on the blog. The top caption has been assembled from the best elements of the three versions I lettered. The narrative captions have a thin open drop shadow to which I’ve added a gray tone. This gives them a little more weight on the page. Notice that, while Philona’s caption narration is italic, Bell’s quoted speech is not. The pronunciation note is upper and lower case, and lettered a little smaller to fit into the gutter between panels.


And this is the entire print with lettering added. For the title I decided the filled letters should be gray to keep them from battling the horse for attention. The curl on the E was moved to the right a little for better balance. The open area of the J, where I would add a painted spot color, was made narrower so the vertical strokes on each side of it came closer to matching the size of the other letter strokes. In tiny gray type at bottom left is a link to the full text of the stories on my website, and running up the side at top right is the copyright and printing info, also in gray. I printed this on 11 by 17-inch white card stock, as I had planned for this print, and scanned it, that’s what we’re looking at here. My printer would trim off the edges of Pegasus’s wings about a quarter inch from the edge of the paper, which was fine. Having them go right to the edge of the paper would create problems for anyone wanting to frame the print. I sent this image to Gene, and he liked it, so I was ready to get printing!


My print run this time, as with my last print, would be 300, plus some personal copies for Gene and myself. I ran these on my 11 by 17-inch capable Xerox printer with no problems, and then it was time to think about the spot color that I wanted to add, as I do with all my prints. I decided a pale pink would look good inside the J, I’ve always liked pink and gray together. I use Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus liquid watercolors, and I did some tests with a variety of different reds in my color sets. I wanted a warm red, not a cooler magenta pink.


The winner was Brilliant Cad Red diluted to one drop per 12 drops of water. It looked fine to me inside the J, but somehow the print didn’t seem quite complete and balanced with only one area of color. Most of my prints have at least two. I had already thought about another place in the art where I could put a bit of pale pink, but didn’t see any appropriate place.

Then I thought about adding a bit of color to the lettering somewhere, and the obvious place was in this small balloon in panel 2. It’s one I added after seeing Gene’s art. He did a very convincing job of showing Philona suddenly noticing the approaching Pegasus, and I felt I needed to acknowledge that with this balloon. It’s a pivotal point in this brief story where her gloom and sadness is suddenly transformed to joy by what she sees, so I thought it was an appropriate place for the happy spot color as well.


Here’s the final print painted, needing only the signatures of Gene and myself to be finished, and by the time you read this, they’ll be in place. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the creation of this print. More about all my prints can be found on the SIGNED PRINTS page of my blog, where you’ll also find links to purchase them. All my items for sale are together on my BUY STUFF page, too.