During the run of SUPREME written by Alan Moore in the 1990s, which I lettered, many homages to DC Comics of the Silver Age were present, from storylines to characters to lettering and logo styles. For SUPREME #52B dated Sept. 1997, a feature called “A Cover Gallery Supreme” included a number of faux covers in the DC Silver Age style with art by Rick Veitch and logos, trade dress and lettering by me, all in the style of Ira Schnapp, the man doing that work at DC at the time. When Checker Books reprinted the SUPREME series in two trade paperbacks in 2002, they left out that feature, but did include some of the covers on the inside back cover of one trade paperback, above. These were lots of work, but also lots of fun to do, it gave me a chance to emulate the styles of Ira Schnapp, which I grew up with, and always liked, even if they do seem old-fashioned now. The logos and trade dress were worked up on the computer (from hand-drawn layouts), but the cover lettering was all done by hand. Here are some scans of that lettering, done on vellum, which I still have. Continue reading
When I lettered the original run of THE SANDMAN, it was all hand lettered except for a few bits in the last few issues. Where we had time, it was often lettered on the pencilled art. Where we didn’t it was lettered on vellum overlays. Each of Sandman’s siblings had a unique style, suggested by Neil Gaiman and realized by me. The most unusual was the style used for Delirium. Our idea was to make it seem unfocused and constantly varying in pitch and loudness, which I accomplished by making the lettering continually larger and smaller, and in wavy lines, as you see above. This was fun in small amounts. On the “Brief Lives” storyline it got to be less fun, as there was a lot of it, and it did take longer than regular lettering, but I got through it okay. Continue reading
Hand lettering on vellum overlay for HOUSE OF SECRETS #16 page 5 (1998). The type at lower right is done on the computer and pasted onto the vellum.
Here’s the best scan I could get of the printed page from the massive one-volume collection of a few years ago. The lettering overlay was photostatted in the DC production department and then pasted onto the finished art, or at least I think that’s what was done. The placement isn’t quite right, most obvious at the top right of the big five, where the lettering was meant to fill that white space. But I’m sure it was a tricky job to get it in, as the lettering was intentionally run very close to the border lines. Even then there are lots of hyphenated words. It might have been made harder if the art paper changed size due to changes in humidity, or if the photocopy of the art I used to letter over wasn’t quite the right proportions, which can happen. This job might have been easier to do with digital lettering, though the perspective angle needed would be tricky there too.
My hand-lettered title over pencils by Tom Mandrake on THE SPECTRE #52 dated April 1997. Photocopied so I could refer to it when I did later parts of the story. Since it was lettered on the pencilled art, it wasn’t something I could cut and paste onto another issue, but it helped to have the style to look at when I lettered later chapters. Some time in the early 1990s I bought my own copy machine, and it made it so much easier to save reference like this. Before that I had to drive to the library to make a copy of something. Today I can simply open a previous digital file if I need to, but at the time, once I shipped the pencilled pages back to Tom Mandrake for inking, I wouldn’t see this again until the printed comic came to me a few months later.
Before all comics news was readily available online, before Diamond Previews, before comic shops, one of the ways to market your comic to buyers was the “Next Issue” blurb at the end of each story or issue. Some of the best letterers like Gaspar Saladino made an art of it, creating intriguing graphics that urged readers to come back for more, and of course it was also the writer’s job to intrigue those readers with enticing “copy,” or promotional text and titles. By the time I was lettering KA-ZAR for Marvel Comics in 1997, next issue blurbs were no longer a very important selling tool, but writer Mark Waid still liked to write them, and I still liked lettering them, so we did. Here’s one I’d forgotten, I saved photocopies in my files so I could reuse the title. Not sure how many times I reused it, but probably at least once. It’s not the sort of thing I’d want to do on the computer, but drawing it by hand didn’t take too long. I imagine I pencilled it, inked the ivy first, then the letters. Even so, saving a little time by reusing it made sense.