Category Archives: Lettering/Fonts

Pulled From My Files #31: Lettering to Fit

HOS16_05ltrsImages © DC Comics.

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.

HOS16_05pageHere’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.

Pulled From My Files #30: SPECTRE 52 title

HauntingImage © DC Comics

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.

Pulled From My Files #29: URBAN JUNGLE

Ka-ZarNextImage © Marvel.

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.

Pulled From My Files #28: DRACULA

DraculaImages © Marvel.

Some time in 1992 I did this for Marvel editor Terry Kavanaugh who was planning a series reprinting some of the Marv Wolfman/Gene Colan TOMB OF DRACULA stories. It’s done with markers over pencil, and DRACULA seems intended for the logo with the other lettering as top lines above, three different ones.

WeddingofDraculaAt the time I don’t think I found out how or where it was used, but apparently only one issue was published, above, dated January 1993. DRACULA is mine, someone else has done the rest. Perhaps Marvel felt my top line wasn’t readable enough, or just too big. The cover lettering below the logo looks like a font to me. In all, not a good combination of elements to my eyes. Too bad they didn’t use what I gave them, I think it would have looked better!

Incoming: KELLEY JONES BATMAN GALLERY EDITION

BatmanKJonesFCImages © DC Comics, Inc.

I’m delighted to have received my copy of this from Bob Chapman at Graphitti Designs. It’s so cool to revisit the pages I lettered for BATMAN 515-525 at original art size, and most scanned from that art, so it’s just like having the pages in hand, with every tiny detail (and error) perfectly reproduced. This is the format that Scott Dunbier pioneered at IDW with his Artist Editions, but Chapman has produced an excellent companion in this book, and I hope many more. The art by Kelley Jones and John Beatty is so cool, much more interesting to look at in black and white than a lot of comics art, and where originals couldn’t be found, Gregory Wright’s original color guides are scanned instead, also fun to see.

BatmanKJonestitlesIf you’re at all interested in seeing my hand lettering work at its prime, this book is full of it, from story titles and credits, to regular dialogue balloons and captions…

BatmanKJonessfx…and lots of sound effects and display lettering of all kinds. There are a few bits done on computer, but most of it is pen and ink. The book is not cheap at $125, but I feel it’s a great package and well worth it. Perhaps your library might be persuaded to order it for you if you can’t buy it yourself, hope so.