Category Archives: Lettering/Fonts

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.

The Rise of Digital Lettering, Part 7

LettSampKleinA Lettering Sampler © Todd Klein, 1993.

I arrived at my first San Diego Comic-Con in July of 1993 with this print to sell. It’s something of a diatribe in favor of hand lettering over type, but despite what the print says, I had been using computers for some time, just not for lettering. I’d worked with very primitive computers in a non-comics job in the early 1970s, and in 1984 bought a KayPro II primarily for writing. It had no graphics capability at all, but when I needed lettering that looked just like typing, I could print out and paste down type from it. I considered getting the first Apple Mac computer instead, but at the time didn’t think I would use it for graphics, and the KayPro was cheaper. Like other letterers, in the early 90s I’d been watching the development of comics fonts by David Cody Weiss, John Byrne and Richard Starkings with interest, and came to believe it was the wave of the future, and one I should be surfing myself. I met JG and Rich of Comicraft at that 1993 San DIego con, as well as other letterers like Bill Oakley, and discussions of computer fonts for lettering were rampant and sometimes heated. More on that later. Continue reading

The Rise of Digital Lettering, Part 6

ChrisEliopoulosMikeHeislerJonBabcockChris Eliopoulos, Michael Heisler and Jon Babcock, recent photos found online.

The gradually increasing presence of digital fonts on comics from many publishers was catching the attention of those who made their living hand lettering for the medium, and some responded by making fonts of their own. Image comics, particularly their WildStorm studio led by Jim Lee, were encouraging letterers to use fonts for their all-digital workflow by 1994. Marvel Comics, at first resistant to that idea, began following suit a few years later. In recent correspondence, Chris Eliopolous remembered:

My first font was made by someone else. My father knew this guy and he used Fontographer and made up a font based on my hand lettering. This was around 1991. I wasn’t totally happy with it, so I bought Fontographer and started playing with it myself. I eventually tweaked the font to something I could work with. Looking back now, it was absolutely horrible, but it worked well-enough. I think the first work I did on the computer was with WildStorm. Continue reading