Any Questions?

Okay, I’m out of blog topics at the moment. Reading a long book, so no reviews to post, no time to research another Logo Study or even a short design article, no new recipes, nothin’.

If you have any questions or topics to suggest, consider this your invitation to present them, keeping in mind if they require a lot of research, or privileged information, I may not be able to answer them as fully or as soon as you might like. But I’ll let you know if that’s the case. Ask away…

ADDED: Thanks to those of you who’ve asked questions. I’ll put them in the comments to this blog, and answer them gradually as I find time.

14 thoughts on “Any Questions?

  1. Jonathan Petersen

    How do you avoid typos/spelling mistakes when lettering?
    What are the more common mistakes you’ve seen in scripts? The most common mistake you make?
    Are there any projects which are especially difficult?

    ANSWER: Thanks, Jonathan. I do make typos when lettering. Hopefully not too many, and I correct them when caught by editors or proofreaders when I miss them myself.

    One of the most common mistakes in scripts: confusing its and it’s. I do it myself, probably my most common one, too. Writers tend to have one or two mistakes they keep making, but I won’t embarrass any I’m now working with. A writer I haven’t worked with in many years used to always spell “missile” as “missle.” Old habits are hard to break.

    I’ve written about some difficult projects on my website: Promethea had some tough challenges. There are all kinds of difficulties, though. A book i’m lettering right now is difficult because I have to match styles I did a few years ago, and am having a hard time getting that right, but I will persevere.

  2. Julia

    How do you practice lettering? Is it writing alphabets or is it “quick brown fox” type phrases or its comic book equivalent?

    ANSWER: As suggested in my book, when you’re first learning to letter, a good plan is to warm up with straight and circular strokes, then copy out any text you like. Something that interests you, or that you want to emulate. An hour of practice each day is a good start.

  3. patrick foster

    You ever miss hand lettering? Do you prefer computer or hand work?



    ANSWER: I do sometimes miss hand lettering when I’ve been at the computer all day. Then, when the occasional hand-lettered job does come my way, and I’m working on it, I remember how hard that can be, too, especially as I’m out of practice! I usually do it best after a few hours in, when I’ve warmed up, but before I’m overly tired. Computer lettering is certainly easier physically, and probably mentally as well, but not as satisfying, usually. I like it most of the time, though.

  4. Don

    1. Elaborate on your favorite non-comics logo. Don’t do a full-blown logo study, simply do an aesthetic critique of one logo. Or…

    ANSWER: Not a bad idea, Don, though none spring readily to mind. I’ll think about it.

    2. How about critiquing the Sci Fi channel’s new Syfy name and logo? Or…

    ANSWER: As a long time science fiction fan, the name certainly puts me off, so I doubt the logo, which I haven’t seen, would appeal to me.

    3. Now that the “Ban Comic Sans” new story has picked up a bit of steam, write a follow-up response. Or…

    ANSWER: Yes, I might do that at some point, collecting comments from various sites.

    4. The lack of word balloons on covers. What is your opinion? Do you miss them? When did that stop? Or…

    ANSWER: It has gradually declined at DC, been mostly gone at Marvel for a long time, though editor Steve Wacker is bucking the trend by hiring me to do cover lettering on some Amazing Spider-Man issues. Can’t say I miss it in general, but it did used to help draw a reader into the story, when done well. Unfortunately, much of the time it wasn’t effective.

    5. Pick the last comic book you bought. Have fun elaborating on a single panel in that issue that you feel successfully weds art with lettering. Or…

    ANSWER: Sort of what I sometimes do when I review comics, except for the single panel part. I’ll consider it.

    6. Have you even done any logo designs in a language other than English? A logo in Spanish might require you to figure out what to do with a tilde. Or, how would you redesign, say, the Superman logo for, say, a Hebrew or Russian or Japanese translation? Maybe whip up a sketch (kinda like a Steve Epting speedpaint >

    ANSWER: No, never had that experience. Thanks for the question, though.

  5. J.M.

    Does Alan Moore give long, detailed instructions regarding the way things are lettered? If so, would you care to share a few examples?

    ANSWER: Alan’s lettering notes are usually minimal or none at all. In LOEG: CENTURY 1910, on page four, he says: “THE REMAINDER OF THE BALLOONS IN THIS SEQUENCE I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE TRANSLATED TO PUNJABI, IF THAT’S ALRIGHT.” A simple request, but requiring considerable work for publisher Chris Staros and I. He found a translator, and I worked with him. You might notice in LOEG that there are a fair number of places where upper and lower case is used for individual words or phrases. Kevin O’Neill makes the call on those, indicating them in the copy of the script he sends me.

  6. Rob

    Hi Todd,
    Looking at some of the lettering you have done over the years, you have done some of the greatest graphic novels / comics of the last 30 years. I always enjoy picking up a novel and finding you were the letterer, or reading your logo studies, showing you are clearly a master of your medium.

    Do you still find it challenging you?

    ANSWER: Yes, indeed, there are always new challenges. People seem to enjoy throwing unusual and difficult stuff my way, and that’s fine with me.

    Is there any “new blood” out there that encourages/challenges/inspires you?

    ANSWER: I’m sure there would be if I saw more new comics. Most of my inspiration at this point comes from the letterers from the past and present I already know.

  7. Kris Black

    How do you see computer lettering growing in the next 3-5 years. I’m a computer letterer (never having hand-lettered a book in my life) and I can’t help to notice how computer lettering can look awesome with the right creative team but sometimes it looks simply out of place with other artists.

    ANSWER: Computer lettering is used on most comics now, so I don’t see it growing unless the market in general grows. The trend toward bringing much of the work in-house at the big companies seems to be gradually giving way to more freelance work, but in the current economy that could change back. Artists working for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, etc. have little choice these days, it’s computer lettering or nothing. Small publishers and self-publishers can still do it any way they want.

    There’s also the fact that companies are exploring motion comics and trying to bridge the gap between that and actual books. How are letterers going to fit in with this new shift in comics? Can we fit in?

    ANSWER: Motion comics are really limited animation, not comics. In fact, they remind me of the first Marvel animated cartoons. I don’t see a role for lettering there, but I don’t see them replacing drawn comics, either.

  8. mike

    Wonderful blog here, Mr. Klein!

    How do you attack balloon placement on the page, provided the artist has not done this for you? Do you have any theories (beyond ‘make it work,’ of course;)) on how balloon placement should or shouldn’t function?

    ANSWER: The tutorial on my website is HERE, Mike. I go into a little more detail in my book, but it’s largely the same.

    Also, if you know of any top-notch tutorials or sites to that end, could you mention them too?


    ANSWER: A good resource for how-to information is the Digital Webbing Forum’s Lettering section, link HERE.

  9. Zen Faulkes

    One question that might be quick, and some that are probably longer.

    Did anyone ever experiment with typesetting comics instead of hand lettering and word balloons? Even now that most are using computers, it still looks like hand lettering.

    ANSWER: Yes, in the 1960s Charlton Comics lettered for a few years with a large typewriter sort of thing. Didn’t look too good to me. The lettering credit on those stories was “A. Machine”. European comics often use type instead of hand-lettering, and it’s been tried occasionally in other American comics, but has never gone over well.

    I’m also interested in a discussion of balloon placement. How do you guide the reader from one to the next in the intended sequence?

    ANSWER: see my links in the answer to Mike.

    Also, I vote for a logo study on (The Incredible) Hulk sometime in the future.

    ANSWER: Will do, eventually.

  10. ren

    Well, i just got a note on something I am lettering to make a “sad balloon”, which is not a request i’ve ever had before. So my question is, what kind of odd lettering requests have you gotten over the years and how have you fulfilled them?

    ANSWER: Sounds like the writer is trying to get you to do the work of the artist on that one. You could make it a little drippy, or color it blue, if that’s an option.

    One request that can be difficult, and it usually happens with inexperienced writers, is when they want every character to have a different balloon or lettering style. I always argue against this, as it’s distracting and ineffective. Special styles work best when they’re “special.”

    Artists often ask if I can letter smaller, so more of their art shows. I resist this, too, as I think the size I work at is best. With computer lettering, I can do it two ways to show them, which sometimes helps.

  11. Marcel

    Hey Todd, that’s a great idea about this Q&A stuff!

    You’ve said that Alan Moore doesn’t give you a lot of instructions about the lettering, how about Neil Gaiman? And other writters that you’ve worked in the past? Which one has given you mor specific lettering instructions, and who has given you more freedom?

    ANSWER: Hi, Marcel. I’ve written about Neil and lettering styles in THIS article on my website. These days most writers I work with give me a lot of leeway on style, just letting me know what they have in mind. In early days it wasn’t always so. I did one lettering job on a book written by Roy Thomas, who wanted to micro-manage the lettering, even to the extent of, when calling for staggered letters in a burst balloon (some higher, some lower) gave me a list of which letters should be up and which down. Some writers, on the other hand, give almost no direction, not even indicating which words are to be emphasized, leaving it to the editor or me.

    I saw on the your blog that you are very fond of the Green Lantern stories that you wrote on the past. Any plans for new stories by you?

    ANSWER: Wish I had time to do more writing, but this blog is all I can manage now, too busy with other work.

    And one final comment, since you lettered all Sandman comics, how about a logo study on that? Please apologize me if you’ve already done that in the past…

    ANSWER: There’s really only been one formal Sandman logo, designed by Dave McKean, so it would be a short study, I’m afraid. Dave’s variations using different fonts, on the collection covers, would add a few more, I guess. But not a lot to talk about, really.

    Thanks, and keep up the great blogging!

  12. Todd Post author

    Tom Orzechowski is doing mostly computer lettering, with some hand-lettering, like me. Workman only does hand lettering, but is not doing much these days. Some small press and self-published artists are doing their own hand-lettering, like Nate Powell on the recent “Swallow Me Whole.” Not sure if Clem Robins is doing any hand-lettering. Those are all I know of.

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