Category Archives: Creating Comics

MY COMICS LIFE-LIST 1980

Image © DC Comics. Note: the “Quickdraw” listing for inker is Dick Giordano, Frank McLaughlin and others.

This is the third in my ongoing series of articles where I list where and when I first worked with other creators, mostly on inside pages, in chronological order based on cover dates of the comics. You can find the previous entries on the COMICS CREATION page of this blog. I’ve added comments about some of my collaborators this time, and may go back and do the same for the first two parts.

Ground rules: I worked on staff at DC from July 1977 to August 1987, and in that time worked with every staffer and many freelancers in some capacity, and did art and lettering corrections on a host of comics. I can’t count those. Some of the things I did in comics did not usually involve working directly with artists and writers: logo design, house ads, cover lettering and production work of various kinds. Another thing I won’t count are relettering foreign stories, as I did for HEAVY METAL early on. To be added to my comics life-list, I thought I should be part of the creative team making stories. That means I was the letterer (in most cases), occasionally the writer, and rarely the artist or colorist. Of course this lists only the first time I worked with someone, so anyone from the previous year lists will not be here. Entries are tagged as a writer (w), artist or penciller-inker (a), penciller (p), or inker (i). I did not often interact with colorists (c) in pre-digital days, as my work was finished before theirs began, but I’m including them as an important part of the creative team. My credit is for lettering unless otherwise noted.

Jose Delbo (p) DETECTIVE COMICS #489, April 1980

Jose was always a charming and talented man, as he is today. We did not work together a lot, but I liked what we did.

Tatjana Wood (c) DETECTIVE COMICS #490, May 1980

Tatjana, the ex-wife of Wally Wood, often visited the DC offices when I was on staff there, and I liked her and enjoyed her stories about “Wallace.” She mainly colored covers, so I’m glad we worked together on at least one story.

Tom Yeates (a) GHOSTS #89, June 1980

I love Tom’s work, still do. We worked together only occasionally.

Trevor Von Eeden (p) SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #25, June 1980 (a story I also wrote)

I worked with Trevor on the THRILLER series, and a few other times. I enjoyed talking to him when he visited the DC production department.

Dave Simons (i) SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #25, June 1980

Mimai Kin (w) TIME WARP #5, June-July 1980

Carl Potts (i) TIME WARP #5, June-July 1980

I’m actually surprised about this one, as Carl was mainly a Marvel guy.

Elliot S. Maggin (w) TIME WARP #5, June-July 1980

Jerry Bingham (p) TIME WARP #5, June-July 1980

John Celardo (i) TIME WARP #5, June-July 1980

Marv Wolfman (w) ADVENTURE COMICS #474, Aug. 1980

Marv and I worked together many times, from NEW TEEN TITANS to NIGHT FORCE and other projects. I got to know him well enough to consider him a friend, even though we only meet occasionally now at conventions.

Armando Gil (i) WORLD’S FINEST #264, Aug.-Sept 1980

Steve Mitchell (i) BATMAN #327, Sept. 1980

Steve was a fellow production artist at DC, and an entertaining person.

Anthony Tollin (c) GREEN LANTERN #132, Sept. 1980

Another staffer, Tony and I worked together for a few years before he went freelance full-time.

Charles Nicholas (p) DETECTIVE COMICS #495, Oct. 1980

David Allikas (w) GHOSTS #93, Oct. 1980

Tom Mandrake (a) GHOSTS #93, Oct. 1980

Tom and I had a long run on THE SPECTRE, and worked together on other things, too. We meet now only on Facebook, but I consider him a friend and love his work.

Alan Weiss (p) MYSTERY IN SPACE #112, Oct. 1980

This one surprised me. I didn’t think I’d worked with Alan until he became the regular artist on Young Tom Strong in TOM STRONG’S TERRIFIC TALES for America’s Best Comics.

Terry Austin (i) MYSTERY IN SPACE #112, Oct. 1980

I always loved Terry’s inking, glad we worked together at least a little.

Rich Buckler (p) BATMAN #329, Nov. 1980

Rich was always working on lots of things, and I lettered a few of them. A very nice man.

Jim Starlin (p) DC COMICS PRESENTS #27, Nov. 1980

Jim’s regular letterer was often Tom Orzechowski, but I did work with him a few times.

Gerald Forton (a) GHOSTS #93, Dec. 1980

A respected Belgian artist I only worked with on a few intro pages and never met.

George Perez (p, breakdowns), JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #185, Dec. 1980

I always loved George’s work, and was happy to be one of the NEW TEEN TITANS letterers with him.

Leopoldo Duranona (a) SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #31, Dec. 1980

That’s it, more of these when I have time.

MY COMICS LIFE-LIST 1979

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #274, image © DC Comics

Continuing my life-list for comics, a list of the writers, artists, colorists, and editors I worked with on story pages. 1977-78 is HERE. Ground rules: I worked on staff at DC from July 1977 to August 1987, and in that time worked with every staffer and many freelancers in some capacity, and did art and lettering corrections on a host of comics. I can’t count those. Some of the things I did in comics did not usually involve working directly with artists and writers: logo design, house ads, cover lettering and production work of various kinds. Another thing I won’t count are relettering foreign stories, as I did for HEAVY METAL early on. To be added to my comics life-list, I thought I should be part of the creative team making stories, mostly. That means I was the letterer (in most cases), occasionally the writer, and rarely the artist or colorist. Of course this lists only the first time I worked with someone, so anyone from the previous year list will not be here. Entries are tagged as a writer (w), artist or penciller-inker (a), penciller (p), or inker (i). I did not often interact with colorists in pre-digital days, as my work was finished before theirs began, but I’m including them as an important part of the creative team. Editors will only be listed where I did not work with them in any other capacity. I base the date of first work with someone on cover dates of the issues, then alphabetically for ones with the same date, though they may not have been, probably weren’t, lettered in that order, but you have to have some system.

Robert Kanigher (w) G.I. COMBAT #212, Feb.-March 1979

Michael W. Kaluta (a) THE UNEXPECTED #190, March-April 1979 (1 page Doorway to Nightmare intro.)

Martin Pasko (w) THE UNEXPECTED #190, March-April 1979 (I colored his story)

George Evans (a) WEIRD WAR TALES #74, April 1979

Dennis O’Neil (w) DETECTIVE COMICS #483, April-May 1979

Bill Draut (i) GHOSTS #76, May 1979

George Ruppert (p) WEIRD WAR TALES #75, May 1979

Dan Adkins (i) WEIRD WAR TALES #75, May 1979

J.M. DeMatteis (w) WEIRD WAR TALES #76, June 1979

Gale Heimbach (p) WEIRD WAR TALES #76, June 1979

Murray Boltinoff (w) G.I. COMBAT #214, June-July 1979

Dick Ayers (p) MEN OF WAR #19, Aug. 1979

Michael Uslan (w) WEIRD WAR TALES #78, Aug. 1979

Curt Swan (p) ACTION COMICS #499, Sept. 1979

Don Heck (p) SUPERMAN FAMILY #197, Sept.-Oct. 1979

Dick Dillin (p) DC COMICS PRESENTS #14, Oct. 1979

Ric Estrada (a) WEIRD WAR TALES #80, Oct. 1979

Joe Orlando (a) TIME WARP #1, Oct.-Nov. 1979 logo design from his sketch

Mike W. Barr (w) TIME WARP #1, Oct.-Nov. 1979

Tom Sutton (a) TIME WARP #1, Oct.-Nov. 1979

Marshall Rogers (a) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #274, Nov. 1979

One thing I’ve discovered as I check these credits in the Grand Comics Database is that I worked with some of these writers without knowing it, as they used pen names, usually on short stories for the war or mystery titles. 

I will continue this series when I have time, it takes surprisingly long to list the stories from my Archives, cross reference with dates to get the date order, look up each job on the GCD for the creator credits, and put the blog post together, but I’m enjoying the trip down memory lane!

MY COMICS LIFE-LIST 1977-78

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #258, May-June 1978. Image © DC Comics.

I’m a birdwatcher, or a birder as we like to say, and one of the things most birders do is keep a life-list. It’s a list of all the bird species you’ve seen in your life. Many birders keep other kinds of lists, but that’s the most common one. In a Facebook post recently, Paul Kupperberg was talking about all the comics artists he’d worked with in his career, many of them people whose work he’d grown up reading and admiring. That got me thinking. As a letterer for over 40 years now, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege of working with a vast number of writers, artists. colorists and editors. A letterer’s part of making comics generally takes the least amount of time, giving a letterer the chance to take on more projects simultaneously than writers and artists, for instance. So I had this idea…what if I made a life-list for comics? A list of the writers and artists I’ve worked with? It would be a pretty awesome list!

There had to be some ground rules. First, I worked on staff at DC from July 1977 to August 1987, and in that time worked with every staffer and many freelancers in some capacity, and did art and lettering corrections on a host of comics. I can’t count those just as, as a birder, I wouldn’t count birds I saw in a zoo. Some of the things I did in comics did not usually involve working directly with artists and writers: logo design, house ads, cover lettering and production work of various kinds. Another thing I wouldn’t count would be relettering foreign stories, as I did for HEAVY METAL early on. To be added to my comics life-list, I thought I should be part of the creative team making stories. That means I was the letterer (in most cases), occasionally the writer, and rarely the artist or colorist on story pages. It would leave out some creators I did interact with, but not many. I have a nearly complete record of all the comics work I’ve done on my website with only a few unidentified ones. If I used that as my primary resource, I thought it would still make a great comics life-list.

After each creator, I’m putting the first project I worked on with them, and tagging them as a writer (w), artist or penciller-inker (a), penciller (p), inker (i),  writer-artist (wa), colorist (c), letterer (L) or editor (e). I did not often interact with colorists in pre-digital days, as my work was finished before theirs began, but I’m including them as an important part of the creative team. Editors will only be listed where I did not work with them in any other capacity. There is one story here I wrote but did not letter, so I have added the letterer of that one. I plan to continue to build my life-list when I have time, a year at a time, and eventually will post the entire list. I will base the date of first work with someone on cover dates of the issues, then alphabetically for ones with the same date, though they may not have been, probably weren’t, lettered in that order. Okay, here goes!

Dave Manak (wa) SICK #118 Dec 1977

Sheldon Mayer (wa) ALL-NEW COLLECTOR’S EDITION C-53, Jan. 1978 (lettering and inking on puzzle pages)

Tom DeFalco (w) SUPERMAN FAMILY #187, Jan.-Feb. 1978

Win Mortimer (p) SUPERMAN FAMILY #187, Jan.-Feb. 1978

Joe Giella (i) SUPERMAN FAMILY #187, Jan.-Feb. 1978

Jerry Serpe (c) SUPERMAN FAMILY #187, Jan.-Feb. 1978

Larry Hama (e) DC SPECIAL SERIES #9, March 1978 (Paradise Island Map)

Gerry Conway (w) FIRESTORM #1, March 1978

Al Milgrom (p) FIRESTORM #1, March 1978

Klaus Janson (i) FIRESTORM #1, March 1978

Joe Rubinstein (i) FIRESTORM #1, March 1978

Adrienne Roy (c) FIRESTORM #1, March 1978

Don Newton (p) DC SPECIAL SERIES #10, April 1978

Frank Chiaramonte (i) DC SPECIAL SERIES #10, April 1978

Bob Toomey (w) DC SPECIAL SERIES #12, Spring 1978

Vicente Alcazar (a) DC SPECIAL SERIES #12, Spring 1978

E. Nelson Bridwell (w) SUPER FRIENDS #11, April-May 1978

Ramona Fradon (p) SUPER FRIENDS #11, April-May 1978

Bob Smith (i) SUPER FRIENDS #11, April-May 1978

Gene D’Angelo (c) SUPER FRIENDS #11, April-May 1978

Ken Landgraf (p) GHOSTS #64, May 1978

Danny Bulanadi (i) GHOSTS #64, May 1978

Bob LeRose (c) GHOSTS #64, May 1978

Michael Fleisher (w) JONAH HEX #12, May 1978

Jack C. Harris (w) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #258, May-June 1978

Steve Ditko (a) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #258, May-June 1978

Juan Ortiz (p) STEEL, THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN #3, June 1978

Bruce Patterson (i) STEEL, THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN #3, June 1978

Wyatt Gwyon (w) WEIRD WAR TALES #64, June 1978

Carl Gafford (c) WEIRD WAR TALES #64, June 1978

Bob Rozakis (w) BATMAN FAMILY #18, June-july 1978

Dave Hunt (i) BATMAN FAMILY #18, June-july 1978

Mario Sen (c) BATMAN FAMILY #18, June-july 1978

Bob Layton (i) BATMAN FAMILY #18, June-July 1978

Paul Levitz (w) BATMAN FAMILY #18, June-July 1978

Joe Staton (p) BATMAN FAMILY #18, June-July 1978

David Michelinie (w) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #259, July-Aug. 1978

Michael Golden (a) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #259, July-Aug. 1978

Steve Clement (w) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #259, July-Aug. 1978

Don Glut (w) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #259, July-Aug. 1978

Cory Adams (c) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #259, July-Aug. 1978

Paul Kupperberg (w) SUPERMAN FAMILY #190, July-Aug. 1978

Romeo Tanghal (i) SUPERMAN FAMILY #190, July-Aug. 1978

David Vern (w) BATMAN #302, Aug. 1978

John Calnan (p) BATMAN #302, Aug. 1978

Dick Giordano (i) BATMAN #302, Aug. 1978

Julius Schwartz (e) BATMAN #302, Aug. 1978

Jack Oleck (w) UNKNOWN SOLDIER #218, Aug. 1978

Maurice Whitman (a) UNKNOWN SOLDIER #218, Aug. 1978

Mike Grell (wa) WARLORD #14, Aug.-Sept. 1978

George Tuska (p) WORLD’S FINEST #252, Aug.-Sept. 1978

Vince Colletta (i) WORLD’S FINEST #252, Aug.-Sept. 1978

George Kashdan (w) GHOSTS #68, Sept. 1978

Cary Burkett (w) GREEN LANTERN #108, Sept. 1978

Mike Vosburg (p) GREEN LANTERN #108, Sept. 1978

T. Casey Brennan (w) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #260, Sept. 1978

Jerry Grandenetti (a) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #260, Sept. 1978

Roger McKenzie (w) WEIRD WESTERN TALES #48, Sept.-Oct. 1978

Jack Abel (p) WEIRD WESTERN TALES #48, Sept.-Oct. 1978

Greg Potter (w) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #261, Oct. 1978

Steve Skeates (w) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #261, Oct. 1978

Arthur Suydam (a) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #261, Oct. 1978

Frank Miller (p) WEIRD WAR TALES #68, Oct. 1978

Carl Wessler (w) WITCHING HOUR #85, Oct. 1978

Bill Kelley (w) ARMY AT WAR #1, Oct.-Nov. 1978

Scott Edelman (w) HOUSE OF SECRETS #154, Oct.-Nov. 1978

José Luis Garcia-Lopéz (a) HOUSE OF SECRETS #154, Oct.-Nov. 1978

Cary Bates (w) THE FLASH #267, Nov. 1978

Irv Novick (p) THE FLASH #267, Nov. 1978

Frank McLaughlin (i) THE FLASH #267, Nov. 1978

Tenny Henson (a) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #262, Nov. 1978

Esphidy Mahilum (L) HOUSE OF MYSTERY #262, Nov. 1978

Kurt Schaffenberger (p) SUPERMAN #329, Nov. 1978

Frank Giacoia (i) SUPERMAN #329, Nov. 1978

Alex Saviuk (p) GREEN LANTERN #111, Dec. 1978

Len Wein (w) SUPERBOY & THE LSH #246, Dec. 1978

Murphy Anderson (i) SUPERBOY & THE LSH #246, Dec. 1978

Glynis Wein (c) SUPERBOY & THE LSH #246, Dec. 1978

There you have it to the best of my knowledge. More of these when I have time (and it took a lot more time than I expected!)

By the way, I’d be delighted to see the idea of Comics Life-Lists spread. If you’re a fan, not a creator, you could make one of creators you’ve met in person, corresponded with or bought something from. The possibilities are wide open!

Preparing Comics Scripts for Lettering

Image found online, © DC Comics.

Yesterday I was asked by Paul Kupperberg for recommendations and suggestions on this topic for a book he’s working on. I covered it in my book, but things have changed since then. Now that most comics lettering is done digitally, a whole new regimen of script preparation issues have emerged that often create problems for letterers. I posed the question to a group of other letterers, and together we came up with these recommendations.

1. Prepare your script in a word processing program that the letterer can access easily. Microsoft Word is the usual standard but RTF format from any word processor works well too. PDF format from Adobe Acrobat should NEVER be used. It prevents the letterer from copying and pasting from the script, the most common method of getting words onto the comics page.

2. Captions, dialogue and anything that needs to be lettered should be in sentence case, like this document, not all caps. Do not use a double space after a period. Do not use tabs. Each section to be lettered should be separated from the rest of the script so it’s easy to copy and paste. Such as:

1) BRAINIAC (SPECIAL STYLE):
I am the only solution to Earth’s problems.

2) SUPERMAN:
That’s what you think!

3) SOUND EFFECT:
WHAM!

3. The writer should decide which words to emphasize and indicate that consistently in the script. Bold italic is the best method, do not use all caps. Do not try to simulate special styles with different fonts in the script! Make suggestions for fonts if you like.

4. Internal dialogue captions (what used to be thought balloons) do not need quotes. Use quotes only when someone is off-panel and doing narration in captions, or when actually quoting what someone else said. Such spoken narration needs a beginning quote in each caption, but an end quote only on the last one in a series of continuous narration captions. Double/single quote rules apply to comics as well.

5. If someone is in the room but off-panel, let the letterer know which direction the balloon tail should go. Whenever possible, the character on the left should speak FIRST, the next one to the right should speak SECOND, and so on. Train your artists to do this and everyone will be happier!

6. Foreign phrases, movie titles, book titles, ship names and any other item needing special attention should be italic. Translated foreign languages should be inside lesser and greater symbols such as <this> with an asterisked footnote such as: *Translated from French.

7.Make sure any notes for the letterer are pulled out and separate from panel descriptions so they aren’t missed.

8. If you are working plot-first, look carefully at the art when you are writing dialogue to make sure all the characters you asked for are present. Try to write to fit the space available for lettering. Large panels with open spaces are best for large or many balloons, small panels with little space should have little lettering.

9. Lettering placements are welcomed by some letterers (like me) as a time saver, are not wanted by others. Check with your letterer. The letterer should be given the freedom to make actual placement choices that differ from provided placements if they see a better way to do it. Placements can be done with markers on a printout of the art that is then scanned, or digitally. If you are providing placements, it’s recommended that you number each item to be lettered in your script, as above, and use the corresponding numbers in your placements.

10. Remember that the letterer is part of your team, don’t keep secrets from him. That mysterious character who turns out to be a returning villain? Let the letterer know when he first appears. It may be a secret surprise for the reader, but the letterer needs to know when you do in case it affects the lettering style. If your story has narration captions by a character who won’t appear until the last page, the letterer still needs to know who is narrating. Every narration caption should be labeled by speaker just as word balloons are. Or if it’s omniscient author narration, say that.

11. Perhaps most important of all, MAKE SURE THE SCRIPT IS A CLOSE TO FINAL AS POSSIBLE BEFORE SENDING TO THE LETTERER. It has become a common practice among newer writers to treat the lettering draft as a first draft, and then do major rewrites after the first round of lettering, or sometimes several rounds of rewrites. This is unfair to the letterer, taking up time they need for other jobs, and usually they are not paid for that extra work. Script and art editing and proofreading should be done BEFORE lettering, not after.

Thanks to Nikki Foxrobot, Ian Sharman, Hde Ponsonby-Jones, Bill Williams, Nic Wilkinson, Lucas Gattoni, Zen Hcmp, Annie Parkhouse, Lois Buhalis and Michael Stock for advice and suggestions!

Carla Speed McNeil’s Lettering Process

At this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con, I was surprised by a visit from writer/artist Carla Speed McNeil and delighted with what she had decided to give me, a page of her original art as well as her layout and lettering guide. Carla’s process is unusual, and I found it fascinating. I told her I’d write about it on my blog, and here it is. Continue reading