Recently I’ve been receiving a lot of trade paperbacks reprinting old lettering work of mine that I don’t care for much. When you’ve done as much as I have, it can’t all be top notch, and sometimes it’s a matter of bad reproduction or paper choice, but it can also be lettering that could have been made better if I’d had more time or given it more effort. I’m happy to say that the above collection, which I received today, is bucking the trend by reprinting work of mine that I mostly like a lot, having just paged through it. The book reprints issues #742-753 of DETECTIVE COMICS from 2000-2001. This is fairly near the end of the time when I was doing mostly hand-lettering for DC. All the balloons and captions here are hand-lettered, though some of the signs and titles are produced on my Mac and probably then pasted on the art either by me or at DC. The book is printed on glossy bright white paper, and both the art and the lettering look quite good on it. The stories by Greg Rucka are excellent as I recall, the art, mostly by Shawn Martinbrough, is deco and stylish, and the limited palette of colors, often close to duo-tone, are particularly appealing. There’s also an issue and a half of fine lettering by Bill Oakley: an issue I couldn’t finish for some reason (perhaps I was away on vacation) and another complete one. I love Bill’s lettering, and it’s great to see it here. If you want good examples of my work at the time, or just a fine read, I’d recommend this one. Looks like it goes on Sale May 24th.
Perhaps thanks to the successful movie and probable sequels, this reprint series keeps rolling along. Though I lettered most of them, I have to admit I don’t recall very much about it. I know there were characters I liked, and I enjoyed the writing by John Ostrander and Kim Yale. Looking at them now, the art seems pretty average for the time, and I don’t like the coloring very much, often too dark, but that may be caused by using the original colors on brighter, less absorbent paper. There isn’t much in my lettering that I would boast about. A few nice sound effects and titles, but most of it is pretty average too. I have to put the success of the series (and the reprints) squarely on the writing in this case. The on-sale date is May 15th.
Image © Bill Willingham and DC Comics, Inc.
When I was asked to letter this FABLES follow-up, I didn’t think I wanted to. I loved working on the original series, all 150 issues, plus lots of spin-offs, and didn’t think a revisit would be as much fun. DC sent me the art and script for the first issue, and I was sold. I’ve been enjoying working on it ever since. It has a different flavor from what came before, but the writing and art are excellent, and some characters continue from the previous work, like Connor Wolf (son of Bigby and Snow, now grown and on his own), as well as Peter Piper and Bo Peep. All are covert agents here trying to save us Mundys from dangerous new outbreaks of magic and magic users. I see a release date of May 3rd, so if you’re a FABLES fan, look for it then, or preorder now at your local comics outlet.
The first collection of the BLACK HAMMER series just arrived, containing issues 1 to 6. I believe this is the only continuing series I’ve ever lettered for Dark Horse, and I signed on because I liked the creative team and the proposal I got, and thought it would be fun to work on. It is, and I’m enjoying the stories and art immensely. If you haven’t given this title a try, here’s a great way to do it. Jeff Lemire describes it as a mix of old-school superhero comics and his own work on titles like ESSEX COUNTY and SWEET TOOTH. I’d say that’s about right. Each issue here contains an origin story of sorts, with characters that will seem somewhat familiar but with an overlay of weirdness that permeates the entire series. It has what I think are some brilliant moments, and Dean Ormston’s art has never looked better, in my opinion. Dark Horse’s website says it’s on sale March 29th.
I loved this series, and loved working on it. The only thing I didn’t care for was the cheap paper the original comics were printed on which made the colors muddy and dull. This deluxe series fixes that nicely, and the art is a little larger as well, always a good thing. Book 14 covers issues 130-140, and I expect there will be just one more to finish up the line. Wonderful cover by Daniel Dos Santos.
On the other hand, I don’t recall much about this series, though I lettered a fair number of issues. This volume collects #1-11 and the NEW TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #2, which introduced the character. Vigilantes are nothing new in comics, but Marv Wolfman’s take was pretty grim and brutal, not unlike Marvel’s Punisher. I actually hate my lettering seen here, but that’s just me. This is toward the end of the period when I was doing all my balloons freehand, and it looks awful to me now. Soon after I began using oval templates, and I like that look much better.
And they keep rolling in…this massive tome, 2.5 inches thick, collects the crossover story from BATMAN #484-500, BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #16-18, BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE #1, DETECTIVE COMICS #654-666 and SHOWCASE ’93 #7-8. I lettered only the SHADOW OF THE BAT issues, so my work is a small part of this collection, and I will eventually be putting my three copies on eBay. I don’t get royalties on lettering, never have except in a few rare cases, and that’s fine with me, it was always the deal. But with all the reprints sent my way, and the extra money I make selling them, I do get a royalty in an unorthodox way, and it’s appreciated. This book retails for $99.99. If I get half that for them, I’ll be delighted.