Category Archives: Lettering/Fonts

Todd Klein – Letterer

Todd Klein at DC Comics, 1978, photo by Jack Adler

Todd George Klein was born in Plainfield, New Jersey on January 28, 1951. He feels silly writing about himself in the third person, and will stop here. I enjoyed drawing and writing as a child, and was encouraged by my parents and maternal grandfather, Rex Derr, who was an artist, sign painter and jewelry engraver in his spare time. He first showed me how to letter with Speedball pens and India ink. My earliest comics were BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS issues sent to me by a relative when I was about seven. Once I knew they existed, I badgered my parents to buy comics for me whenever I saw them, but it was my sorrow that I never lived within walking distance of a place that sold comics when I was growing up. I was a DC fan, with my favorite title being THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICAbut in 1963 I was given a few early issues of THE FANTASTIC FOUR by that same helpful relative, which changed my course to being a Marvel fan almost exclusively for about eight years. I remember enjoying tracing the logos and cover characters, thereby ruining many comics.

I decided to pursue an art career in high school after realizing it was my favorite subject, and attended the School of Visual Arts in New York for a year and a half, where my art history teacher was Burne Hogarth of the Tarzan comic strip fame. I was at the Kansas City Art Institute for one semester, then ran out of money and worked at a series of mundane jobs. At one, making installation manuals for air conditioners, I learned many production skills that would come in handy in comics. In my spare time I was drawing illustrations for fanzines, and in 1977 I put together a portfolio which included unpublished comics work and took it to Marvel and DC that summer to try to get into comics. I had no luck at Marvel, but at DC, production manager Jack Adler liked my portfolio enough to offer me a two-week job in his department to fill in for a vacationing staffer. After the two weeks were up, that person quit, and the position was offered to me. It was the luckiest break in my career. I couldn’t believe I was actually working in comics! 

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More 1980s Letterers Part 3

From MOONSHADOW #2, May 1985, Marvel, image © J.M. DeMatteis & Jon J. Muth

Continuing with a third and final batch of letterers who began in the 1980s. Kevin Nowlan is a comics artist revered for his appealing and individual style over the past five decades, and his lettering is equally appealing and individual. It’s based on the work of Gaspar Saladino, but even from the start he carried that style further into his own territory, as seen above. Nowlan didn’t do a lot of lettering, but when he did, it stood out from the crowd. The reproduction and size of this page from MOONSHADOW isn’t great, but Nowlan’s mixed case script captions and wavy balloons are still remarkably stylish.

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More 1980s Letterers Part 2

From JUSTICE #23, Sept 1988, image © Marvel

Continuing with more letterers who began in the 1980s, Michael Heisler first found work at Marvel in 1987, above is one of his earliest stories. The balloon letters are made with a wedge-tipped pen, probably the Marvel letterer favorite Hunt 107, and I like the organic and thick-bordered sound effects.

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More 1980s Letterers Part 1

From CODENAME: DANGER #2, Oct 1985, © Lodestone

As the comics market grew again in the 1980s, many more letterers found work both at mainstream and smaller independent publishers. I can’t profile every one, but in this three-part article, I’ll cover 24 of them. First up is Pat Brosseau, whose early work is shown above. The letters are standard for comics of the time, and made with a round-tipped pen. The various balloon shapes all work well, and I like the musical one.

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From ACTION COMICS #1, June 1938, image © DC Comics

Until the publication of this comic book, newspaper strips dominated the comics world of the 1930s, but Superman would soon change that. From his first appearance, he was wildly popular, and sales of ACTION COMICS containing his stories increased in sales quickly. Who was creating Superman stories?

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