Category Archives: Lettering/Fonts

Baltimore Comic-Con 2017 Friday

Friday morning I drove to Baltimore, about three hours with two stops, arriving around 11:15 AM. I checked into the hotel and then gathered my stuff and went to the Convention Center to set up my booth. John and Cathy Workman were already there and set up. I had thought we’d be next to each other, but they were behind me, through the curtain. I set up my new banner, put out my print samples, and was ready to meet the public by the time the con opened at 1 PM. Continue reading

Lettering Tips for Comics Writers

Image © Marvel.

This morning a writer I’m working with asked me if I had any tips for comics writers from a letterer’s point of view. This is something I’m rarely asked, but of course a few things did come to mind. I’m sure I could think of more, and probably will later, but this is what emerged in a half hour or so.

The big one is to write economically, and don’t describe what the art is already showing. Leave room for the art, this is not a novel.
Use of double dash (- -) and ellipsis (…): double dash (replacing an em-dash in regular type) is for an interruption of some kind, ellipsis is for a pause or unfinished sentence. Where one is at the end of a piece of dialogue that continues, it should also be at the beginning of the continuation.
Inner dialogue captions (where we used to employ thought balloons) do not need quotes. Quoted dialogue by someone off-camera does, but you only need an opening quote for multiple captions in a sequence until the final one, which gets a close quote. If such running captions are interrupted by dialogue, I close quote before that.
Spell out numbers up to twenty (thirty, forty, fifty, etc. is optional), use the actual numbers above twenty.
Symbols like % should generally be spelled out in dialogue if possible.
If you are going to emphasize words, make them Bold Italic. With emphasized words, less is more. Read dialogue out loud to find the correct emphasis points, but don’t overdo it. Some emphasis is recommended in large balloons or captions to help break up the large areas of lettering and make them easier to read.
Things to consider that will make your letterer happy: 
Don’t end a dialogue balloon with a very long word that can’t be hyphenated easily. Example: ecclesiastically.
Don’t write characters that repeat things a lot. Yes, there are people who do that, but it’s annoying. I say, it’s annoying, son, annoying, and it takes up too much space. This goes double for stuttering!
If you can, I recommend following in the footsteps of Alan Moore by doing thumbnail layouts with lettering placements of your comics pages yourself. You don’t have to be a great artist to do this, and it will help you understand visual storytelling and balloon placement. Of course, your artist and letterer may have other ideas, but it will give you a better concept of what works and what doesn’t. Remember that lettering is read left to right, then down and left to right again, generally, within a panel, across a row of panels, and over an entire page. Lettering should form a natural flow for the eye across the page. See my website article on balloon placement.
Finally, try to avoid calling for special lettering styles unless they are really needed to understand the story or express a unique characteristic of your cast. In some cases your letterer may decide to volunteer some special styles, but this is an area that is often overdone, and when it is it can make storytelling less clear and reading more difficult. (Yes, yes, I know, SANDMAN, but the exception proves the rule!)
ADDED: I forgot an important one brought to my attention by Chris Eliopolous. Writers should not treat the lettering as a first draft that will go through one or more rewrites, making extra unpaid work for the letterer. This is a growing problem from newer writers and editors who don’t understand the fact that letterers are generally only paid once. Respect that.

The Danny Crespi Files Part 13

This and all images © Marvel.

Continuing my ongoing series about the cover lettering of Danny Crespi at Marvel Comics, mostly from 1974-1979. Photocopies of saved cover lettering from Danny’s files were compiled into a collection by letterer and friend Phil Felix during the 1980s when he worked with Danny on staff at Marvel, and Phil sent me copies. This time I’ll look at pages 49 (above) through 52. Several of these are by Gaspar Saladino: “Brain Parasites,” “Raid on Samisdat’s Island” and “150th Anniversary Issue.” Possibly also “Danger Room Operational.” The rest are by Danny Crespi. Sources follow. Continue reading

The First Annual Letterer Appreciation Day!

I’m not sure whose idea Letterer Appreciation Day was, but I first heard of it from letterer Pat Patrick Brosseau and letterer/font creator Nate Piekos. Of course I heartily approve, especially since the date honors the birthday of my late inspiration, role model and friend, Gaspar Saladino, seen here on our last meeting in 2014. Below are links to previous articles I’ve written about his work, in some cases just the first of multiple parts.

Gaspar Saladino 1927-2016

Celebrating Gaspar Saladino

Gaspar Saladino’s First Lettering for DC Comics part 1

NYCC 2014 with Gaspar Saladino and friends

NEW Lettering from Gaspar Saladino!

NEW Gaspar Saladino logo for JOE FRANKENSTEIN!

Toth, Saladino, Schwartz

The DC Comics Offices 1930s-1950s Part 4

 

THE DANNY CRESPI FILES Part 12

This and all images © Marvel.

Continuing my ongoing series about the cover lettering of Danny Crespi at Marvel Comics, mostly from 1974-1979. Photocopies of saved cover lettering from Danny’s files were compiled into a collection by letterer and friend Phil Felix during the 1980s when he worked with Danny on staff at Marvel, and Phil sent me copies. This time I’ll look at pages 45 (above) through 48. The lettering in page 45 is all by Danny Crespi. Sources are below, except for “Firelord,” which I can’t find. It looks unfinished, and may be unused. Oh, and “New,” can’t find that one either. Continue reading