Category Archives: Lettering/Fonts

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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EARLY SUPERMAN LETTERING

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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More 1970s Letterers Part 2

From THE INCREDIBLE HULK #219, Jan 1978, image © Marvel

Here are more letterers whose careers began in the 1970s. In 1977, Marvel hired Rick Parker as a production artist, doing art and lettering corrections. Rick had been there a few years earlier with his then-girlfriend letterer June Braverman (profiled in Part 1), but at that time Rick didn’t want to compete with June by asking for freelance work. By 1976, June had moved to Arizona, so Rick decided to try getting work at Marvel himself. He wasn’t accepted as an artist, but the following year landed the staff job. The page above is from his first credited story as letterer, and the work looks good to me, though the sound effects are a bit wimpy. The regular balloon lettering is done with a wedge-tipped pen and reminds me of Sam Rosen’s lettering. The emphasized words are larger and bolder, and really stand out, adding to the drama.

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More 1970s Letterers Part 1

From RED SONJA #1, Jan 1977, image © Marvel

While some comics publishers in the 1970s were hitting setbacks, others like Marvel were increasing output regularly, making room for new creators of every kind, including letterers. In this two-part article, I’ll look at a few creators who lettered as well as doing other things, and letterers who are less well known. Frank Thorne was a writer, artist, and letterer when he had the chance, but for Marvel he was working as an artist, and was usually able to letter his own work. That made things easier for everyone, as he could turn in finished pages that were inked and lettered already. His lettering for RED SONJA was excellent, it used a wedge-tipped pen for the balloon letters, along with a round-tipped pen for emphasized words, and the organic caption borders went well with the organic panel borders. His title has beautiful lower case script for UNICORN, too bad the dot over the I wasn’t colored.

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JIM NOVAK – Letterer and Logo Designer

From STAR WARS #1, July 1977, image © Marvel and Disney

I’ve long admired the lettering and logo design work of Jim Novak. When I started working at DC Comics in 1977, he was doing some of the best lettering at Marvel. We met once, briefly, at a convention, and I spoke to him briefly once on the phone, but I didn’t know him. I regret that I didn’t make more of an effort to do so. Jim passed in 2018, so there’s no longer any chance to change that. For this article I’m relying on several sources: Alex Jay’s blog, Jim’s interview in Comics Interview #1 (Feb 1983, Fictioneer Books), some photos from the files of David Anthony Kraft, a recent conversation with his wife Lidia, and a remembrance by Pat Brosseau, as well as insights I can draw from his work. The lettering on the page above is typical of that work: strong, wide letters made with a Hunt 107 wedge-tipped pen and I think the 107 was just pressed harder for bold emphasis. The style is similar to that of Gaspar Saladino, but somehow cleaner and more regular than that of the man Jim called “The Master.” It’s fairly large for the time, and takes up a lot of the page, but never interferes with the storytelling. Beautiful work.

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