In 1996, when I was 45, I was already beginning to letter digitally, but the majority of my lettering was still done by hand. I was contacted by writer Paul Grant, who I knew through Compuserve I think, about doing a how-to article for WIZARD magazine, then a popular newsstand monthly used as a resource for comics fans, collectors and buyers. I agreed, and planned out a tutorial with Paul that would be illustrated with photos taken in my studio as well as my hand-lettered title and item numbers. I can’t recall exactly how the writing process went, but I probably sent my suggested text to Paul and he put it in the final form seen here. I can see he made some clarifying additions. I found my copy of the magazine recently, and while some of the type is small, I thought the four page article might be of interest.
After it came out, I photocopied it and sent it to friends and family. In my attached note sent with the mailing, I said, “The photo-shoot was something. They sent two New York City photographers down to our place [in southern New Jersey] in a raging rainstorm. The two, lead photographer Rob Kinmonth and his assistant, filled our living room and my studio with equipment, and had lights and wires everywhere, including outside the studio window in the rain! Luckily, Ellen was at work, so she missed it all, and the cats were too scared to get in the way. They shot twelve rolls of film in three hours, then off they went. Quite an experience.”
Sorry about the image quality, this is the best I can get on the blog. One problem that came up when I knew the photographers were coming was that I had no penciled comics pages to letter, which is one thing they wanted to see.
I did have photocopies of a recent Batman story, and a blank piece of DC art paper, so I created my own penciled panels by tracing over a photocopy on my light box to give me what I needed. A finished inked panel Xerox is on the second page of the article, above, while on page 3 is my imitation pencil art being lettered, original above.
And here’s the printed version, written by Doug Moench, art by Kelley Jones and John Beatty, colors by Greg Wright, letters by me.
The photos are hard make out especially on this last page, but you can see some of the process. I would continue to letter pages for DC Comics by hand until about 2002, but starting in 1995 I was already doing cover lettering on my first Apple desktop computer, printing out the lettering, faxing it to DC, then when approved, mailing the printouts. Soon DC was using computers too, and I was able to send digital files instead. We’ve come a long way since then, and I haven’t lettered anything by hand in years, so this is now ancient lettering history, I guess. My own ancient history, too!