Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lettering is a bitch.

Lettering comics is much more trouble than one would think. In terms of "underratedness," if that is even a word, lettering comes in right below inking in the comic book process. In a visual medium such as comics, the letters themselves become part of the artwork, a vital piece of the entire aesthetic puzzle. Since our eyes take in the entire panel at once, bland, static lettering can be just as detrimental as lifeless inking or uninspired pencils. It is up to the letterer to provide the punch and emphasis as conveyed in the script. If the writer is the brains behind a comic, then the letterer is the voice.

In the old days, artists like Sam Rosen or Art Simek would painstakingly write each and every word by hand. Today, companies like Blambot and Richard Starking's ComicCraft use Adobe Illustrator and a multitude of fonts, often based directly on the handwriting of the old masters, to put words in our favorite character's mouths.

I'm writing this at 3:30 in the morning as I rush to finish lettering my latest comic strip. I'm usually extremely careless when drawing the artwork, forgetting to leave ample room for word and thought balloons, thus having to alter my script (or shrink the art) as a result. On the one hand, I'm well aware of my laziness, and on the other, I realize that nobody reading the strip would give a shit, and at a kingly five bucks a strip, I'm just not getting paid enough to kill myself over stuff like this. Oh well.


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At 3:28 PM, Blogger Joe Dick said...

I'm not a big fan of computer lettering and coloring in comics. They redid a bunch of the Asterix books this way and you can tell at a glance they were done by a machine. Maybe it will get better, but I wonder if the human touch is worth the extra trouble.

Of course, I might have a different opinion if I had to letter my own strips.

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