Lettering Is Like Polish

| August 14, 2014

Daily Dose-grey


I love my letterer.

Good lettering will lift a book, whereas bad lettering can kill it.

The first few issues of The Red Ten, I was frustrating the hell out of Tyler. “Kill all the crossbar I’s except for the personal pronoun, make sure the tails come to a sharper edge at the final third, make sure the tails point to mouths, move the balloons out of the line of sight of the characters.” It was a mantra, over and over again, because he knew I wasn’t going to let it go until those few things were done.

The letterer is not the editor. Their job is to copy, paste, and shape. Create logos, maybe some signage, and some other nice things sometimes such as scrolls. I can easily tell when a book doesn’t have an editor, due to crossbar I’s in places it shouldn’t be, missing punctuation, misspellings. I can also tell a new letterer, because they don’t anchor dialogue to the panel borders when possible/necessary, they don’t have sharp tails, the dialogue looks like objects in the panel instead of being a means of communication.

I love my letterer.

My letterer makes sure that my job as an editor is that much easier because I don’t have to check as hard. I can read to make sure that things are spelled correctly and that there is correct punctuation, I can read to make sure meaning is imparted, but I don’t have to read to make sure things are done well. And on the final pass, I can read for pleasure.

I love my letterer.

You would be wise to learn how to letter your books so that you can know what will and will not fit on the page, but unless you’re doing a strip, you’d be better off hiring a capable letterer than doing it yourself.

Good lettering is the last little polish for your project.

Love your letterer.

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About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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