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The Letterers

The celebrated letterer Todd Klein was interviewed last week. Some find hand lettering tedious and prefer using fonts, but there’s no question that Todd’s hand lettering was a thing of beauty no font will ever match (though even Todd himself is working increasingly in the digital realm).

Still, after reading how he got started, I had to laugh at the thought of Todd on the job at DC for the first time (doing the sort of correction and paste-up in the production department that I would later do in the desk next to Todd’s in 1982) thinking to himself: ”Boy, this sure beats putting together instruction manuals for air conditioners!”

Todd lettered Zot! #1 and did the final version of the Zot logo. All but two of my subsequent comics, through Understanding Comics, were lettered by the great Bob Lappan. Since then, it’s been all fonts for this control freak, but I still consider the approach a work in progress, and there’s always a chance I might hand letter a (probably short) comic in the future.

I do still hand letter my rough layouts and try to make them readable for my editors. Even on the Cintiq tablet, zoomed in at 800 dpi to save my wrists, my technique is still the similar to what Todd taught me all those years ago.

(link via Dirk)


Discussion (5)¬

  1. Alvaro Murga says:

    I really love the work of Todd Klein. Since I discovered his blog I’m always look in the secret history of the letters and fonts.
    And I must confess, I love the onomatopoeia

  2. BAM says:

    I envy the skill and patience involved in hand-lettering, but have neither attribute. I do fonts for dialogue and go back and forth between dong sound fx by hand and using fonts for them. Of course it’s all digital on my Tablet PC. I discovered my own control-freakness with the advent of digital drawing…

  3. John Jenkins says:

    I love hand lettering and when my webcomic gets up and running again it won’t have so much as a trace of digital influence in it at all and I’m probably just as much a control freak as anyone (except maybe Batman – nobody could match him!)

  4. [...] Monday I was reading  a new blogpost by comics creator and teacher Scott McCloud discussing the presentation of text in graphic novels. McCloud linked to an interview with Todd Klein, the graphic artist who did the lettering for Neil [...]

  5. Mike Cagle says:

    There’s a great series of posts on Dial B for Blog about classic DC letterer Ira Schapp –

    http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/372/