Thursday, 2 May 2013

A is for AGGGGGH! ... B is for BOOOOOOM!

I love good lettering.  I really, really do.  When used to full effect it can become an art form in its own right, and more than that, it can help to blur the line between the images and the words on the page.  There are some truly fantastic examples of artistic comic lettering, especially the work of Will Eisner, Jeff Smith, Bill Watterson and Richard Starkings, and legend-in-the-making, Jamie Smart.  But with the exception of Starkings' work, these creators are all hand-letterers.  Hand-letterering is an immense skill to master and usually only emerges from the pen of an artist.

Which I am CERTAINLY not.

But, ten years ago - when Lorenzo and I decided to divide all our on-page labour between word and art - I realised I was going to have to learn how to letter ... or die trying.  So, with a lot of advice and suggestion from my brother, I began to explore, refine and modify my approach to computer lettering.  I looked at the comic strips I loved and experimented over and over with different approaches to line weight, scale, kerning, tracking, leading, baseline shift, warping and transforming.  And you know what?  I fell in love with the physical act of putting the words on the page.  While writing scripts still remains my favourite role, placing the words in the mouths of those characters runs a very close second.

Because, you see, with enough time, attention to detail, and consideration for the art beneath the SFX, a computer font can truly embody the spirit of the comic strip it supports.  Here's a quick pass through the pages of the recently completed Long Gone Don Book 2 to show you what I mean.

That, right there, is the world of Don and Castanet and General Spode and ALL their adventures, wrapped in a bundle of fonty fun.  Of course it's not just HOW you say it, it's WHAT you choose to say ... buuuuuuut perhaps that's a discussion for another time.  I could talk about the art of lettering all day long, but then I wouldn't get any actual work done.  More soon.

- Robin