Back in the days before computers (and Richard Starkings), comics were hand lettered – and it was something of an arcane art that only a trusted few were employed to do at Marvel UK, where I worked in the 1990s.
It was also a demanding task: lettering either directly onto artwork, or patch paper, it required dedication and, often, long hours for little recognition. Annie Parkouse, Helen Stone, Kid Robson, IPC’s Tom Frame (best known for his work on 2000AD), Tom Orzechowski, Peri Godbold… almost all of these names probably mean little to most comic fans and, sadly, I doubt great modern letterers like Jim Campbell and John Roshell will mean much to many readers, either. Which is a shame, because good lettering can make a good book great and a bad book look good – and bad lettering, vice versa. It’s a largely invisible and vastly under appreciated art.
Back in the 1990s, comic creator David Lloyd created this guide to lettering comics with not a Mac or copy of Photoshop in sight, and it was circulated to Marvel UK editors to hopefully make them appreciate just what went into lettering a comic. Although it may seem dated, David created a useful guide to lettering for newcomers, and I hope it’s of interest.
• David Lloyd may be well known as the co-creator of V for Vendetta, but these days he’s earning acclaim for his digital anthology, Aces Weekly. Check it out at www.acesweekly.co.uk and check out David’s latest work on his official site www.lforlloyd.com
• Top Ten Comic Letterers? A Fan’s Choice (and they’re not all Amercan)
Comic Book Fonts Sources
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.