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View Full Version : Who is your favorite letterer?


davidh777
05-17-12, 02:26 AM
This question may be a little too geeky, and I admit I myself don't know all the ins and outs of lettering. The only letterers I used to be able to recognize were John Costanza (because of the sloping letters) and Tom Orzechowski (because of the square blockiness). I remember Artie Simek because of all the jokes in the early Marvel stories but can't say I would recognize his style.

I restricted the poll to dedicated letterers rather than artists who also letter, and tried to get a representation of the biggest names. Sorry if I missed a favorite.

Paul_SD
05-17-12, 04:22 AM
:lol:

yeah. This threads gonna get a lot of hits.

Hard to choose a favorite.
My favorite letterer might just be Robert Crumb. He took Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie narrative block serif style and made it synonymous with his own style. I not only like the kind of rustic, formal look of it, but it 'colors' the satire, making it seem even more irreverent. Take that lettering away and replace it with traditional Marvel/DC sans serif style and the material would have a much different feel. But he's an artist, so I guess he's off the list.
Ben Oda's name showed up a lot in the books I collected as a kid, and for nostalgia alone I'd probably pick him. However there is one run that sticks out in my head, where the lettering made a distinct an impression and seemed to be inseparable from the panel art. That would be Simonson's Thor with Workman doing the honors.
It's so crisp and precise, that it almost looks computer generated. The style also meshes beautifully with Simonson's linework to make the whole product look remarkably cohesive.


Lettering is a more significant part of the end product than most fans realize, even though it's now so automated. Which is a bit sad to see, though there's no going back now. It's a big time saver to do it on computer, but doing it manually always gives the work a warmer, hand crafted feel that makes the reading experience seem more personal and intimate to me.

I also remember Tex Blaisdell, who taught lettering at Kubert many, many years ago, telling us if we wanted to be famous, become a penciler. If we wanted to make a good living, become a letterer. Because based on the page rate and how many a good letter could usually finish per day, they would usually make far more per/year than 95% of the pencilers out there. I thought learning to letter would be tedious, but it's actually one of things I most fondly remember about my time there. Like taking typing in High School, it's a nice skill set to have, though I should buy some grid paper and practice more frequently to keep in shape.

brayzie
05-17-12, 04:48 AM
Hand lettering really makes the difference in my opinion. It feels more cohesive with the art, but when done on the computer with standard fonts it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Orzechowski is my favorite, since he was lettering Spawn. Very stylish and every sound effect had it's own design.

Comicraft is great too but I dunno if they do it all digitally. Alan Moore's Glory had some excellent lettering from Comicraft that helped enhance the experience of reading the story.

ytrez
05-17-12, 07:20 AM
I picked Orzechowski as he was probably the first letterer that stood out to me back on the Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-Men. Costanza is also one of the best, unobtrusive letters I've ever seen. A Workman is great for flashy design. Bruzenak has an uncanny ability to adapt his lettering to the fit the piece he's working on. His work on Mr. Monster is some of the best I've ever seen. All the others listed above are top notch letterers and I'd be happy to read their work any day.

One person you left off your list that I think is excellent is Gaspar Saladino. Some of his cover copy can be seen at the following link: http://kleinletters.com/Blog/?p=1764

I'm almost certain Comicraft does all their work digitally, brayzie. While they do good work, I miss hand lettering.

mrhan
05-17-12, 09:46 AM
Jim Aparo was one of the few artist that did his own lettering.

madcougar
05-17-12, 10:52 AM
I never paid much attention to lettering until I read The Sandman. I think Todd Klein did some great stuff on that title.

JayDerek
05-17-12, 02:14 PM
Dave Sim

fujishig
05-17-12, 02:26 PM
Stan Sakai.

Ok, I'll admit it, I only picked him out because I like Groo and I like Usagi Yojimbo. Lettering doesn't stand out to me that much, except for that run in the early 90's where some independent comics went with digital lettering, which was just awful and made me appreciate traditional lettering.

JasonF
05-17-12, 07:44 PM
Good lettering should be unobtrusive. That said, I always enjoyed John Workman's collaborations with Walt Simonson and Bob Lappan's work with Giffen/DeMatteis.

bluetoast
05-17-12, 09:02 PM
Todd Klein, since I've read interviews with him/seen his site. Plus he's the only one I know from that list.

Trevor
05-17-12, 09:03 PM
Wait. You went to the Kubert School, Paul?

PhantomStranger
05-18-12, 02:14 AM
I've read thousands of comic books in my life and could not tell you the first thing about any of the named letterer's styles or any others. It has to be the most invisible job in the industry. I could name you editors before I name any letterers.

madcougar
05-18-12, 10:04 AM
I've read thousands of comic books in my life and could not tell you the first thing about any of the named letterer's styles or any others. It has to be the most invisible job in the industry. I could name you editors before I name any letterers.

This is a perfect example of what's wrong in the comic book industry.

Paul_SD
05-18-12, 11:24 AM
This is a perfect example of what's wrong in the comic book industry.

Sarcasm?
JasonF is right, lettering shouldn't call attention to itself. After 40 years of comic reading/collecting, I still had to pull some books off the shelf and check the credits. The names were familiar, but I couldn't remember off hand who did what. I noticed Klein did Kingdom Come, and utilized several styles depending on the narrative voice. All distinctive and easy to read. Good work!
Alex Toth was another artist, like Aparo, who frequently lettered his own stuff.

Wait. You went to the Kubert School
Yeah, briefly in the late 80's. When I was there, they made sure to teach you 'fallback' courses so that if you didn't cut it as a hotshot penciller/inker you could still find some graphic design work. One was lettering and another was paste-up/mechanicals...by hand, using a waxer :lol:

davidh777
05-18-12, 12:47 PM
:lol:

yeah. This threads gonna get a lot of hits.


I know! :lol: I was going to put the over/under at 10 votes, but now we have 12 and outed you as a Kubert School attendee after your tremendously cool and nerdy stories. :)

I meant to add some pics. Here's Orzechowski:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/84/Xmen141pg12pn3-4.jpg/300px-Xmen141pg12pn3-4.jpg

I googled "John Costana lettering" only to find this forum where users named "t_orzechowski," "Todd Klein," and "Clem Robins" were commenting on him. :eek:

http://www.digitalwebbing.com/forums/showthread.php?t=159064

Anyway, here's Costanza's slopey style.

http://rancidrainbow.com/thesite/wp-content/gallery/a-death-in-the-family-pt-1/batman-a-death-in-the-family_page_009_image_0001.jpg

madcougar
05-18-12, 02:35 PM
Sarcasm?

Yes. Just sounded funny in my head.

Trevor
05-18-12, 05:10 PM
Yeah, briefly in the late 80's. When I was there, they made sure to teach you 'fallback' courses so that if you didn't cut it as a hotshot penciller/inker you could still find some graphic design work. One was lettering and another was paste-up/mechanicals...by hand, using a waxer :lol:
Forgive me if I've missed the stories or forgotten even direct exchanges, but can you expand on that time?

Did you ever work in the field? Are you famous? Can I borrow some money?

Josh-da-man
05-19-12, 08:37 AM
Gotta give it up for Todd Klein for his work on Sandman.

The lettering on that title was outstanding, and a storytelling device on its own. Very cool the way he gave certain characters their own unique "voices" through different lettering styles.

The Bus
05-20-12, 03:55 AM
That's Stan "Paul" Lee I believe.

majorjoe23
05-21-12, 04:00 PM
Chris Eliopoulos, plus he's a good cartoonist too.

Paul_SD
05-22-12, 01:55 AM
Did you ever work in the field? Are you famous? Can I borrow some money?

No.
No.
Sure! Just PM me your PIN and bank account # and I'll do a direct deposit when I get a chance :)

I was going to toss a few anecdotes off here, but in deference to David, I'll just start another thread and not yank this one OT.

davidh777
05-22-12, 11:26 AM
I was going to toss a few anecdotes off here, but in deference to David, I'll just start another thread and not yank this one OT.

Wow, I don't know if I've ever received deference before, and I've yanked more than my share of threads OT :)