The Lost Art of Lettering

By | Wednesday, April 04, 2007 1 comment
Here's a quick discussion about lettering among Greg Rucka, Richard Starkings, and J. Babcock. The reading is relatively short and interesting, but one nugget in particular caught my attention: "DC purchased multiple licenses of pretty much every font in our [Comicraft's] catalogue and... edged us out of the business of lettering DC comics."

Here's what that means: it means that DC Comics (generally) does not use professional letterers any longer. With everything done in-house, there's no need to hire an Art Simek or a Todd Klein or a Bill Oakley or a John Costanza. For that matter, there's no need for an Albert Deschesne or a Rus Wooton. What that implies (and I have no confirmation of this, mind you) is that DC is handing their lettering over to the cheapest (i.e. least experienced and/or knowledgable) workers they can. In most cases, those are interns.

Anyone here ever do an internship? These are, for the most part, totally green students with little to no practical experience with what they're doing. They've probably had a few courses on writing/color theory/layout/whatever-they're-majoring-in but the realities of day-to-day operations of a business are wholly new to them. Don't get me wrong, it's an incredible learning opportunity for the student (I usually claim that I learned more during my internships than I did in the classrooms) and they often have the very best of intentions; however, by their nature, they are inexperienced and are prone to mistakes that stem from that inexperience.

Let me reiterate, I have zero knowledge of DC (or anyone else) handing over their lettering chores to the interns. It's only the barest tacit assumption of an implication suggested by Starkings. But it certainly would make sense, given Rucka's intial rant on the subject!

Tom Brevoort blogged a while back about his time as an intern. He talks about making copies and running between offices and such. And that pretty well falls in line with my experiences as an intern at Kenner. So I have to wonder, if DC's books are being lettered by interns, when did so much responsibility get passed down to interns?
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That's a shame. I never really thought about hand lettering until I read this. Now I'm all for it. Seeing that "Kabooom" FX where the Os are intertwined is getting soooooooo old.