On History: Leroy Lettering

By | Tuesday, April 28, 2015 Leave a Comment
Leroy Lettering Set
For a long time, I thought that the old EC comics used typeset lettering. That is, where someone printed off a sheet of text like it was a prose book, cut up the words into small blurbs, and individually pasted them onto the art boards. Especially with those large blocks of narration, I knew there was no way a person could put down letters with such regularity!
I eventually learned that they were indeed lettered by hand, but using a special tool that essentially no one else in comics used. It was called a Leroy Lettering Set. Ben Towle managed to pick one up recently...
The basic idea is that you're given a set of rules with grooves for individual pre-formed letters. You trace the grooves with a stylus, and a connected mechanical pen replicates the strokes on the paper underneath. Lettering guru Todd Klein wrote a more comprehensive description and history a couple years back. But I think this photo from his post provides the quickest explanation...
Leroy Lettering
It's basically a variation of this old drawing tool called a pantograph...
It's a fascinating (to me, at least) way to achieve a specific type of lettering that interestingly sits half-way between traditional hand-lettering and mechanical text.
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