Recently, including this morning, the subject of “how do I get my comics lettered?” Has come up in my FB/net travels. Apparently there are quite a few comics creators(mostly writers) that are in a bind trying to find someone to letter their stories. I am quoting my comment to one writer below. Take from it what you will and hope it steers you in the right direction.

” First off, this is a common problem for creators such as yourself, so don’t panic man  – budgets are tight and often paying an artist leaves little or nothing left. As a writer and artist, I understand both sides, so my first advice is learn to letter yourself. It may seem like allot to do- but I know several published writers who sold to Image,Archaia, etc., who started off lettering their first few projects themselves. Yes it’s a learning curve using Adobe Illustrator or InDesign(no I will not get into any side-discussions about why using open-source tools aren’t the same)- but they are industry-standard tools and using them in conjunction with pro-level tutorials will net you the pro look in the most timely manner. I know, there are open-source tools- they will bog you down and cannot without twice the tweaking, produce pro results. So yeah it’s allot to learn. but if you invest the time – you will learn to do it to a decent level of quality and frankly have more control over your end product. Before I get crits from the hand-letterers out there- I agree that hand-lettering is both an art(truly) and a lovely end result. BUT only for masters of the craft who have spent years perfecting this skill. For someone out the gate- digital lettering is really the best way.

resources for how-to’s:

One of the most thorough- Jim Campbells multi-part tutorial- MUST SEE.
Videos(including Scott mcLeod):

Having said all that, if you absolutely cannot or will not DIY- you can find aspiring letterers on some of the same art sites you find artists- they will charge lower prices down to nothing, depending on their experience and quality/budget. I remember years ago, you could find a competent amateur letterer for a s low as 5 dollars a page. I doubt that would be the case, I would think it would be higher.
my guess is that DevianArt could be a resource- although there are allot of flakes there(even if you pay) so caveat emptor there. BTW, I am on DevArt, many people we know are on DevArt- I love DevArt- I just know numerous bad experiences from there- so just be aware. I would stick with the first 3 links because the people there really are trying to fill their portfolios with their best work to get pro jobs.

Good luck.”

Images are from COMICRAFT/Balloontales and Nate Peikos’ amazing resouce – go there, learn stuff and pick up free fonts and BUY SOME TOO. Oh and also one image from – .

Gregory C Giordano's photo.
Gregory C Giordano's photo.Gregory C Giordano's photo.Gregory C Giordano's photo.

The Comic Book Guide for the Artist-Writer-Letterer by Nick Cuti

I go to Diversions of the Groovy Kind allot- so should you. Why? Because you discover obscure digital finds like the one below the fold in the handy pdf viewer.  The Comic Book Guide for the Artist-Writer-Letterer, a pamphlet comic format book on making comics published by Charlton Comics in 1974 was for kids of the early 70’s the only way to get down with how pros made comic art. Predating How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by 4 years, TCBCFTAWL concisely made clear all the basic techniques for the amateur artist. Thanks to Cartoon Snap! Blog for making the PDF download. Read on your ipad or desktop or print it out and learn.

[gview file=””]

An opportunity for back-end exposure! Or… Let’s try a new way.

This post comes out of the many times I scan places that aspiring comic artists and writers congregate like CBR forums, Penciljack and the like. It’s great that the Internet can bring disparate parties together with the possibility of making comics and who knows- sell to a publisher even. I’ve worked with and become friends with some awesome fellow creators. Camaraderie, banter, critique and so on all because of the great opportunity that is the web.  What is really aggravating is seeing posts like this:
“Writer seeks artist for really cool comic project! I don’t have money to pay for the art/designs but It will be a “great opportunity” to be seen by all the readers who buy copies/hit my webcomic site/download my app-comic! Not too mention the “back end money” that will pour in from the sales of collected trades. Please reply to”

Now look, I am not myself naive to the ways of the wannabe creative artist/writer type. I WAS ONE. Yes Virginia, I was a virgin once or twice too- and although I am by no means a seasoned semi-pro in comics(other design and commissioned art etc. is another matter), I am one who listens to one’s elders a bit- I read about the industry I want to participate in. I’ve made some astounding blunders in assessing my abilities and I’ve blown some professional relationships with some folks who’ve moved on to be names in comics.  Everyone who is in any creative business can share  “what was I thinking when I did that?!?” stories around a few drinks. It’s the phase we all go through on the way to growing up in whatever profession we engage in frankly.  So what I am going to try get across to all of the semi-pro, amateur, DIY, indy (or whatever monicker that means “I am not a paid professional”)comic creators who have posted or are about to post the above paraphrased morsel indented above  is that you may want to re-think your approach and philosophy to this thing I’ll call  “offering an opportunity”.
Let me start by saying that  giving art away to writers/publishers  occurs frequently- as long as the parties agree to the terms without coercion or fraudulent claims of any kind- the exchange in good faith I can’t say much either way about whether it’s a bad practice in any specific occasion of that exchange. It is up to any artist to give away their work according to how they can justify the effort- even if it’s just to have fun doing it. But let’s also look at the reality of the situation offered too. I think it leads to allot of bad practices that permeate all creative industries, i.e., creatives being ripped off, undervalued, etc. by big industry entertainment companies, agencies- but in specific? No it’s not necessarily a rip-off scenario; if the parties know what they are giving and getting out of the partnering. Keyword here- PARTNERING.

Many inexperienced creators; often but not always writers- don’t understand that they’re not offering opportunities at all. The print and electronic comics industry is overloaded with titles. Most of these books will sell or be read by less than 1-3000 people – some a tenth of that number or none. We all create our ideas and so on with great aspirations and intentions, but REALITY tells us that only a few comics will gain sufficient readership (no matter format) to net out any real exposure or back end monies. Not every small publisher or vanity press is capable of promoting a book- many have no business/marketing experience or are willing to learn.

Many of these books are not publishing-worthy by any professional or semi-professional standards. This is not being mean or being blind to the brilliance of the book- it’s just a fact. It’s the same set of issues that affect DIY/Indy filmmakers, musicians, playwrights, etc.- The largest part of the pyramid is the bottom not the top. Most of the non-pro work, no matter how well intentioned or energetically made is likely to be inferior. It is not the source of exposure for anyone involved.

The point I’d like to make to unknown, indy vanity, DIY, creators- You really have to stop offering “exposure” and later financial compensation/back end riches to entice people to work really really hard on your project. You have to be evaluate your idea, with true critical eye, as to whether your book is going to be reader-worthy. You have to get real about your budget(time more important than money!) and what this comic really will represent in the careers of those who work on it so you can move forward with an honest offer to an artist. The people who can legitimately offer back end money as a reasonable possibility are those indy writers(often) who have a track record with publishers and readers for sales; either as pamphlet comics, TPBs or both. For instance,  those creators who sell books and are getting TPB collections sold in bookstores and on Amazon. they publish through Image Comics for instance or Archaia or what have you- they can’t pull in a publisher that can afford a page rate, but they can with fair certainty have a decent shot of selling books, getting real website hits, ebook downloads etc. to then make the gamble worth it for an unknown artist to take the risk. If that isn’t who is offering an opportunity to an artist- then it’s not an opportunity at all. It’s a whole other relationship with a whole other set of expectations as to who is offering what opportunity to whom.

Example? An unknown playwright wants to put on a local production of his/her play- she doesn’t call on actors with promises of money or exposure. Those involved contribute their talents and effort with the intention of entertaining the local audience, to have the experience of practicing their craft and for their passion of the art-form- not for money or fame. Most of these works are portfolio pieces; that MAY lead to future work that pays or is more challenging or more critically recognized. When directors, publishers, musicians etc, ask for others to be involved in their fledgling projects, they do so understanding with humility hat they’re receiving a gift- that the exchange isn’t equitable but that together they are making a great thing for its own sake. If the same theory was applied to small press comic projects a far more realistic and equitable relationship would be formed. Writer gets to have his vision realized, artist finally can have some long form portfolio work to show; win-win.

So all you unpublished writers- stop with the using hyperbole about “exiting opportunities” and “exposure” already and just be real. Say that you are a vanity publisher or an “indy label” or a lone gunman and just ask if some one wants to be part of your creative vision! Be honest about your enthusiasm but also about your experience and abilities, too. No dreamy dreams of “back-end deals”, “if it sells”, “ comp copies” and the rest of the false promises naive writers/publishers fall in the trap of using as enticements to coerce equally naive artists to give away valuable work. Then we can create some great stuff together as equal participants rather than being unrealistic and unintentional hucksters. Reality and true partnerships make for an equitable experience for all.

Famous Artists Drawing Superheroes

Drawing Superheroes – Famous comic book artists drawing superheroes- technique, technique, TECHNIQUE! including;  John Romita, Joe Kubert, John Buscema, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Gibbons & Travis Charest.