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FreemindVisionary
02-09-2013, 12:02 PM
So I'm lettering a project and the artist, a fairly well-known penciler who has worked for the big guys in the past (but not so much in recent decades) supplied the editor with a long list of corrections to my work. A lot of the notes were valid and I implemented them. A few I didn't necessarily agree with, but implemented them anyway because they could really work either way and I'm a team player. The remaining notes were just plain wrong in my eyes, or weren't feasible given the space he was requesting I move them to, so I left them how I did them in the first place.

The artist then made it clear that they were not suggestions and he was not happy that I didn't follow all of his instructions, as a lowly production monkey should. Our editor backed me on this, saying I'm the letterer, so I get final say over my area of work. (The penciler scoffed at the thought of a letterer as an artist.)

A few quotes pulled from the artist's e-mails:

"I request that the script be provided to me for balloon placement before work being sent to production for lettering. This will ensure that placement follows the original design I built into page."

"In my experience an artist has never been refused balloon placement to be done according to his instructions. In fact most of the time work is handled to his exact instructions. That is what I'm used to."

Has this EVER been the case? Of course, everyone has their say in a collaborative process, but aren't we artists as well? This guy sees collaboration as a Penciler Dictatorship. Has an artist ever "pulled rank" on any of you to this degree?

JimCampbell
02-09-2013, 12:51 PM
I've had both writers and artists assert that their idea of how a page should be lettered should take precedence over mine. In each case, I've tried to explain to the creator and to the editor why I don't think the placements will work -- sometimes with arrows to show how it would break the reading flow, at others doing what they ask to show why it wouldn't fit.

Thus far, I've been fortunate enough to have had the editor back me but if I was told to do the job the way I was unhappy with, I'd knuckle down and do it…

This doesn't however, mean that the creator in question isn't a prize dick, which is certainly what this guy sounds like…!

Cheers

Jim

FreemindVisionary
02-09-2013, 01:15 PM
Yeah, it's always sad to lose respect for someone as a human being after being a fan of their artistic output. Team player is not in this guy's vocabulary, which might be why he hasn't worked in the majors for a while.

I would have knuckled down had the directions come directly from the editor. However, our editor had already OK'd the entire book before the changes came in, and told me to do whatever I saw fit out of the list, he would back me as he had already approved everything I had done.

I implemented a good 90% of his changes; he was APPALLED I didn't follow the other 10%. I heard that secondhand of course, since I'm the only team member not important enough to warrant direct emails from him.

I'm calling BS on "In my experience an artist has NEVER been refused balloon placement to be done according to his instructions. In fact most of the time work is handled to his EXACT instructions. That is what I'm used to."

I find that when people use absolutes like that, they're usually making it up.

HdE
02-09-2013, 01:15 PM
A quote from Tim Sale, lifted from 'Comic Book Lettering The Comicraft Way', which can be taken in the context of pencillers dictating to letterers:

"The art is not more important, and the lettering should be in service to the story as should the art."

Letterers ARE artists - at least, proficient letterers are - and anybody who argues the point is, to be blunt, misguided.

We're not creating a book filled with pictures here. We're making COMICS. The medium is - or SHOULD be - a collaborative effort. Every member of the team - and yes, that INCLUDES THE LETTERER - should be playing their part to achieve a cohesive, easy reading end product.

As the letterer, you bring an informed pair of eyes and hands to the process, and you're ultimately responsible for the consumer's reading experience. THIS IS NOT DEBATABLE. I've seen reviews of books online that criticised lettering, and seen people replace books on shelves after making comments about them being unreadable. It's also worth reporting that shoddy lettering and poor placements are among the biggest complaints I hear directed at small press publications.

A comic is not a showcase for any one member of the creative team. True, folks may buy a book because they like Writer X or Artist Y, but inkers, colourists, letterers and editors all make a considerable contribution to the process. If any one of them drops the ball, it's immediately noticeable. When one guy in the production chain starts telling the others what to do, all sorts of unpleasantness can result.



"In my experience an artist has never been refused balloon placement to be done according to his instructions. In fact most of the time work is handled to his exact instructions. That is what I'm used to."

Has this EVER been the case? Of course, everyone has their say in a collaborative process, but aren't we artists as well? This guy sees collaboration as a Penciler Dictatorship.

In direct response to that, I'd say this:

It MAY be the case that certain creative teams work closely together in this regard. To my knowledge, there are no set-in-stone rules. I know, for example, that Brian Michael Bendis contributes suggestions regarding placements. Certain other writers and artists may offer suggestions too. I've certainly been given direction on some of the projects I've lettered. But I have NEVER been dictated to, and in the vast majority of cases, I'm left to do my own thing.

It's not wrong for anyone to suggest changes, and it's not wrong to accommodate them if they make sense. Being flexible and adaptable to clients' needs is all part of being a team player. I also think it's absolutely right to speak up and dig in if you're explicitly asked to do something that will harm the end product. It sounds like you're approaching this really well.

Todd Klein
02-09-2013, 02:56 PM
I think you can see why he hasn't worked for the bigs in a while. Stick to your guns. If he can't say why his choice is better than yours, it's not.

Thomas Mauer
02-09-2013, 06:14 PM
I've changed lettering according to artists' wishes in the past but only when it actually made sense. If it didn't I outlined my reasons and have very rarely been told to do the change anyway.

As the others have said, stand firm. If you give in each and every time someone wants a change, you will compromise your reputation as a letterer in the eyes of readers and other creators. Not because you're rolling with every punch, but because they'll think you're crap at your job half of the time. At the end of the day the only thing that counts is what's printed and published, after all.

FreemindVisionary
02-10-2013, 12:04 AM
Thank you all very much for your input. I was confident I was doing the right thing and this artist getting final say on ALL balloons was malarkey, the general consensus here seems to agree.

Thomas Mauer
02-10-2013, 07:38 AM
If he wants total control over the balloons, he should letter the book himself.

khperkins
02-10-2013, 08:46 AM
If he wants total control over the balloons, he should letter the book himself.

That right there.

JennaP
02-10-2013, 10:50 AM
...wow. I really bristle when I hear about anyone, in or out of the industry, dismissing the contributions of letterers and colorists. Every little element is important and as a writer I don't believe in telling the rest of the team how to do their jobs unless they *ask* me for input.

When I want total control of the end product...I write it as prose. When I write a script, I'm building the scaffold and then it's up to the artists, plural, ALL of them, to fill in the gaps.

This guy sounds like he's struggling with some control issues.

DeimosComics
02-10-2013, 01:28 PM
The goal is to make the comic as beautiful as possible. That way everyone wins. It doesn't matter whose is the "best" direction as long as it will be the one implemented. Ego should have no place in the equation.

lordmagnusen
02-11-2013, 11:23 AM
Man, what a dick. Hope everything turns out for the best, Freemind.

t_orzechowski
02-11-2013, 07:47 PM
It has always been my feeling that our job is to flatter the script and art equally.

If the artist wants you do the job to his specs without having given you direction in the first place, that person is asking you to work for free. If the office staff, who is paid to do revisions, is nonexistent, your relationship with the editor involves a certain amount of fixes, while respecting your need to earn a decent living. If the artist, who is not an agent of the company, wants an appreciable amount of your time while having no respect for your judgment and experience, he'd better back it up by treating you as a person whose time is worth money.

Grr~!

Scribbly
02-11-2013, 08:53 PM
I wonder HOW "that artist", regardless of whom he may be,
can have full access to the lettering work before the book goes on print.
Apparently, "this artist" has access to all the lettered pages of this book, according with the magnitude
of his complains to the Editor.
How this can happen? Is he the author owner of the book?
Agree that lettering and balloons placement are utmost part of the page composition and that every artist should consider the balloons size and placement before start with the artwork.

But if the letterer wasn't advised by his Editor at the beginning and by contract, on following the artist placements literally, the artist complains have no merit.
Same applies for the inking and coloring work.
Unless the artist is the producer of the project, the guy who pay, he has no voice on what the other members of the artistic team are doing.
My POV as artist.

Thomas Mauer
02-12-2013, 06:30 AM
I wonder HOW "that artist", regardless of whom he may be,
can have full access to the lettering work before the book goes on print.
Apparently, "this artist" has access to all the lettered pages of this book, according with the magnitude
of his complains to the Editor.
How this can happen? Is he the author owner of the book?
Agree that lettering and balloons placement are utmost part of the page composition and that every artist should consider the balloons size and placement before start with the artwork.

But if the letterer wasn't advised by his Editor at the beginning and by contract, on following the artist placements literally, the artist complains have no merit.
Same applies for the inking and coloring work.
Unless the artist is the producer of the project, the guy who pay, he has no voice on what the other members of the artistic team are doing.
My POV as artist.

In my experience, writers and artists usually get lowres proofs of the colors and lettering to give their input. That's valid though this guy's taken it way too far.

Scribbly
02-12-2013, 07:21 AM
In my experience, writers and artists usually get lowres proofs of the colors and lettering to give their input. That's valid though this guy's taken it way too far.

For writers and artists that are "the owners" of the book, of course.
For writers and artists that are Work For Hire force, I doubt so.
Maybe some pages samples as courtesy for them, but not input allowed.

What if the WFH artist dislikes all the ink and coloring as well?
Must the Editor call for 90% of the pages to be redone?

Being the artist the "owner of the project", everything should be overseen by him.
Even the choice of inker, colorist and letterer.
But if the Editor initially did approve the letterer's work, to flip from "all is OK" to "redo all the pages",
after the artist's "input" seems to be a big Editor's flaw.

The problem is that we don't know who is who in this equation.