View Full Version : Writer / Letterer?

02-26-2016, 02:33 PM
I'm curious if there are examples in the indies / self-publishing realm of comics of writers who also letter their own books?

At first glance, it would seem to make sense to me. Since the writer is usually the one footing the bill, it would lower their production expenses to do it themselves. Plus it would reduce any friction that stems from dialogue tweaks. I also think it would be a great learning experience for an aspiring writer and would help them develop a well-rounded perspective for scripting and developing panels.

What would be some drawbacks to the writer also lettering the book? (Having too much on your plate is the first that comes to mind.)

Any thoughts on the topic would be appreciated.

02-26-2016, 03:12 PM
Bendis, Wood, Brubaker, hey used to do so. Amongst others.

02-26-2016, 06:11 PM
I actually learned how to letter for the reason of saving money on my books and made a career out of it. But I letter almost everything I write, and know several other creators that do the same.

Time is a factor, yes, but you also have that added ability to edit on the fly as you letter.

02-26-2016, 07:21 PM
Most small indie writers letter there own books. That's why so many look so bad. Yeah you can save a few bucks, but when you have no clue what you are doing and/or have a poor eye for design, your final product suffers. There are a few writers out there who look good, but most are bad. Kirkman did his own books for a while and the lettering looked like crap.

If you are self publishing it's not a big deal, but if you submit it to a publisher, they may make you reletter it or make you hire a letterer. I'm saying this not as a letterer (I'v moved on from comics, other than for friends or referrals), but as a reader who has flipped through a ton of indie stuff and put it back on the shelf.

Stewart Vernon
02-26-2016, 11:06 PM
If you care enough to learn, practice, and get good at it... then I say have at it!

I like the fact that in my Web comic (I write, draw, and letter it) I can tweak the dialog after I draw the scenes and realize I don't have enough room for my usual verbosity!

But... if you aren't any good at it, bad lettering can cause people to tune your book out... so make sure you're not subtracting more from the story if you letter your own stuff.

02-27-2016, 06:44 AM
Ed Brisson letters the comics he writes. I think Chris Sebela letters some of his comics, but could be wrong. Many indie comickers do letter their own comics, and quality varies, so there's that. The worst is when they just use Times Roman to letter them. Brrr.

02-27-2016, 03:33 PM
Ed Brisson used to do lettering as his main gig while he self published Murder Book. I think most of his stuff was manga from DHP, but a company I used to work for hired him to letter a bunch of their books long before he became a writing "overnight sensation". I still have one of his old business cards: "Writer Letterer Good Dude". Correct on all 3 points.

02-29-2016, 02:50 PM
One massive drawback would be if the writer doesn't know dick about design or composition or how to place balloons in a non-hideous fashion. Writing and lettering may both involve words, but that's about as far as the similarities go.

Also I think a writer's natural bias towards his own writing might lead him to make some crappy decisions in situations where the art is being suffocated by too much text.

02-29-2016, 04:11 PM
Yeah these are all the pros and cons that I kind of expected to hear. I personally am interested in learning more about lettering just because I think it would be interesting to both write and letter. So far I've only focused on developing my writing though. So maybe lettering is something for further down the road once I feel more confident in my writing abilities.

Vartemis - interesting you should mention Brisson. I just came across The Violent #1 yesterday (available on comixology for FREE right now) and really liked it. If anybody on here enjoys gritty / realist crime books, it's worth taking a look. Sort of off topic, but oh well.

03-01-2016, 04:39 PM
I'm a writer. I taught myself to letter, in part for financial reasons, but mostly because I couldn't bear the idea of the lettering not being the way I wanted it. I do design in my day job, so lettering is far from alien to me.

I now love the ability to edit my own dialogue on the fly, once I'm lettering it, in order to make it look perfect with the art.

I learned a lot from the awesome free tutorials you can read at Blambot, Jim Campbell and Comicraft.

03-01-2016, 05:40 PM
I letter all my own comics.

Like others have mentioned, I appreciate the ability to edit on the fly. Sometimes the artist does not leave enough room for the dialogue, other times it just does not look/sound right once it's down on the page.


03-01-2016, 11:52 PM
When I was apprentice 20 years ago in Mexico, the writer would send the boards lettered to the artists, I think that was pretty clever. They had to do like 20-30 pages a week tho.

03-02-2016, 01:54 AM
I like to letter Gemini Storm because I tend to want to do dialogue tweaks. Sometimes the art means I need to trim some words down or the flow works better when certain parts are moved to other panels.