Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Former Marvel Comics Letterer Rick Parker: Notes for Aspriring Comics Artists Regarding Lettering

Photo of Rick Parker in the Marvel Bullpen, ca.1979 by Eliot R. Brown.

If you know comics, you know Rick Parker. He first went to work for Marvel Comics as a letterer in the late 1970s. Lettering ma be how he got his start, but he's also known as a writer and cartoonist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Time Magazine and various comics. He's best known as the artist of MTV's Beavis and Butthead comic book, which was published by Marvel from 1994 to 1996. He wrote and drew his own graphic novel, Deadboy, in 2010. His work also appeared under the Papercutz imprint.

Here's his advice on lettering, from Rick Parker's Facebook page:




Lately, so many people have messaged me asking about lettering, I thought perhaps I would make a few public comments in the hope that they might help aspiring comic artists with their lettering.

It's my opinion that cartoonists and the people who look at their work would all be better off if we all hand-lettered our work.

Fonts are really cold and have no soul. At best, comics is an artform done by a human hand. There is almost no lettering in comics today that is as good as the hand lettering on comics in the good old days by artists like Ben Oda, Sam Rosen, Joe Rosen, Gaspar Saladino.

Look around. All the great cartoonists working today letter their own work. Crumb, Dan Clowes, The Hernandez Brothers, Chris Ware, Noah Van Sciver and many others.

There is a good reason for this. They want their lettering to be a perfect match with their artwork stylistically. And for other reasons. It's more enjoyable to look at.

In my experience, and to be as brief and possible, the most important thing is that the lettering has to be EASY TO READ. One of the most important ways to accomplish this is to avoid having any letters touching and to leave ample white space around the lettering in the balloons.

I put together this sample with you in mind. Look at each letter and copy it a few times. Don't worry about your work looking like mine. After a while your own style will develop.

Each letter is composed of a variety of strokes. The vertical mark, the horizontal mark, the diagonal mark and several variations of circles. There are not that many strokes. Practice making them. The entire alphabet can be written down in only 62 simple strokes.

Finally, please keep in mind that the "I" with the serifs on it is a personal pronoun and should not be used in a words like "ship, thin, crisp or little".

It should be used in a case such as , "I went out for a walk."

Good Luck.

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