Friday, January 27, 2012

The "I"s have it?

I know, I know…the weekly blog thing has fallen off the tracks already. 

“Didn’t Hansel say he’d do this once a week?”

Yes…yes he did.  However, when he made that commitment, he didn’t anticipate the upper respiratory infection that knocked him on his butt.

Sorry about that.

No more talk of sickness and no more excuses, let’s blather about…well…let’s just blather.

This past week, I entered into an online “discussion” with some folks about lettering.  A comic strip I like to read on a daily basis contained a lettering error and I pointed it out, since I did not wish the  creative team of said strip to be thought of a amateurs.  (The mistake they made was an amateur lettering mistake).  The error was basically this: The letter “I” had the serifs (those little bars at the top and bottom of the letter) present in the middle of a word.  Any professional comic book person, especially if they are an editor or a letterer, will tell you that those serifs are ONLY present in the letter “I” when “I” is the pronoun “I”, or, in certain cases, begins a word such as “I’LL”.  Otherwise, loose the serifs.

This caused many people, including the letterer, to jump on me and say it was an expression of artistic intent to do the lettering incorrectly.  They demanded that I show them “proof” that this was a lettering rule, because NONE of the dozen or so people that post there had ever heard of such a thing.

I directed them to Todd Klein’s excellent website and the Comicraft website (all of which have excellent information about lettering) and I also recommended the DC COMICS GUIDE TO LETTERING AND COLORING.  The masses would not have it.  They dismissed the “DC” book as being a house guide and useless (which is interesting since none of them had read it).  Again, I was told that they had a “RIGHT” to do the lettering anyway they wanted to and that there are no rules.

It was an interesting argument.  Almost 90 years of comic strip publishing history tells us that serifs are NOT used.  Hundreds, thousands?, of comic strips have been lettered this way.  I’m fairly certain that “reading” studies have been done to establish those rules (this is one of the ways that ALL CAPS lettering came to be the standard for comics—its easier to READ it).

I’m all for change when it makes sense, or change to fix something that is wrong.  It seems to me that nothing was “wrong” here and that nothing logically needed to change.  I’m also not a huge fan of following a rule just because it has been in place for a long time, HOWEVER, certain rules do have a purpose and should be observed and followed.

I’ve been told more than once that if lettering (or coloring for that matter) call attention to themselves, then the letterer/colorist is NOT doing their job, because those are the “invisible” part of the creative team.  They are critically important, don’t get me wrong.  They usually are called upon to save the day with regard to deadlines and turn work around virtually overnight, but theirs is a quiet art.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A few things...

One of the things that I promised myself when the new year began was I would try to commit to doing some type of regular essay writing.  The local paper(s) don’t seem much interested in freelance workers these days, and the reality is that my “day job” might make them a wee bit gun shy about hiring me, especially if I decide to comment on the blood sport of politics.  So, here I am in cyberspace (where all the hep cats are anyway) to offer my observations, musings, and opinions.

If you’ve come here looking for gossip or sordid tales of tomfoolery, I’m afraid that you’ll be more than a bit disappointed.  That’s not the game I’m into.  I do, however, reserve the right to have opinions (even unpopular ones) and I will gladly engage anyone in the gentlemanly art of discussion about those opinions.  Remember, as a friend once told me, “…differences challenge assumptions…”.  There is nothing wrong with challenging the assumptions, and I welcome differences as that is what makes life interesting.

No, the column will provide me with an opportunity to talk about a medium close to my heart “comics” and will allow me to talk about and opine on what an old geezer like me wants to crab about a bit.  Mostly, it will be about the GOOD things that are coming out of the medium and the brave new world that comic book/strip creators are headed into.  The internet will change everything.  It HAS changed everything!  Comic Book Resources ran an excellent piece about the future a few days back.  I would encourage all of you to read it.  I’ll provide a link at the bottom of this essay. 

Where was I?  Oh, yeah…the purpose of this here column.

I will, of course, also take the opportunity to plug various MPH projects that are chugging along.  I’m a terrible carnival barker, though, so be warned.  Plugs may be awkward.

I plan on each of these little essays to run about 500 words or some.  Some weeks a wee bit more, other weeks a wee bit less.  But, 500 is a good number to shoot for.

I also plan on using this blog to showcase editorial cartoons (I’m going to shoot for doing TWO a week) and various other media type projects, including my first ever attempt at sculpture.  Should be a hoot.

On another website, you’ll soon find the daily adventures of a boy and his tabby cat.  Marty is a boy who lives in a world all his own…or does he?  What is real?  What is his imagination?  It might not even matter as long as I spin a good yarn worthy of entertainment value for the whole family.

So that’s what my pledge (at least for now) is to you, determined reader.  One essay and two editorial cartoons a week, plus whatever other madness I find amusing and worthy.  Oh, and THAT is 500 words.



I've been down with some type of viral infection for these past few days, but in the fever spent days, I managed to do a few doodles.


Friday, January 6, 2012


Hi Heroes:

Welcome to the future, I guess.  Hope everybody had a safe and fun New Year's Eve.

I've been under the weather, so that's why there hasn't been much blogging here lately.  I'm ready to announce some things soon, so stay tOOned.

I can confirm, too, that I'll be a guest at C2E2 in Chicago this year, as well as Wizard World Chicago, the Chicago Alternative Comix Exp (CAKE) and a show in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  If all goes according to plan, I should be drawing on Free Comic Book Day, too.

Anywho, more soon...