Thank you, Tim Corrigan!

Small Press Comics Explosion #6 (7/1986)Today, I received the sad news that Tim Corrigan is retiring from publishing small press comics. I credit Tim with getting me involved in the world of small press, making it possible for me to network with other cartoonists and setting me on the path I’ve followed for decades.

It was in the summer of 1986 that I first discovered his Small Press Comics Explosion, a kind of Factsheet Five for the comics set. SPCE made it possible for me to sample comics from around the country, introducing me to the likes of Matt Feazell, Graham Annable, Matt Levin, and many others who took obvious joy in making their own comics their own way rather than shaping their work to appeal to Marvel or DC. It was amazing to see the things that more experienced cartoonists were able to do in the medium of handmade comics, and it inspired me to stretch my own creativity in new ways. Most importantly, it allowed me to collaborate with cartoonists I never would have met otherwise in the pre-internet age when I had no cartooning peers of my own to work with locally.

But as important as Tim is to me as a rallying point for small press comic creators and an entry into that world, he was also a darn good cartoonist. He was equally adept at drawing Kirby-esque action as at silly superhero satire. Plus, he was a really good writer; his action comics were well-crafted, and his humor comics were actually laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, I’d been waiting until his (announced) hiatus was over to run a review of the only comic I subscribed to: Tim Corrigan’s Comics and Stories. While I won’t be getting any more manilla envelopes with new TCC&S issues, it was a treat I really looked forward to every month. And I do mean every month: from Sept. 2006 until earlier this year (taking off only an announced 6-month period in 2011) he produced a lovely anthology comic each and every month. For me it was a perfect small press digest, not only to enjoy as a reader of quality comics, but to aspire to a publisher myself. Continue reading “Thank you, Tim Corrigan!”

Comic lettering, part one: My hand lettering

For years I’ve been talking up the virtues of hand lettering, and how your individual mark-making can be expressed in your hand lettering just as much as it is in your drawing style. Even for those who feel their lettering isn’t what they’d like it to be, that distinctive, hand-drawn essence adds a lot to the look of your comic pages (I’m talkin’ to you, Joel!)…

In an effort to bring some order to my own (often sloppy) lettering, I came up with this method, first shared with the public in the pages of Tim Corrigan’s Small Press Creative Explosion #16, Dec. 1998. It’s still the same method I use for hand lettering today, even if I’ve gotten looser (sloppier) with my technique since then:

“A Foolproof Method of Comic Book Hand Lettering” / ink on paper / 14.75 x 11.25” / 1998

This method has served me well for a number of years and through a number of projects, though I did eventually change my pen of choice (to a fountain pen and liquid ink). But gradually– whether through inattention to detail, being able to devote less time to my art and thus rushing through it, or something else entirely– I became increasingly unhappy with not the concept of hand lettering, but with my execution of it … which is why earlier this year I began experimenting with typeset lettering in my Watusi strip.

Next time I’ll share my experiences– both pro and con– with that change in process. In the mean time, here are some links covering the art & science of comic book lettering:

  • Hans Presto made this page dedicated to comic book lettering, including lots of technical and theoretical info for both hand and computer methods. Also features a great essay on “The underappreciated art of lettering” by Augie De Blieck Jr. (from CBR, Dec.1999).
  • Todd Klein may be one of the most well-known letterers around; here’s his history of his career in lettering.
  • Ken Bruzenak was the letterer of Howard Chaykin’s groundbreaking American Flagg! series. Catch this podcast interview with him on Sidebar.
  • Balloon Tales is Comicraft’s online guide to comic lettering and production!
  • Blambot’s Nate Piekos writes about some of the grammatical and aesthetic traditions unique to comic book lettering.