|05-03-2012, 09:50 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jan 2006
twenty years of automated lettering
it's been like 20 years now since Richard Starkings made digital lettering a formidable and, soon after, dominant presence in this industry.
what does anybody think, two decades later? do comics look better, or worse, or about the same?
it would seem to me that, on the whole, they look worse. but this is more due to digitized coloring than lettering. colorists are more and more doing what once was the job of the inker: produce a sense of mass. i am not adverse to technology, but i still think producing mass via a judicious use of line weights is a far better and simpler way of working than the gyrations colorists go to in Photoshop. just my opinion, of course.
as far as lettering goes, the best computer lettering still can't compare with the best pen lettering. but good computer lettering is lots better than bad pen lettering, and the majority of pen lettering wasn't all that brilliant.
the really great pen letterers — Klein, Orzechowski, Costanza, both Rosens, Schnapp, Oakley, Oda, Simek — really improved the look of the book. a host of lesser talents did well, too. there were also some pretty bad ones. were i a penciller, i'd rather my work be digitally lettered than badly lettered with a pen.
then there is Gaspar, who could never be replicated by a computer. o Gaspar. o Gaspar who made comics cool.
there's a sterile, generic quality to almost all computer lettering that is exceedingly hard to defeat. it works against the feel of the hand-drawn artwork, and feels like exactly what it is: something foreign, added on top of drawn pictures, rather than something which flows with them.
the flexibility in work flow, the ease with which writers can revise their words, and the fact that page rates have plummeted, have all worked to comics' advantage.
if i could wave a magic wand and change it all back to the way it once was, i guess i would not do so. i think my complaints are valid, but if these points were really overwhelmingly true, i suppose publishers would turn back the clock themselves. or if comics were generating huge profits, as they once did, it would be cost effective for artists and editors to insist on the very best of everything — including, if they chose, hand lettering.
my stock of B6 points, templates, Ames guides, and the other accoutrements of the craft are sitting in a box in my closet. i'm not sure i'd even know what to do with them anymore. but here we are in the 21st century. no flying cars, no colonies on Mars, and no robots sweeping the house. but we do have digital lettering.
Last edited by Clem Robins; 05-03-2012 at 09:07 PM. Reason: left out Tom O
|05-03-2012, 01:14 PM||#2|
I really like beer.
Join Date: Sep 2011
Personally, I think it all comes down to the hands that use the tools, if you get what I mean.
I'm always pushing the angle that letterers are artists as much as inkers, colourists and pencillers are. I personally believe that, just as pens and pencils produce quality results in the hands of folk swho have experience and education in their use, the same is true of Adobe Illustrator and digital typefaces.
I've seen lettering jobs using digital fonts that looked amateurish and clunky, sure, but an experienced letterer can (should) achieve a more pleasing effect if he draws on his design sense and creativity.
Just my two cents.