Friday, October 10, 2014

Lettering For Fun and Profit

Lettering can be as much as an art as any other aspect of creating a comic. Not only can it be a lot of fun, but it can help you better define your characters, as well as provide a lot of bonus exposition and make things a lot clearer for the reader. If you have any doubts, let's look at what some basic plusses.

1) You can better differentiate between characters. If you have two or more characters that are basically the same, giving them a different font or even color of word bubble can help make the difference. Just giving two characters in the same panel a different color can help, and if you make that color consistent you can even have fun drawing the characters wildly different and they'll still be recognized as the same characters.

2) It allows you weirder characters. The obvious example is Deadpool and his multiple personalities, each with a different font and color, but this allows you to have some fun with other characters as well, such as showing how different an alien race is or having fun with that intelligent sword. You can even erase the link between alter egos by just changing details of the word balloon. There are just some characters that work even better when they have a visibly different way of talking.

3) You can make different modes of communication more obvious. Consider how the elves in Elfquest talked through telepathy or even the basic example of radios. It adds a little to your comic when the characters aren't limited to just talking, and it can really mess with readers when they realize that they just heard a character use an electronic means of talking when the character normally doesn't. It can also add potential clues to a murder mystery. Just messing around with the fonts gives you added dimensions.

4) For your dialogue boxes mixing up the fonts, colors, and even borders can cue the reader as to who is speaking, or the purpose of the box if you really run things complicated. When you start having fun with the editorial boxes, you can add a lot of exposition quickly without having to figure out how to make it part of character dialogue. For that matter, you can cut characters completely out of the exposition loop, which is useful when you want to tell the readers what is going as well as any necessary details while allowing the characters to remain ignorant of them. A little lame, perhaps, but sometimes it is nice to have options.

For those of you who keep to black and white, you can use different shades of gray as well as patterns for the boxes and word balloons. Just look at what they can do with manga, and you can have a lot more fun with them. Don't limit yourself to colors, and you can have a lot of fun. Lettering should not be seen as just a chore, but as a way to have some fun with the story and to better define characters. Just don't use it too much and you should be fine; it should be used like any spice and not overpower the meat.

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