I've done about every part of the production process except the thing I've probably done more in the world of comics, lettering.
A lot of people overlook lettering, if you're a reader and you don't notice the lettering, the person doing the lettering has done their job. But if you ever notice the lettering, chances are it wasn't very good and took you out of the reading experience.
It's a thankless job, especially now in the days of digital lettering and the fonts that are out there. I actually started lettering comics in the late 1990s and yes I did get paid for the jobs (mostly). It was during my first times freelancing my graphic design skills. I figured that the emerging digital lettering process fit right into my design abilities it would be a good way to get into the business.
For the most part, it was successful. Met some nice people that gave me a break (thanks Roland!). And I got invaluable experience. I had my chance to stake my ground in the emerging market. I even had some people asking me for tips (some which work for major indy books nowadays). But something personal happened, and I had to leave it. I rejoined the workforce and the rest was history.
What's funny is that while I was doing it, I was frustrated I was just the letterer.. When I left it, I missed it.
Am I a great letterer? No. But I do respect the thinking behind it past the ease of the computer. You're guiding the reader along the path of start to finish. You're the translator of the writing and art. It is just as much of the art as anything about a comic. You must follow basics of how we read. You help evoke the sounds of the background or tones of the scene.
I have very specific guides to my comic and what lettering I use on it. I think it's worked out pretty well so far. Like the book in general, I try not to over complicate the use.
ISSUE #3 UPDATE: I've redrawn some pages I wasn't happy with. Remember, I'm not allowing myself redraws or "remasters" after printing. So I'm trying my best to make it the best issue I can. It delays the book further I know. I really appreciate you still coming to the site to read this and see my progress. I'm really proud of #3. It deserves the best I can give it. As do my readers, deserve the quality I'm striving for. I think the worst thing about indy publishing and the venue I've decided to go, is the fact it's done when I'm done. Schedules are hard to keep with my business. And since I've just sold these by conventions, my brain can go into to "next convention isn't until...so I have that long to get it done."
To remedy this, I am seriously reconsidering only selling them at conventions. I'm going to see about getting the books into some comic shops before Christmas. I'll let you know if that happens. Chances are most of you live close to the ones I'm going to approach. Others I can come up with a solution if not another convention. My hope is that I can get into a publishing schedule and have a venue past conventions to get them out.
I've been reticent to try shops because of the printing costs and what I would have to discount to get the store to carry them. So if I can figure that one out, maybe I can find a shop willing to work with me and give my little book a chance on their very crowded shelves.
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.