One of the important skills that goes into making our comics is lettering. The art of designing and selecting appropriate fonts; shaping and placing captions, word balloons and sound effects – all can often help or hinder even the finest comic work. It is often overlooked by readers, necessarily so, but now we get a look in and a chance to learn the craft from prolific professional letterer Nate Piekos, this October, in The Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering – from Image Comics.
According to the Image press release, Nate Piekos will cover “everything from creating lettering templates, emotive dialogue, and dynamic sound effects to developing design skills and building a lettering career in the comic industry.”
The book will be available in comic shops October 20, followed by bookshops and digital platforms from October 26.
Nate Piekos has been working in the field of typography and graphic design for decades – having lettered for all of the major comics companies (Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc.) and helped design fonts and logos for videogames, movies, product packaging, advertising, and more.
According to Nate Piekos,
“For years I’ve posted lettering tips and design theory on social media, and one of the most frequently asked follow-up questions I receive is, ‘Have you ever thought about writing a book about this?'” said Piekos. “Since well-executed lettering is an often overlooked part of the comics reading experience, very few people realize just how much graphic design skill is required to do the job well. I felt like it was past time to write an exhaustive guide on the art of digital comic book lettering for all those who are interested. It’s a ‘deep dive’ on the subject that aspiring letterers have been craving.”
With the news now out there, Nate Piekos has revealed on Twitter that he has secretly been working on the book for the last year and a half, with the text now completely written and just the designs and layouts left to work out.
The book is completely written, and I am busy designing the pages for print. I’m about half way through that.
How the hell I wrote a book and maintained my lettering and font schedule, I have no idea.
— Nate Piekos of Blambot (@blambot) March 22, 2021
Graduating from Rhode Island College in 1998 with a degree in graphic design, Nate Piekos got into hand and digital lettering via the indie comics scene. He started developing Blambot – a site for cheap, accessible fonts for aspiring creators – around that period and by 2002 it really took off. On MyFonts.com Nate Piekos has over 150 font families associated with him. He has won and been nominated for multiple awards for his work including a 2020 Ringo Award for Best Letterer.
There are woefully few books on the art of comic book lettering for those starting out. There is Richard Starkings and John Roshell’s Comic Book Lettering: The Comicraft Way (2003); and Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein’s hard-to-find DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics (2004). Nate Piekos’s book will be a welcome and much-needed addition to learning the art of the craft.
Want to know more about the craft of comic book lettering? Todd Klein did a history of lettering in 2014.