by Deanna Destito
Letterer Marshall Dillon (Vampirella, Hack/Slash, Beyonders) has been working in comics since the ‘90s, having been an editor and manager along with learning how to add the all-important words to each page. The veteran has dipped his toes in almost every aspect of comic creating, but his experience with lettering has made him understand the entire process of putting a book together.
One of the benefits of learning to letter—and learning to do it well—is gaining a greater understanding of layout, graphic design, and how to make the whole page come together when the pieces are in place. Because of this, he has been able to branch out into other areas that require similar skill sets.
“I’ve done everything in the industry except pencil a comic,” Dillon explained. “Not all of that has been paid work, but I’ve done it. If it’s the right project and the right artist, I really like to ink. But it’s gotta be the right project because I’m not an inker by trade. I would like to write more, too.”
“I actually do a little bit of management for [Particle Beam Studios], a concept art company in Slovakia,” he said. “I’m here [at NYCC] pushing that portfolio as well. It’s a newer company so it’s tricky to get off the ground properly. There are all those fits and starts like ‘we got a bunch of guys who need a bunch of work. Now we have a bunch of work and we need more guys.’”
As a respected letterer with so much knowledge of the industry in his back pocket, Dillon has gotten to work on some exciting projects over the years for companies such as Aftershock Comics, Image, and Dark Horse Comics. Dillon was also an editor for a number of years at Devil’s Due and managed creative teams to get books rolling out on time.
Look for Dillon’s work in a new detective story with Jason Shawn Alexander. Although the project hasn’t been officially announced, it has provided an exciting departure from lettering and styles that can become mundane when churning out so many pages a day.
“I’m doing some interesting balloon styles for that project. ‘Cause his art is very chaotic and brush heavy and lots of texture. Making those choices, how do I make this balloon and this lettering style work with this art? It’s very fun and exciting and it’s so fresh.”
So what makes Marshall Dillon giddy at a show like NYCC? Meeting peers and fellow creators that he has worked with but never met in person, a common occurrence in comics since everyone tends to work remotely from their own corner of the world.
“We’re having a whole letterers luncheon…it’ll be a lot of guys who I either haven’t met or have talked to online. That’ll be really cool. Tom [Orzechowski] especially. I grew up reading the X-Men, and Tom and Chris Claremont were the voice of the X-Men. When I think of the X-Men I really think of Tom’s lettering and Chris’s words more than anything else. He’s kind of a childhood hero.”