A lot of people put work into The Return of Jeremy Munroe, an upcoming comic book series where love transcends the mortal plain. I previously talked with the writer and creator of the series Michael Edwards and the artist Brent Giles. Now I’m having a word with the letterer of The Return of Jeremy Munroe, Daniel Chan.Me: What made you want to be a letter rather than a writer or artist?
Chan: There was never a defining moment that lead me to decide that lettering is what I wanted to do more than, say, illustrating or writing duties. It just kind of worked out with my skillset - I am a graphic designer, first, so the attention to detail that lettering requires when it comes to typography is something I was familiar with when I first started lettering comics. I love comic books so it definitely was not by chance that I stumbled into working on them but the first job I came across just happened to need a letterer and that is how I started down this path. I do hope to one day be able to pen my own comic book but I think that will be much, much farther into the future simply because of other things I am working on.Me: Can you explain the process of lettering? What goes into it?Chan: Good lettering is typically invisible to the reader. Not in the sense that you cannot see it, rather it is lettering that works so well with the art that the reader does not have to stop to consider it. That is my opinion, at least. While I am lettering, I am always struggling to find the perfect positioning so that a reader's eyes follow a gentle, natural path down the page and I also try to make the lettering work with the art where possible - whether that is by doing something unconventional with the lettering or just by finding the right style for it. The actual process itself is really not all that complicated, it just takes time if you want to make sure a page looks good.I work mainly in Adobe Illustrator which is a vector graphics program. This means that anything drawn in Illustrator is actually defined mathematically rather than drawn purely in pixels. This means that you can create a tiny image and then blow it up five thousand times and it will not lose any detail or become distorted. This works really well for lettering as you often need to work with rather large scans of art. With Illustrator you can easily manipulate objects like speech balloons and the letters themselves without fear of losing detail or having things become pixelated. When it comes to actually lettering, I just try things until I find something that works. The biggest thing to overcome is the first page as that is often where you set the style for the rest of the book through the choice of different styles of caption boxes, balloons, etc. Once I have the style set, it is mostly about getting used to that style and then tackling each page as they come. Sometimes you will have a lot of room to put in all the words and sound effects necessary and sometimes you will have to squeeze novels into the tiniest crevices of a panel - it is all about finding both the optimal places to put things and making sure the reading flow is natural.Me: Who has inspired you as a letterer?Chan: The biggest influence on my lettering is definitely Todd Klein - if you read comic books, at all, it is almost impossible to not have seen some of his work. He is a letterer that started out in the days when lettering on your computer was really not an option and then transitioned to fully digital work. So he brings a really unique, more involved style to all of his projects. In general, though, I am really a fan of artists that do the lettering on their work by hand as it usually means you get some really interesting compositions and I just really like that natural-looking style. If you check out Terry Moore's "Echo" or some of Paul Pope's stuff you can see what I mean.Me: What was it like working with the rest of The Return of Jeremy Munroe creative team? Chan: It was a good experience though, as a letterer, my work is typically isolated from the rest of the team which is pretty much how this was. I only really talked to Mick when it came to lettering and even then he just let me do my thing - he was very considerate of letting me figure out how the lettering should work out. I think for anyone that is creative, autonomy is the best thing you can have when working on something. We all want to put a bit of ourselves into our work so it is great when you can just roam freely. Me: What other projects have or are you working on?
Chan: I have been transitioning to trying to do a lot of my own stuff these days which means I have not worked on a lot of other comic books, unfortunately. One of my favorite things as a graphic designer is book design so I have been putting out some tabletop RPG books - namely God-king, The Legerdemain Betrayers, and Haunt Me (all of which you can check out on my site: http://spiffup.org). These have been really fun to work on specifically because I have complete control over every aspect of the books from the text to the designs and even getting them out there and selling them.Me: For people interested in becoming a letterer, what suggestions or “inspirational words” would you give them? Chan: You should read a lot of comic books - which I hope you would be doing already if you are at all interested in getting into the comic book industry! Just like with anything, when you start becoming involved in a field you start noticing it a lot more. So as a letterer, when you read comic books you should start noticing the lettering in a more in-depth fashion. The styles used, the way the sound effects have been integrated into the art - that kind of thing. Seeing how other people approach the task is the best way for you to learn how to letter and it also gives you a library of techniques that you can adapt and use in your own work.Me: Thank you for your time, and I’ll look forward to your stylish words when The Return of Jeremy Munroe is released!
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.