The value of good lettering in comics: Don't know what you got 'til it's gone

Good lettering in a comic is like good IT support in a business: It's absolutely vital for the success of the work. But the truth is, if it's done well, no one notices.

However, if it's done poorly, you get a travesty like this, the graphic novel adaptation of Twilight:

I flipped through a preview of this thing a short time ago, saw this lettering and shut the book, unable to withstand any more.

Woof, what powerful bad!

But rather than take a public stand, I backed away, shuddering, and tried to purge my mind of the horror. So my hat is off to Chris Sims of Comics Alliance for speaking up. And actually being coherent after his exposure.

Even if you can get past the fact that they lettered an entire graphic novel in Times New Roman -- which I assume was a choice meant to make it look more like a novel and less like a comic -- they still managed to get everything wrong. To start with, the balloons themselves, which are clearly the product of the Ellipse tool in Photoshop, and which manage to be both gigantic and poorly placed. So gigantic and poorly placed, in fact, that they not only complicate simple art problems of speaking order (see panel 3 above and the weird criss-cross of the tails), they're also occasionally reduced to transparencies to avoid obscuring the art any more than they already do.

Sims' cites a specific example, risking permanent ocular damage by focusing so tightly on one panel.

Whoever lettered this thing put a stupidly gigantic word balloon on top of a character's face, despite the fact that there's a huge open spot just slightly to the left of where it sits now. And considering that the background looks on close examination like it might be a photograph of a hallway that's been run through a few filters, I think it's safe to say that it could've used a little covering up. Instead, the problem was solved with a transparency, which at best makes Mike here look like some kind of cyborg, and at worst makes it look like we're reading his dialogue through a glass of water.

If I were a less civilized human being, I would call for the death of whomsoever lettered this comic. But I'll settle for showing it to you all and telling you not to buy it.


The Twilight Graphic Novel Review

From a tweet by Nate Piekos (@blambot)