Graphic Novel Lettering Resources

Anyone who knows me well knows that I care a lot about the lettering in graphic novels. Great lettering is an integral part of effective comics storytelling. Mediocre lettering doesn’t do anything to help the storytelling – and poor lettering can actively sabotage the effectiveness of the story.

Being a graphic novelist means you have to be a true renaissance person: not only do you need to be a good storyteller and artist, but you also need to be a good designer! You need to be thinking about how all the different elements on the page interact with each other. And you need to use everything in your toolbox – including font choice, caption and speech bubble style, sound effects, and placement of the lettering – to support your story.

To help you along the way, below is a list of resources that can guide you through the process of effective lettering. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to hone your skills, these books, videos, and websites can help you.

Important Note!!

I do want to mention one caveat. A lot of lettering resources come from the traditional comics industry, which is heavily influenced by the lettering favored by DC, Marvel, and other superhero publishers.

If you are lettering children’s or YA graphic novels, make sure you look at lots of graphic novels in your niche to see how other books you admire are lettered. You may notice that their style is quite different from the Marvel or DC style.

The style of lettering in contemporary graphic novels is influenced as much by manga, alternative comics, and children’s books as it is by old school comics. Some graphic novelists like Jen Wang, Elise Gravel, and Jillian Tamaki have very distinctive lettering styles that look nothing like Marvel or DC.

The bottom line is: learn from others in the field, but don’t be afraid to do things your own way. The key is to be intentional about your lettering choices. 

Lettering Resources

Books and Articles:

YouTube Videos:

Websites:

  • Comiccraft
    • A font designer specializing in comics/graphic novel fonts
  • Blambot
    • Another font designer specializing in comics/graphic novel fonts
  • Calligraphr
    • An affordable app that turns your handwriting turned into a digital font
  • John Martz
    • A typographer who specializes in custom fonts for graphic novelists and comics creators

Your Turn

What resources or creators have influenced your lettering the most? What do we need to add to this list of resources?

About Janna Morishima

Janna Morishima is the founder of Kids Comics Unite and a literary agent who specializes in graphic novels and visual storytelling. She started her publishing career at Scholastic, where she was one of the co-founders of the Graphix imprint. She then became director of the Kids Group for Diamond Book Distributors, where she worked with publishers such as Marvel, Dark Horse, and Oni Press, and helped launch Françoise Mouly’s Toon Books imprint. In addition to her background in publishing, she has worked as an associate producer for documentary films, and as an assistant teacher in a kindergarten and a teacher in a high school for teens in the juvenile justice system. She later launched and ran the NYC Department of Education’s “NYC Reads 365” literacy initiative.

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