Saturday, 25 February 2012
MORE 2000 A.D. BIRTHDAY BABBLINGS...
Unlike the way American comics were mainly lettered in the '60s & '70s - actually onto the pencilled page before inking - British comics had a different system, the lettering being done on what was known as 'patch paper' and then stuck down onto the finished art. In the case of colour artwork, the lettering was applied to sheets of acetate film and processed separately, so that if the artwork was printed out of sync (giving a blurred, double-vision effect) the lettering wouldn't be similarly afflicted.
Most lettering nowadays, of course, is done on computer, but once upon a time letterers had to mark their guidelines on a sheet of patch paper and letter by hand within the lines. Some letterers, like BILL NUTTALL for example, used a lightbox, with the guidelines already marked out on that. He simply placed the patch paper over the box and lettered straight onto it, thereby cutting out having to line each individual piece or sheet of patch. Sometimes JOHNNY ALDRICH didn't use guidelines at all, but lettered straight onto the patch paper.
Incidentally, patch paper was a generic term for adhesive paper which came in different finishes - matt or gloss - and even in various degrees of finishes. Too glossy and the ink line got thicker as work progressed (due to the ink spreading out on the surface of the sheet); too 'matty' and the line was too thin, with the penpoint catching on the surface as if it were blotting paper. One had to have just the right degree of gloss to be able to letter smoothly and quickly without any hiccups. TAC-TIC was the brand name of one paper, and FASSON CRACK-BACK another.
Speaking of Tom puts me in mind of the ol' bumblebee paradox that bees shouldn't be able to fly because, aerodynamically, they're not best designed for flight. Tom's lettering was a bit like that. Actual size, it was too high, too narrow, and a little bit scratchy-looking due to his failing eyesight. It shouldn't have worked - but, in print, it did, and Tom's lettering is considered by many fans as integral to the 'look' of Dredd's strip as anything else which contributed to it. Tom's best work though, in my humble estimation, was the innumerable page of lettering he did for various IPC/FLEETWAY publications back in the '60s, before his sight started to deteriorate.
Posted by Kid at Saturday, February 25, 2012