Saturday, 31 July 2010

Fonts & Ethics

When I first tackled the issue of lettering Leo Fox I realised that I had neither the time nor inclination to master traditional hand lettering technique. (It's on the list of things to do before I die but hell people we have a project to finish here) So I decided upon an approach that blended hand writing style fonts with bits and pieces of hand lettered text scattered around.

I had been reading Bleach online and as Bleach is scanned and translated by enormously dedicated Manga fans it is lettered entirely by amateurs. This amazing level of dedication aside, the guys who letttered bleach used lettering that was sympathetic to the action and emotion being relayed by the characters. To clarify, the lettering was not uniform in style and could change to indicate different characters, moods etc. I liked this approach and decided to try and use it.

When we sent issue one to our contact in the industry the one thing he didn't like was the lettering. He acknowledged that he might be out of date in wanting to see uniformity but he raised it nonetheless. After all, in issue one every set of characters speaks with their own font.

Uniform capitalised lettering - the Marvel Way

The problem as I see it is this, if the lettering attracts too much attention it breaks the spell of the story by forcing the reader to pay attention to the way the story is told rather than the story itself. Now i'm more inclined to agree with this and I am considering reverting to a more uniform style of lettering. In fact i'm more or less copying the lettering style in Alan Moore's the Watchmen.

I use a simple 20  dollar piece of software called scan-a-hand  to draw my fonts and convert them into TT. I want  the final cut of Leo Fox to contain ONLY fonts that I have made myself so as to avoid copyright problems further down the line. But here is where the ethical question arises. If I copy another font by hand, thereby bringing in natural flaws and quirks and adding a few of my own details,  is that OK?

I'd love to illustrate this post with examples but I can't because all my fonts are in a van in France. But that's another story...

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