Lettering comics — The Trickiest Letter

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I have another tip for potential/amateur comickers out there. This one is about lettering the trickiest member of the alphabet–especially if you elect to use the classic all-uppercase style in your dialogue and narration.

lettering I

This is primarily a kerning issue. Crossbar I uses a lot of white space on either side of itself, pushing the surrounding letters away. When it’s followed immediately by a period or apostrophe then it’s much less obstructive to the reading flow.

“Why is it that some words in comics are in bold?”

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This is why.Lettering emphasisEvery now and then I’ll see someone complaining about comicbook emphasis in balloons and captions. Most of them seem under the impression that when words are emphasized it means they’re being shouted for some reason. Hey…when someone shouts in a comicbook, you’ll know it. Exclamation marks, jagged balloons, huge text–they’ll let you know, trust me.

Emphasis on certain words in balloons and captions is used for two reasons: to clarify the intent of the words (as above), and also as an aid for page-skimmers who may be too wrapped up in the artwork to give bubbles and captions a second glance. Balloons and captions have lots of art to compete with. Emphasizing key words aims to draw readers’ eyes enough to at least pick up the gist of the text.

I’m not saying every comic needs to use comicbook emphasis–not at all. It would be great if people could cut it out with the “they’re shouting words at random, this is dumb” stuff, though. This is one of the things that comicbooks just plain do better than other forms of silent media out there. It’s such a shame whenever I see it getting disrespected by certain fans and amateur creators(!) alike.


The Room Dictating the Conversation

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I find it very strange how after that “The Sponsor” comic blew up, the response I saw to it was completely different depending on whether I was looking at one social media timeline or another. Every person I saw on Facebook was saying that James Sturm’s comic, about an artist struggling with their peer’s successes, was universally relatable. On Twitter I was exclusively treated to a gaggle of tweets condemning the premise and preaching against the sorts of ideas its characters were grappling with.

Here I thought I moved in the same circles in both rooms…Though it is worth remembering that both of those rooms has a habit of picking and choosing which pieces of conversation reach us (to varying degrees). I am a person who values multiple perspectives, so hearing dissenting opinions is always of interest to me, but this time the monopoly of one viewpoint per room sort of overshadows the issue being discussed.

Everyone’s timeline is different.This experience may have been uniquely mine. I’m not sure if that makes it more or less valid a thing to ponder, but look here: I’ve already written the damn thoughts out.


Zukahnaut joins forces with SpiderForest!

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Visitors to our main website this weekend will have noted the addition of a new banner running along the top. We are pleased to announce that Zukahnaut has joined forces with the SpiderForest webcomic collective! Together our goal is to bring to you a diverse list of new comics — browse through them whenever you find yourself between pages on your favourites!

Is there still room for amateurs in modern webcomics?

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Inspired by a forum topic, as more than one of these blog posts seemed to gestate. Let’s begin with a quote and move on from there:

“Used to be when you clicked on a comic you expected the early pages to be kind of (or extremely) crappy and it just got better as it went. Used to be tons of popular comics were just kinda… mediocre. The art wasn’t perfect. The writing was sloppy. But they got better.

Now it seems like there are so many comics that start straight away with professional quality art, that are just amazing the whole way through, that those of us who started by floundering and trying to learn the craft are just shoved under the bridge, shuffled off to the wayside by people who’ve hired artists, marketing teams and are creating amazing comics.

There’s no room for the slow evolution and process of improvement. People expect instant gratification. There’s too many good comics to bother giving the amateurs a chance anymore. Is it even worth starting a comic anymore if you don’t have it polished to perfection from page one, written and rewritten and perfected before you ever let someone lay eyes on it? I’m talking about us, you guys, us with our page one to page 300 showing vast improvement, us with our one or two man teams, us with our 5 dollar marketing budget spent on 3 cent Project Wonderful ads. Is there room for us anymore?”

-Tiana, Between Places and Stargazer’s Gate

I never really took note of webcomics until a big name got involved with them. Warren Ellis is one of the finest writers in comics today, and when he announced he would be publishing a series for free online I looked into the scene and was captivated by the possibilities. The way he described the landscape held such an allure that by the end of the year I had sorted through the ten-plus years of character and plot work that I had been accumulating for this one character since 1998 and front-loaded it into Zukahnaut.

I knew it would be the hardest thing I’d ever done and that I would have to improve as I went, but the way Ellis talked about webcomics made me feel as though it was both okay and totally worth it. “We don’t wear no stinking badges here,” he said, and gloried in the freedom to do whatever he wanted in the webcomic medium because “hey, I’m not charging you for it!”

So the big dogs jumping in the pool isn’t a downside at all, not to me. It raises the water level, sure, and maybe those without the endurance to kick their legs and stay afloat will drown. Let’s be honest here — most of them would have drowned anyway. This stuff is hard. But when someone with Eisner awards and television shows and movie scripts comes to play in your pool, passersby take note. They come to watch. They treat the other people there with a new respect. “Oh, you do a webcomic? Like FREAKANGELS? I loved that!” is much more preferable than, “Ugh, like that Tails Gets Trolled thing my cousin showed me…?”

Sure it’ll be harder to get noticed when there’s good stuff out there to compete with, but would you honestly rather be the brightest teenager in a room of toddlers, or the fresh-faced kid at a conference of seasoned veterans? When you’re around people who are better than you, you have the opportunity to study them and learn from them. You can more easily grow to their level and again, they elevate you by association.

I say there is room for average comics. There’s room for mediocre and downright bad comics, too! More importantly, there’s room for them to grow into something more. Their time in the light is still there waiting for them — it might take a little longer to get there now than it used to. It might involve someone giving them a break or taking them under their wing if they’re especially lucky. With endurance and with patience and with a determination to learn, anyone can swim with the big dogs. There’s no shortage of space.

We just have to keep kicking our legs is all.

Zukahnaut now available on ComiXology!

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zukahnaut on comixology

Why pay for Zukahnaut when it’s already free online?

Well first off pretty much every comic can be found for free online, along with music and movies and anything else that can be distributed digitally. There are reasons why people choose to pay for these things anyway, and here’s a few reasons why you should feel good about buying Zukahnaut comics:

  1. No need for an internet connection to read
  2. High resolution pages
  3. No advertisements
  4. Support its creators and make future work possible

ComiXology also offers DRM-Free downloads of Zukahnaut purchases, but if their update schedule is too slow for you we sell the most recent completed issues at: zukahnaut.com/e-books/

Why get ComiXology versions over ebooks available on our site? Because of ComiXology’s Guided View feature. One step below motion comic. ComiXology also gives you the convenience of storing your indie comics handily with whatever other titles you may buy from Marvel, DC, Viz, Image and more!

Never used ComiXology? Curious as to how it works? Test it out with these free comics! comixology.com/free-comics (Atomic Robo is particularly recommended, especially if you’ve taken our advice and turned yourself onto Ethan Kocak’s fantastic comic Black Mudpuppy).

You can purchase chapter one for just 99 cents here: http://cmxl.gy/1rIDlHP

How I fell in love with comic books.

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I was too poor to buy comic books new off the rack when I was growing up. It might sound funny today, especially when you compare modern-day prices to what the floppies cost in the 90s, but when you have nothing but a few cents in your pocket every dollar on a price tag might as well be a hundred. I remember seeing comic books in kids’ bedrooms on television and it striking me as so unnatural. Glossy new comics belonged on the spinner rack at the convenience store. For me those make-believe bedrooms might as well have been decorated with cash registers and cigarette signs.

I had one window a year to buy comic books – every year my parents would take us to the Sussex Flea Market, this huge sprawling swap meet that drew people from all over southern New Brunswick to buy and sell. There my father would give me a few meager dollars that, to me, might as well have been a pocket of gold bullion and then set me loose to entertain myself for 10 hours so he could pick through vendor stalls for a good deal on a hood ornament or bootleg VHS porno or whatever else.

I would barely eat over the next three days. All of my money was rationed carefully until I finally found one of the handfuls of vendors out of hundreds that had a cardboard longbox on display. COMICS: 25 CENTS EACH/5 FOR A DOLLAR the good ones would read. Looking back, though, the best sellers were the ones who would have grab bags: super-cheap, but you had no idea what you were getting. Those grab bags were my introductions to pretty much every comic character aside from Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman.

I struck gold in those grab bags over and over, but one book held me fast and showed me a whole new dimension. THE MIGHTY THOR #275, by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. On the eve of Ragnarok, the end of the world, Thor and his evil brother Loki clashed over the body of the betrayed Balder the Brave. Everything was turned up to 11 – huge, operatic, Shakespearean and absolutely breathtaking. It was the perfect introduction to Thor and it inspired a flat-out religious reverence for the entire mythos that I still carry today.

Some people use bags and boards to preserve their comics in pristine condition. I had to start using one just to keep THOR #275 all in one piece. I read that baby to tatters and beyond. Every bad day I had would end with me taking it out to compare my dumb problems with the world-ending ones that Thor faced in that comic with a set jaw and an unbreakable resolve.

I only had the one issue. It ended on a cliffhanger, naturally. The final words, spoken by Allfather Odin, still ring in my ears after all these years. “And Loki – Damned LOKI – Shall WIN, AFTER ALL!” It still chills me. For years I didn’t know how that story ended.

I make comics for a few reasons. This book isn’t one of them. It was what made me fall in love with the medium in the first place, though, and that’s got to be worth something.


Interviewed by Ariane Eldar!

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shareZukahColOtty recently answered some questions with Ariane Eldar in his strangest, most interesting interview to date! Topics covered include the recipe for Ariane’s original mixed drink called the Zukahnaut, what Zukah might do if he read the comic “Little Green Men” by Pat Mallet, Zukah embodying the feminist stereotype of the typical male, what the title “Zukahnaut” means and more! Head on over to read it on her site here, or on deviantART here!

And in the event you want to try out Ariane’s mixed Zukahnaut drink–why not try it with Zukah himself? Print the image, cut him out, tape him to your straw and voila! You’ll never have to drink alone again thanks to this fine alternative!