Temporarily Switching Gears

I’ve recently come across a bit of a hang-up with working out of Abel & Madden’s Drawing Words & Writing Pictures–I’m missing art supplies! Currently I’m missing an Ames Lettering Guide for, well, lettering, and now I need to get myself a nib pen for inking. Rather than let myself get ahead by going through the chapters “theoretically” rather than “practically,” I’m going to switch gears for a few weeks and work on a project that came up for me while I was at the annual conference for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

While going through AWP’s massive bookfair, I met up with the editor of Poets & Writers and asked if he would be interested in a graphic essay. Last semester I wrote a pedagogy paper on incorporating graphic narrative into introductory creative writing classrooms, and it has always felt awkward being in prose–the essay feels like it needs to be drawn out as sequential art. Even though Poets & Writers does not publish pedagogy papers, the editor gave me his card and said he would be interested in learning more. So as of now, until I can get my art supplies and get back on track with working through Abel & Madden, I’ll be putting together a query for Poets & Writers. Wish me luck. :)

Chapter 7: Lettering

Since I lack the most important tool for this chapter’s activities, I’m going to have to go through what I learned theoretically and repost once I’ve completed the activities. This does not bide well for returning to work after two weeks of not working out of Abel & Madden’s Drawing Words & Writing Pictures.

Generally, in my experience with lettering, I’ve been predisposed to do it digitally. No only has most of my comics experience come from strictly digital endeavors, but my handwriting always comes out rather scrunched and terrible so even if I could write out my letters by hand, it never really turned out well.

Ever since I was little, about elementary school age, I had a habit of writing in different styles to try and invoke different feelings or moods. So I guess I’m naturally predisposed to this whole hand-lettering business, where you’re drawing each of the letters rather than simply writing them. I never really thought of it that way, but now it just makes sense. And since the lettering is done by the same hand that drew the pictures, there’s a cohesiveness to the whole comic that gets lost with digital lettering. (One of my former professors stressed how much he preferred hand-lettered versus computer-lettered and I never fully understood why until now.)

There’s this nifty tool that comics artists use to help get their letters in the right size and shape. It’s called Ames Lettering Guide. I don’t have one. (Yet.) Which is why there are no pictures in this post. Anyway, the lettering guide is great. It’s this somewhat rectangular shaped object with a disk in the middle with lots of holes drilled into it. Once you figure out how to use it (which Abel & Madden describe wonderfully), it makes lines on the paper in the appropriate size and ratio for you to write your letters! Think of the lined paper you got in elementary school when you were learning the alphabet, with the blue and red solid and dotted lines so that you knew how to make your lowercase letters and uppercase letters. The lettering Guide makes lines like that. It’s awesome, and I’m jealous because I don’t have one and now I’m going to have to scour the art shops in the area until I find one or give up and buy one online.

(Sidenote: The one thing I really wish this Drawing Words & Writing Pictures did was have a supplies list for the entire book right at the beginning. Maybe their website, www.dw-wp.com has a comprehensive list somewhere, but having to go week by week and then “SURPRISE! here’s all of this stuff you need!” before you can move on is really disheartening. I’d have rather searched for all of the obscure necessities at the beginning of the class and have them sit on my bookshelf for weeks than to be reading to move on and then have to stop everything to find this whatchamacallit that it obscure and hard to find in any generic shopping place or arts-and-crafts store down the street. /rant)

The homework for this week involved drawing a comic with no drawings and working on the cookie jar kid comic. I finally got the full size Bristol paper and some pigment pens, but without the Lettering Guide or ink (black india ink, graphic white) or paint brushes, I’m pretty much out of luck. :( Sorry guys, no drawings today. Hopefully I’ll find this stuff early next week and I’ll be able to make up for lost time.