We all know manga is translated from japanese to english, but do you ever think about how the actual text is placed on the page, and who places it there? It doesn’t magically appear out of thin air – manga letterers are the folks responsible for putting the words you read on the page, which is not always an easy task, as lettering is more than just fitting words into a balloon, which is hard enough in of itself, but requires creativity and ingenuity to replicate the feel of the original text with creative solutions and hand-drawn effects, and even cleaning, touching up, and redrawing the original art!
We’ve had several manga Letterers on the show to discuss their work before, but today is an especially red-letter day, because we’ve brought on a dream team, some of the best in the business, to spell out what a manga letterer does and lay down the letter of the law for a letter-perfect walkthrough of the art, process, and career of manga lettering!
Joining us for this auspicious and ambitious roundtable are returning special guests, longtime lettering enthusiast and breakout letterer Aidan, (letterer of Otaku Elf, School Zone Girls, and Toki), Final Fantasy XXV and COR enthusiast Ace Christman (letterer of Black Clover, World Trigger, and Goodnight Punpun), the hashtag LEGEND ™ himself Brandon Bovia (letterer of Kaiju No. 8, Dragon Ball Super, and Snow White with the Red Hair), and welcoming to the first time on the show a real lettering maverick, the queen of letterers – Sara Linsley (letterer of Sweat and Soap, Dandadan, That Wolf Boy is Mine!)!
Join us as we spend over three hours discussing the ins and outs of Manga Lettering, including different workflows, the best and worst fonts, working with editors and handling corrections, and many humorous anecdotes about the joys (and frustrations) of the craft! We discuss how essential the art of lettering is, and how it can really define the look of the series just as much as the rest of the artwork, even if many readers don’t consciously pay attention to it. We also explore how the work of letterers has evolved over the years, and what publishers can and should do to help make their jobs easier. We cover a lot of ground that will hopefully give you all great insight into one of the most interesting aspects of comics, and it’s a bread-and-butter letter of thanks from us to all the hardworking folks responsible for making the words in our comics fun to read!
As we’ve outlined on the show and in our Community Shout-outs, there is a wealth of resources out there to learn more about the craft and career of lettering and I’m glad that even more attention is being brought to discussing the work of manga letterers in particular. I hope that our own letterer’s roundtable has provided a worthwhile and valuable contribution to this collection of helpful and educational resources and I hope we’ll continue to produce and provide even more spotlights on the work of different letterers and the lettering of different series in upcoming podcasts and profiles now and in many years to come!
09:46 – Introducing our Roundtable!
13:30 – What is Lettering in comics, and what is the job of a letterer? What is good lettering, and what is bad lettering?
18:45 – What are the differences between lettering for western comics versus localized manga?
21:56 – Manga Letterer Origin Stories
22:11 – Sara’s History
23:15 – Aidan’s History
26:52 – Ace’s History
31:50 – Brandon’s History
35:55 – What skills, tools, and backgrounds help you thrive as letterers?
1:05:15 – What is the process of Manga Lettering?
1:05:53 – Ace’s Workflow
1:08:28 – Sara’s Workflow
1:11:40 – Ace’s Anecdote about Drawing SFX by Hand
1:13:35 – Aidan’s Workflow
1:15:55 – Brandon’s Workflow
1:17:35 – Humorous Observations
1:20:25 – Redrawing SFX and Speedlines
1:22:10 – What is work life like as a manga letterer? How do you maintain a Work/Life Balance?
1:31:05 – Working with Editors and Handling Corrections
1:37:56 – Funny Lettering Mishaps
1:41:45 – Fonts & Glyphs: What makes a good font, and what makes a bad one?
2:00:48 – Bad Fonts
2:05:35 – Limitations with Fonts & Word Balloons
2:07:37 – Fonts as Part of a Series’s Identity
2:14:17 – Who Pays for the Licenses for Fonts?
2:19:50 – How Much Should Your Rates Be? Avoiding Being Exploited as a Freelancer
2:27:15 – What Can Publishers Do to Help Make Letterers’ Jobs Easier?
2:41:35 – Favorite and Most Challenging Lettering Projects
2:42:00 – Sara
2:42:18 – Ace
2:45:50 – Aidan
2:48:40 – Brandon
2:50:20 – Sara, Part 2
2:51:10 – Brandon, Part 2
2:58:00 – Q&A’s:
2:58:30 – Favorite Part of the Process?
3:03:50 – Is it ok to use parts of the original SFX art while redrawing it?
3:05:33 – How do you redraw art that requires an advanced drawing ability to redo?
3:09:35 – What’s a Comic that Really Inspires Your Lettering?
3:15:35 – Favorite Japanese Sound Effect?
3:16:25 – Which Mangaka Use Lettering Really Effectively?
3:20:55 – Desert Island Scenario: What one Sound Effect Font, Dialogue Font, and Typeface would you pick?
3:23:45 – Closing Thoughts & Guest Plugs
3:27:36 – Community Shout-Outs:
- Marion’s late comments/questions
- How English Manga Gets Made with Blade of the Immortal’s Editor
- How Blade in the Immortal Changed Manga in America
- Todd Klein on the History of Comic Lettering
- Todd Klein on Computer Lettering
- Todd Klein on The Rise of Digital Lettering
- The Art of Creating Word Balloons interview with Todd Klein
- Multiversity Comics on The History of Comic Lettering & Lettering Week
- ComicTropes on The History and Techniques of Comic Book Lettering
- Vox on Where the Comic Book font came from
- 13th Dimension’s List of 13 Things You Didn’t Know About Comics Lettering
- PipelineComics on The Problem with WhizBang
- Evan Hayden’s Profiles on his Lettering on Various Manga
- OASG on the Manga Letterer’s Tools of the Trade
- Kpossibles video on Typesetting a Manga Page
- Inside the Manga Freelancers Studio from Kurotsuki Con 2020
- One Piece at a Time with Brandon and Derrick from Bitnerd Games
- MasakoX’s Up on the Lookout interview with Brandon
- Volume One interview with Brandon
- Jenny Geist Gaming’s interview with Brandon on Kaiju No. 8
- Anime Herald on Kaiju No. 8
- Grant’s Kaiju No. 8 review
- Kate’s Kaiju No. 8 review
- J-En interview with Brandon
- J-En Interview with Sara Linsley
- J-En on Why Machine Translating Manga is a Bad Idea
- Sara’s Lettering 101s
- Sara’s Lettering Tutorials
- Phil Christie on the Manga Letterer workflow
- SNS interview with Phil Christie on Dai Dark
- Transcript of the SWET workshop on Manga Lettering and Translation
3:47:40 – Show Plugs & Podcast Wrap-Up
Enjoy the show, and follow us on twitter at @manga_mavericks, on tumblr at mangamavericks.tumblr.com, and on Youtube! You can also follow the hosts on Twitter at @sniperking323 and @lumranmayasha. If you’d like to help support the show financially you can pledge to our Patreon and receive some awesome rewards like our Patreon-exclusive Bonus pods! If one-time donations are more your speed you can donate to Colton’s Ko-fi here and LumRanmaYasha’s Ko-fi here, and if you want to support LumRanmaYasha’s art and other projects you can follow them @siddartworks on Instagram and Twitter and donate to their personal Patreon. Don’t forget to also like and subscribe to us on Youtube and iTunes and leave us reviews to help us curate the show and create better content!