Lettering for comics questions

I am going to re-letter some comics (change font), but had some other questions while I am st itQ1: should text always be ALL CAPS?Q2: should text always be centered?Q3: how to show a sigh in middle of talking? Have 3 joined text bubbles?Q4: what about groans?Q5: what font size is best?Q6: if you had the choice of round bubbles with smaller font or squarer bubbles with smaller font, which would you pick?Q7: I try to keep scenes to a two page spread in case I print the comic later. Does this matter?I am using square bubbles at present because my artwork is generally ok, but not fantastic. So my thought was focus is a bit more on story than a normal comic.Thanks for your thoughts!

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  • I've realized I can't be quite so dogmatic about lettering. I think there may be less variation in comic book lettering, but I did a little digging and found that comic strip lettering can vary on the "rules". Most seem to follow standard conventions, but not all.

    (I keep a binder with examples of various comic strips and their art styles. This is based on that plus some online digging.)

    Some people don't use all caps, like "Bizarro", "Phoebe and Her Unicorn", and "Cul Du Sac".

    "Non Sequitur" and "For Better or For Worse" don't use crossbar "I"s at all.

    "Dilbert" only uses crossbar "I"s.

    "Ziggy" uses lowercase "i"s for everything including pronouns.

  • The other replies have already given some good answers to your questions, but just as a bonus FYI, I wanted to add some extra links to some really helpful comic lettering tips and tutorials online 

    One is a lettering glossary and series of lettering tips from Blambot, and another is a collection of lettering tutorials at a site called "Balloon Tales" from Comicraft. I've learned a lot from both of them.

    • They were very useful, thanks! I had not used a cross bar “I” anywhere! But using font cc comic crazy I discovered “|” (vertical bar, shift \ any my keyboard) is printed as a crossbar I. Also left and right braces (“{“ and “}”) print as “crows fleeting” around words the *cough*.
      • Huh. I didn't know that about not using the cross bar "I". I've always used it for everything. At this point I wonder if it would look weird for me to change...

    • Thanks! I will check them out!
  • 1) All caps is how comics are traditionally lettered, so if you use lowercase it will look different to the reader. That is fine if that is your plan, but it will be noticed.

    2) Yes, center it

    3) *sigh* is the most common and will be best understood

    4) Ugh, pshh, urgh, or just type a bunch of letters and say them out loud to see how you sound :)

    5) Use the size that reads best. With online comics you can go a little smaller because people can zoom in on the page. If you think you have to shrink the font to make all your words fit, it is better to cut out some words. It will make the balloon more readable and will tighten up your story.

    6) Agree with Aaron, square are typically for captions or internal monologue. Round balloons are best. I am not sure what the shape of the balloon has to do with the size of the font, though.

    7) A two page spread does not translate well to digital comics, unless you have something like Comixology which can code a panel zoom. As you have discovered in converting your comic to Webtoons, a change in media requires a lot of reworking. If you are planning to go to print, you will probably have to reformat, but don't let that stop you from making an awesome comic for the format you choose.

  • (bear in mind that this is all ultimately stylistic choices and any of this can be thrown out the window.)

    1. Yes. I've seen some people pull off lower case lettering, but it generally looks better all caps, especially speech.

    2. For speech, probably. For captions, it varies.

    3. Talking talking. *sigh* Continues talking... or three conjoined bubbles. Depends on the timing you want to achieve.

    4. Same as above.

    5. As long as it's large enough to be legible and not so large it's distracting, it's a stylistic choice. I'd try printing out a page at the size you think it would be printed, and also see how it looks at the size you'd upload online. 

    6. By squarer bubbles, do you mean rounded corners? Square cornered boxes are often used for captions. You could still use squared corner boxes for speech though, coupled with the line that points to the character. Just so long as it's clear that it's not a caption. (For my comic, I don't use bubbles at all, but I'm not sure how that'd work in color.)

    7. I'm not sure I follow this question. By two page spread, do you mean a single panel that covers two pages? Or like Yoshi said, each sequence is two pages long?

  • Answer 1# All caps can be overwhelming, sometimes. I always use normal lettering. 

    Answer 2# Personally I like the dialogue in the middle of the speech bubble.

    Answer 3# If it's absolutely necessary to have it in between dialogue I'd say three joined bubbles would work. Usually I use normal bubbles, but draw the speaker sighing.

    Answer 4# In a bubble or next to the person in small font "Ugh" works. If it's a suffering held back scream I use "Nngh".

    Answer 5# I don't do comics digitally, so I can't answer this one.

    Answer 6# I like round. I read a "Bakugan" comic with square bubbles and it was really distracting. Too Acute.

    Answer 7# I'm not sure...are you talking about keeping sequences at a limit of two pages per scene? If so, I'd say that it doesn't matter how many pages a scene is as long as it isn't dragged out too long.

    I hoped this helped!! : )

  • Oops I meant square bubbles with BIGGER font... I lean towards bigger font to make it more accessible (my eyes are getting worse with age!)
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