THE LETTERER OF THE DAY IS…BUDDY BEAUDOIN
COMIC BOOK YETI: Buddy, thank you so much for joining me here in the Yeti Cave. If you have any other jobs other than lettering, what is it you do?
BUDDY BEAUDOIN: While I would certainly love to letter full-time, I do have a full-time day job. I work at a store called Parkway Music on the e-commerce team. It’s a cool gig.
CBY: What are the comics that influenced you and made you want to work in comics?
BB: I’m thinking about this and it’s kind of a weird answer, maybe. When I was young, I loved horror comics. Really, anything [Bernie] Wrightson is all I picked up. I stopped reading when I was still fairly young and didn’t get back into comics until my early 20s with Battle Pope by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. Somehow, that’s the book that dragged me back in. I was hooked. I knew I wanted to write comics, and so I did. That’s where I started. It wasn’t until I started getting heavy into Jeff Lemire that I really noticed the intricacies of lettering. I owe that to Steve Wands. Thanks, Steve, for shoving me down the rabbit hole.
CBY: Yeah, Steve Wands is great. What do you enjoy most about lettering?
BB: The collaborative nature of it. I get to read scripts from all sorts of talented folks and look at incredible art by people who are just as, if not more, passionate than myself about comics. Being able to be a part of that storytelling process, being trusted with someone else’s words, the artist’s characters and settings, being [trusted] with the emotion of each panel… It's pretty damn cool.
CBY: What is something you wish the average comics reader (however you want to define that) understood about the art of lettering?
BB: I guess the nuance of it. A lot of work goes into lettering, and bad lettering can ruin an otherwise perfectly fine book. It’s a skill you learn and hone just like any other.
CBY: What do you think is the biggest misconception about what you do as a letterer?
BB: That it’s just copying and pasting the script. Again, it’s a pretty nuanced job and there are lots of industry conventions, softwares, tools, workflows, and design tricks that you need to learn to do it effectively. I can only speak for myself, but it feels like one of those things I’ll never stop learning no matter how long I do it.
CBY: Hand-lettering or digital, what tools do you use to letter comics?
BB: I am currently all digital, but have a natural reverence for hand-lettering. I am hoping to upgrade my setup with a Cintiq or some approximation of one soon so that I can work more on my hand-lettering. For now, I mostly stick with Adobe Illustrator and use Photoshop for the odd task here or there. I have started to dig into InDesign, but it’s not something I’m comfortable enough with yet to throw it into my workflow. Soon, though, I hope.
CBY: Can you take me through the process of how you go about choosing a font/lettering style once you become involved in a project?
BB: For sure! The style of the art and genre of the book have a lot to do with those considerations. Once I have an idea of those aspects, I like to look at the line weights in the art and find some fonts that work well with those. I’ll usually keep my balloon strokes around the same as those line weights as well.
With most clients, I’ll come up with a style guide before I letter a new book or series. We’ll pass that back and forth until we’re both comfortable with the direction of the lettering. Once that’s locked in, I’ll stick with that style for each issue and make some small accommodations where needed.
CBY: From a letterer’s perspective, which qualities do you most want to see in your collaborators to lead to a successful collaboration?
BB: I think it’s important to have a good understanding of space and pacing. There are those projects where, as a letterer, you’re faced with having very minimal space to fit the lettering in without covering or cramping the art. Sometimes, characters aren’t placed in the same order that the conversation is intended to happen. It’s up to the letterer almost all of the time to address those things unless your artist is willing to redraw panels or full pages.
The more prepared the art is for the lettering, the easier it is to assist in the flow of how the story is told.
CBY: Are there any typical hand/wrist injuries letterers are prone to and do you have methods to combat injuries due to repetitive tasks/overuse?
BB: Yeah, as you might suspect, your hands and wrists can get pretty worn over time. Things like carpal tunnel and tendinitis are real concerns. I need to get better at this, but remembering to take time to stretch your fingers and wrists is a good practice. Keeping your chair at a comfortable elevation and having some sort of wrist guard on your desk definitely helps, too.
CBY: Is there a letterer, no longer working today, that you think never got the credit/recognition they deserved and which of their comics should CBY readers check out?
BB: Lettering is funny in that the letterer usually isn’t the person being talked about. That said, I think a lot of letterers get overlooked. A personal favorite is Gaspar Saladino. If you have not read the '90s Vertigo Hellblazer, please do.
CBY: Is there a letterer that is still lettering today that you think doesn’t get enough credit/recognition and which of their comics should CBY readers check out?
BB: Probably going to have to take this one back to Steve Wands. I vibe with his style quite a bit. Read Descender, his run of Flash… check out his font foundry, Lo-Fi Fonts.
CBY: Descender is fantastic! Which of the comics that you lettered are you most proud of or means the most to you and why?
BB: I worked on a series called Villains Seeking Hero. The whole team (Louis Southard, Ben Matsuya, Kyle Pethcock, Roshan Kurichyanil, David Hahn, Matt Herms, Luis Delgado) were incredible, but Louis really let me take the reins on the design and I have always felt like that’s where I started to hit my stride as a letterer. I have a style now, thanks to that book and the dope team that created it.
It’s a really great story and it needs more readers and support. You can check it out on Gumroad. https://louissouthard.gumroad.com
CBY: I’ve read the first few issues of Villains Seeking Hero and I agree, more folks should check it out.
From when you first started lettering comics to today, how would you describe your growth as an artist and, in that time, has the comic industry’s perception of lettering changed?
BB: I sometimes look at my first few books and, yeah, I’ve grown immensely. It’s been a hell of a journey, heh. I can’t speak for the industry as a whole, but in the last six years, it definitely seems like people are more aware of lettering as a profession. I should note, though, that there are not enough comic reviewers discussing lettering and not enough books out there with cover credits for their letterers. That’s gotta change. Thanks for doing your part. :)
CBY: Oh, well, you’re welcome. If you were the curator for a comics museum, which 3 books do you want to make absolutely sure are included?
BB: Oh, wow. Uhhhh, man. That’s big. Obviously so many more than these three, but alright, here it goes.
Saga of the Swamp Thing; and
Snyder and Capulo’s Batman.
CBY: What current projects are you working on that CBY readers should pick up?
BB: Nothing current that folks can pick up, but Midnight Western Theatre just finished the first arc on Scout with a sequel in the works. Also, please read Villains Seeking Hero. One day, when Crash & Troy is free to see the light of day, please read that as well.
CBY: Yes, Crash & Troy! What’s your favorite comfort food?
BB: Pizza and hot sauce, no doubt.
CBY: Thank you very much, Buddy!
BB: Thank you!
CBY: Be sure to follow Buddy on Twitter at @BuddyOrDie. Check out his lettering portfolio HERE.