COMIC BOOK YETI: If you have any other jobs other than lettering, what is it you do?
CHRISTA MIESNER: I work as a graphic designer doing freelance art which can include anything from illustration to logo design, but I also work for a Manga publisher as my day job. There I do lettering but I also layout art files to send off to other letterers and check the books with our production team as they come in.
CBY: What are the comics that influenced you and made you want to work in comics?
CM: I am really into graphic novels that tell a historical story. I have always enjoyed learning but was never great in school, so historical graphic novels are a great way to learn without realizing it. Persepolis was one of the first of this type I read and it remains one of my favorites.
CBY: What do you enjoy most about lettering?
CM: The very beginning when I get to plan out how I want the lettering to look and brainstorming different ideas. Especially on projects that have more unique art, it can be challenging to come up with a style that is also unique but doesn't take you out of the story. That challenge is always the most fun.
CBY: What is something you wish the average comics reader (however you want to define that) understood about the art of lettering?
CM: Probably how important the lettering in a comic book is. It's one of those things that often go unnoticed until it's not good. Which I think makes lettering seem like an easier task than it is.
CBY: What do you think is the biggest misconception about what you do as a letterer?
CM: I think the biggest misconception is the amount of work that can go into lettering a comic. There is a lot of prep work that is involved, especially on a first issue, like picking and making sure a style works throughout. There is also file management and making sure everything is sized the same. A bunch of little things that also aren't the most exciting thing to talk about when making comics.
CBY: Hand lettering or digital, what tools do you use to letter comics?
CM: I prefer digital. As someone who is also a graphic designer, I enjoy the consistency of premade fonts. However, for certain projects I think hand drawn balloons add a unique style that can blend nicely with the artwork.
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?
CM: I don't know if it is very exciting, but I usually layout one page and go through the different fonts I have, and compare them side by side to see which fits better with the art. Sometimes I might think a font or style is going to be perfect in my head but once it's on the art it might be too distracting and I have to scrap it.
CBY: From a letterer’s perspective, which qualities do you most want to see in your collaborators to lead to a successful collaboration?
CM: Honestly, I just want a script that is proofread and finalized. It can be fairly frustrating to pour so much work into lettering a project uniquely, to then get a million changes because they did not properly work out all the kinks beforehand.
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?
CM: I do most of my work on a laptop and so my wrist can start to bother me at the end of the day since I'm not using a mouse, but nothing too serious
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?
CM: Well the person who taught me to letter and who has also done an amazing and consistent job lettering all of TMNT is Shawn Lee. I certainly wouldn't have improved without his help. Mountainhead is one to absolutely check out as well if you haven't.
CBY: Which of the comics that you lettered are you most proud of or means the most to you and why?
CM: Napoleon Dynamite was a lot of fun to work on and remains one of my favorites that I have lettered. The art style was unique and the story was fun so there was a lot of space for me to hand draw the balloons and have fun with it. I also had a similar enjoyment with the main story of Read Only Memories. The futuristic feel of the art and unique color scheme allowed me to play around with drawing out different balloons and using a different font than I normally would..
CBY: 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?
CM: Well before I started lettering at IDW I had a webcomic that I worked on, and the lettering was not great (laughs). However, by watching and learning from others I think I have come a long way. I don't know if the comics industry’s perception of lettering has changed, but I certainly feel like letterers should get a little more credit than they do for their part in the comics making process.
CBY: What current projects are you working on that CBY readers should pick up?
CM: I have actually been lettering Manga for the past year and a half which has been an interesting change of pace and a unique challenge. My favorite so far that I have worked on is this book called The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again, Today. It’s a very cute and funny story about a woman who is a bit of a mess who lives with her cat who somehow is a master of everything and keeps her life put together. It’s very unique and fun.
CBY: What’s your favorite comfort food?
CM: Grilled cheese with cheddar, swiss, and pepper jack cheese, toasted perfectly with a side of crinkle cut fries.