COMIC BOOK YETI: Lucas, thank you for joining me here in the Yeti Cave. If you have any other jobs other than lettering, what is it you do?
LUCAS GATTONI: I’m the prepress manager at a printshop I own with five other partners, been there for almost 20 years.
CBY: What are the comics that influenced you and made you want to work in comics?
LG: Everything I’ve read has influenced me (and keeps doing so), but regarding those that made me want to get into the business, I’d have to say the late '90s Superboy, Generation X, Astro City and all those titles beautifully lettered by Richard Starkings and Comicraft.
CBY: What do you enjoy most about lettering?
LG: As of late, I’ve found myself really enjoying lettering kids' and humour books, but I’ve had a blast doing sci-fi, horror, superheroes…if the story and the art are good and I can tell there’s passion poured into the project, I do enjoy lettering it!
CBY: What is something you wish the average comics reader (however you want to define that) understood about the art of lettering?
LG: That it’s not as easy as it looks and that it requires a very detailed skillset; also, that it should not be an afterthought!
CBY: What do you think is the biggest misconception about what you do as a letterer?
LG: I’ve seen multiple times on Twitter people confused thinking letterers are responsible for spell-checking.
CBY: Hand-lettering or digital, what tools do you use to letter comics?
LG: I use both, though I only do hand-lettering for logos, specific sound effects or particular texts that need to avoid the computer look.
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?
LG: I usually take two things into account; first, the overall look of the artwork. I try to select three or four typefaces that look like they would’ve been written with the same pen/pencil that was used to ink the book. So if the traces are heavy and constant, I look for a font that has those traits. Second, I take a couple of phrases from the book and try those fonts out, trying to see which one carries on better the voice of the book. If the book is fun, then it should look fun; if it’s serious then it should look serious…and once I’ve made up my mind, I usually letter one or two pages before settling the style definitively.
CBY: From a letterer’s perspective, which qualities do you most want to see in your collaborators to lead to a successful collaboration?
LG: Respect of the others’ time and craftmanship. A minimum knowledge of technical requirements. Flexibility and good manners.
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?
LG: Yup, tendinitis is something I’ve had twice in the last years and most recently I’ve had a mild episode of carpal tunnel which luckily didn’t require surgery. I have an ergonomic mouse and keyboard, and try to do some stretch excercises before starting a long lettering day.
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?
LG: I would say probably Bob Lappan, whose work on the Justice League International multiple titles always fascinated me.
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?
LG: Yes, I love the current work my esteemed colleague Frank Cvetkovic is doing lately. What he pulled up for those Cyberpunk 2077 books is top work.
CBY: Which of the comics that you lettered are you most proud of or means the most to you and why?
LG: I’ve always hated having to choose favorites (like foods or colors…I like them all!), but I’d have to say I’ve been lettering many LGBTQ+ books (currently doing an unannounced anthology that rocks) and I love being part of teams that put out those books I would’ve loved to read as a teenage gay boy; books like Liebestrasse, Killer Queens, Glitter Vipers, Some Strange Disturbances all have a special place in my heart.
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?
LG: My growth as an artist is mostly marked by me constantly developing my set of skills, my confidence and my portfolio, while getting to realize the projects I enjoy the most are those that come from a place of love instead of from a commercial spark. I didn’t start that long ago, but I’d say lettering is valued more and more each day, and you’re starting to see our names in covers much more often than a couple of years ago!
CBY: If you were the curator for a comics museum, which 3 books do you want to make absolutely sure are included?
LG: I’ll go for the underdogs here… Martian Manhunter (the late '90s series from Ostrander and Mandrake); Untold Tales of Spider-Man (by Busiek and Pat Oliffe) and Chronos (by John Francis Moore and Paul Guinan). Three great finite books I enjoyed that I don’t see frequently valued.
CBY: What current projects are you working on that CBY readers should pick up?
LG: I’m lettering a couple of very fun chapter stories for Heavy Metal right now, but other than that I’m not lettering any ongoing titles (editors, take note!). Aside from that, you should of course pick up the Killer Queens TPB by Dark Horse, and stay tuned for Scout Comics’ Miracle Kingdom soon TBA. As for indie books, look around for copies of Baby Barbarian (an all-ages Asterix-homaging super fun book).
CBY: What’s your favorite comfort food?
LG: My husband’s guiso de lentejas (that’s lentils’ stew!), a very Spanish/Argentinian dish made from lentils, potato and lots of yummy treats like pork ribs, smoked pancetta and red chorizo. It’s typical to have for a Winter’s Sunday lunch with the family!
CBY: That sounds super delicious! Thank you very much, Lucas!
LG: Thank YOU!