COMIC BOOK YETI: Thank you so much for joining me in the Yeti Cave, Matt. If you have any other jobs other than lettering, what is it you do?
MATT KROTZER: I also have a part-time job gathering online grocery orders for our local grocery store. Freelancing can get very isolated, so it’s really great to get that connection to the local community, while also providing an essential service.
CBY: That’s really cool. What are the comics that influenced you and made you want to work in comics?
MK: The comics that really hooked me as a kid were A Death in the Family followed by a Lonely Place of Dying. It really drew me into the Bat-universe, and formed a permanent bond with the Tim Drake character. The 1992 DC [Comic] Cards were also a big influence in my young mind. Those were what got me drawing my own comic characters for the first time.
CBY: I loved those DC and Marvel trading cards. I recently re-discovered in my basement that I have a complete set of the Marvel 1991 cards. What do you enjoy most about lettering?
MK: The problem-solving aspect of it is a lot of fun. Figuring out the best way to place the balloons to suit the flow of the story, emphasize impactful moments and dialogue, and not intrude on the art can be a beautiful balancing act, and when you get it just right, it’s amazing.
I also like being the first person to see the finished comic, even before the writer and artist.
CBY: What is something you wish the average comics reader (however you want to define that) understood about the art of lettering?
MK: I wish more of them understood the sense of design and artistry that goes into it, that it’s not just making circles and copy/pasting text.
CBY: What do you think is the biggest misconception about what you do as a letterer?
MK: That anyone can do it, and all you need is a few fonts. So many people underestimate the lettering craft, and think “I’ll save a few bucks and just get some fonts and do it myself.” And it always looks like garbage.
CBY: Hand-lettering or digital, what tools do you use to letter comics?
MK: I like to combine the two in my approach. I like to digitally hand-draw a lot of the sound effects and balloons when it suits the book, and eventually, I’d like to develop some of my own fonts to use, based on my own hand-lettered work.
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?
MK: A lot of it is examining the artist’s style. How they craft their lines. How they weight the different elements of their compositions. Then it helps to talk with the writer and get some insight into the tone of the book. You can pick up a lot of nuance and deliver a lot more of the appropriate “voice” in your work when you grasp the writer’s intent.
CBY: From a letterer’s perspective, which qualities do you most want to see in your collaborators to lead to a successful collaboration?
MK: Pages delivered at the proper size and file type goes a long way with me. Organized, concise notes and corrections. Creators who establish up front that there’s a consideration for my time and process jump way ahead in making everything a success.
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? MK: I think like anyone who uses their hands, especially at a computer, carpal tunnel issues can arise. Neck and back pain, too. The best thing you can do is allow yourself breaks, and try to ensure you’re working as ergonomically as possible. I’ve got friends who’ve been through a lot trying to recover from self-inflicted injuries from poor posture and a bad work setup.
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? MK: I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a lot of them, as letterers getting recognition and credit is still largely a fairly recent phenomenon, all things considered. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
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?
MK: He’ll probably get mad at me for saying it, but I always think that Tom Orzechowski deserves more recognition. Man, his years with Claremont alone…I can’t think of a comparable pairing in the industry today. That sort of run just doesn’t happen anymore. On top of that, you couldn’t really find a more humble, generous guy.
CBY: Which of the comics that you lettered are you most proud of or means the most to you and why?
MK: I think Retcon will always hold a special place in my heart for so many reasons. It was the first book I worked on at a Big 3 publisher, and I got to do a signing with the writer, Matt Nixon, at the Image booth at my first NYCC. (Not to mention, that sick Toby Cypress art.) It was a book where I grew in leaps and bounds as a letterer, and was pushed to up my game with each page.
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?
MK: I’m hopeful that my growth has been on a strong upward arc, and though I’m sure there’s peaks and valleys along the way, it definitely trends toward growth. The first few years were definitely a lot of fits and starts, as I was balancing a full-time day job as well. Having gone full-time with my lettering, I feel a lot more opportunity to grow and unleash my creative energies.
I feel now is an interesting time for letterers, because there’s been a push toward recognizing all members of the creative teams in recent years. There’s definitely been a shift, though. It’s not uncommon to see the letterer’s name right up there on the cover anymore.
CBY: If you were the curator for a comics museum, which 3 books do you want to make absolutely sure are included? MK: I’m sure someone will want to give me flak for being so mainstream, but these are books that were important to me at various points in my life: Robin (1993-2009); Batgirl (2009-2011); and the entirety of the X-Men: Age of Apocalypse (Alpha-Omega… none of the revisited stuff that came later).
CBY: What current projects are you working on that CBY readers should pick up?
MK: The Bardic Verses and Fog Line are both coming very soon, but there’s still time for people to jump in on Hallowed North! *[The campaign for Hallowed North has ended but you can still check out a preview here.]
CBY: I‘m excited about all of those! What’s your favorite comfort food?
MK: Reese’s FastBreak bars (which have been very hit-or-miss to find due to supply chain issues! Send Reese’s!)