The UK comics scene is bustling, with 2000AD celebrating its 35th anniversary, a new kids’ comic making waves, and tons of creators working on tons of new projects.
The indy publisher Blank Slate, home of Psychiatric Tales and the anthology Nelson, will be publishing a collected edition of Nick Abadzis’s Hugo Tate, and in anticipation of that, Abadzis has set up a Hugo Tate Tumblr for photos, thoughts, and even the odd page of comics.
Sometimes, when I’m reading a comic, I’ll think “This art is ugly” or “This is hard to read,” and I’ll wonder if it’s just me that thinks that.
In the case of Booth, the historical graphic novel about Lincoln’s assassin, by historian C.C. Colbert and French artist Tanitoc, it’s not just me. Writer J.L. Bell had the same reaction, and he explains one reason why: Misleading word balloons.
Take this panel, for example. The curve in the tail of the balloon at the left suggests that its words come from the balding man looking away from us. But in fact those words are those of John Wilkes Booth, in the muddy green. If I hadn’t remembered that in real life Booth claimed to have thrust himself into the John Brown affair, I would never have been able to interpret this panel.
Bell also notes that Tanitoc’s art is sometimes too blobby and hard to read visually. Despite these flaws, I would still recommend the book; the story was strong enough to carry me through the rough parts, but I do wish it had been a bit smoother.
David King, creator of Danny Dutch, has a nice little set of lettering dos and don’ts up on his blog right now. Some are fairly subtle, and even if you don’t make comics, it’s interesting to see the hidden rules of word balloons (“Word Balloons Do Not Exist In Our Dimension”) made explicit. King winds it up with a few examples of really sweet lettering from a variety of sources.