The Title-Drawers

Now, I confess I don’t know much about how this works.  Most of the titles in comic books that I can think of off the top of my head are by writer/artists.  Like, Kirby’s Fourth World (and by the way, no disrespect to any artists involved, but for Christ’s sake throw away the dust-jackets for those Omnibus editions!):  there Jack goes absolutely over the top, by providing not one but two introductory splashes with narration and titles per issue…and wow, man.  He blows my mind, it’s a whole new style, it’s 100% gripping.  But look at those titles he draws, in the same style he would later use for Marvel’s Eternals and Captain America…you know the one, it’s that creepy quasi-horror thing.  Unfortunately he had less room for narration at Marvel, and of course there was no two-splash approach.  I guess it’s tempting to compare what Jack does in, say, The Forever People, to what TV shows do with their pre-credit teasers…but having looked at it carefully with an eye to just this comparison…no, he’s doing something just a bit different, and it’s really rather interesting…

But as I said:  writer/artist.

The other example that springs instantly to mind is John Byrne:  big, square, solid-coloured BLOCKS of titles, sometimes eating up as much as a third of a page all by themselves.  Very dramatic look, lots of “wow”.  Say what you will about Byrne (and I do, all the time), but you look at those titles and I believe you can see a thought-process.

And then there’s Eisner, but c’mon.  That’s too easy:  Eisner’s Eisner for heaven’s sake.  Why that’s like saying you can always know a Marshall Rogers book from its titles, it simply goes without saying.

No, what I really want to know from you, Bloggers…is who else designs super-distinctive and dramatic titles on the introductory splash, that I might be forgetting?

And, how’s it done?  Is it always the penciller, who does it?  Is it (or has it been in the past) sometimes the writer?

I just don’t know.

As Gil Gerard might say:  “enlighten me.”


10 responses to “The Title-Drawers

  1. I recall reading several articles on this subject.

    Yes, many times it is the penciller who designs the story-title graphic/logo (usually when they are working very closely with the writer), and as you noted, a good percentage is by the writer/artist (because they had that thought process / design concept in mind when writing).

    However, there are many instances where letterers are the ones who design the header.
    I wish I could remember the name of one of the industry’s longest running, highly touted designer of said title headers, but alas, my memory fails.

    I am SURE one of your readers knows the name of the gent.
    He worked in the industry for many years and is well known for this type of thing.

    Maybe I’ll remember where I read up on him before (perhaps an old copy of some fanzine or something more recent like Alter Ego or Comic Book Artist).

    I’ll ruminate and get back to you if I think of it.


  2. Can’t check it out right now, but I seem to remember that Wendy Pini always took care with her titles in Elfquest.

    And Barry Windsor-Smith did very handsome ones in his Conans. Which reminds me of P. Craig Russell’s integral fonts in his Ring Cycle adaptations.

    But the great looming extremum of it all surely has to be Steranko’s progression from Kirby to Eisner in S.H.I.E.L.D. As well, there was that amazing cover with the Hulk straining under his own title, made of solid rock and splintering into shards. Good times.

  3. D’oh!
    Spelled his name incorrectly.

    Todd Klein.

    Anyway, I emailed him, and maybe he’ll be able to help us out.

    I’ve been delving into his most informative site (not quite a blog) lately and he has MUCH of such information to share therein.
    (and some great industry anecdotes as well)

    I can’t endorse his site highly enough.
    Heck, the answers to many of this post’s questions may already have been typed up by him.

    I’m gong to hop back over there later today.


  4. Hi Peter and all,

    Story titles were often pencilled in in the past, to show the area they were meant to fill. Some pencillers did fairly tight renderings, others merely indicated where they should go in a very simple way. In the case of Marvel comics, my guess is the titles were rarely put in by penciller, because Stan often didn’t know what the title would be when the artist was given the assignment and plot. In cases like Conan, Barry Smith obviously knew what the title would be, as the stories were adapting printed stories by Robert E. Howard.

    In the 1970s Marvel went through a period when the lettering and titles on the first page of many of their comics were done by master letterer Gaspar Saladino, while the rest of the book was lettered by the person credited. I don’t know actual dates for that, but I remember seeing many of them, and it was always obvious when the rest of the story’s lettering was completely different, and usually not as good, as the title page.


  5. Wow, Todd Klein…!

    Thanks, Todd! Like P-Tor, I can’t say enough about your blog…you, sir, are an incredible Internet resource. Thanks for giving the goods!

    Must now go look up Gaspar Saladino…

  6. Gaspar Saladino!!!

    THAT’s WHO I was trying to think of!

    ThanX, Todd.


  7. I seem to recall some nice ones in Atari Force. Bob Lappan was the letterer there, and the art was Garcia-Lopez early and Barreto late.

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