B-Squad Banter with Series Letterist, Michael Finn!
Tell us a little bit about how you decided to get into lettering comics?
I finished college without many job prospects (thanks a lot, Obama!!) but I still wanted to do something besides my day job to help keep things interesting. Eben and I had been friends for a while by that time and after he told me about his concept for B-Squad I wanted to be involved in any way I could. I kept asking if there was something I could do and eventually he mentioned that maybe I could take the lettering off his hands. He gave me Richard Starkings book, Comic Book Lettering: The Comicraft Way, along with the first script and I haven't looked back since.
What are your tools of the trade?
I think I may be the first person to say this but I'm not afraid of controversy, I love working with Adobe Illustrator on my Macbook. There I said it! I know everyone still loves their Gateway PCs, but I really think Apple is on to something here with the Macbook... Richard Starkings' book and blog are also super informative and helpful, I highly recommend them.
Why should comic book readers care about good lettering in comic books?
Lettering is funny in that a sign of good lettering is when people don't really notice it. The job of the letterist is to facilitate the telling of the story and it's much more than just copying the script into balloons on the page. Placement is a huge part of it. You want the readers eyes to just naturally flow from balloon to balloon, from panel to panel and page to page without a hiccup. The more you can do that the better they're able to immerse themselves in the story and enjoy it... I've just realized I've begun rambling. Bottomline is readers should care because a poorly lettered book would be a chore to read.
What aspect of working on B-Squad did you find the most challenging?
At first it was the lettering but now that I'm getting a better hang of that the outreach is probably the most challenging. I lean more towards the introvert end of the scale so the promotion is the hardest thing for me. I wish I could magically make everyone aware of our awesome project with the flick of a wand, but it's also very rewarding to put in the effort and see the positive feed back as well. Going to cons is exhausting as many will attest to but it is great talking to people who get genuinely excited about what you're doing.
Any advice or recommendations for letterists getting started?
Like I said earlier, consume the wealth of knowledge Richard Starkings wants to give you. Read comics and pay particular attention to the lettering. See how it helps tell the story, try to catch things that you think could be done better but also notice what works or flows well. And when you first start lettering, really take the time to try different balloon placements, see what it does to the flow. And if you can't decide, just move on and come back to it later with fresh eyes.
Who is/was your favorite character so far?
I'd have to say Jean Paul. He's such a bastard sometimes but what can I say, I guess I have a thing for bad boys.
You don’t just letter B-Squad, you help out in many other ways. Any highlights?
Well even though, like I said earlier, the PR is the toughest part I do try to go to as many of the cons and events B-Squad does. It's getting easier the more I do it and it's something I really want to be successful so it's worth it to me. I've also been involved with the B-Squad Kickstarters as well, helping with outreach and such. I basically try to do as much as I possibly can to expand my skills and because I think it would be so great if this could take off, there's a lot of potential for it outside of being just a comic.
What other culture, comics or otherwise, is inspiring you the most right now?
Like many people I've really been enjoying the Saga comic series, everyone does such great work in that. I also think the writing and stories in Rick and Morty are super clever and funny, not to mention the character designs. The starburst pupils are terrific and the saggy butt lips, or as my girlfriend calls them, "vagina lips", every time a character pouts tickles me every time.
Is there an artist who you'd like to see illustrate B-Squad in the future?
There's so many great ones but currently due to my love of Saga, I would be over the moon if Fiona Staples would illustrate an issue of B-Squad. Do you hear me, Fiona!! I'm sure you're super busy but it would be so awesome to letter your work and see your take on the squaddies!
And yes, I will hold my breathe, thank you very much.