Comic Font Styles

Written by dylan murray
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Comic Font Styles
Endless font options exist for comics and graphic novels. (Wild alphabet image by Jean Paul Beumer from Fotolia.com)

There are as many options for comic fonts as there are comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels. The creation of comic fonts, also called lettering, is not just a job, but a professional niche within the comic/graphic novel industry. Selecting the best font for a comic is an artistic choice based on the tone, message and style you want to convey.

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Font Categories

Comic fonts are divided into five generally accepted categories. Balloon lettering fonts are the most used fonts for a comic. These fonts are used for common dialogue. Custom voice fonts are more common for a special character or special circumstance. For example, use a custom voice font for your most evil character. Use a sound effect font for words like "bam," "zing" or "pow." Display lettering fonts are commonly used for comic book title pages, credits, and nonspoken prose within the comic. Clip art fonts and special characters are grouped in the last category. Clip art fonts mix imagery with lettering. Special characters include accents, lesser-used punctuation and foreign language characters.

Comic Styles

Comic styles are divided into four generally accepted categories. The classic comic and cartoon fonts are the style you might remember from Archie Comic Books, the original Batman comic books, or the Peanuts cartoon you read in the morning newspaper. Horror, Gothic, and fantasy maintain some of the classic comic style, but with a slant toward a specific message or feel. Sci-fi and futuristic fonts become popular in the 1980s and convey images like computerisation and space travel. The graphic novel or comic masters fonts are more common today. These fonts include the anime comic influence from Asia.

Making and Selecting Fonts

Some comic book and graphic novel artists hand-draw the lettering as part of the comic-creation process. Developing a personal style for lettering takes as much time and practice as learning to create the comic images. Thousands of fonts exist for sale to fit any kind of comic book or graphic novel. One commonly discussed issue is the use of all upper case letters versus lower case letters. Originally, upper case letters had better print quality from printing presses and became commonly used for all letters. Today, that is no longer an issue; however, many artists still use all upper case lettering to maintain the classic comic look.

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