Yes, I also do some lettering.
Last year, in a inking paid job hiatus – nothing was surfacing to me from some months… (that was painful) I thought of offering my services to some other comic book related tasks. Lettering was the rightest choice since I am quite skilled at it after many years in advertising agencies managing Illustrator and InDesign…
Then I meet one of the guys I admire the most in this job, Josef Yohannes. This guy is from Eritrea, was born in Denmark and lives in Norway, so if you need to talk with someone about fitting in some places, you should talk to him…
Josef is the humblest person I have ever meet, at least it’s my opinion after lots of Skype talks about his creation: The Urban Legend, a black vigilante, a black and yellow leather suit social justice seeker and value carrier. The urban Legend – or TUL – is big thing in Norway. It’s being penciled by talented artist Newtasty – from England – and Josef, who is a FCBarcelona supporter, was looking for someone to translate and letter his TUL book to catalonian and spanish – with the help of my brother – so we could pitch it to some spanish language publishers and do something with Barça team.
I lettered 2 issues to catalonian and spanish and then he asked me to letter the english version.
Lettering is fun. It connects some hidden part of my brain, the one that looks for perfectionism and easiness in every process. I look for easy reading, flawless transitions, cool FX and concept highlights. It’s something different but also pitches the creative nerve, but also the left side of the brain. I don’t really know how to translate the sensation into words.
Then came Mandela Issue.
– Let me go back to 2010 Southafrica World cup. This won’t take much, but believe or not that’s key to the creation of the book –
Josef visited Southafrica back in 2010 to attend Fifa’s World Cup. Then he realized southafrican black community youth reality and that urged him to do something against injustice, illiteracy and integrationism. Being a political leader was out of the question and since he’s a journalist, well, he decided to write about it… in a form of comics. He created The Urban Legend, a crime fighter with high values and an kin eye to solve social injustices like racism, youth corruption and violence. A superhero with a message. / I’d love to see how TUL would handle an antihero like Batman or The Punisher…
It’s was a success in Norway, a country with not many comic books and some racial issues to deal with so it gained several media attention, which, after a trip to SDCC, it turned to its own american publishing deal with USA TODAY and also sees print in Asia. Then he wanted to see the book translated into spanish but that’s still in the talks.
Nelson Mandela’s Foundation asked Josef to become one of its ambassadors and invited him to attend the foundation next november, held some talks with local youth groups and release a 16 page special TUL comic book. He will be also giving away soccer balls to local youth. He asked me to handle with the lettering… in ENGLISH, ZULU and XHOSA.
I had never lettered comic book besides Spanish, catalonian and english but that was way too good offer to say no, so I prepared myself to start lettering in southafrican language, which was a challenge, but it was a beautiful experience.
I cannot wait to see it, have it in my hands and express enough proudness in my heart to be part of this huge project. Something I have helped will be at hands to children in southafrica. Wow. Imagine that. From Chile, write something in Zulu and next month will be on their hands.
Making comics makes me so proud.
PS: Read more on the Norway Embassy in Southafrica press release.