Jamie Righetti sat down with Rus Wooton and Kelly Fitzpatrick, creators of the FanBros Originals: “Employee of Tomorrow,” to talk about their comic and more.
Rus Wooton: With my “day job” of Lettering comicbooks, the process starts with getting the script from the writer ad the art, usually still just inked, with no color yet. Sometimes the writer or editor will give me balloons guides which can help speed up the lettering so I can quickly tell who’s saying what line without constantly referring back to the script. I take the art into Adobe Illustrator, break down the script line by line and assign the font or fonts needed, then lay out the dialogue on the page in a way that best helps the storytelling and avoids covering up too much of the art. I then draw the word balloons and the tails and design any sound effects that are called for. Once I get the finished art from the colorist, I double check the alignment of all my lettering and choose colors for sound effects that compliment the colorist’s work. I’ll often do production on the book as well, putting everything together in InDesign for publication, designing credits pages, etcetera.
Kelly, can you explain coloring a little bit and how it plays a role in dictating the tone of a comic?
Kelly Fitzpatrick: I remember specifically asking Rus what kind of tone and color palette he was going for on the book- basically what he liked/ and disliked to have a launching off point. I think Chris actually mentioned old Tex Avery cartoons. I feel that color is very important. Color sets a mood, grounds forms and figures, and creates an environment for the artwork. It creates a sense of clarity. For example, when you think of iconic books like Batman, you think of cool colors and night time, not warm tones and sunshine. I’ll buy books specifically to look at the colorists I admire because I find them such an integral part of the comic.
What inspired you to start writing/drawing/lettering? Any specific artist/comic/cartoon/etc?
Kelly: When I originally started drawing I was an infant. I only really started focusing on coloring quite recently. I think music and film inspires me the most, alongside the obvious thing being comics. I’m inspired by a lot of illustrators and painters like Alphonse Mucha, James Jean, Yoshitaka Amano, Arthur Rackham, etc.
The Walking Dead has a pretty iconic look to it, both in the art and the lettering.
Rus: I met Robert Kirkman back in 1999 at Wizard World Chicago, having known and been in an online comicbook art group called Café DNA with his friend and collaborator Tony Moore since around 1995. Robert and Tony were debuting their self-published comic ‘Battle Pope’ at the time, and I was working at Wizard as the web designer and Online Assistant Editor. We all kept in touch over the years, and when Robert needed someone to take over the lettering on ‘Invincible’ and later ‘The Walking Dead’, he asked me to step in and ape his style to keep the books consistent and help get them out in a timely manner. I’d been lettering Marvel books for a few years at that point, as a part of Chris Eliopoulos’s lettering studio Virtual Calligraphy, so Robert was familiar with my lettering work. I took over lettering on ‘Invincible’ with issue #14 and ‘The Walking Dead’ with issue #20, right after Michonne arrived. I do design comicbook logos, most recently for Rick Remender’s ‘Black Science’ and ‘Deadly Class’, which I’m lettering as well, but I didn’t have anything to do with The Walking Dead’s logo. I’m not sure who designed it, but it may have been Robert himself. It’s definitely a cool and iconic logo.
Rus, you’ve worked for Marvel, Dark Horse and Image among others. What was your favorite project(s) you’ve worked on so far?
Rus: I really can’t pick one favorite. I’ve been fortunate to work on some great comicbooks with a variety of incredibly talented creative teams over the decade that I’ve been lettering comics. I had a bast lettering Marvel books over the years, lettering just about every main title at some point and a bunch of cool smaller Marvel books and mini-series. I lettered more ‘Fantastic Four’ books than any title I’ve worked on except for ‘Invincible’ and ‘The Walking Dead’, and I’m proud to have had my name in the credits alongside not only comicbook greats whose work I enjoyed growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, but contemporary creators and legends like Stephen King, Stan Lee, and several of the founding members of Image Comics, who not only changed the business but continue to do so.
What inspired your Fan Bros Original comic “Employee of Tomorrow?”
Kelly: The colors were definitely inspire by old cartoons (like I mentioned before) and modern works like Manhattan Projects.
Okay the typical geek stuff we just have to know:
1. Star Wars or Star Trek?
2. Favorite comic and/or superhero?
3. Most underrated comic book character?
Kelly: Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe Namor?
Any advice for aspiring comic book writers/artists?
Rus: Read outside your comfort zone or favorite genre or favorite publisher. Seek out variety and different stories than you’re used to, then make your own; collaborate, share, learn, get better, and keep doing it. Don’t aspire to create, just create. You might suck at it at first, and you might not get paid much, or at all, at first, but just do it and enjoy the process. Don’t have any local friends who want to make comics? Find collaborators online! My career in comics can be traced back to talking with comicbook pros and readers online back in 1993 on CompuServe; I made connections, made friends, learned, created, shared, made some crappy comics, some okay art and design, but kept networking and ended up getting hired by Buddy Scalera and Wizard in 1998, and I kept going from there. I didn’t plan on becoming a professional letterer, but I did plan on working in comics and adapted as I went.
Kelly: Work hard and expect to keep working hard. Put as much time into your craft as you possibly think you can and then some. Also, go to conventions and meet other people working in the industry. You’ll have fun and it’s always good meeting people who are passionate about the same thing you are.
Finally, anything cool you’re currently working on that we can look for soon?