By Richard Starkings
Since pioneering Digital Comic Book Lettering in the early 90’s, we’ve fielded a lot of font requests. Usually they’re along the lines of “Can you make a Will Eisner font?” (that came from Will Eisner not long before he passed away) or “Can you create a font that translates other languages?” (No) “Can you make an EVIL font? (Yes, although I’m not sure the font itself has a moral compass of any kind).
The most recent request came from Blizzard Entertainment for comic strips promoting their Overwatch video game; “can you make a font to letter in Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese?” (Um… yes…? Oh, there are 125,000 characters in the Chinese alphabet? Uhhhh…)
We were able to create letters on a need-to-letter basis and in the course of the Overwatch project our Chinese alphabet has grown to 2500 characters… but is still far from complete. As obsessive-compulsive lettering artists, we figured it would be churlish not to try to complete the Japanese alphabet at the very least… just another 3500 characters…
So we’ve launched a Kickstarter to raise the funds to see this massive font to completion, thus enabling other comic-book artists and publishers to use it to letter comics… in Japanese.
“Even though comic books are incredibly popular in Japan,” says Comicraft font designer John Roshell in our press release, “they’re lettered with mechanical typefaces dating back to the 1960s. As far as we know, no one has ever created a font that mimics pen lettering like we have in the West, probably because it’s such a huge undertaking.”
The letters, numbers and punctuation for a typical English-language font comprise about 100 characters. Accents for Western European languages add another hundred, and even with Central European accents and Russian Cyrillic alphabets, the typical Roman-based font tops out at 500 characters. Comicraft creates at least a dozen of these font families a year.
But Asian language fonts contain thousands of characters, so they are usually created by teams of people working for large companies, and take years. While Comicraft is but a small studio, we’re used to pushing boundaries and seeking out challenges.
So we figured, someone’s eventually going to create a Japanese comic-book font, and since we’ve created more comic fonts than anyone, we should get to the front of the line! Plus, the Japanese writing system is beautiful. Each character is like a little story in itself. Help us bring this font come to completion!
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