At Least It’s Not Comic Sans

Something that I think is obvious about graphic novels is that imagery and art is very differing in style and application depending on the artist. However, I only recently discovered the use of stylized font in a graphic novel can achieve personality in a work. I discovered this by reading Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious EarthWhile the imagery done by Dave McKean is striking and beautiful in a sick way, the aspect of this work was the use of font by the letterer Gaspar Saladino.

In this novel, characters are given different fonts to differentiate who is saying what. For instance, Batman is given a simple black text bubble with standard white font while The Joker is given no text bubbles and blood-like lettering as seen in this page:

Arkham_Asylum_4
Copyrights to DC Comics

 

As I was reading this novel, I started out really enjoying this way of portraying communication. However, after a time I came to a realization. I found it to be annoying when there was a wall of The Joker’s bloody text on the page and I had to ultimately squint to make out what he was saying.

All of this to say, I’d like to pose a question to my peers: What is more important, style or clarity?

  1 comment for “At Least It’s Not Comic Sans

  1. September 6, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Lettering is, to me, a fascinating topic and one worth exploring from a variety of angles. I think you’re right that the key balance point in lettering and typography is between clarity and style. But as Emily points out, fonts can convey information in a lot of different ways. Put that way, style works in service of clarity when the meaning is enhanced or clarified. For example, you know that the bloody red wall of text is the Joker’s speech, and you know that simply by glancing at it. That’s some information there. The content of the speech might still be hard to read, but maybe that balances out in the bigger sense of the style/clarity question?

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