In this guest blog, CE alum Vito Delsante talks about learning, lettering, and the challenges of being a creator. His Kickstarter project, Stray, is currently live and ends November 8th!
I’ve been a professional comic book scripter for nearly 10 years (my first published work, a back up in Batman Adventures #9, came out December 17, 2003). And in those ten years, my career has gone up and down and up and down. I’ve quit more than once, only to be bugged “back” by some crazy idea that I had to see sequentially translated. I could have gone to film or to novels, but comics just make sense to me and speak to me. As a writer, you live for validation, and when you don’t get it, you lose your way a bit, creatively.
For me, this happened a few years ago. I was working a full-time job at the former Jim Hanley’s Universe, writing at nights and weekends, and just…I was blah. I had three, maybe four, different scripts in four different artists’ hands. I was waiting. And waiting kills creativity. So, I had to get off my butt. I had to stop being a “maker” and start being a “creator.”
And that’s where Comics Experience came in.
I know, it seems like I’m just praising CE just randomly, with a great story of success to follow. Not quite. I’m not what anyone would consider “successful.” I’m not writing for a paycheck or a page rate. I write to write. So, before you think that’s where this story is going, just take a second to read the following.
I signed up for CE’s Comic Book Lettering and Production course with Dave Sharpe. To me, this was an interesting choice. Why not sign up for the writing class? Or the editing class? Why lettering? I think in the back of my head, I thought, “Well, I’ve been published by DC and Marvel and others at this point. I’m always learning new ways to write and new tricks. Will a writing class help me?” The answer is, “Probably.”
But instead, I looked at my past. What always kept my books from coming out? What cost is unnecessary enough that I can save on a creative team? What can I learn? I chose lettering, because my old roommate, Jeff Powell, is an amazing letterer (he letters Atomic Robo). I picked up a few things from him (not much…I never actually asked anything, I just watched). I figured I could pick it up if I got into it.
I’m not going to tell you I’m a world class Todd Klein-like letterer now. I’m not going to say that I’m even good. I’m getting better. At the writing of this, I’ve lettered or I am lettering four different books, three of my own, with a fifth book on the way. And what I’ve learned is the ART of comics. How words and letters work together. As “just a writer,” you forget that. You write, hand off and wait. Now, I write, hand off, wait, and then make the story better. Maybe.
Taking the lettering class extended my career. I was out. Lettering my own comics has made me, dare I say, an artist. Not necessarily a good one, but one that is improving every page. And I get EXCITED to letter! It has made me excited to write, as well. Because now, I’ll put a script together, and then letter the art, and I have to self edit…it’s making me a better scripter!
I would never take away the contributions of any of the great letterers out there, which is why I tend to letter my own comics exclusively…’cause I can take the criticism a lot better. But now, with my two new books (World War Mob for New Paradigm Studios and Stray, currently on Kickstarter), I can’t wait to get into the pages. I can’t wait to write. I can’t wait to letter.
I can’t wait to create.
— Vito Delsante
Check out Vito’s Kickstarter for his new comic book, Stray. The campaign ends November 8th! The incentives include copies of the Kickstarter special edition with a cover by Stephane Roux, t-shirts, sketches, commissions, a statute, and more!