Ramble: Confusing astonishing brilliance. I grasped the overall story arc, but needed to re-read a number of pages to grasp the story. I would have revisited them anyway, as the art blew me away, even more than it always blows me away.
Perhaps Williams felt constrained by the linear visual/narrative structure of the last issue, because he’s busting out artistic moves the likes of which I’ve never seen in a comic book. Crazy breathtaking art: the undersea maze, Jake and Bette’s silent meditation face-off, and especially the dark exchange between Wonder Woman (small yellow retro – or traditional? - comic book font), Batwoman (white bubbles, black font), and ancient Nyx (evil bad-person grey font bringing to mind babbling letters from serial killers).
Todd Klein, who lettered this issue of Batwoman*, bears mention at this point.
Comic book fonts are subtle, powerful tools creators employ to evince a mood, an era, or the batshit nature of the evil residing in a new foe. Letterers play a crucial role in setting a character’s, and a comic book’s, tone. I don’t think anyone outside the hard-core comic book fan universe knows letterers exist (I didn’t), but in a graphics-focused universe, every serif or lack thereof matters.
Klein boasts a 35-year lettering career. Not sure how his peers found fonts, but Klein’s grandfather worked as a jewelry engraver and sign painter; serif sensitivity’s in the family. After a partial stint at art school, several boring jobs, and numerous art and writing submissions to fanzines and comic book companies, Klein landed at DC Comics in the late ’70s and stayed for a decade before becoming an independent letterer.
Klein’s lettered a number of greats, including Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and this here Batwoman we’re discussing today.
This is just to say NOT that I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox BUT to note that every detail in these books matters. Someone has obsessed over every component, including the letters. In Batwoman #13 and so many others (Wonder Woman #0 immediately springs to mind), the letters are not only vessels, but story elements in their own right.
I wanted to make sure you all appreciated that.
And now, I’m crawling into another writing project. Thanks to a tossing daughter and 2 feline tossers, I’ve been up since 3 a.m. I’m cranky. I’m crabby. And my brain is full of sludge. While I should probably edit the writing, which has been sitting on the page for months, I’ll probably just pull the warmest bits up over my head and go back to sleep.
* I've never written fan mail, but I wrote a fan e-mail to Todd Klein after this issue. Kind, he wrote back, to say thank you and also to give credit to Williams, who lettered Nyx's voice in the panel above.