Letters by Tom Orzechowski

Lettering is the most important, and delicate part, of any comic book presentation.  It is also one of the easiest ways for an editor to reject your book.  (“Learn how to letter.  Learn how to draw hands.  Learn how to not suck.”  Etc.)  No’madd is so lucky to have the legendary Tom Orzechowski as the letterer.  Not just because he knows how to place letters on the page like musical notes that help the reader’s eye follow the story, but also, because of his experience nobody is gonna tell me I have to learn how to letter my comics.

Tom is responsible for the classic run on the Uncanny X-Men and The New Mutants, where he placed Chris Claremont’s words onto the page, and he currently letters Spawn for Todd McFarlane.  Tom is one of the great living legends of American Mythology whose works inspired me as a child and whose work will be read for centuries to come.   Working with him on my humble title is like being in a garage band that gets to jam with the bass player of Metallica.  Oh, and he’s the nicest guy of all time.

Tom told me that: “Back in the day…” he lived in California and he would be mailed the black and white comic art on large pages and then he would letter each page BY HAND using an India-ink fountain pen.  Then he would mail the pages back to New York City to Marvel headquarters.  He had no idea what happened to the pages next – only that the comics appeared in print with all colors, inks, and letters.  Tom lettered multiple books a month by hand.  Today he letters on a computer with Adobe Illustrator.

I love the way Tom lettered this page below.  The page shows No’madd, his son Taron, as they face the Moon Goddess Tyon, who is also No’madd’s wife and Taron’s mother.  No’madd tells his son about the day he earned the love of Tyon, when he spared the life of the sacred beast who killed his father.  This story is the fateful moment that would bring them together to create a family of mortals and an immortal destined to defend their land from alien intruders whose fearsome actions threaten to destroy the fabric of reality.

Normally I do not like “epic” images of a character’s back as they face a distant sight, but because Tom’s letters enable complicated story points to move across the page seemingly without effort, I feel in this instance it works!

The comic letterer is like an electrician or an engineer.  They make our whole civilization move forward and yet you never even notice they are there!  (I should add, Tom is one of many lifelong comic professionals who does not even get healthcare provided by the zillionaire corporations who are made wealthy off their work.)  So, some big time respect is due for this man.   So glad to have him!  He has made my goal to finish No’madd come true!

No'madd: The Cave of Broken Tombs