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ComicsAlliance’s Best Of 2016: Outstanding Letterer Of 2016



Our writers and editors have made their picks of the best comics and creators of the past year, and you, the readers of ComicsAlliance, have voted for your favorites.

Check out the best letterers of 2016, including our critics’ picks, listed in alphabetical order, and the creators you voted the runners up and winner in this category! This is the very best of 2016!


Critics’ Pick: Jim Campbell



Jim Campbell‘s work is seen in many comics, but his standout contributions this year include Goldie Vance, Joyride, and The Backstagers, some of Boom Box’s finest titles. Campbell’s work uses careful placement and spacing to help denote emotional intent in the spoken word, in a medium where nothing can be spoken. His work elevates the emotionality of whatever book he’s working on. [Charlotte Finn]


Critics’ Pick: Janice Chiang



When you think of industry legends, you might not think of many letterers, but with a career spanning over thirty years, Janice Chiang is a genuine legend in the world of comic book lettering. This year, she’s been hard at work on the DC Super Hero Girls line, making them as inviting and engaging for young readers as they are for big kids, because getting kids into comics early isn’t only good for their reading, it keeps the industry alive. [Kieran Shiach]


Critics’ Pick: Marilyn Patrizio



If you can hear a character’s voice in your head as clear as day, then you’re reading the work of a great letterer. To experience this particular effect, look no further than Marilyn Patrizio, who is great on every book she letters, but particularly shows off with her expert handling of Clayface in Detective Comics. The words of Basil Karlo are a wet slurry of letters, a gurgling, phlegmy mess of low-register self-pity. Thus Clayface, a damaged former villain trying to make right, is imbued with a pathos that simply couldn’t be achieved without the final, magnificent touches of Patrizio. [John R. Parker]



Critics’ Pick: John Workman



John Workman is probably best known for the world-shattering sound effects in his many amazing collaborations with Walt Simonson, but don’t let those thundering krakadooms overshadow just how good he is at putting words on the page. Even when he’s dealing with dialogue and captions that threaten to crowd out the art, he effortlessly keeps things arranged in a way that’s clear and beautiful to read — and reading Sonic the Hedgehog, I’ve seen him do it a lot this year. [Chris Sims]



Runner-Up: Joe Caramagna



Joe Caramagna has been a jack-of-all-trades for Marvel for over a decade, but people may know him best from his lettering on practically every book from the House of Ideas in the last decade. In an industry full of frequent turnover, his constant presence on books like Ms. Marvel and the all-ages tie-in line to Disney XD’s Marvel Universe cartoons (which he also writes!) is a reminder of how crucial a letterer is to making sure the union of words and pictures comes fully together. He’s a champ. [Tom Speelman]


Jamie McKelvie / Image Comics
Jamie McKelvie / Image Comics

Winner: Clayton Cowles



Clayton Cowles is a letterer with a distinctive style; once you know it, you’ll recognize it anywhere. His thin letters stand out from the default style of Western comics, and convey a sense of restraint and dramatic tension, of something being ever-so-slightly “off” — perfect for books like The Wicked + The Divine, and Angela: Queen of Hel, where the intensity of the action benefits hugely from a distinctive look and feel. [Charlotte Finn]


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