Taylor Esposito ended 2019 with more than 1,300 issues to his credit as a letterer, and has hopes to do lots more for the new year. Drawing on his years of experience as a graphic designer, moving on to the Marvel Bullpen, and then achieving his dream by becoming a staff letterer at DC Comics, Esposito has a vast portfolio and his work is deserving of high praise, but there’s always room to grow and learn to avoid stagnation. For 2020, he hopes to work on DC books again, work with his good friends Karl Slominski and Jenna Lyn Wright on their projects, letter books for Valiant, BOOM!, and IDW, and work on more young adult and kids original graphic novels.
“That’s how we get more kids readers to read comics,” he says of YA and kids graphic novels, when WWAC asked why these particular goals are so important to him. Though comics aimed at a younger audience are being recognized more and more for their literary and educational value, Esposito still feels there’s more that the industry can be doing to promote them and wants to be a part of that process. “I remember being 5, 6, 7 years old and reading comics — that’s what inspired me to read comics and eventually become part of the industry.”
Also on Esposito’s 2020 and beyond to-do list is to continue his work at the Kubert School where he teaches Lettering and Digital Production classes. Though he’d thought about eventually getting into teaching, Esposito hadn’t believed himself ready to take on the role until an opportunity arose last year. Turns out he was ready after all and is loving the experience. “The students are great and it’s giving me a drive to do more.” His students appreciate his teachings, even awarding him with the coveted “Worlds Okay-est Letterer” mug to remind him that, even as a teacher, and even though Warren Ellis has referred to him “one of the best letterers of his generation,” there’s always more to learn.
Speaking of learning, many letterers have shared their pet peeves of working in the comic industry, and offered recommendations on how the collaborative process can be improved. Esposito shares many of the same concerns with his colleagues, but one of his points that stood out was the idea that writers and artists could benefit from taking a lettering course or lettering their own work to better understand the placement of the words in each panel. Esposito has some experience with sequential art and writing, and, as a letterer, works with both scripts and panels, which is why he feels strongly that there is merit in his recommendation. Additionally, “This comes from a combination of having worked with people who have lettered their own stuff before and understand what goes into it,” Esposito explains, “And also the old guard like Jack Kirby who used to pencil in their letters.” Part of the problem now, Esposito feels, is that the industry has become too compartmentalized and moves too fast. “Writers are writers. Artists are artists. We don’t cross teach each other anymore.”
This is one of the unexpected benefits Esposito has found in working at The Kubert School. “I don’t expect all of my students to become letterers — it’s not a glamorous job — but they will know why it’s important.” Writers can learn to be more economical with words, while artists can better understand where to focus attention. Because, Esposito stresses, “a comic page is a whole package and the lettering is part of that.” All the pieces need to be considered as part of the composition before being handed over — preferably not at the last minute — to the letterer.
Last year, Esposito participated in our letterers roundtable where his colleagues selected a font to represent them. Esposito opted to choose no font, with good reason. “These days, the letterer has to blend with the art, and that’s how I see myself. However, I can be in best service to the story is what I do. I see my role similar to a studio musician, adapting to what is needed. Hence, no font.”
This time WWAC asked Esposito to choose a font that represents how he feels about this year and what he hopes to accomplish. In this case, he settled on Blambot’s Silver Age.
To Esposito, the font represents strength and hope and something very special that reminds him of the books he was reading when he was growing up. “The reason why I was drawn to this one is because it’s about hope and family and legacy. If those things aren’t important to us, then what are we doing all of this for?”
Aside from comics, Esposito does other freelance graphic design work through his Ghost Glyph Studios, which gained its name from his love of fonts and Halloween. Though comics are his first love, graphic design work for other industries serves as both a palate cleanser, and as a way to stretch his design muscles.
But there are still lots of comics on the horizon. You can find Taylor Esposito’s name on a number of upcoming books this winter, including Bettie Page and Elvira from Dynamite, Cult Classics and Finger Guns from Vault Comics, and No One Left to Fight from Dark Horse Comics, as well as the five-issue comiXology Original, The Black Ghost, which wraps up this month.
But the year has only just begun. We can expect to see a lot more letters from Taylor Esposito for this new decade.