Dana Gioia’s Introduction to Edwin Arlington Robinson

Poet and information billionaire Dana Gioa has a YouTube channel. He regularly posts videos about the art of poetry, poem recitations, and profiles of poets past.

This week Mr. Gioa introduced me to Edwin Arlington Robinson.

Robinson lived a tortured life. His parents died while he was still a young man. He battled alcoholism. He was in love with his brother’s (Herman) wife Emma. And worked probably the worst day job of all time – 10 hours a day walking the darkness as a New York Subway time-checker. He once went an 11 year stretch without publishing a poem. And when finally published, the critics ridiculed his poetry. But despite life’s beat-downs, he found the fortitude to keep writing.

Success did arrive. An unexpected friendship with Kermit Roosevelt. Eventually, consistent publication. Multiple Pulitzer Prize wins for his Collected Poems, The Man Who Died Twice, and Tristram. And even romance, with the painter and the brilliantly named Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones.

The theme of Robinson’s life was tragedy, but his perseverance inspires.

Worth watching all the way through.

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 22: Comic Book Lettering, DC Edition

Alright. This is the DC comics edition. As I was looking these over, I thought what’s the purpose of comics lettering?

My theory is comic book cover lettering needs to “anchor” the cover. It will be the one piece of comic book graphic design that remains the same issue after issue.

The cover art will change, but the title lettering (typically) stays consistent. Comic covers are displayed cover out on spinner racks (R.I.P.) and comic book stores. Good title lettering should immediately reveal who the hero(s) are and what type of adventure you’re in for.

Let’s take a closer look.

Tales of the Teen Titans #63, 1986

Before they were a hit cartoon, The Teen Titans were a superhero group with an ongoing series. Think the mini version of the Justice League.

DC kept their wordmark recognizable for this special Tales of the Teen Titans series by keeping the same font from their 80’s title The New Teen Titans. They did switch the color from red to blue. But it remains a font that coveys strength of the team as a group.

All Star Squadron #28, 1983

The whack Justice League deserves it’s due. It follows a common trend of comic book title lettering, using red and 3D block letters. But it works in three pieces of contrast as well.

  1. ALL is flat and lifted forward with the a white star behind it.
  2. STAR is the largest of the font sizes and has the thickest stroke around the letters.
  3. SQUADRON is slightly smaller and has a star inside the A. Also, the stroke thins out.
Batman The 10 Cent Adventure, 2002

There’s hundreds of variations of Batman covering lettering. The lettering for the one-off, 10 cent adventure has tall, blood red, san-serif font. The design foreshadows the story of Bruce Wayne being framed for murder.

Starman #13, 1989

One of the cheesiest superheros of all time. Has the name your friend’s little brother would think up on the playground. The lettering follows a similar trend. Red, 3D block letters. Tight kearning. And replacing a letter with a shape. In this case, a star for the A.

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 21: Comic Book Lettering, Marvel Edition

This post was inspired by web designer Regan Ray‘s Marvel Superhero Lettering blog post (h/t Austin Kleon). It had me wondering, what awesome lettering was in my long box?

These are well executed examples of lettering. But it’s the feelings they evoke about the characters that makes them special.

Let’s take a closer look.

X-Men Grand Design #1, 2017

For Ed Piskor’s Grand Design, you can see the 90s influence of the X-Men cartoon show. Even though it’s paper, you can almost see the volt of electricity flowing through the letters.

Hawkeye #6, 1988

With Hawkeye’s lettering you get the feeling that this is a hero who’s all about one thing: hitting the target.

Excalibur #3, 1988

The British X-men? Probably too many swords on this one. But it does express a royal, knights of the round table feel.

Fantastic Four #356, 1991

Slapstick. Zany. Funny. Heroic.

The Fantastic Four lettering captures all the energy of what makes the Fantastic Four adventures so well, fantastic!