Phoenix Union High School, Phoenix, Arizona
(Next post on Monday: Comic Book Trademarks, Part 6)
DAK: What decided you on lettering?Jim: I was always interested in every facet of comics. I had and still haver a twelve-by-twelve foot room in my parent’s basement. I used to go down there and do the writing, drawing and lettering on a whole book of my own at about age thirteen, fourteen or fifteen. There was a guy who painted signs and he was looking for an assistant.I needed a job and said I could learn, so he hired me. It was pretty easy for me and I learned to design lettering. And I figured that was a good way to break into comics. I also learned how to use a pen and a brush and got to be pretty good. When I was seventeen, I went to New York and spoke to John Verpoorten at Marvel and he said he would let me know about a job. I was getting homesick and moved back. I told him I didn’t think that I could hack it in New York. About a year and a half later, I was working at the sign shop again and was really sick of it, because I had done everything there was to painting signs. That’s when I came back to New York but Marvel wasn’t hiring at the time.I went to DC and got my first job from Jack Adler for Wonder Woman. I was there for two or three jobs. I worked for Julie Schwartz. Then Marvel called me back and Sol Brodsky said they had a staff position. I felt it would be to my best interest to work on staff and get the benefit of other people’s experience.DAK: In the production department?Jim: Right. That’s when I started to learn about lettering and I got better and better. A few of the people in the field who helped me out are Danny Crespi, who took me under his wing; Irving Watanabe, who gave me a lot of advice, and whose lettering you hear little about; and Gaspar Saladino, purely for style. Roy Thomas gave me Conan and liked my work. I was on staff almost three years. I thought then maybe I should freelance. Now it’s become a very good job. The comics work lead to the movie work and that led to other work. I’m turning away work, but I enjoy comics.