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    • 日本語
$3,480 pledged of $15,000 goal
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By John Roshell
$3,480 pledged of $15,000 goal
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What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

710b590ce49b70bad501ee9c1af2f1df original

Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

About this project

 We are Comicraft and we love making fonts! We have begun creating the world's first digital font designed specifically for lettering comic books in Japanese and Chinese.

Comicraft is an Eisner award-winning Lettering and Design studio that  pioneered the process of lettering comic books digitally. Since our formation in 1992, when UK-born pen letterer/writer/editor Richard Starkings hired UCLA grad John Roshell, we've lettered thousands of comic books for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Disney, Nickelodeon and more, and defined the look of comic book lettering for the digital age.

Captain America digital lettering by Comicraft (copyright Marvel Comics)
Captain America digital lettering by Comicraft (copyright Marvel Comics)

In order to letter these comics, we created the world's first, and largest, library of comic book-style fonts. Some based on the pen lettering of the top letterers and artists in comics...

 ...and others designed completely from scratch. We also create special fonts for narrative captions, sound effects and titles, all designed to capture the liveliness and energy of pen lettering...

Fonts and lettering for Superman (Superman copyright DC Comics)
Fonts and lettering for Superman (Superman copyright DC Comics)

Whenever we find a comic book lettering style or need to be filled, we love to make the font!

For over twenty years, our ever-expanding font library has been available for licensing via our website ComicBookFonts.com, as well as major font distributors MyFontsMonotype, FontshopT-26 and more. Comicraft fonts are used by thousands of designers around the world, not only to letter comic books, but for movies, tv shows, video games, books, magazines, on toy packages, and anywhere else fun, lively letters are needed. 

Like many our fonts -- because someone asked! Last year, Blizzard, the company that produces the hit video game WORLD OF WARCRAFT, asked if we could letter a series of short comic strips to promote their new game OVERWATCH. "Of course!" we said. But wait --  they wanted it lettered in thirteen languages, including Japanese, simplified and traditional Chinese, and all in the same style, for a consistent look between them. 

Wildwords and WildwordsManga, side by side.
Wildwords and WildwordsManga, side by side.

While we have created dozens of fonts for English, Europe, and even Russian Cyrillic, until this year we had never attempted one for Japanese or Chinese. While a complete English font requires about 100 characters for letters, numbers and punctuation, and European languages need another few hundred, a reasonably complete Japanese and Chinese font requires over 21,000 characters! 

But we jumped in with both feet anyways, because a) Chinese is the oldest and most widely used language in the world, so a Chinese font could be a great addition to our library, and b) creating just enough characters to letter each eight-page story would let us bite off a little at a time, to see exactly how challenging a complete font might be.

Lettering for OVERWATCH in English, German and Japanese (copyright Blizzard Entertainment)
Lettering for OVERWATCH in English, German and Japanese (copyright Blizzard Entertainment)

In the process, we discovered that, to the best of our knowledge, there has never been a computer font created specifically for lettering comic books in Japanese or Chinese. They're primarily lettered with mechanical type styles dating back to the 1960s...

Lettering from Dragonball Heroes (copyright SHUEISHA Inc.)
Lettering from Dragonball Heroes (copyright SHUEISHA Inc.)

...which are beautiful in their own right, but seem rather rigid and cold when combined with the expressive pen lines of the artwork. 

And if it's never been done, we want to be the first!

We've used our font to letter over 100 pages of Overwatch and World of Warcraft comics for readers in Japan, China and Taiwan, and the font has grown to 2500 characters. The Japanese and Chinese writing systems use many of the same characters, so a single font works for both languages.

Lettering for WORLD OF WARCRAFT in English, Russian and Chinese (copyright Blizzard Entertainment)
Lettering for WORLD OF WARCRAFT in English, Russian and Chinese (copyright Blizzard Entertainment)

That seems like a lot, but in order to produce a font that anyone could use to letter any comic in Japanese or Chinese, we need to add another 3,500 characters for Japanese, another 6,000 to cover Simplified Chinese, and over 18,000 to also include Traditional Chinese. 

That could take years! We thought about inventing a time machine, cloning ourselves, or simply building a vast army of font-creating robots, but then it occurred to us...KICKSTARTER.

With your help, we can devote several months of dedicated effort and attention to completing this one-of-a-kind font and hire a small team of Comicraftsmen to assist, while continuing to provide design and lettering services to our faithful clients. Your contributions will pay for our time (and our helpful robot army, er, assistants) while we create the font. 

Sounds cool, you say, but you have no use for a Japanese comic book lettering font? We hear you! Become part of our epic quest, and we'll make it worth your while with these nifty... 

Here's our goals and timelines:

FUNDING GOAL: $15,000 - We will produce Wildwords Manga (6000 characters) in two weights (Regular and Bold) by Japan's Constitution Memorial Day - May 3, 2017

STRETCH GOAL: $30,000 - We will add Chinese simplified (total: 9000 characters) by China's National Day - October 1, 2017

Japanese and Chinese calligraphy is beautiful -- each character is like a little story, so sentences are almost like little comic books! In the process of creating this font, we have learned a lot about how this beautiful writing system is constructed, and look forward to learning more, and sharing the process with you. Thank you for your time, and your help.

More About Comicraft:

“Comicraft's the absolute best. They offer the most intense, emotional and dramatic fonts you can find. I buy their fonts, I use their fonts, I covet their fonts.”
J.J. Abrams

"No one understands the Art of Comic Book Lettering better than the fine folk at Comicraft."
Jeph Loeb, executive producer, Marvel Television

"Comicraft's comic book fonts are the most professional and unique fonts I've seen anywhere. I've been using them daily on my nationally syndicated comic strip for years."
Carlos Castellanos, writer/artist, Baldo

"Richard, John and crew go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver the best comics, the best fonts, the best reading experience you could ask for."
Kurt Busiek, writer, Avengers, Conan, Astro City

"We’ve lettered nearly 75,000 comicbook and manga pages with your great fonts."
Andreas Mergenthaler, Amigo Graphic, Germany

“Comicraft’s fonts are lively, but clear and readable; interesting, but not distracting; unique, but with a wide range of applications. I’ve been a huge fan of these folks’ work for years.”
Andy Ihnatko, Chicago Sun-Times 

"I want to thank everyone at Comicraft for their excellent fonts and service. As long as you keep making fonts, I’ll keep buying them!"
Colin Rutherford, customer since 2005

For more on the history of comic book lettering, check out this recent VOX.COM feature, which includes Richard and John:

Here's the Comicraft portfolio website, and here's our current library of fonts. 

About our Collaborators:

AXEL MEDELLIN is the regular artist on Image Comics' ELEPHANTMEN, as well as a contributor to Metal Hurlant, Heavy Metal, Zenescope, Boom! studios, and Humanoids. Subscribe to his sketch of the day on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Deviant Art.

CHURCH OF TYPE is the Letterpress Studio of Kevin Bradley, one of America’s most prolific letterpress printmakers. From his early days at Hatch Show Print in Nashville to his 15 year run as the founder of Yee Haw Industries in Knoxville, Tennessee, his work has been instrumental in redefining the idea of contemporary letterpress. Visit the shop in Los Angeles, CA, or check out churchoftype.com

Thanks also to Sensational Pets in Santa Barbara, CA, the Santa Barbara City College Biology Department, the Adams Elementary School Design Center, Blizzard Entertainment, Jolene Houser at Geek Girls, and all of our our clients, family members and friends who provided assistance and feedback.

Please spread the word:

 

 

Risks and challenges

We have created and released a dozen original font families per year for more than 10 years, so we know how much we're capable of producing. And the font so far has met with full approval by Japanese and Chinese proofreaders, so we know we're on the right track. The only thing that could derail us at this point would be a major life-altering event like Godzilla or a giant meteor.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Watch our progress

    Follow along to watch the font take shape, and see if our eyeballs melt out of our heads as we descend into cackling insanity.

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    Tweet of thanks

    We'll tweet out thanks to you for supporting the project, and include a link to your comic or website (so long as it's family friendly).

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    Your name in Japanese - b/w graphic

    We'll write your name in Japanese using the font, and send a 500x250 pixel file to you in PNG and JPG formats.

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    Your name in Japanese - color graphic

    We'll create a full-color 1000x1000 graphic of your name in Japanese and send it to you in PNG and JPG formats

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    Wildwords Kana font personal license

    Get the font with just Hiragana and Katakana (the Japanese lettering systems used for writing words phonetically). Single weight, Truetype format, licensed for personal, non-commercial use.

    Also available as an add-on to any backer level -- simply add $25 to your pledge amount and we'll include it.

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    Letterpress poster

    Get a commemorative two-color 11x17 poster, designed with backer woodblocks and Axel Medellin's Godzilla, and printed on the letterpress at Church of Type in Los Angeles.

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    Custom phone case

    We'll put a full-color graphic of your name in Japanese on a durable rubberized phone case. Available for iPhone 4/5/6/plus, or Samsung Galaxy S4/S5.

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    Letterpress poster & custom phone case

    Get the letterpress poster AND a phone case with your name in Japanese. Available for iPhone 4/5/6/plus and Samsung Galaxy S4/S5 (save $15).

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    • Custom phone case
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    SUPER BACKER!

    Contribute to the poster! We’ll laser-engrave your name (or a character or phrase of your choice*) onto a 1” wood block, use it for printing the posters, and send you the block. A cool memento from the printing process, which you can use as a stamp over and over again.

    *character or phrase is subject to approval

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Wildwords Manga Limited font license

    Get the font with Hiragana, Katakana and 500 of the most commonly used Kanji (according to a university study of Japanese newspapers). Includes Regular & Bold weights, Opentype & Truetype formats, and license for commercial print and pixel-based use.

    Also available as an add-on to any backer level -- simply add $150 to your pledge amount, and we'll include it.

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    Wildwords Manga Limited font w/ goodies

    Get the Wildwords Manga Limited font (Regular & Bold, Opentype & Truetype, licensed for commercial print/pixel use) along with the print and custom phone case (save $25)!

    Includes:
    • Wildwords Manga Limited Font
    • Custom phone case
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    WildwordsManga Font license - early bird

    This is it! The completed Wildwords Manga Japanese lettering font, with a license to install it on up to five computers (within one company) and use for unlimited print and static onscreen works. This reward level is available until our project hits its funding goal.

    Includes:
    • WildwordsManga completed font
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    WildwordsManga Font license - retail

    Get the completed Wildwords Manga font with a license to install it on up to five computers (within one company) and use for unlimited print and static onscreen works.

    Includes:
    • WildwordsManga completed font
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    • Custom phone case
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    WildwordsManga Font license - unlimited

    Get the completed Wildwords Manga font with a license to install it on an unlimited number of machines (within one company), unlmited print/static usage, unlimited ebook embedding, and embedding in an app or game with unlimited distribution. The whole shebang!

    Includes:
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Funding period

- (30 days)