“Between the Panels” is a bi-weekly interview series focusing on comic book creators of all experience levels, seeking to examine not just what each individual creates, but how they go about creating it.
To hear that a comic talent had worked for Zenescope, Image, Dark Horse, Lion Forge, Heavy Metal, and other publishers, most fans would assume that person to be a well-known name to the general reading fanbase. In the case of Micah Myers, his impressive — and growing — resume has been built through what may be the most under-the-radar role in comic creation: lettering.
First off, the basics…
Your specialties (artist/writer/letterer/inker/et.c): Letterer and very occasional writer
Your home base: Portsmouth, VA
Fanbase Press Contributor Kevin Sharp: What’s attractive to you about working in the comics artform?
Micah Myers: I love comics for all the different stories that you can tell with it. Obviously, movies and TV can do that, too, but with comics you can do it on a much smaller budget. The only limit is the creator’s imagination. If a writer gave a story to multiple art teams, they would all come up with such different takes. That kind of variety is really awesome to me.
KS: Let’s start off with you as a comic reader. Who were your original favorite characters?
MM: I only got into reading comics in 2007. It was right around when DC’s Countdown had started, and somehow I kept reading comics after that. I did get deep into Green Arrow. It was when Judd Winick was right before the Green Arrow/Black Canary wedding. Not too much later, Green Arrow: Year One. I started buying back issues and trades of Green Arrow, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Justice League issues that centered on him, and Brave and the Bold that starred him. Another huge one for me is Blue Beetle. The Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes versions. The pre-new-52 series of Blue Beetle is incredible. [Spoiler ahead for a 15-year-old story!] I fell in love with Ted Kord in Infinite Crisis when he told Max to “Rot in Hell” right before getting shot. So badass. My love for Ted led me to Justice League International which is some of the best comics ever made.
KS: Fanbase Press launched the #StoriesMatter initiative this year to highlight the impact that stories can have on their audience. What’s a particular comics story that had an impact on you as a younger reader?
MM: When I started reading comics, I had been married for almost five years and had two kids, so I don’t know if I would call myself a young reader. But one of the first books to make a deep impact on me was Green Arrow/Black Canary #4. It was about Connor Hawke getting hurt when the Arrow family are out in the middle of the ocean. Green Arrow gets the Justice League to help get them to a hospital and expects them to use their powers to help his son.
KS: Why was that the right story for you at the time?
MM: It is all about with all this power, you still feel so powerless when your kids are in danger. The book came out soon after my son spent a few days in the hospital after we found him catatonic. It hit me really hard.
KS: Going back to before your reading days, was some kind of art-based career always part of your plans?
MM: After high school, I had a bunch of different jobs and potential careers. I was working in a group home overnight when I decided to go back to school for graphic design. I was a few credits short of an associates degree when I left.
KS: What about the jump from graphic design to specifically working in comics?
MM: I became interested in lettering after hearing discussions about it on Around Comics podcast and hearing Chris Crank talking about it on his podcast, Crankcast. I got interested in it more and more and also became interested in graphic design in general which led me to enrolling in school. For lettering, I wrote into the Crankcast and asked Crank where to get started in becoming a letterer. He told me about some books and websites that walk you through the whats and hows of the job and some sites that had job listings. So, I got the book and started practicing off and on for a year or so. Then, I started applying for jobs and eventually got one.
KS: What was that job?
MM: [It] was a short story for a company that no longer exists. I haven’t gone back and looked at it in a long time, but I can only imagine how bad it looks compared to my work now.
KS: And how did the path unfold from there, now that you had a “real” gig on your resume?
MM: As I started getting more jobs, I was also losing interest in the classes, so I didn’t sign up for the last semester. Around the same time, I was laid off at the group home. My wife was in nursing school at the time, so I was the only one working. So, I kept doing small lettering jobs and doing part-time jobs until she finished school. Then, I took a stab at making comics my career and I kept getting work.
KS: Let’s get into the nitty gritty of what you do. What’s an aspect of the art of comics lettering you think general readers might not be aware of?
MM: That it isn’t as simple as putting words in circles and putting them on the page. There are tons of artistic decisions that go into picking the font, placement on the page, balloon styles, and all kinds of other stuff that aren’t evident to the casual reader.
KS: Help demystify the process a little. You receive unlettered pages of art, and your first steps are…?
MM: The first thing I do is decide on a style by picking a font and a balloon style to fit with the art and story type. I would then copy and paste the script onto the art and add balloons under them. I then place the text and balloons on the page where they belong and also in a way that helps the eyes of the reader flow through the page in the correct order. Then add tails to the balloons and SFX if there are any.
KS: Can you talk about the balance, in your mind, between lettering being an “invisible” art and it standing out when someone reads a comic?
MM: It is definitely a balance the lettering needs to be seen but you don’t want it to stand out. Well, sometimes you do, like when a character is doing a big exclamation or a big SFX that is punctuating some huge action. But even in these cases, you want to also seem like it is a piece of the art, not something just placed on top of it.
KS: When you’re reading a comic as a fan, what’s something that you appreciate when it comes to the lettering?
MM: It has made a difference when reading comics now. I see what I would have done differently, I see small mistakes that the letterer made. But at the same time, when someone has done a really amazing job, I can see and appreciate it when most comic readers wouldn’t even notice something like that.
KS: Tell us a little about your current workspace or studio setup.
MM: I only recently got a proper desk. For the longest time, I had a folding table as my desk. Now, I have a big fancy desk that has a bookshelf and all kinds of cubbies. It is really nice. I also recently switched over to using an art tablet. I have a 24” Huion tablet that is connected to a pretty new HP laptop that I used as a second screen for scripts. I also have a TV mounted on my desk, so I can watch Netflix or whatever while I work. I can’t stand sitting in silence, so it helps to have something going when I’m working.
KS: How about a passion of yours totally unrelated to comics or art? Could be something you collect, study, practice, whatever.
MM: I am a huge fan of pro wrestling. I have watched it since the day I was born, and I can’t imagine ever giving it up. There are definitely times that it is better than others. But right now, there are so many great companies going that you always have an option. Like WWE has been really stale lately, but there are companies like AEW and Impact that are putting on great shows. Also IWGP in Japan has always been some of the best wrestling in the world.
KS: Since we don’t get to talk much pro wrestling in these interviews, I can’t let that go by without asking about your personal wrestling Mount Rushmore. Not necessarily who you’d say are the four greatest of all time, but your four favorites…
MM: That is a great question. I think Great Muta/Keiji Mutoh is the greatest wrestler of all time. He is so talented in wrestling and his character is so iconic that it has been imitated by so many. I think most people would just know him from the few appearances in WCW and TNA so he might not appear on most Americans’ list but look him up on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean. Hopefully, that doesn’t sound too hipster of a first choice. Second is what I think is the greatest American wrestler, Steve Austin. By the time he got into WWE, his knees and neck had limited a lot of his in-ring skills, but obviously, his charisma was still shining bright. After those, it gets hard to pick only two. Some other favorites of mine are Jake Roberts, Ted DiBiase, Terry Funk, Kevin Steen, Shinya Hashimoto, AJ Styles, Bret Hart, Jeff Cobb, Keith Lee, Sami Callihan, and on and on.
KS: What’s a comic or graphic novel by someone else, current or older, that you look at with admiration?
MM: I recently read through the series, Sixth Gun. I missed it while it was coming out, but that is an amazing book that created an entire universe and mythology. I was blown away by all of it. Another thing that has recently blown me away is the team-up of Tommy Lee Edwards and John Workman. I first saw them together on Mother Panic at DC and currently in Grendel, Kentucky at AWA. John Workman is one of my favorite letterers, and his work with Tommy Lee Edwards is like a dream come true.
KS: Finally, talk a little about what you’re working on now and what we should look out for in 2021.
MM: I have some books coming out soon from Mad Cave including Terminal Punks, The Last Session, and Potions Inc. All of those are great books. I really like everything Mad Cave has been putting out lately whether I am on them or not. Also coming soon from IDW, I lettered a series, Chained to the Grave, by Brian Level, Andy Eschenbach, and Kate Sherron. That is a really fun book that I am super proud of.
I also will be running a Kickstarter soon for a series that I wrote and am lettering with art by Javier Caba and edited by Mike Exner III. It is about a group of D-List villains who luck into killing a hero. It is an action-comedy comic along the lines of Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Justice League International. I had hoped to run a Kickstarter before the end of the year, but I think it may have to wait until early next year as we are getting into the holidays now. Stay tuned to all my social media so you don’t miss out.