Okay. Tired Neal is tired.

Lettering is harder than it seemed to be, from the outset. I have been, from the start of this process, through multitudes of how-to websites, and it is readily apparent to me that I have not yet encountered a tutorial written by someone who has the slightest clue about the learning curve of the software. For instance, if you were Photoshop illiterate, and rapid fire, I said selecttexttypeemphasizewordscrateovalonbottomlayerchangecolorcreatetailfromshapemergevisiblelayersafterremovingtextlayeraddtextlayeradjust, you’d shoot me in the face.

I can’t shoot people in the face through the internet. But I can, thankfully, ADAPT, and I have. I started with Manga Studios, which is a great program for creating bubbles that look good, and tails on the easy. Unfortunately, it’s nigh impossible to make connected bubbles (with tails connecting them or other bubbles), and there’s no way to cut “off” dialogue tails without being really tricky about curving them.

I did pages 1-28 in Manga Studios, and I found workarounds for almost every problem. Then, I started getting emails from people saying “Hey, it looks like everyone is shouting all the time.”

Negative, I thought. Impossible. First off, I checked, and the font says “unbolded” and “unitalicized” in Manga Studios, and there is a more extreme font when I click either, so this is obviously the upright version. The font is just a little, I dunno, active! Yeah, active! That’s what the brain says when it doesn’t want to re-do 28 pages of dialogue, in the bargaining phase before total mental and spiritual collapse.

I started out like Bill O’Reilly in the Matrix.

Then, because I needed to do a double bubble in a way that couldn’t possibly be done in Manga, I realized I had to bite the bullet and learn how to letter in photoshop for one brief page.

It took FOREVER, but I managed. When I finally had the process down (and there are two workable processes I found, depending on your process of thinking, so there are probably more), I realized something. Holy crap, all of the fonts in Photoshop are STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN AND RIGHT.

Long story long, I re-did 28 pages, because I can’t stand an unpicked scab. I lost all 50 hours of rest this past week redoing every single page. I’d say the result is what you see above, on the site, but that’s not… entirely…accurate.

I sent out a letter to a bunch of professional folks I know whose work I admire, and of them, my friend Eric gave me the key to the city, with some aid from Rebecca Hicks, of Little Vampires. I was told by Eric that Illustrator saved clearer final images. I had been reducing them in Photoshop, saving them as JPGS of high quality, and thinking it fine. Then I saved the exact same file the exact same way in Illustrator, and it was smaller, and more importantly, crisper.

A is A, apparently, unless you’re using a computer.

So I started to import the files over to Illustrator and save them, one by one. Easy peasy, right? My computer stared into my soul, and said “You shall eat of penis!”

Penis tastes bad. Like penis.

Anyway, so I get three into converting, and suddenly my “save to web” feature goes red. And I say, why red? That makes no sense. And the computer responds, “Indiana Jones is playing the saxophone. Your argument is negated.”

So I spend five hours resizing and saving files trying to replicate thirty second’s worth of menu commands. Read that again, buckos. That’s what overthinking does to a guy.

Eventually, I install Illustrator on a completely different computer and save them there, which took all of fifteen minutes to do and five hours to come up with.

Out popped twenty-eight clean, crisp, fresh pages, which you can now see on the site.

And on the fifty-sixth hour, Neal rested, feeling like he’d accomplished something. Joy!

And then he looked upon the files he’d uploaded, realized his comic press program had put %20 where all the dashes were supposed to be, and got to work fixing it. And cursing. Mostly cursing.

Long story short, here’s what I accomplished, to show you a drastic difference between two pages. One’s the original, the other’s the current. If you can’t guess which, I will cry.