The Life of a Letterer at Zebra Comics: An Interview with Tamunjoh Azushi

Tamunjoh Azushi at Zebra Comics

In the world of comics, collaboration is a key ingredient for success. From the script to publishing, several processes require the intervention of several skills to ensure that the final product is great. These skills include illustration, inking, coloring, lettering, editing, and proofreading. Even in cases where a creator wears a lot of hats and does many of these things himself or herself, the creator still needs a platform to publish digitally or a printer to make the comics available in print, thereby rendering it a very collaborative process.

In an industrial setting like Zebra Comics, where comics are created in large quantities daily, collaboration is indispensable. To be able to ensure that deadlines are met and objectives are achieved, team members work closely with each other to ensure that things work out well in the end. Consequently, the creative team comprises writers, illustrators, inkers, colorists, and letterers. These skill sets combine to produce cool African comics published every day on the Zebra Comics app and website.

That said, this article will focus on one of those comic creation skills that is very important but is usually not spoken about. That skill is lettering.

Lettering in comics is the procedure of adding dialogue to the illustrations on a comic book page, to bring the page to life. Lettering enables the reader to hear the characters talk and engage in action. It is so important because it helps in narrating the story and rendering the characters three-dimensional.

Usually, lettering is considered the ‘easy’ part of comic creation. However, lettering requires specific skills learned and executed by a professional. Bad lettering can render reading and comprehension of a comic very difficult, thereby spoiling the entire experience of a hitherto excellent piece of work.

Given the heavy amount of lettering done at Zebra Comics, a team of professionals takes charge of that exercise to ensure quality in production. In this article, we will be talking to one of our key letterers who has worked on most of the African comics and webtoons published on the Zebra Comics app and website. His name is Tamunjoh Azushi and he has been a letterer at Zebra Comics PLC for a while now. We had a chat with him about his role at Zebra Comics and this is what he had to say.

ZEBRA COMICS BLOG:  Hello Azushi. Thank you for taking out time to share your experiences as a letterer with us. But before we dive into your work as a letterer, please tell us, who is Tamunjoh Azushi and what are you passionate about.

TAMUNJOH AZUSHI: Thank you very much for this opportunity to share a little bit about myself. I am called Tamunjoh Azushi and I am a twenty-three-year-old Cameroonian who is passionate about art. I currently work as a letterer at Zebra Comics PLC but double as a student studying software engineering. Apart from art, I also enjoy sports, music, and cooking. I am a very passionate person who likes to breathe life into every place where I find myself.

ZEBRA COMICS BLOG:  When did you start considering yourself as an artist?.

TAMUNJOH AZUSHI:  Well, I was as young as seven years old when I started drawing on any surface where I thought one could draw. As I grew older, my school books suffered so much that I drew in every one of them whenever I had the chance. I was punished many times for doing this, but I persisted. I trained myself by watching video tutorials on YouTube and consuming the works of great artists. Today, all of that has culminated into a position at Zebra Comics. I have always considered myself to be an artist.

ZEBRA COMICS BLOG:  Tell us about your adventure with Zebra Comics. How did it start and how is it going?.

Azushi on the Zebra Comics blog

TAMUNJOH AZUSHI: When I realized that I was going to join Zebra Comics in 2023, I was very excited. It was my first true professional experience, so I was ready to give it my all. I must admit, however, that in the beginning, it was very tedious. I had to be trained on the art of comic book lettering and this took a while. My tutors at the company were quite patient with me and this helped me learn quite fast. So, right now, the adventure has been a wonderful one, especially as I get to work in the arts; a domain which is very dear to me. So, the adventure with Zebra Comics has been excellent so far and I would love to continue being part of it for the longest possible time.

ZEBRA COMICS BLOG: When did you begin your journey as a letterer and how do you find the job so far?.

TAMUNJOH AZUSHI:  After I joined Zebra Comics, I became a letterer barely one month later. To be sincere, I started as a novice in the domain, but thanks to my tutor, Mr. Ejob Nathanael, I was able to learn very fast and become a true professional in such a short time. As I mentioned before, I have always been fascinated by the arts in general, so the job has been really exciting so far. Today, I have grown and I can now boast of producing work that is appreciated by the entire team and by users of our app and website.

ZEBRA COMICS BLOG: How do you see the future of comics in Cameroon and Africa?.

TAMUNJOH AZUSHI:  Well, that is a great question. To be sincere, I think that the future of comics in Cameroon and Africa is very bright. But I wouldn’t just end there. I will go ahead to say that with the presence of Zebra Comics in Cameroon and, by extension, Africa, there is an assurance that African comics will see great productions in their quantities and consistently.

ZEBRA COMICS BLOG: In essence, what does it take to be a comic book letterer?

TAMUNJOH AZUSHI: Like every discipline in the comics creation chain, being a letterer requires artistic skills. You must have an eye that is keen on aesthetics so that your lettering will look pleasing to the eye. Also, you must understand human behavior when it comes to reading comics. You must know what will easily catch the eyes of readers and render your lettering in that light. Above all, you should have the skills and be able to use lettering software, especially when working in a deeply digital sphere like Zebra Comics. With these, add constant learning and training and you will become an excellent letterer in no time.

ZEBRA COMICS BLOG:  What advice will you give a young person who wishes to become a comic book letterer?

TAMUNJOH AZUSHI:  First of all, believe in your skills and know that this is a viable career path that can procure your daily bread like every other occupation. For someone like me, I drew a lot as I grew, but I did not know where this would take me. Today, there are companies like Zebra Comics PLC that are creating opportunities for letterers, so it is something to take very seriously. Secondly, I will advise them to read a lot of comics and webtoons. This will help them see firsthand how comics and webtoons are lettered before they dive into their theory. Every letterer should therefore have the Zebra Comics app and website on their devices and they should be reading publications that are released every day.

ZEBRA COMICS BLOG:  Thank you for your time.

TAMUNJOH AZUSHI:  It is my pleasure.

You can follow Tamunjoh Azushi on Facebook and Instagram.

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