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Exclusive: Dark Horse Reveals American Sign Language Font On Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day is only a week away! The annual give away to promote comics and your local comic shop presents an opportunity for publishers to try out new stories and formats, and Dark Horse Comics’ Project Black Sky is embracing the challenge. The issue features the Comics Greatest World character Ape-X: He’s a psychic cyborg gorilla, and when he needs to communicate to his cohorts without using his fists, he uses sign language. So, writer Fred Van Lente worked with letterer Nate Piekos to develop an American Sign Language font.

To avoid usage rights with an already existing sign language font, Piekos drew pictograms and built a library of images. It’s an ambitious undertaking and a really cool idea. Piekos said, “I knew they would have to be legible at a very small size, so the hard part was minimizing detail and maximizing each hand’s gestural qualities.”

Here are some Nerdist-exclusive pages showing off the new font:

If you’d like to pick up Dark Horse’s Free Comic Book Day titles on Saturday, May 3rd, search for a participating shop near you.

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6 comments

  • How insulting. This is not ok at all. I’m tired of having ASL being compared to great apes and monkeys gestures. This is audist imperialism at it’s finest.

  • @Who Me?
    In your aim to be clever, I think you missed the point of the sentence. When the writer says, “When he needs to communicate to his cohorts without using his fists…”, she is referring to violence (i.e. punching people). It’s not a contradiction, it’s a play on words, referring to the fighting as an alternate means of “communication”.
    If you look at the comic page itself, Ape-X uses sign language to communicate with his own fellow apes, so there is no “primitive ape language” that you’re referring to.
    And lastly, you can’t perform sign language using “fists”. You use your hands, but try saying much of anything while keeping your hands balled up in fists and you’d look like a crazy, unintelligible maniac.

    Source: A person who’s not deaf, but actually reads words with an intent to understand meaning.

  • While an interesting initiative, I find it somewhat pointless as they could simply draw Ape X mid-sign and fill in the rest of what he’s saying in the caption or balloon. If they were serious about it they wouldn’t supply a translation in the same balloon as the font and let people figure it out.

    Also: “when he needs to communicate to his cohorts without using his fists, he uses sign language” Contradiction here. You can’t use sign without using your hands/fists. “communicate to his cohorts without resorting to the primitive ape language”, perhaps.

    Source: Deaf person for the past 29 years who has used sign language fluently for most of those years (me).

    • I can see why you are communication prejudiced, but you CAN use your fists to communicate, WITHOUT signing… you’re missing the point. I guess if you’ve never heard it, you would think talking is the same as singing? #lostintranslation