Bill Oakley (comics)

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Bill Oakley
BornWilliam Douglas Oakley
(1964-04-01)April 1, 1964
Oneonta, New York
DiedFebruary 16, 2004(2004-02-16) (aged 39)
Utica, New York
Notable works
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Batman: Gotham Knights

William Douglas Oakley (April 1, 1964 – February 16, 2004) was a letterer for numerous comic books from Marvel, DC, and other companies. His most prominent works include the first two volumes of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Batman: Gotham Knights #1-11, #15-37.


Oakley attended The Kubert School in Dover, New Jersey for a year, intending to be a comics artist. However, his experience at the school convinced him that he couldn't handle the workload of a comic book artist and, still desiring to work in the comics field, decided to do lettering instead.[1] In July 1986 he started on staff at Marvel,[1] working under Jim Novak.[citation needed] For Marvel, Oakley lettered Avengers for a long time, Avengers West Coast, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four during Walt Simonson’s run, Rampaging Hulk, and Amazing Spider-Man.

Oakley concluded a late 1987 interview by remarking "I would hope, by this time next year, that I would have enough work that I could go freelance. I wouldn't mind the idea of working at home. That kind of appeals to me, not having to get up at 6:00 every morning to commute here. That I definitely would look forward to."[1] Oakley indeed went freelance by the end of 1988. For DC, he worked on a number of the Superman titles, Batman, Lobo, DC vs. Marvel Comics, Batman: Gotham Knights, Justice Society, and Hawkman.


Due to the fact that he did not possess medical insurance ("because he had a previous medical condition and the insurance companies refused to cover him"),[2] he was forced to letter comics from his hospital bed to pay bills before he died of cancer in Utica, New York. His hometown was Oneonta, New York. Oakley was survived by his wife Leslie and son Stephen.[2]

He was halfway through designing The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier at the time of his death. The final volume (finished by Todd Klein) was dedicated to his memory, with Moore noting in the introduction to the book that he felt the cancer made Oakley's lettering style much better than a non-cancer-addled letterer.

Lettering style[edit]

Oakley had a distinctive but understated lettering style. One of his trademarks as a letterer was to often erase or omit panel borders when they touched the top, side, or bottom of a word balloon or caption, thus opening up the balloon/caption to the gutter. In this regard, Oakley's lettering style was similar to John Workman's. Also like Workman, even in the age of computer lettering, Oakley did all this lettering by hand, using a Hunt 107 pen.[3] Before the age of computer lettering, unlike Jim Novak and others, Oakley was one of the few letterers to continue to create word balloons entirely freehand instead of using templates.[1]



Assorted titles:


  1. ^ a b c d Zimmerman, Dwight Jon (January 1988). "Bill Oakley". Comics Interview. No. 54. Fictioneer Books. pp. 27–32.
  2. ^ a b Eliopoulos, Chris (February 18, 2004). "RIP Bill Oakley". PULSE News. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  3. ^ Klein, Todd (February 18, 2004). "Comment on "RIP Bill Oakley"". PULSE News. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  4. ^ 8th Annual Wizard Fan Awards
  5. ^ 10th Annual Wizard Fan Awards
  6. ^ 2004 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards


External links[edit]