Today's Sunday Surgery arises in part out of a query from the depressingly talented Jim Boswell, but which touched on an area that had already caused me some considerable headaches…
As it becomes increasingly common for publishers to want to repurpose strips for web, e-reader or iPad, you may find that you're asked to supply layered lettering files so that publisher can adapt the pages for electronic consumption.
Given that Illustrator files already have layers, the obvious solution would be to turn all the text to outlines and simply supply the .ai documents. However, Illustrator seems to be viewed as a bit of a strange beast in some quarters and requests for layered TIFF files, or Photoshop (.psd) documents are very common in my experience.
Illustrator has an option for Photoshop export which should preserve your layer structure, but I found that every time used it, my artwork and balloon layers would be merged into one, with the Text layer behaving as expected. To save everyone else the frustration of working this out, I can report that that it's the Overprint Stroke setting on balloons and captions that causes this. If you turn this off, then the Photoshop export works perfectly.
Note that you can record an action that contains Select All, and then two clicks on the Overprint Stroke followed by two clicks on the Overprint Fill options which should remove all overprinting from your document.
(You could even build the .psd export into the action, which would enable you to run the entire process as an automated batch option on a folder full of .ai documents.)
However, you need to be very clear with your publisher that a file with no overprinting should not be doubled up as a print file.
There is -- to the best of my investigations -- no way to extract a layered TIFF file directly from Illustrator, but you could record an action in Photoshop to save your exported .psd files as layered TIFFs and then run a batch operation from within Photoshop to handle the second stage of the conversion.
At this point, I will concede that the obvious solution that suggests itself is to simply letter the whole thing in Photoshop.
The sky will not fall in if you letter documents in Photoshop, but a bitmap graphics editor is, regardless of how many features Adobe shoe-horns into it, simply not as good an option as a programme for which setting type is a primary function. Sooner or later, you will run into the limitations of Photoshop as a typesetting application and, at that point, you'll need to consider using Illustrator instead.