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I'm trying to add a thick, comic-book style outline to text using the sketch and toon rendering effect in C4D.

When the outline is set to a high thickness it becomes apparent that it is drawn based on the centre of the edge.

Is there any way to set the outline to 'outside' or even better, mask it behind the letters so that their form is not obstructed?

Example of outline position problem

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No, that's always been an issue with sketch and toon.

What you can do is export paths to illustrator, then in illustrator bring the 3D layers forward, in front of the generated lines.

Here is a video tutorial on how to do that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs6SI7xLjKE

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I think this is what you're looking for:

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