Type News: Book ’Em, Danno!

It’s a steamy Friday in Chicago. Let’s cool down by diving into a Great Lake’s worth of news and new type.

Two topics dominated the figurative water cooler this week: a talk by Matthew Carter and — no, really — a new edition of a great type reference.

On Monday, July 18, Matthew Carter spoke at the Cooper Union on “Genuine Imitations: A Type Designer’s View of Revivals.” If you missed it, you’re in luck! Paul Soulellis took pictures and notes. Paul Shaw also wrote about the talk. But perhaps best of all, Isabel Urbina actually recorded the talk; even without visuals, it’s worth your time.

Let’s jump ahead to Thursday, when FontShop released a brand-spanking new edition of the famous FontBook. With more content and more ways to cross-reference, it’s amazing that it’s significantly slimmer than the previous edition’s six-inch spine and quite a bit lighter than six pounds. Well, it would be amazing if this were a physical book. This time around, FontShop has turned the FontBook into an iPad app. While it’s no longer possible to simply flip through the specimens (if that was even possible with a book of this heft), this version promises to be easier to update and easier to carry with you. It costs less, to boot (unless you otherwise wouldn’t purchase an iPad). But enough blathering on about it. Jürgen Siebert discusses the process of creating the app. Stephen Coles shares some of his his thoughts. So should you get it? Khoi Vinh says it’s worth buying — and points to a thorough review by Jens Tenhaeff. The Web Standardistas think you should buy it this instant. Just come back once you’re done, or you’ll miss this week’s new type!

Whether it’s deliberate or serendipitous, we can often detect a common thread running through each week’s type releases. It might be something as mundane an abundance of new sans serif families. It could also be the coincidental unveiling of several lively, retro scripts. As it happens, this week’s theme is something along the lines of … “All your font names must end with a vowel.”

Starting off our A-list of new typefaces is Cyrus Highsmith’s Prensa Display for The Font Bureau. This is an expanded, headline-punching variation of his Dwiggins-inspired Prensa. A compact stance, extensive OpenType features, and honed details are featured throughout this voluminous six weight, three width family.

Canada Type’s Patrick Griffin did a fair amount of due diligence before reviving Recta — Aldo Novarese’s “Italian Helvetica.” First published within a year of Miedinger and Hoffmann’s original Neue Haas Grotesk and Frutiger’s Univers, it stands on its own as an uncomplicated, functional grotesque with modestly humanist underpinnings. Expanding upon the source, Griffin — and collaborator, Kevin King — took the plunge by adding several weights, condensed widths, and proper small capitals.

Also from Canada Type comes Prima, their latest contribution to the revival of the Filmotype library. Dating back to 1955, this bouncy display face was one of Filmotype’s earliest “sho-card” designs. Now stuffed full of OpenType love, Prima features expansive language support, automagical fractions, and a smattering of stylistic alternates.

The first of a schwack of fresh faces from FontShop are FF Signa Stencil and FF Signa Serif Stencil, stylishly slotted variations of Ole Søndergaard’s architecturally influenced FF Signa superfamily.

Ludwig Übele’s FF Tundra is a compact, yet highly legible text family that successfully balances some fairly substantial serifs with an underlying softness. Six weights ranging from extra light through bold, with graceful and economical italics.

This isn’t just another grotesque-humanist hybrid, although the description for Jörg Hemker’s FF Sero certainly tips its hat toward those classifications. The eight, super clean weights have a sans style all their own. For example, check out the subtle, sexy “kick” of the tail on the lowercase a and d. Want to give FF Sero a whirl? You can download the medium weight, gratis.

FF Nuvo Mono take a monospaced mallet to Siegfried Rückel’s original typewriter-flavoured FF Nuvo. It maintains the charming “chipped” corners and somewhat calligraphic details, but with a slightly smaller x-height than the proportional model.

You might say that Benoît Bodhuin’s very first design for Gestalten is “tubular”. In fact, the four serpentine variations of Pipo are delightfully minimalist, semi-stencilesque, and cleverly ligature’d.

From tubular type to the infamous series of tubes — this week brings us a load of great stuff about type on the web:

And now for the rest of this week’s news and other items of interest:

We leave you this week with the sad news of Alex Steinweiss’ death. Stephen Heller wrote his obituary for The New York Times. Or listen to and watch Heller discuss Steinweiss’ work in this video from the School of Visual Arts.

That’s it for this week. Feel free to complain about the heat in the comments. (Or if it’s not hot where you are — congratulations! — feel free to complain about those of us complaining about the heat.) See you next time!

Thanks as always to Grant Hutchinson for braving flares and finials to bring us this week’s new type!

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