A Serif with Serifs? What else is funny?

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Vladimir Tamari's picture
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Joined: 4 Nov 2007 - 11:15pm
A Serif with Serifs? What else is funny?
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As I was standing in the checkout line at a Tokyo supermarket my eye met this Arabic numeral "1". For a while I was struck dumb - what tha! is that a serif - with serifs? It was disorienting - a typographical zen koan- what am I seeing? Then I thought of the poor lettering designer unused to Latin letters and interpreting the 1's upper stroke (can it be called a serif?) in his or her own way. I almost burst out laughing. I later came and took a photo of the sign. The green variation is my photoshopped vision of what a serif with serifs with serifs ...might look like. Keep adding serifs like this and you get a fractal...
Have you seen anything else that is funny? I do not mean ugly or badly-designed glyphs or letters, but something that would make a typographer laugh.

Kent Lew's picture
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Joined: 21 Apr 2002 - 11:00am
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> Then I thought of the poor lettering designer unused to Latin letters and interpreting the 1’s upper stroke (can it be called a serif?) in his or her own way.

Uh . . . that would be Frederic Goudy. http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/adobe/copperplate-gothic/

Vladimir Tamari's picture
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Joined: 4 Nov 2007 - 11:15pm
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You are absolutely right - even Microsoft Word has this Copperplate Gothic font! Ok the joke is on me, but I still think it is ..quaint. In Japan so many signs use strange English I thought this was a graphical extention of the genre. See http://www.engrish.com/

Alessandro Segalini's picture
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Kevin Pease's picture
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Joined: 19 Oct 2003 - 5:03pm
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Back in school I attended a presentation by... Hoefler, I think, but I may not be remembering correctly. Anyway, he was leading us through the design of a typeface, and apparently the creation of swash characters had become a bit much, and he had to indulge in a little self-parody. Imagine an octothorpe, a slash, a period... all with a big ol' Bookman swash extending from the upper left, or as close to an upper left as could be had.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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When I first saw Copperplate years ago, I thought the figure 1 was quite odd as well but now that I am used to it, it doesn't bother me.

ChrisL

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Here's an interesting design challenge: devise another form for the numeral 1 that conforms to Copperplate and also retains a significant visual distinction betweem 1 and I.

Russell McGorman's picture
Joined: 25 May 2006 - 10:01am
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This is kind of like one of those fishing stories where the fish gets bigger with every telling, because I can't find it now, but... I did a sketch a few months ago of letters with endlessly iterating serifs... Well the idea was infinite iterations of serifs, but it gets crowded really fast so it only got to about 4 or 5 levels. And it was the Goudy Copperplate 1 that gave me the idea. It's odd. It looks like a part of a kitchen sink drain, but I like it.

-=®=-

Vladimir Tamari's picture
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Joined: 4 Nov 2007 - 11:15pm
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Alessandro - thanks for the haha-meter (am I the only one who finds the Typophile link color too subtle to distinguish from the rest?
cerulean - yes swashbuckling periods and slashes are what I had in mind uner the category of funny type.
ChrisL - the eye can get used to anything - even that eyeglass lowercase g- I wonder what is its ancestry?
John - does Copperplate have lowercase?
russellm - nothing new under the sun I guess! Well the idea was infinite iterations of serifs, but it gets crowded really - also its tiring to make manually. As to getting crowded that would not happen if each iteration gets smaller- it will be much like a mathematical fractal where the original has a given outline, and succeeding iterations become smaller and more complex - one has to zoom to see them. Fascinating stuff really- I just tried the freeware program ChaosPro to produce fractals but there may be less difficult programs that demonstrate the results only as animations.

Florian Hardwig's picture
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Joined: 18 Feb 2007 - 6:41am
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am I the only one who finds the Typophile link color too subtle to distinguish from the rest?
No, I’m with you.
I’ve sent a feature request, you could do so, too: http://typophile.com/contact

Mark Simonson's picture
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Joined: 3 Dec 2001 - 11:00am
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does Copperplate have lowercase?

No, but a typeface from the 1970s called American Gothic, which was based on Copperplate, does. It was designed by Vladimir Andrich for Alphatype. (He also did a lot of the Filmotype fonts back in the 1950s and the exquisite Andrich Minerva for VGC.)

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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I like the link colour the way it is.

Claudio Piccinini's picture
Joined: 11 Jan 2003 - 9:32am
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I have no memory of reading about that, but for some reason I always thought Copperplate Gothic was designed to be used mostly on small sizes, especially business cards, and those "serifs" all over the letter are a compensation means for the ink (negative inktraps). Am I daydreaming or maybe there is some evidence of this? :=(

A thing goes for sure, at least for me: Copperplate used for storage signs and in large applications is awfully bad…

EDIT: Ah, I forgot. "What else is funny", for Vladimir:
Modula Ribbed by Zuzana Licko
Jesus Loves You by Luc(as) DeGroot
and finally, Serifs taking hold, Punten also by DeGroot.
I own a license of Punten, and I always thought it's quite a stroke of genius… :=)

Vladimir Tamari's picture
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Joined: 4 Nov 2007 - 11:15pm
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piccic-Claudio: Funny as in weird? yes...but you are right - As for Punten, apart from the spectacular serifs reminding me of insect antennas, it has a very fine sense of design and line. The & is magnificent. It seems to be reaching back to those calligraphic scripts with lots of curved hairline flourishes.

Claudio Piccinini's picture
Joined: 11 Jan 2003 - 9:32am
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Interesting how Punten looks primarily beautiful to your "Arabic-eye"… :=)
It is indeed, Luc(as) masters the forms. Most of the experiments you see are based on the excellent forms of his typeface Thesis "life-project" (see Nebulae and Jesus Loves You).

Punten always conjured a feeling of the unavoidability of tares, and sufference from disorder in this world, to me…

Kosal Sen's picture
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Joined: 12 Jul 2004 - 1:42am
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What else is funny? How about all the jokes on Typographunnies!

Vladimir Tamari's picture
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Joined: 4 Nov 2007 - 11:15pm
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Interesting how Punten looks primarily beautiful
The designer is obviously skillful and cannot make an ugly outline, although he seems to have tried hard here ;-)