Jul 27, 2006

Speaking of fresh looks (see below), the Drawn and Quarterly website got a new coat of paint recently. Fantastic. Buy a book or two while you're there.
With very few exceptions, most of the rebranding and redesigning that has gone on over the past few years has been shit. To cite just a few:

- DC Comics embarrassing themselves by going from this to this

- UPS going from a classic to a throwaway

- AT&T "fixing" what wasn't broken.

I understand, to a point, the need to seem more "now". What I don't understand is why so many businesses can't figure out that, barring masterful execution, "now" eventually means "dated". None of the three logos above will stand up in ten or fifteen years, and the same can be said for countless others.

So I thought I'd give credit where it's due to Duquesne University. What they had was this:

But now...

If what you had was bad, and you come up with something good, you have stumbled upon the one and only powerful argument for a comprehensive redesign. Simple enough, right? In their small way, Duquesne has done good.

Jul 16, 2006

Speaking of Joe, he's going to have a brand-new, full-color minicomic on sale at the con. It's called Mandala, and it looks pretty amazing. Check it out here, then do yourself a favor and pick one up. The guy makes me look good.

Jul 13, 2006

As this sweet photoset demonstrates, interesting typography/design and the World Cup have gone hand-in-hand for some time.

I think I've mentioned before that I think it's a crime that Dale Murphy isn't in the hall of fame. He is, however, keeping busy...

Jul 12, 2006

Welcome Uni Watch readers...

Please feel free to stick around.

(and many, many thanks to Paul for the link)

Jul 10, 2006

I'm an admitted soccer neophyte, so feel free to filter what I have to say here through that lens. That said, I enjoyed the World Cup more than I expected to, particularly yesterday's France-Italy final. And I have a couple of notes about it (broken up into two posts to make the direct linking easier).

The World Cup is, by far, the most aesthetically impressive sporting event I've seen. While American leagues consistently subject us to nefarious goings-on like this and this (the list could go on, believe me), the World Cup gives us gems like these:

click for larger versions

The winner, though, is France. This is one beautifully executed piece:

Everything about it - the simplicity, the balance, the use of color - is fantastic. What really sets it apart, though, is the typography.

The name is set in Bauhaus, and it's an interesting choice. The font itself is a 1974 product from the International Typeface Corporation, which redesigned and added to some of the original Bauhaus concepts. Among type folks it is known that this is not an historically accurate representation of those "universal type" ideals, and it has often been used insensitively (the title credits for Roseanne and this abomination from ESPN are two such examples). As a result, to use Bauhaus now is generally considered a purely stylistic choice, and it is tough to do it well.

But I differ from some of the more strident opinions here. I think Bauhaus typography, even as it is somewhat inaccurately represented by the ITC font, is still serviceable and proper in the right context. The French jersey is a perfect example.

The idea behind Bauhaus type was to put the school's ideals of modernism and universalism in service of a new, more pure typography. Herbert Bayer, the man behind the movement, said that "the typographic revolution was not an isolated event but went hand in hand with a new social and political consciousness and consequently, with the building of new cultural foundations." In the context of the World Cup, an event that brings together a cross-section of world cultures like nothing else, this typography is a natural and intelligent fit. Using Bauhaus doesn't feel "retro" or "kitsch" here - it actually feels right. Nothing about that changes the font's checkered history, and it probably won't ultimately do much in service of the larger good, but that doesn't make it any less great.

There's much more that could be said, but I'm not an expert. If you find it interesting, here are some suggestions for further reading:

Much of my information on Bauhaus type came from this book. It's a little academic, but I'd recommend it nonetheless. And if you're interested generally in the aesthetics of sport, there is no better place to go than the esteemed Uni Watch blog. Soon to be a permanent link, I consider it mandatory.

Jul 2, 2006

An interesting discussion at Design Observer concerning Kafka and Typography. An excerpt:

...several readers have suggested that the "we" in the first sentence is not a human "we" but a set of printed letters. For many, including myself, the voice at the start of "The Trees" belongs to Kafka's letters themselves, speaking directly to the reader: "we are like tree trunks in the snow."

The essay falls apart a bit at the end, but mostly it's an enlightening read.
Another good read (registration required), this one about the continuing cross-pollination of the mainstream and adult film industries. It's of particular interest to those of you who work or might want to work in film, but the broader point at which it hints is what I find most noteworthy. There's a strange duality at work right now that I'm struggling to understand. While we seem, culturally, to be at an overwhelmingly conservative high tide, we are also seeing a lot of broken barriers, both good and bad. If these two forces are destined to meet, I wonder what the collision will look like? My gut tells me to hope it doesn't come to that.
I've said it before, but I'm pretty sure I mean it this time: the return of the Album Cover Project will happen soon. I have the record picked out and sitting right here next to me. You don't need to know that's been the case for over a month.
My San Diego Comic Con schedule is firming up. I'll be signing at least a couple of times at the Oni booth, and I'll also be keeping company with Chip and Nye (Left on Mission and Revenge) at table E 10. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood.