Comic Books were once considered throwaway trash aimed at adolescent boys. Now comic books are considered one of the premier art forms of the 20th century. So it wasn’t surprising that Benedikt Taschen decided to enshrine this art form in “75 Years of DC Comics – The Art of Modern Mythmaking”—one of his Extra Large scale books: “…in honor of the publisher’s 75th anniversary, TASCHEN has produced the single most comprehensive book on DC Comics, in an XL edition even Superman might have trouble lifting. More than 2,000 images—covers and interiors, original illustrations, photographs, film stills, and collectibles—are reproduced using the latest technology to bring the story lines, the characters, and their creators to vibrant life as they’ve never been seen before.”
I was tasked by Taschen AD Josh Baker with helping to create letterform graphics for the cover of this monumental edition. These graphics needed to integrate seamlessly with the vintage cover image so that the new cover design might appear to have been “original”. The publisher came up with an incredible image of two sign painters painting a monumental protrait of Superman. They also found some vintage lettering of “DC COMICS” which I was to design around. Also included was an original “DC” logo in a circle which I needed to balance off on the other side of the cover with wording that read “Over 700 Pages in Color”. What I came up with seemed like the only logical layout for this. I looked at dozens and dozens of pieces of vintage comic lettering from DC’s past and distilled them to what I felt would work the best:
I decided to create the final lettering not digitally, but with pen and ink, to try to approach the less than perfect forms that these letters would have had—here are the various elements:
“75 Years of DC Comics” is divided into five sections, each covering a time span of between 1½ to 2 decades. Taschen decided to expand each of those five sections into its own separate, more reader-friendly sized volume, with much more artwork and commentary. Each volume then needed its own special cover art and graphics, and I was again tasked with trying to integrate titling with an appropriate look for each of the five new volumes. The jackets for each volume were to be made of metallic stock matching the contents—so the Golden Age was to be printed on gold metallic stock, the Silver Age on silver stock, and so on.
The process for creating the graphics was much the same as what I did for the “75 Years” jacket—creating five different titling units, each in keeping with the time period it represents, and four more “slugs” to play off opposite the various DC logos (we kept the same slug for “Golden Age” as we used on “75 Years”), each also in an appropriate style to its context. Lest what you see below not confuse you, on the first and last volumes Taschen changed the cover art they selected from what they originally supplied me with. To date, only the first two volumes have been published, “Bronze Age”, “Dark Age”, and “Modern Age” will follow, released one at a time.
THE SILVER AGE OF DC COMICS
Alphabet Soup Type Founders and Michael Doret are proud to announce the Release of Dark Angel, a “blackletter/hybrid” font.
Dark Angel is the first completely new take in decades on the traditional “blackletter” font style. This font had its genesis years ago when the style was born in a sktech Michael created of a new logo for the California Angels baseball team (renamed shortly thereafter the Anaheim Angels). That Angels logo was never completed, but its rough sketch rose from the dead and become the basis for this brand new font design—and was also the source for the name. Below you can compare the forms from that original logo pencil and the corresponding letters from the new font. Many accomodations had to be made to keep these forms working together as a font but, as much as possible, the spirit of that original character design has been kept.
It’s kind of blackletter in feel, but as a display font it’s so much more. It is far more legible than most “Old English” or “Gothic Script” styles, and incorporates many features never before seen in them, such as swashes, tails and a plethora of ligatures.
Type purists may be critical of the lack of adherence to traditional forms, but this font should be seen only as “in the spirit of” blackletter, and attempting to create something that hasn’t been seen or done before—something that feels traditional, yet at the same time fresh and unexpected.
Dark Angel can be purchased in its regular solid form, or as Dark Angel Underlight—a “handtooled” font. When these two fonts are purchased together as a Family package, included will be a third font—Dark Angel Highlight. With this font layered over the basic font, two–color typesetting will be created when the highlight and the base font are assigned two different colors.
With Stylistic Alternates you can go either “Plain” or “Fancy”, changing the look of your copy to suit your needs. Compare the two samples below. Some characters have multiple alternates.
Utilizing Dark Angel’s various features, words can be put together to build creative configurations, wordmarks and “Logos”. The free-standing underlines you see in some of the examples shown here were set independantly and then manually moved into position.
Dark Angel has enough language support to make the builders of Babel envious—its 1,163 glyphs can be used to set copy in 59 different languages. From A to Z: Afrikaans, Albanian, Basque, Bemba, Bosnian, Catalan, Cornish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Faroese, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Ganda, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Kalaallisut, Kamba, Kikuyu, Kinyarwanda, Lithuanian, Luo, Malagasy, Malay, Maltese, Manx, Morisyen, North Ndebele, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Nyankole, Oromo, Polish, Portuguese, Romansh, Sango, Shona, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Turkish, Welsh, and last (but not least) Zulu.
–For more detailed information download The Dark Angel Manual PDF (1.1 MB).
–Dark Angel on FontBros
–Dark Angel on MyFonts
–Dark Angel on FontShop
–Dark Angel on YouWorkForThem
–Coincidental to the release of Dark Angel on MyFonts, Alphabet Soup is running a Special Promotion: 25% off this font for a limited time.
–Dark Angel Design and Art: Michael Doret/Alphabet Soup Type Founders
–Dark Angel OpenType Programming:Patrick Griffin/CanadaType
I have an aversion against taking the easy road. These days many font designers create their designs by referencing designs from the past. Make no mistake—there’s a goldmine of vintage designs out there waiting to be rediscovered. But there are a few of us font designers still left who want to create something that’s not been seen before . . . but that’s not that easy to do. Most of my fonts (with the exception of Steinweiss Script and DeLuxe Gothic) are completely new inventions.
I’ve been working on the font design shown here for the better part of a year—ever since I completed the Dyna-Fonts. The beginings of this font can be traced back to a project I worked on many years ago: a logo I was asked to design for the Califonia Angels baseball team. The work I did for them never saw the light of day, but I always had a soft spot in my heart for one of the logo designs I developed. The letterform portion of my design was comprised of what I called a sort of “blackletter/hybrid”. So I took the basis of that design and expanded it into a full working typeface design. Its working title is currently “Dark Angel”, derived from the project it had originated from.
My intention is that this font be more versatile and more legible than most other blackletter fonts. It’s going to have many, many ligatures, alternates, and letters with tails, and free-floating swashes, giving designers many opportunities to create one-of-a-kind graphics and titling.
It will also come in two versions: a regular solid version and an “underlit” version with a sort of hand-tooled effect.
By the way, did you notice that there are virtually no verticals and no horizontals in this font? I would not have been able to execute this design as you see it without the incredible vector plug-ins from Astute Graphics—particularly VectorScribe. These plug-ins have definitely filled many of the gaps I found in Adobe Illustrator, making it possible for me to do many things that I wouldn’t have attempted without them.
This font is currently in its final stages of programming and production, with a tentative projected release date of June or July 2013. The name “Dark Angel” isn’t yet set in stone, and I’d like to consider other suggestions for the name. If I end up using the name you’ve come up with for this font, you will be the first to receive a complimentary copy of it as soon as its released.
To send a name suggestion for this font, or if you’d like to be notified when the font is released, please drop me an email and I’ll put you on my list to notify.