Geronimo by Mário Feliciano

Greetings all,

I am evaluating TEFF/Enschedé Geronimo by Mário Feliciano for use in a project:

http://www.teff.nl/fonts/geronimo/index.html

It is a very expensive, high-end typeface. Yet I have not been able to find any review of it, nor have I been able to find it in use anywhere. Questions:

What are your impressions of Geronimo?
Do you know of any books or pdf samples that use it (other than the specimen sheet provided by TEFF)?
Are there similar fonts out there that are comparable, preferable, or not?

Your thoughts, wisdom, and recommendations are much appreciated in advance.

Best wishes
Idris

hrant's picture

I was waiting for others to chime in first, but I guess -as you say- it's a rara avis of a font so very few people have any experience with it.

The first thing I should say is: I can't tell if the high price would be justified for you - it depends a lot on you, and I know almost nothing about you... The second thing I would say is that it looks like a polished design of distinct character.

The third thing I would say is why I'm bothering to write this post... People might call this a pet peeve of mine, but the vertical proportions make no sense to me. The descenders are longer than the ascenders. I believe that in a text face this is a no-no. Look at that "g": it's having too much fun, at the expense of the ascenders, which are much more common in text. In a "lyrical" text face (which might actually be an oxymoron) with a small x-height I might be able to appreciate allowing the descenders to express themselves; but Geronimo looks like a workhorse design above the baseline. It just doesn't make sense.

In terms of recommending something similar: I don't usually like to do that sort of thing, but in terms of a comparable overall atmosphere I would suggest looking at Fleischmann revivals. See the second article here: http://www.typographer.org/2005_06_01_digests.html

BTW one thing I never get tired of is TEFF's wonderful online character set presentation: that super-wide rendering with horizontal scrolling makes so much sense to me. I've done something similar -if not nearly as accomplished- on my own site (in fact since early 2000).

hhp

R.'s picture

The descenders are longer than the ascenders (when you factor in overshoots).

As far as I can see from the TEFF website, ascenders are 27.2% of the body height, descenders are 28%. Is that enough, in your opinion, to have a detrimental effect on legibility? And what’s the point again of having ascenders that are longer than descenders? I see that you can fit in a lot more lines if you reduce descender height, which makes sense in typefaces like Lexicon that are designed for cramped conditions. But is that a relevant factor in every text face (a very broad term)?

hrant's picture

It's not the length of the descenders per se that's the problem - in fact extenders nominally help readability. It's the fact that different parts of the vertical space are "fighting" for the available real-estate, and the ascenders -thanks to their much higher frequency*- deserve (i.e. can use) more room. And I think it's not just about consecutive lines not touching: there's what I call "apparent leading" and the need to make long lines (that actually aren't very close) easy to read. It's pretty rare that people -or at least people I consider to be good designers- use more leading than they need. Remember that page-turns are disruptive to reading. Sure, it's not the end of the world - it's simply sub-optimal, and you're not getting much benefit in return.

* Although admittedly they actually need less room to elaborate their shapes - except for the "f" they're all sticks.

I think it's quite telling that very few text fonts have such long descenders. Interestingly the TEFF library exhibits a high proportion of them, although that's mostly due to the work of Gerrit Noordzij, who seems to have a strong preference for making the ascenders and descenders exactly* the same, which to me seems unduly Modernist, and leads me to state one of my favorite maxims: symmetry is a lost opportunity.

* Although unlike in Geronimo he does seem to factor in overshoots.

Now, I certainly agree that different fonts target different uses, but a font also needs to be versatile, and when it comes to text -where the beauty of individual glyphs takes a back seat to their contribution to texture- it just doesn't seem like a good design compromise. Does Geronimo strike you as a very "lyrical" design that would be set unusually loose? To me it doesn't. And really, if it were shooting for that atmosphere the ascenders would be long too! So no matter which way you cut it, the ascenders are ideally longer than the descenders in a text face.

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW anybody should feel free to punch holes in my argument. ("I've been wrong before" would be an understatement...)

hhp

William Berkson's picture

What is it that you particularly like in Geronimo? If it is Feliciano's design—and he is a wonderful designer—then you can find others of his designs, including other revivals of Spanish types at vllg.com, or his own site.

If you are seeking a relatively dark type, you can try quadraat or Verdigris text. I also might mention my own revival Williams Caslon Text.

There are many others, of course, but if you still have your heart set on Geronimo, well you can console yourself that you can use it forever more...

R.'s picture

Thanks for your elaboration, hrant! That was very instructive for me.

Pomeranz's picture

What do you think about these little spurs on J and U?

ishamid's picture

Hi hrant,

Thanks for initiating a response thread!

The project is going to be Arabic intensive. The "atmosphere", so to speak, that I'm looking for is both scholarly and literary, with lots of footnotes and marginal notes. I'm looking for a unique Latin text font to complement the advanced classical Arabic font that I'm developing. The Latin font should be traditional/historical/classical yet modern/contemporary (not in the technical senses of those adjectives).

(The feel of, say, Lexicon may be too contemporary for the aesthetic I'm aiming for -- I looked at pdf samples of the ESV Study Bible -- which has many of the kind of layout technicalities I will use. But I'm still thinking about it.)

One of the things I like about Geronimo is its hybrid Dutch/Spanish feel. Spanish aesthetics, of course, are often a natural complement to Arabic, given the long historical connections between Spain and the Arabic world (the 'c' carries at least a hint of that complementarity). Yet, at least at this stage of my development of typographical sensitivity, I have generally found the technicals of Dutch typefaces (e.g., the DTL collection) most impressive.

It is interesting that you mention the 'g', because that is the letter that stood out to me the most in terms of the aesthetic I'm looking for. But as you point out: The individual letterforms are not as important as the overall texture produced by the font in action. Hence my desire to see it in action somewhere.

About the ascenders/descenders: In the context where Arabic and Latin are mixed, a bit more leading for the Latin is needed, so perhaps that ameliorates at least some of your concern. In side-by-side translation, Classical Arabic is much more economical and efficient, in terms of semantics, than Latin. So it takes up to twice as many lines of translated text to match the original number of lines in the Arabic. I'm curious as to how Geronimo would compare to, say, Caslon in such a situation.

Thank you for the reference to Yves' article. I took a look at the sample of Eudald: Feliciano's Eudald Text and Eudald Microplus fonts look worthy of a closer look, but it seems that Feliciano has taken them off the market, and only the Gran version (Eudald News) is available for purchase.

Idris

ishamid's picture

Hi William,

Thanks for the recommendations; your Caslon is very nice indeed! I have Adobe Caslon and it will be interesting to compare the two.

Idris

ishamid's picture

Hi Pomeranz,

One of the reasons I am looking for better samples is because, in the low-res samples provided by TEFF, I can't see the "spurs" well. Indeed, they look much better in the image you posted than I thought they would.

Do you have more samples of Geronimo in action that you can share? Much appreciated!

Idris

hrant's picture

Interesting - I think the case for using Geronimo just got stronger! Although mixing Latin and Arabic is always a pretty complex animal, and I can see pros and cons: on the one hand mirroring Arabic's rich descender space is a great idea; on the other hand -as you say- there are issues of economy, and those might require a Latin with a strong x-height (which comes first at the expense of descenders). Fuller reply soon...

Thomas, about the spurs: I'm assuming they're coming from the original Gil fonts. Capitals are a place you can get away with mannered stuff like that, although on a common letter like "U" it might be a bit much. BTW the one on the "J" reminds me of the interesting argument Smeijers made in "Counterpunch"; but if that's what Feliciano was thinking he would have done it on the lc as well.

hhp

ishamid's picture

Thanks, hrant, I look forward to your "fuller reply"!

logotripping's picture

Are there no "in-use" examples of Geronimo? Couldn't find any via google. A shame. Really nice font. Love the ball terminals and ascender serifs, and the spurs on J and U :)

hrant's picture

Yes, examples would be great, especially to see how the [apparent] leading has been handled.

BTW, sorry my "fuller reply" hasn't materialized - in fact now I can't figure out what I would have added...

hhp

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