Typeface for a creepy book

_savage's picture

I am curious about peoples opinions and experiences. Just a hypothetical question: if you were to choose a typeface for a novel in the creepy genre, what would you use? There are elements of fantasy in the storytelling, but also quite some chill factor in the creepy sense.

My feeling was going towards something with edgy serifs, higher contrast, nothing rounded at least. It should be comfortable to read, yet leave an unsettling hint? Walbaum, perhaps?

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

I’d like to actually read the text before deciding, but… http://www.stormtype.com/family-preissig-antikva-pro.html

I used it some months ago for setting a poem about the Spanish Civil War, and IMHO it works great.

nina's picture

You might either go for angularity/spikiness as indeed in Preissig, but that’s maybe a bit more in-your-face scary; or perhaps something more organic with a slightly unusual/unsettling tension – Satyr was my first thought (especially since you say fantasy too). https://monokrom.no/fonts/satyr
I guess it depends whether it’s psychological creeping-under-your-skin uncanniness (“something’s not quite right here”) that you’re going for, or a more blatant scary vibe à la people walking through an empty castle waiting to be impaled by barely concealed spikes sticking out of every surface. :)

Cuboctaedro's picture

Preissig is a bit in-your-face as nina says but I think Christobal is on the right track. Many of Frantisek Storm's typefaces have a special weirdness that could work well in such a case.
You already mentioned Walbaum, which is a excellent choice but there are stranger beasts among Storm's typefaces.

_savage's picture

Thank you, keep it coming :-)

Yes, Preissig is a little obtrusive with its edges but the Storm foundry has some other good ones, Lexon Gothic or Trivia perhaps? I guess I'll have to print a page or two to see how they perform for reading text.

And I agree, I love Satyr since I looked at it a few months ago...

hrant's picture

Yes, don't go too literal.
Satyr is a great suggestion.


Joshua K.'s picture

A typeface imitating time-worn letterpress may work, if it matches the book’s time. One example is Coldstyle, I’m sure there are better ones:

However, some will consider it a bad imitation.

Another font in the spikey genre is ITC Veljovic:

I’e read a book typeset in it, and it worked surprisingly well for me as a text font. The regular weight is quite light, which may be in line with a notion of creepy silence and shrinking because of fear.

hrant's picture

To me sharpness is in fact critical. But also narrowness.

Maybe too subtle, but one of my favs:

Also subtle but possibly good: a narrow style of Warnock.


_savage's picture

Joshua and hrant: Thank you for that! The ITC Veljovic and Kinesis both look really good. Warnock looks beautiful in its italic form.

I've also poked around to find some types that were used to set H. P. Lovecraft's original books. There's a whole website dedicated to that but nothing that tickles me the right way. However, the handwriting might be nice to use maybe as a title face, or if there's a letter in the text, or some such.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Definitely not a text face!

donshottype's picture

My vote is for ITC Veljovic -- Joshua says he read a book set in it -- because it's not going to be too distracting to the reader who wants to get through a novel without being constantly hit in the face by details of the font, while at the same time it has an effective haunting emaciated thorny look. In my opinion it works for extended text because it is is not a high contrast font. Leaving aside the sharp details, the light weight and low contrast is very similar to the Victorian Lightface text fonts that were condemned from the 1890s onward as being too wispy -- which might we might freely interpret as lacking the vigor of life in the flesh.
As for the Lovecraft fonts, note that they were created as "prop fonts" that work well in a prop document seen on screen, but would be technically inadequate for a book.

hrant's picture

BTW, you can also make a book creepy by using special ink... :->


donshottype's picture

BTW try setting a full page in your font at the point size you want for your book and look at it. If nothing stand out as dark spots or fade outs, this is a good sign that the reader will be able to quickly scan the content without distraction. Just an opinion, but I would do it if I was trying an unusual font.

Martin Silvertant's picture

Perhaps this is way too subtle, but I like Espinosa Nova: http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/estudio-ch/espinosa-nova/
I see some people have named sharp typefaces which I don't think I would've picked, but if you want a bit murky yet sharp then Mokka may appeal to you: http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/ludwiguebele/mokka/

Lexicon I would also consider murky yet sharp and Trinité is particularly dark. Expensive but it may be a viable option.

I also have to think of Tribute. It doesn't feature bold but if you're setting a novel you may not need it. http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/emigre/tribute-ot/

Satyr is very dark to me; perhaps a bit too dark. Alegreya seems to be somewhat in the same vain yet it's not as dark as Satyr. http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/huertatipografica/alegreya-ht-pro/

hrant's picture

Ooooh, Mokka nice.


Joshua K.'s picture

If someone is interested in ITC Veljovic, the German publisher Ullstein-Verlag has used it for some books, maybe you can find one of those in a bookshop. Here is an example:

Martin’s suggestions are also nice.

And I think Dez Petranian, suggested in the current children’s book thread, could also work, depending on the book’s topic:

donshottype's picture

Thanks Joshua for the in-use extended sample of ITC Veljovic at a book font size. Color looks even. The ghostly and spiky aspects are subtle but looks to me like they are definitely there. Would be more so on an actual printed page.
Would be interesting to set a similar length passage in Dez Petranian, and put it to the same test. Definitely a different use than the Dr. Seuss stories used in the Myfonts font gallery!

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