Knocked Out - Alternatives to Knockout

Chris Rugen's picture

So, I'm working on an identity that Knockout would be perfect for, except that the client will need to display the titles of plays and musicals quite often. As Knockout has no italics or obliques, this takes it out of the running. This pains me deeply, as Knockout's range of styles and the historical design references its making are all perfect otherwise.

If you had to replace Knockout with a type family that sports obliques/italics, what would you choose?

I've looked at a number of Grots and Gothics and haven't hit anything I like. I think its wood type pedigree makes it unique, and I'm having difficulty finding another sans with that characteristic and range. I want to the bullet and try to make it work anyway (specing single quotes rather than italics for titles), but I don't think the client will go for this restriction.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Here's a devil's advocate question and I'm assuming this is all display work.

Do you *need* italics? Couldn't you develop some of other way of pulling them out?

Dav's picture

What about 'Maple', by Eric Olson? (I didn't have the chance to try it myself, yet, but I really wanted to, as soon as I first saw it. ;) On the other hand, I may second Miss Tiff, don you really, really need them?)


Miss Tiffany's picture

I'll second Maple. I had thought of it but wondered if what makes Knockout so perfect is all the widths, which Maple lacks.

kentlew's picture

Chris --

You could try contacting Harry at the Font Bureau and see where they're at with the Bureau Grot italics.

Jim Parkinson shows some italics for his Balboa family (, but it looks like only the wide styles, not the others. You could contact him to see if there are any others in development.

-- K.

dberlow's picture

I would think Knockout could take a beating to nearly 45 degrees before hitting the canvas. ;)


dezcom's picture

At least it would not require the standing 9 count :-)


Chris Rugen's picture

Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. These are great.

I admit I'm a timid designer who blanches at the thought of pushing and pulling type like that, but now you've got me interested in going a few rounds with Knockout (last boxing pun, I promise). The usage is primarily display work, but not exclusively. We did consider other methods of pulling out the titles, but the client was not excited about that prospect, and the battle was ultimately not worth waging.

I like Balboa, but Knockout has a quality to it that Balboa doesn't quite hit for me (Not a pun! I swear!). It's also possible that I've simply become so enamored with Knockout that I'm blinded a bit.

I remember Maple now, from seeing it in Typographica's Favorites list of 2005. What a fantastic family. Now I have to find a place to use this family as well. Its character is great, but that same character moves it away from the specific sort of visual references we were looking for.

Part of the reason I was so remiss in responding to your recommendations is that the project's visual direction took on a different emphasis after my post and the work began to pile up, keeping me away from Typophile. In the end, I went with everyone's favorite ubiqui-sans of the early 21st century, Gotham. It works ideally in this case, particularly with its wide range of weights. It turns out that the late 19th/early 20th century grot look of Knockout ended up being a bit too far back in the history books. We began looking for something that was a bit less forceful in its tone without losing its ability to proclaim its message boldly, as well as being more at home around the geometric influences of the 30's and Deco architecture, without going as far into the style as Neutraface does.

Thank you all for the suggestions. They've given me some great options to have at the ready for work needing distinct gothics.

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