If Johnny Cash were a typeface...

A.Ross's picture

If Johnny Cash were a typeface which would he be? Perhaps something honest, cryptic, charming, humble or brooding?

I'm currently working on a brief based on a typographic portrayal of his 'Man In Black' so any suggestions on typefaces relating to the song in particular would be great also, although i guess Cash's personality and the song itself are going to have similar references.

Again, any suggestions welcome.

jupiterboy's picture

Pick a heavy slab.

Maybe Giza NineFive.

Miss Tiffany's picture

He'd be somewhere in between Knox, Acropolis, Ziggurat, Giza, Birra Stout, and Facebuster.

BruceS63's picture

Yeah, I agree with jupiterboy--a straightforward, bold slab face. Oddly enough, even if you want it to print in a color, the type will only print black.

jupiterboy's picture

Black matte varnish on rich black.

BruceS63's picture

"Black matte varnish on rich black."

Lovely suggestion.

A.Ross's picture

yeah, i was thinking black on black, it seems obvious but appropriate. Matte on glossy perhaps.

dsb's picture

Parkinson Black has a little wooden type feel to it. Like a Hatch print.

jupiterboy's picture

I wasn’t being serious as much as pushing the thread in a Chuck Norris style hyperbole direction. You do seem to be some consensus on the type though.

James Arboghast's picture

No, no, no!

These are all off by a country mile. Johnny Cash was an outlaw and a criminal before he found God and turned into a "good" or "lawful evil" dude. After that point Cash entered the mainstream yet he remained permanently on the shady side of the law and the establishment.

These bulky, masculine slab serif candidates are in the ryte ballpark but they lack the subversiveness and non-conformity of the man himself. They're too conventional and law-abiding. (Oh some dys I will do anything just to get a few hyphenates in. Ah, that was a good hit back there).

The embarrassing part is I can't name any butch slab serifs that evoke these aspects of Johnny's personality.

They are all good candidates but they lack soul.

j a m e s

tamye's picture

wood type


set whilst dirty

Miss Tiffany's picture

That is why I said somewhere in between.

nina's picture

James, I was sort of thinking the same thing.
Also, what I'd stress more is his musicality – from which there is a fine line to the vulnerability, even fragility that he displayed, in extremo, in his last years (that 'Hurt' video). Even for 'Man in Black', I'd at least mix in a shot of Archer (not use it; cross-breed it with some others) and stay at a reasonable distance from Facebuster and the like – those feel too loud, brutal, and yes, they exude more of a law-abiding, unbroken masculinity than I'd see in Cash.
Unfortunately, my knowledge of the type universe is not such that I could throw in a couple names that do exactly what I'm trying to describe, though. :-(

jupiterboy's picture

The counters in Giza NinFive are fragile, in contrast to the super heavy weight.

innovati's picture

I see a massive change in Cash's life after he became a christian. Earlier I see rebellion, strength, arrogance even. I think of this as a big bold slab serif with funky angles.

Then, later in life he softened, he let his guard down and yes, became fragile and beautiful like a spider's web or a glass sculpture. I don't see him losing his masculinity in this at all, but he had less armor protecting the real Johnny inside. This period I see as a script, or some light-weight yet sturdy serif, something that has a very personal touch.

I think later in life he also became very aware of his mortality, he probably had a lot of close calls earlier in life, but I think a man changes when he realizes he might not be around much longer, I think his purpose and his focus changed totally from before - so I don't think I could summarize his entire life into just one typeface.

A.Ross's picture

i'd say because it's a portrayal of the song more so than his personality, and the two perhaps aren't exactly the same. So it would be a representation of the period he wrote the song.

I don't think the typeface has to be bang on - it just needs to fit, the song portrayal will be emphasized with how i treat the type and the lyrics and print methods etc i choose.

On another note I am going to contrast this with another song, i was thinking 'White Christmas' - Bing Crosby. One song is quite brutally honest for that period of time and the other is more of a song for escapism and "feel good" listening (in my opinion). Oh yeah one's black and the others white, ha.

Cheers again for all the input!

beejay's picture

I’m currently working on a brief based on a typographic portrayal of his ’Man In Black’

I don’t think the typeface has to be bang on - it just needs to fit, the song portrayal will be emphasized with how i treat the type and the lyrics and print methods etc i choose.

can you explain the project in more detail?

Matt Steel's picture

Perhaps the task can be handled by a pairing of typefaces. I personally think Leviathan or Ziggurat by H&FJ would look great with a sharp serif like Farnham. If you want a grotesque, Maple by Process Type Foundry or National by Klim could work.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Austere and strong, but not self-indlulgent. And it's got to be American. Bureau Grotesque. Or maybe Champion (the pre-Knockout face).

kentlew's picture

> Bureau Grotesque

Joe, the irony there is that while the Bureau Grots certainly have a feel of American early 20th-century industrialism, the series was originally based on fonts by Stephenson, Blake & Co. Ltd., Sheffield and London.

Chris Keegan's picture

Maybe Poplar.

jupiterboy's picture

No no no. Johnny Cash has 23 separate dimensions, the later five only revealing themselves after his conversion. Only a deconstructed, then reconstructed font based on the handwriting of Johnny Cash taken and then reimagined as a swash gothic could ever serve as the basis for approaching a font to fully describe the Gordian evolution of the phenomena that comprise Johnny Cash.

Wait, Poplar looks pretty good…

Chris Keegan's picture

I couldn't have said it better myself.

piccic's picture

I would not use a typeface of the digital generation (i.e. post-mid 1980s).
I see Hoefler types as a quite radical new take on your local culture (I'm speaking of North America, I am Italian), very related to the crispness of vector drawing.
Once, having met Stan Ridgway on his BBS, I would have liked to try a design of his Wall of Voodoo DVD, and what I though at the time was to scan original woodtypes and then arrange them.
But maybe you'd need to pair it with something more usable for textsetting…

EDIT: What about having a look at Marcus Burlile's "collage" alphabets:
Maybe anachronistical, but there could be something handy…

Stephen Coles's picture

I think Chris was close with Poplar. But it's too soft.

Bold, American, straightforward but unpredictable: Rhode Black

BlueStreak's picture

Andrew, I channeled the late, great, JC's spirit last night. He said he wanted to see what you came up with. "Tell the young man that the friendly ole ghost in black wants to see."

So are you still around? What'd you pick? (Elvis was curious too.)

pattyfab's picture

Hatch Show Print.

This: http://withoutwalls.com/index.htm

or some of the other suggestions in this thread: http://typophile.com/node/39808

guest's picture

Gothic 13

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