Compacta is Todays Black Letter

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

discuss..

Nick Shinn's picture

Compacta is Todays Black Letter

You lazy fellow, sloppy grammar and can’t even be bothered to start the thread with any content.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I had faith the content was already there in ten folds.

zeno333's picture

Well, first of all, there is no valid reason to call it Blackletter or to compare it to Blackletter....So IMHO there is nothing to discuss given your initial premise.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

though I prefer Compacta, I would include in this, any other black, heavily condensed sans, such as Impact, Helvetica Compressed, etc... Three stroke widths wide... Four to Five stroke widths tall.

This is today's black letter

Joshua Langman's picture

Meaning what?

cerulean's picture

The analogy is incomplete. Compacta : Blackletter :: today : when?

russellm's picture

& beige is the new black?

Nick Cooke's picture

No it isn't.

LexLuengas's picture

And Agenda is today's Rotunda? C'mon...
What's the actual statement behind "Compacta is Todays Black Letter"? Please elaborate.

BTW Compacta is fifty years old.

Nick Shinn's picture

30 is the new 18.

PublishingMojo's picture

Since blackletter was originally designed to make movable type look like the hand lettering of scribes, wouldn't the "new blackletter" be something like Bradley Hand?

quadibloc's picture

@PublishingMojo:
You beat me to it. I was going to reply to the original question:

No. Comic Sans is today's blackletter.

zeno333's picture

I do not agree on that one....Blackletter was and is about more than just the handwriting of scribes, it is partly about decoration "for the sake of decoration", a concept that simply is not in the Bradly Hand typeface. There is some debate on the reasons behind the decoration of Blackleter, but even with that, the decoration for the sake of decoration is still there no matter what the reasons for it.

PublishingMojo's picture

@zeno: In that case, Compacta is the anti-blackletter, since it was produced at the height of Modernism, without a hint of gratuitous decoration.

quadibloc's picture

Come to think of it, one of the properties of blackletter was that it was used for printing texts in the vernacular, while Roman was used for texts in Latin.

Today, if different languages still use the Roman alphabet, usually the same typeface is used for both. But occasionally sans-serif typefaces are used for foreign languages just slightly more often than for English... thus, Pinyin in some dictionaries is in a particular sans-serif face; Univers is associated with continental Europe.

So perhaps Roman is the new blackletter, if anything.

If not, there's always Optima or Lydian... or even Radiant. (Or should I try to defend the notion that its cousin, Peignot Bold, is the "new blackletter" for our time?)

Nick Shinn's picture

John, we’re talking about “todays”, not way back back in the 20th century.

(Cue Robin Williamson song…)

hrant's picture

Ryan, you know that blackletter doesn't have to be dark, right?

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Well as far as I'm aware, no, the darkness is very important to what blackletter is. That's where the name comes from, no? (so dark that there is more black(ink) on the page than white(space))?

Joshua Langman's picture

See Duc de Berry, Clairvaux, etc...

hrant's picture

American Indians were misnamed by ignorants too.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

The f uck? American Indians? Lol..

Okay, so there is a 'light' blackletter or something? I honestly have never heard of this.

LexLuengas's picture

When you refer to blackletter you're merely thinking of textura. Look at the rest of the family. Just put on your google goggles.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Yes, the Textura!

But I thought Blackletter was the 'style' that defined textura?

HVB's picture

So is this or is this not a blackletter?

It's Karl-hairline, designed for the New York Times T Magazine by Berton Hasebe.

- Herb

Joshua Langman's picture

Category: Blackletter.
Consists of: Textura, fraktur, bastarda (bâtarde, schwabacher), rotunda …

russellm's picture

As a conversation about relative popularity perhaps. Anything beyond that is a non sequitur.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Should I change the name of the thread to 'Compacta is today's Textura'?

typerror's picture

So Ryan, are you defining "blackletter" solely by its "color?" If that is the case, you would have to agree that Compacta is the new "Old English," which is more stupid than the term "Old English." Is this what qualifies as a real thread or am I having a nightmare?

Look up Textus Precissus!

John Hudson's picture

Ryan, I'm sorry but you really do not know what you are talking about, and you are using terms without understanding their conventional and specialist meanings, or the context of their origins. What characterises the various blackletter styles are their modes of letter construction, and since all originated as formal bookhands to suggest that blackletter is by nature 'partly about decoration "for the sake of decoration"' is simply not true. Decorative blackletter styles are mostly later developments, notably products of Victorian signpainting and engraving, ergo 'Old English'.

Should I change the name of the thread to 'Compacta is today's Textura'?

This, at least, is a good question, because it enables one to see the basic problem with your whole approach. Ask yourself, what distinguishes textura from other forms of blackletter? It isn't particularly the weight or the horizontal compression, because those can be found in other blackletter styles too. Rather, what enables one to look at a sample of writing or type and classify it as textura is the construction of the letters, what a scribe (hi, Michael) will call the ductus. So you can only suggest that Compacta and similar styles are 'today's Textura' if by this you mean only 'Compacta is today's heavy and narrow style of type' and that as such it is a kind of parallel to earlier heavy and narrow styles of type, of which you have chosen textura as an example. To what degree is the second part of this true? Is there a parallel? I don't really think so, at least not in general typographic terms, because I don't see much of a similarity in the way types like Compacta are used. Remember, textura was, as the name suggests, a text face, whereas Compacta is a display face. I think Michael is closer with his jest that Compacta is the new Old English, since if there were a parallel it would be in display lettering, and we're back to those Victorian signpainters who wanted heavy for impact and narrow for fit.

HVB's picture

Or, to obfuscate a bit more, "Compacta is the new Gothic"

Té Rowan's picture

One very technical definition of blackletter I ran across I-know-no-longer-where was based on ink coverage (black ink on white paper). More black than white = blackletter. Less black than white = whiteletter. Yes, it completely ignores blackletter styles.

quadibloc's picture

Times Roman is the new Caslon!

While that is obvious enough, does this mean that Univers is the new Baskerville, and Futura is the new Bodoni? (Or Optima is the new Baskerville, and the new Bodoni is something we are yet to see?)

Given that, clearly... Century Expanded is the new blackletter??!?

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Ok, so is there a term for what I thought I was talking about? :)
High tight and bold scribal hands?

And where did the use of 'fontname-black' as a weight come from?

riccard0's picture

Impact was the new Compacta.

Nick Shinn's picture

Never mind blackletter.
The catchphrase "x is the new y" falls apart when discussing things which aren't hot trends.
"Compacta is the new..." only makes sense if Compacta is massively popular, which it isn't.

FrankSmith's picture

This thread's title caught my eye and resonated clearly instantly because I'm not a typographer, but a signmaker. In the display arena of everything including posters, propaganda, signs, newspaper & magazine ads and even postage stamps blackletter is easily interchangeable with Compacta because the attitude of both is much the same. They both express a mix of no-nonsense modernism and traditional discipline bordering on brutalism.

Chris Dean's picture

Don’t you know the golden rule of hipsters? If it’s stupid, and no one else is doing it, it’s the next cool thing. Ergo, duct-taping sandwiches to your face is the new black(letter). Duh.

Té Rowan's picture

Mefinks another rule needs exposure: It's cool if I say it's cool.

oldnick's picture

Té—

Right on, dude. So: am I cool, or not? I busted up a black ops mind-control ring last week by spending eight days in solitary confinement, then staging a hunger strike…which means that I now have some street creds as a working-class hero (thank you, John Lennon), but I'm still not sure how that ranks, Ryan-wise, on the Cool-o-meter…

Té Rowan's picture

Ask the Monks of Cool. It's their rule.

John Hudson's picture

To which the Monks of Cool inimitably say 'mimi numinum nivium minimi munium nimium vini muniminum imminui vivi minimum volunt'. Now try reading that in textura.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

or compacta..

Ryan Maelhorn's picture


Ok, so is there a term for what I thought I was talking about? :)
High tight and bold scribal hands?

And where did the use of 'fontname-black' as a weight come from?

Té Rowan's picture

Ah, a sirius question, even if I have no good answer.

etahchen's picture

maybe this can be today's blackletter
http://vimeo.com/18385978

quadibloc's picture

@etachen:
maybe this can be today's blackletter

While Adso is an interesting contemporary blackletter, there is a world of difference between that and something that can be called "today's blackletter".

The latter may not be typographically related to blackletter at all; "today's blackletter" is something that fulfills the function today that blackletter fulfilled yesterday.

Which means that "today's blackletter" varies depending on the value of yesterday that you use.

For the most distant value of yesterday, when blackletter was the generally used style of type, roman is today's blackletter.

For a more recent value, when blackletter was the more archaic style of type, still often used, in nearly all the Latin alphabet area, I would tend to say that Scotch Roman is, if not today's blackletter, the blackletter of the early twentieth century - after Caslon and Baskerville had been revived.

For a still more recent value of yesterday, when blackletter in the form of Fraktur was the distinctive typeface of Germany, today's blackletter might be Univers or Helvetica or Aldus (Palatina Book, in effect).

These examples, two of which I had already mentioned in this thread, show why I reject the idea of Compacta getting the title... if one thinks of the use of blackletter as a display font used for its boldness, then one might go with Clarendon or Bodoni (not really a valid choice, as it was used together with blackletter, but for a different display function, in newspapers)... the use of Compacta for this function doesn't seem to me to have any parallels to the limited use of blackletter for that purpose.

EDIT: But given the idea that Compacta is being used as an almost-unreadably narrow face, replacing blackletter for that purpose, only the lack of lowercase when it is also used for that purpose stands between French Clarendon and the designation of "today's blackletter"!

Ah: Playbill is perhaps "today's blackletter" in that sense!

hrant's picture

Etah, Adso* is a great find! And has a Rotalic** too boot, pretty early on in fact...

* http://www.batfoundry.com/catalogue_2_adso_.html

** http://typographica.org/on-typography/a-fruitful-discomfort-the-face-of-...

John, good analysis.

hhp

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