Blue Pencil no. 24—Jerry Kelly response to Blue Pencil no. 23

Jerry Kelly has emailed me about Blue Pencil no. 24. Here is his commentary with my responses.

While it was good to see Paul Shaw acknowledge that “Kelly is right,” “Kelly is absolutely right,” “Kelly is making a subtle but important distinction,” “mea [Shaw] culpa,”; etc., about many errors I pointed out in his review of “About More Alphabets,” I’m afraid that his response to me introduced yet more errors.

[I did acknowledge errors in Blue Pencil no. 23 but three times is not the same as many.]

For example:
The 1960 Cincinnati exhibition of Zapf’s work was coinceived [sic] and organized by Noel Martin, who wrote the catalogue. Paul Standard only compiled the three-page chronology at the end.

[I was unable to find my copy of the 1960 Cincinnati catalogue when adding it to my Zapf bibliography in Blue Pencil no. 22 and I relied on catalogue entries from Columbia University, Harvard University and the Library of Congress for publication details. They all listed Paul Standard as the author. However, Hermann Zapf and His Design Philosophy, p. 119 lists Martin as the author as Kelly indicates. However, having found my copy of the catalogue the situation is not that clear. Martin wrote the introduction, but in it he says, “…I would like to thank Jack Stauffacher of the Carnegie Institute of Technology who provided the stimulus for Zapf’s invitation to this country, also Paul Standard in preparing this catalog….” Thus, Standard did much more than prepare the Zapf chronology at the end. Neither Martin nor Standard are listed as authors on the title page. By the way, the catalogue lists Magnus Sans as being released in 1960.]

Though it is true that a copyright law involving typefaces was passed in 1973, that does not mean that there weren’t typeface protections in Germany and other European countries before then; there were. See David Pankow, “A Face by Any Other Name is Still My Face: A Tale of Type Piracy”; in Printing History, volume 19, no. 1.

[A copyright law was not passed in 1973. Instead, an agreement was reached that was preliminary to any laws being passed in individual countries. Kelly’s reference to Pankow’s article—which can also be found reprinted in Texts on Type: Critical Writings on Typography edited by Philip B. Meggs and Steven Heller (New York: Allworth Communications, 2001, pp. 239–256)—does not undermine my comment since nowhere in it does he mention any typeface protection in Germany or other European countries. The only reference at all is this, on p. 247: “Acknowledging that there was no legal protection for typeface designs in the U.S., [Rudolf] Koch concluded by making a moral appeal for ‘an awakening of the public conscience.’”]

Shaw should not mistake the cutesy “brother-in-law” description in the 1960 Palatino type specimen to imply that Kompakt is a member of the Palatino type family; it is not. Surely Shaw would not say that Virtuosa, Saphir, and Gilgengart, all shown in the same text reproduced by Shaw in his response, are part of the Palatino type family. They also are not. The page in question (which Shaw reproduces) lists members of the Palatino type family, such as Sistina, Michelangelo, and Aldus, and later mentions fonts [sic] that, while not part of the Palatino type family, might be mixed with Palatino, such as Virtuosa, Gilgengart, and Kompakt.

[Cutesey or not, it is the language Stempel used to link Kompakt to Palatino, Michelangelo, Sistina and Aldus. Although the specimen also shows Virtuosa I & II, Frederika and Gilgengart, it does not link them to the Palatino family. Here is what it says: “The most mellifluous contrast to this [the robust Kompakt] is the delicate Virtuosa I & II, two sisters, one calmer, one more vivid in expression. The Greek cousin of the Virtuosa sisters, Frederika, is not second in grace to her relatives. No family anniversary, no birthday is complete without Saphir. The designer is ever delighted by her festive letters. Finally, the fraktur Gilgengart should not be forgotten. Although belonging to the branch of German scripts, she fits some of the types of the Palatino family so well that one wants to consider her a relative.”]

Even with Shaw’s rather narrow and personal use of the word “orchestrate” I would not say I orchestrated the “Spend Your Alphabets Lavishly” catalogue and “Manuale Zapficum” publication: I wrote some text for each, as I said. The “Spend Your Alphabets Lavishly” exhibition and catalogue were conceived and organized (one might even say “orchestrated”) by David Pankow at Rochester Institute of Technology; he asked me to write the text, and I did. Dave and I conceived of the “Manuale Zapficum” together, and we split the organizational responsibilities. I wrote the Foreword.

[This is a nitpicking topic. But nowhere in Manuale Zapficum does David Pankow’s name appear. There is no author on the title page. Kelly is credited with the Foreword, as he says. In it he makes no mention of Pankow and the colophon is equally silent on his role. So to the reader of the book there is no evidence of Pankow’s involvement, only of Kelly’s. As for Spend Your Alphabets Lavishly! (as it is on the cover) or “Spend Your Alphabets Lavishly” (as it is on the title page), Kelly is listed as the author on the title page with Pankow credited for the introduction. Pankow does not cite any individuals as being responsible for the exhibition nor does the colophon. Although unsigned, the catalogue entries were Kelly’s contribution. What went on behind the scenes is not evident in the publication, but the RIT Press website says, “Distinguished typographer Jerry Kelly, [sic] curated the exhibition and designed the catalogue of type specimens, calligraphic exemplars, sketches, bindings, and book layouts.” Pankow is only credited with the introduction. In the end, whether Kelly’s role is described as author, curator, organizer, orchestrator or whatever is not that important. What is important is that I have acknowledged the integral role he played in both publications.]

I am happy to see that the integration of several characters from other fonts [sic] into the Comenius type used for “About More Alphabets” is so seamless that Shaw is “unclear as to what Kelly is referring to when he says ‘It was also bold to substitute many characters from other fonts….’” One would think a teacher of typography and critic would have noticed that the roman parens, italic w, and all the figures used with Comenius in “About More Alphabets” are from Zapf Renaissance. I take this as an inadvertent compliment. One must be careful about doing such things, however: Renaissance and Comenius have different x-heights, so I had to meticulously adjust the size and fit when doing this.

[Guilty as charged. I was so busy reading About More Alphabets and looking at the illustrations that I missed these typographic subtleties. The substituted italic w appears twice in the book, on pages 17 (“New”) and 35 (“Twentieth”). The substituted parentheses and figures appear more often, frequently together in date ranges. Given the oddness—at least to non-German eyes—of the w form in Comenius Italic I can understand why Kelly substituted the one from Zapf Renaissance Italic for it. But why didn’t he mention this flaw in the typeface? And why didn’t he use the newer digital version of the font with a redesigned w? A more substantial problem with Comenius is its lack of oldstyle figures which explains why Kelly used Zapf Renaissance figures. As for the parentheses in Comenius I see nothing disturbing about them to warrant their replacement with those from Zapf Renaissance. If Kelly wants the reader of About More Alphabets to applaud him for his deft typographic skill in solving the problems of Comenius, he should have noted that the problems exist in the first place. To bring the topic up now is typical of his method of withholding information until confronted with criticism—and then, like a magician, sweeping back his cape to reveal his secret handiwork.]

Quotation from Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson showing the odd italic w. From Comenius, Berthold Probe 001 (early 1980s)

Detail from p. 35 from About More Alphabets showing substituted italic w in “Twentieth”.

Detail from p. 16 of About More Alphabets showing substituted parentheses and figures.

Comparison of Comenius and Zapf Renaissance

Comenius Antiqua specimen book cover. (Berthold Types 167, H. Berthold GmbH, c.1987). Note the emphasis on the odd w.

Shaw asks “ If Comenius is such a handsome face (and clearly intended for text rather than display), why is it rarely used in a book?” Comenius’s beauty as a text face and its rarity are unrelated. Surely Shaw knows that Aldus was hardly used for book composition in the US or England, while Palatino was frequently employed for book work. I think even Shaw would agree that Aldus is a better book type (as Gotthard de Beauclair, Hermann Zapf himself, and numerous others—including me—believe). The reason why it was used so rarely has, not surprisingly, to do mainly with marketing, not its virtues as a bookface. The same is true with Comenius, which was originally produced as an exclusive typeface for Berthold, for use on their rather uncommon phototypesetting system. There were some developments later that I won’t delve into here, but the typeface never achieved the popularity it deserves. The same can be said of many, many fine typeface designs, as we all know.

[While I do agree with Kelly that Aldus is a better book face than Palatino—after all, Zapf intended Palatino for advertising and Aldus for book use—I would argue that its lack of acceptance and that of Comenius are not commensurate. Exclusivity is not the answer. Aldus was, and always has been, a Linotype exclusive. First, for German Linotype, later for its American brethren Mergenthaler Linotype (which adapted it for Linofilm) and now digitally from the Linotype division of Monotype as Aldus nova. Comenius, although designed for Berthold, was not exclusive to them. It was licensed in the 1980s to Alphatype and it is available today—in several digital variations—from Linotype. Distribution and availability, as Kelly implies, of the two faces were different in the pre-digital era. Linotype had greater market penetration than did Berthold (even with its Alphatype alliance). However, in all three incarnations—and despite Linotype’s reach—Aldus has failed to match the popularity of its parent Palatino. I cannot provide a clear-cut explanation for this, but I suspect that Palatino’s popularity swamped Aldus. However, I do think that the lack of popularity of Comenius is partly due to its flawed design. Note Kelly’s own micro adjustments to it. The w—the one that Kelly has replaced—is a dealbreaker for English readers. For French or Italian text it may be fine. The flamboyant ampersand in Comenius is also a potential problem. It is telling that Kelly did not include Comenius among the specimens at the back of About More Alphabets. Maybe he left it out because it is on display throughout the book, but seeing a typeface in text and seeing one as a character set are two different things. And in his previous email Kelly indicated he preferred character sets to show off typefaces. If he had done that with Comenius Italic the problematic w would have been evident to all.]

Shaw wrote “The images in About Alphabets are all tip-ins, printed on a deep beige colored paper.” When I pointed out that the images are printed on an off-white stock matching the color of the text paper, not beige, in black (and a screen creating a gray tone) I corrected an error in his review. Shaw now writes, “[t]he color of the stock is irrelevant,” but then why did he mention it?

[My initial point about the illustrations in About Alphabets was that they were tipped in, not the difference in paper color. And it is there, despite the fine screen of black that Kelly points out. The tip-ins were printed on Ingres paper with visible laid marks while the remainder of the book was printed on a wove paper. Although the colophon does not mention the papers used, it does say that some pages were printed offset. I presume they are the tipped-in pages since that would explain why tip-ins were needed for images that are in black-and-white. It should also be noted that About Alphabets is over fifty years old and its pages have begun to yellow.]

Shaw repeatedly compares the large quarto Adrian Frutiger book, which is hundreds of pages, to the small Typohile Chap Book “About More Alphabets.” This comparison ignores the history of the distinguished series of Typophile Chap Books: over sixty volumes published since the 1930s, almost all of which are a standard size of 4.5 x 7”, and all are relatively short in length. I was asked by the Typophiles to write a volume on Hermann Zapf for their Chap Book series, and I made the book match the series format, as requested. If Shaw has a different opinion about what kind of book on Zapf should be done, that is his perogative, but I think a second volume on Zapf’s work in the Typophile Chap Book series was well worthwhile, and this second volume sits well next to the original 1960 “About Alphabets.”

[In my review of About More AlphabetsI made several suggestions as to what Kelly could have done to make a more useful book about Zapf and his typefaces. Several of them were modest and would have fit very easily into the Typophile chapbook publishing program. As much as I wish we had a Zapf equivalent to the Frutiger magnum opus, I realize that it is a massive undertaking. But Kelly could have created a better book on Zapf than this one that would still have met the Typophiles’ format and history. Even a simple updated list of Zapf’s typeface output since the early 1980s, with accompanying images, would have been better than About More Alphabets.]

There are more points on which Shaw is incorrect, but I do not mean to draw this out into a lengthy back-and-forth, so I’ll end this here. Again, some of his comments are subjective, and I prefer to leave aside the issue of differing opinions, but there are many factual corrections needed to Shaw’s critique and response. I offer here a few examples, and hope that these and my previous list will suffice, and that we can leave it at that.

Jerry Kelly

[I welcome knowing which points I am still wrong about. The whole intent of Blue Pencil is not to engage in a back and forth war of opinions, but to point out such facts in publications and then to correct them. And if I introduce new “wrong” facts, they should be corrected as well. If Kelly wishes to keep information to himself then my facts—wrong or right—will have to stand.]