Typecasting

No doubt it’ll strike many as suspicious that a guy who pretty much only uses Helvetica would say this, but most of the new typefaces being released today seem very samey to me.

For instance, there’s plenty of good work on display in I Love Typography’s round-up of the best typefaces of 2008, but in my view, not a whole lot of new expression there. Newzald looks like Matrix, FF Utility looks like Klavika, Soho looks like Apex Serif, etc.


Oh, Mega

Granted, I’m just being a jerk here. The history of typography is one of subtle but meaningful variations between typefaces that are virtually indistinguishable to the uninitiated. You could probably measure the variance between Helvetica and the lamentable Arial (yes, I reluctantly use it here on this site) in millimeters, but the semantic and emotional difference between them can be measured in worlds.

All of which is a prelude to pointing out that one of the choices on I Love Typography’s list is Jack Usine’s eye-catchingly unusual and quite beautiful MEgalopolis Extra. It’s full of alternate characters, ligatures and playful details. What’s more, it’s free to download, so go get a copy for yourself.

MEgalapolis Extra
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  1. Beautiful typeface. But I can’t seem to get the download to produce more than the “regular” set of characters. I’m on a Mac, so that might be le problУme.

  2. Yes, downloaded this immediately when I saw it listed there. I really like the capital combinations included. Also, this is the first time that I’ve seen a “www” ligature.

  3. Kohi — I hate to be so dense, but I can’t figure out how to access or use the ligatures and special spacings — the nestling of RA and RE in EXTRAORDINAIRE, for example.

    I’ve looked at the keyboard viewer and downloaded FontExplorer, but neither shows me how to discover those special letters or pairs. (Mac OSX, 10.5.6)

    Is this simply explainable to a neo? Thanks.

  4. but in my view, not a whole lot of new expression there. Newzald looks like Matrix

    Are you joking? (I presume you mean Matrix by Emigre, the link above doesn’t work.) They are really quite dissimilar. But that’s just my humble opinionЁ

    but most of the new typefaces being released today seem very samey to me.

    Well, we couldn’t be too radical, or nobody would really use them! There are fairly rigid constraints when designing typefaces for text, but I’m sure you know this already. It’s kinda like people complaining that “all websites look the same” because of the relative limitations.

  5. Thanks very much Khoi. Your compliment about my font is really appreciated.

    And I’m agree with Kris. Newzald is a far cry from looking like Matrix.
    One common point all the same, they’re both fantastic typefaces.

    @Gong Szeto: love your comment ;-)

  6. @ Kris Sowersby: I was just pondering the “sameyness” of a lot of visual communications nowadays. I do believe that technology imposes limitations, but that should just be a harness to focus your creativity. Just because it functions the same doesn’t mean it has to look the same. I mean, there are thousands of different doorknobs out there that all do the same thing.