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Fear (of bad typography) Itself

2011 July 9

That large segment of the comic book intarweb devoted to the superhero antics of Marvel and DC received a new toy, the other day, in the form of yet another silhouetted “teaser” image for the latest all-consuming crossover “event” from the so-called House of Ideas.

"Fear Itself: The Mighty"

Would like to credit the art. Someone Tan, seems like.

I’ll leave the guessing game for others; from a design perspective it’s mostly a satisfying-enough promotional graphic. Not sure what the background image, resembling a dollar bill after the Cthulhu cult takes over, is supposed to do. The shadow characters seem to be unapolagetically influenced by Tron (and maybe Final Fantasy, in one case), but that’s okay. As visual influences go, this is a relatively little-visited well, and it also makes for a rather dazzling demonstration of what modern computer-coloring and high-quality printing can do; when I started reading comics something like this would still have been essentially unthinkable.

Some things advance rather more than others, though. Typography seems to be perennially decades behind the times at Marvel, in particular. The “Fear Itself” title treatment has done little to change my impression of a kind of phoned-in quality to this latest event; by itself it looks like a product of rather amateurish desktop publishing from 1998.

Here, though… oh dear. There are many worse crimes against typography (and Marvel have committed most of them at one time or other), but who would combine Benguiat and Penumbra? Particularly within a similar tracked-out, all-capitals reversed-out context? Seriously, that’s just not good; these are perfectly-good typefaces but this is dismal abuse of both, at once.


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