An independent archive of typography.

Let’s Talk Type! from Metropolis newspaper

Contributed by Mark Simonson on Jun 8th, 2015. Artwork published in
April 1977
Let’s Talk Type! from Metropolis newspaper
Source: Photo: Mark Simonson. Mark Simonson. License: All Rights Reserved. Artwork by Mark Simonson.

I posted this to my blog years ago, but thought this would be a good place for it.

In 1977 at age 21, I was production manager (officially) and assistant art director (unofficially) for Metropolis, a weekly newspaper in Minneapolis. I was the resident “type expert” on staff, and the editor encouraged me to write a piece for “Final Draft,” a recurring miscellany page in the newspaper. I chose to survey the landscape of type clichés of the day.

20 Comments on “Let’s Talk Type! from Metropolis newspaper”

  1. Hilarious. “About the only place [typefaces like Stripes] are ever used is in ads for type companies.” Case in point.

  2. Love this! “Typologist” (from the credit line at the bottom) is a term rarely seen in our field, probably because it has more to do with typology than typography.

  3. Also amusing to see “Schwash Schlockery” now that Mark released the swash-filled Bookmania 40 years later. His mocking sample above is still better than most of the misused swashes out there. I suppose the standards were higher back when most type was set by professionals.

  4. I have to admit that I had fun setting these at the time and couldn’t help but try to make them look good, even though I considered them to be clichés. I went through my Bookman Swash period in high school (not to mention others in the list), and, at 21, I was past all that. But part of me still liked it. And apparently still does.

  5. I love that every sample uses the so-trendy (to the 70s) negative leading.
  6. When I think of 70s type, the first one that comes to mind is Dubbeldik, preferably via Letraset. Brings me right back to secondary [high] school.

  7. Which type catalog was 21 year old Mark’s favorite?

  8. Probably the Lettergraphics catalog. I sent away for it from an ad in U&lc. It was a showcase for film fonts you could get for a relatively inexpensive Typositor-like machine I desperately wanted the newspaper to buy. I can’t recall the name of it, but it cost about $2000. Never got it so I settled for Letraset, Normatype and the like. Letraset was the best, but also the most expensive. The Lettergraphics catalog was hard core. Still comes in handy for identifying fonts.

    Lettragraphics catalog spread

  9. Looks like some insane variety in that package!

    Thanks for sharing that image, Mark! Very cool!

  10. That’s just a spread from the catalog showing fonts you could order individually. Don’t recall the price per font but if you set a lot of headlines it could eventually save money compared to Letraset over time. No way you would buy all of those in a package, though.
  11. Yes. 16" tall. Collector’s edition, as it says on the tin. Personalized with white Letraset, protected with Scotch tape. :-)

    Lettergraphics catalog cover, 1976.

  12. (This thing has never fit properly on a bookshelf.)

  13. Elmtree says:
    Jun 13th, 2015 9:52 pm

    Goodness, that’s some tight setting. I feel dizzy looking at the Souvenir sample. A brilliant parody.

  14. Really Great!!!

  15. Yvonne Fitzner says:
    Nov 17th, 2022 12:52 am

    Hi Mark,

    I just came across your post. Would you be able to check this typography manual for my font, Fitzner Caps? It was designed towards the end of 1971, for a typeface design competition sponsored by Lettergraphics International. Turns out I won a prize in that competition, and they introduced my font – which they decided to name Fitzner Caps – in Art Direction magazine, with others, in 1976. I’ve seen it used over the years, for a fashion label and on a poster, for example. It’s also been knocked off. More than once! But imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery when it comes to typographic design.

    Thank you, Yvonne Fitzner

  16. Dear Yvonne, thank you for chiming in here!

    Please allow me to answer that question. Yes, your Fitzner Caps is indeed included in the tall brown Lettergraphics catalog from 1976. It was previously shown in an ad in U&lc magazine, vol. 1, no. 3, from 1974, under the headline “new goodies from Lettergraphics!”, see below. Of the 77 styles shown in total, several are listed with a designer credit. Fitzner Caps unfortunately isn’t. Thanks to your comment, I was able to put a name to this face, and added it to our database: Fitzner Caps. Did you design it while studying at the School of Visual Arts? Did the prize come with any money, or were you compensated for the distribution of the typeface?

    Do you remember the name of the fashion label that used Fitzner Caps, or any details about the mentioned poster? It would be great to be able to add an in-use example to our collection! Did you put the typeface to use in your own design work as well? And, final question: over your career, did you design any other typefaces that were published?

    Thanks again for your comment!

    Detail of an ad in U&lc magazine, vol. 1, no. 3, 1974, introducing “new goodies from Lettergraphics!” Fitzner Caps is shown at the top right.

  17. Indeed, it appears at the top of page 49 of the Lettergraphics catalog I have.

  18. Forgot to mention, the dagger next to it just indicates that the full alphabet is shown in their “Do a Comp” book.

  19. So funny! I’m guilty, this is great.

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