Letters that inspired <br>a typeface

Letters that inspired
a typeface

Stop reading this if you don’t like long stories about a typeface—even if there is a good story behind all interesting fonts.

With the new script Marcel there is a great story—long enough for a book. It started when Carolyn Porter found a bundle of letters in an antique shop in a small town in Minnesota. They were written in French. She loved the evocative penmanship in the fragile old letters.

One of Marcel’s letters.

One of Marcel’s letters.

She started asking questions, got some of the letters translated, and found that the letters were from a Frenchman named Marcel Heuzé, who had been sent to a work camp Germany during World War II. He wrote frequently to his family, but many never arrived. Later Porter concluded that they were held back by Nazi censors, and then somehow made their way to Paris and eventually Minnesota.

Marcel Heuzé’s handwriting was clear and liquid, and his text, which Porter had translated, was clear and lucid. 

Today it’s springtime and the weather is excellent. This afternoon Moutardier should come to see me, so while waiting for him I’ll reply to your very kind letter, which pleased me very much. 
 
Before writing to you I did my laundry. Once it’s dry I will have quite a bit of mending to do. It would be great to have one of you two with me.
A tracing of an initial M from one of the letters, a screen grab of the font in progress, and the final glyph from the font, Marcel. [Images courtesy Carolyn Porter]

A tracing of an initial M from one of the letters, a screen grab of the font in progress, and the final glyph from the font, Marcel. [Images courtesy Carolyn Porter]

Porter poured herself into this story, and the script—digitizing a font while continuing the fascinating research. She realized she had to write a book.

Today (June 6) is the pub date of Marcel’s Letters (published by Skyhorse Publishing and available at Amazon). 

The typeface was published by p22. It captures the look of ink on rough paper about as well as any digital font can. Porter accompanied the basic font with Roman capitals, and a Pi font with bunch of postmarks and haunting marks from the Nazi censors.

The book reveals who Heuzé was forced to work for—a famous German company. It's archivists actually cooperated with the research.

And there’s a good ending, as good as any war story can have. But, for that, you have to read the book.

Carolyn Porter at the TDC show last year.

Carolyn Porter at the TDC show last year.

Turning lettering into a font

Turning lettering into a font

For his NeXT trick, Steve Jobs buys an expensive logo

For his NeXT trick, Steve Jobs buys an expensive logo

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