Typographic pugilism

This was written for Circular magazine and describes the inaugural Type Circle “Font Fight”

You join us beside the ring at the Artworkers Guild which is about to witness a display of typographic pugilism unparalled in its illustrious history. A packed crowd will see five heavyweight contenders battle it out over four rounds for the title of “FontFight Champion”. You can feel the electricity as the contenders weigh in: Phil “Slogger” Baines, Jeremy “Terror” Tankard, Bruno “Masher” Maag, Dave “Fisticuffs” Farey and Rian “the Hammer” Hughes. Never before have we seen so many Titans of Type in the same arena. Four rounds of low-blows, uppercuts and jabs to sort the Typophile from the Typofailures. Who will have bragging rights at the end of the evening? Stay tuned to find out.

With such a prestigious title at stake you may ask what manner of man could referee this bout and keep order as the competitive juices flow? It sounds like a tall order but stepping up to the plate and into the ring is Allan “no nonsense” Haley – well known veteran of Compugraphic and Monotype, and author of “Hot Designers make Cool Type”. His words of encouragement echo in our ears as the bell rings for the first round and the place turns into bedlam.

Baines is first into the ring for round 1 (aka “your favourite font”) and softens up the audience with his fonts including the classic "You Can Read me" for FUSE and his decorative display face "Vere Dignum". He finishes with a right-left flourish of book designs for Phaidon and Laurence King before he has to make way for Farey who bounds out of the audience and into the spotlight. Inspired by that colossus of classical precedents - Tajan's column - he makes the case for his historical revival "La Gioconda". Farey takes it further than we think possible with a lower-case/small-caps double whammy. An ancient photograph is a late low-blow on Hughes and it's set the tone for Farey's assault on the title. Taking it on the chin, Hughes reaches into his gigantic portfolio and comes straight back at him with “my shot at a modern sans workhorse”. AKA “Paralucent”. His emphasis on the technical details will keep the judges happy and it also wows the nerds in the audience. A final stencil version is still fading from the screen when the ball of energy that is Maag launches a haymaker called “Plume” or, as he puts it, “the best font around at the moment”. Our shrinking violet Maag thens blatantly attempts to bribe the crowd which brings calls for the governing body to intervene. One for the highlights film there. Tankard is last in and immediately goes on the offensive with "Corbel". Its raison d'etre as a font for Microsoft Vista causes a horrified gasp in the hall which is only silenced out of respect for the enormous multi-langauge character. You can feel the crowds is restless and they bay for blood when it becomes clear that "Bill (Gates) likes it. Breathless drama in the first round which ends with a summary from Haley and the first vote. It’s nip and tuck and there’s no time for analysis from our expert panel as the contenders prepare for round 2.

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