The stupendous hand-painted signs of Carter's travelling Steam Fair


The Better Letters tumblr has posted a massive gallery of the hand-lettered signs from Carter's Steam Fair, a touring vintage fair that stopped last weekend in Clissold Park in Stoke-Newington, London. Carter's is a family business, and it's a magnificent affair, even down to the gleaming, streamlined family trailers parked around the perimeter. Joby Carter, the fair's signpainter, is the son of the founder, John Carter, and he is part of a five-generation tradition of handpainted signs. My wife and I took our daughter and a friend to the fair yesterday and were amazed, thrilled and delighted by every single detail, from Voltini's Electrocution sideshow to the penny arcade where we gambled recklessly with enormous, Georgian pennies to the many rides and funhouses (and don't forget the steampunk QR code!). As my daughter's six-year-old friend said while we left, "This was the best day of my life!"

I took some pictures, but Better Letters had the run of the place at a pre-opening tour and is in any event a much better photographer than I'll ever be, so look at those pics, too.

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Comic Neue: a sophisticated alternative to Comic Sans


Comic Sans was never intended to be the world's most popular typeface. Its success has irritated type-nerds, who've been vociferous about their disappointment. Now, Craig Rozynski brings us Comic Neue, "the casual script choice for everyone including the typographically savvy." It's a free download, too.

Comic Neue

How Medium designed its underlines


Marcin Wichary is a designer at Medium who took on the challenge of creating a considered, fine-tuned underline for the links on the site. In contrast to the normal "data-driven" design story, which is often a series of A/B tests that nudge things around by a pixel or two for weeks until they attain some counterintuitive optimum, this is a story about someone who had an intuitive, artistic, aesthetic goal and spent a bunch of time getting HTML to behave in a way that was consistent across different browsers, screen resolutions, and so forth.

I have to say that the actual underlines that Medium came up with don't seem to me to be more or less appealing than the default (the GIF above is displaying a before-and-after and I still can't tell which is which without referring to the article), but I really enjoy stories about people who know what aesthetic effect they want to achieve and are willing to move heaven and earth to achieve it.

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Landscape alphabet (c.1818-1860)

NewImage

In the 19th century, Charles Joseph Hullmandel illustrated a glorious series of landscapes shaped as the letters of the English alphabet. You can see them all in the British Museum's online collection: The Landscape Alphabet (via Juxtapoz)

Medieval Unicode


The Medieval Unicode Font Initiative has a collection of glyphs and type elements that they'd like to see added to Unicode to make it simpler to represent medieval writing on the Web. (via O'Reilly Radar)

Creating a font from a classic comic

Typographer Nate Piekos describes how he created a 21st-century typeface from a 1980 issue of Elfquest—just in time to begin lettering the comic series’ conclusive installment.

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Comic Sans, British officialspeak, and the separation of church and state

Here's a story that sums up a giant slice of the stuff that frustrates me about the British education system. The UK has no separation of church and state, so British state schools have mandatory "religious education" curriculum (which is often a survey of world religions, but which rarely, if ever, touches on atheism). So Littleton Green Community School, Cannock announced a religious education school trip to nearby Staffordshire University to "learn about different cultures," which is fine, but apparently provoked a bunch of parents who were alarmed that their kids were going to look at religious artifacts from religions other than Christianity, and gave rise to something of a panic.

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Incredible vintage typography Tumblr

Typppp

Type Hunting will overwhelm you with delightful typographical specimens. (via Daring Fireball)

There's a wrong way to lounge


Maybe it's just the intractable back-pain talking, but I would buy anything advertised in that font.

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Firefox nukes the blink tag

Dammit, the latest version of Firefox has done away with the blink tag. Farewell, old friend. You will be missed.

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Practical Typography

Matthew Butterick offers Practical Typography, a splendid introduction to practical typography. If you enjoy it, he suggests buying one of his fonts. You've heard the name before: his last work was Typography for Lawyers, an excellent guide to typography for lawyers.

Porno art-deco Soviet alphabet


A reader writes, "Someone was nice enough to scan the pages of a Cyrillic alphabet book from the 1930's. The book encouraged adult literacy through erotic drawings of figures in various acts of copulation. Note: flying penises, lesbian acts and cloven hoofed demons appear. Male homosexual acts, do not."

These images are obviously NSFK (not safe for Kremlin). The artist was Sergei Merkurov, who went on to become a People’s Artist of the USSR. As the accompanying text notes, it's a fascinating look at the libertine sexuality of the pre-Stalinist period.


Update: Ross Wolfe comments, "There actually are a couple male homosexual acts in the Soviet erotic alphabet. Specifically, these occur in the letters Й and З, though you have to pay close attention. And the latter is potentially even more scandalous, with a small satyr fucking what looks to be either a young boy or dwarf from behind. No penis is actually shown, but the short hair and lack of tits suggest its masculinity."

Soviet-era erotic alphabet book from 1931 [Советская эротическая азбука 1931 года]

HOWTO turn your shell-prompt into a hamburger


Andre Torrez has a cute and simple recipe for making your shell prompt into a hamburger (or other whimsical emoji character). Just type

export PS1="\w 🍔 "

into the terminal to try it out. Apparently some Macs ship with an Emoji font installed; if you need one, you can get a free, excellent one from the Unicode Fonts for Ancient Scripts page, by downloading the Symbola font (.ZIP file) and installing it with your font manager.

To make the change permanent, you need to add a line to .profile, .bash_profile or .bashrc (depending on your *nix flavor). There are lots of other ways to customize your prompt enumerated in the article, too.

happy notes* / april 2013 / put a burger in your shell

Zombie playing cards


Darren sez, "Rising up in time for Halloween and el Dia de los Muertos, Póstumo is a deck of zombie playing cards by Colombian artist Obsidian Abnormal and American scallywag Darren J. Gendron. The deck features gruesome zombie art, one-eyed jacks, suicidal kings, and fun twists on the normal suits - human hearts, zombie-killing clubs and brains. So many brains."

Love the detail on these -- replacing the suits was a moment of genius. The face cards are AMAZING.

We remixed the suits into spades, clubs, hearts and brains, taking literal representations of each. Spades are now actual shovels, while clubs are shown as bats and other blunt objects. Hearts take on a fleshy connotation. Diamonds are replaced by the most valuable thing to a zombie - BRAINS.

The font is specially designed for Póstumo by Obsidian, creating a distressed and fleshed interpretation of Garamond. The final versions of each card have up to 10 different illustrations of brains, clubs, spades or hearts.

Póstumo - The Deck of the Dead (Thanks, Darren!)

Peanut butter ads had the best typography, seriously


On the LJ Vintage Ads group, the always-reliable Man Writing Slash has assembled a collection of some of the finest illustrated peanut butter ads this writer has had the pleasure of seeing. It's a slice of idealized simulacrum straight from the collective unconscious of the American appetite.

Peanut Butter, food of the gods