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Please note that, except where indicated, these typefaces are not available for licensing.
Big Black Book Stencil
Empire State Building
Munich Re Group
2010 Commissioned by Amid Capeci at Entertainment Weekly. Designed with Paul Barnes. Unpublished.
Caponi was designed for a minor tweak of Entertainment Weekly's layouts on the occasion of the magazine's 20th anniversary. Art director Amid Capeci was generally satisfied with the existing typographic palette, but found that their traditional and somewhat staid Modern headline face wasn't flexible enough for a magazine that could feature absolutely anything from popular culture on the cover: James Bond, Desperate Housewives, Kanye West, Avatar, and American Idol all have an equal chance, depending on the week. He needed a typeface that could appear masculine or feminine, quiet or loud, and traditional or contemporary, depending on its surroundings, but would also bring a unique and consistent personality to the pages, while playing nicely with their existing sans serif, H&FJ's distinctive Retina Display. All of this – with the added constraint of the typeface needing to look appropriate for a mainstream American magazine – was a very tall order.
As we often do, Paul and I began by looking backwards, first to Cheltenham and Bookman and some of the other popular American display faces from the 20th century. It hadn't been a fundamentally bad idea for the magazine to use a Modern for display, it was just that the particular Modern they had chosen didn't work for them, so we looked at a number of faces including ATF Bodoni, which sent us looking back at Bodoni's entire body of work. Paul managed to dig up a sample of a typeface from early in Bodoni's career, and while it certainly resembled the typefaces he is best known for, we were struck by just how warm and organic it was—and how clear it seemed that he had closely been studying Fournier's work, at least in the lowercase. This seemed like an interesting starting point, and the lack of clarity in the samples we were studying encouraged us to fill in the blanks without too much concern for perfect accuracy. This was decidedly not going to be a faithful revival.
The brittleness of the previous Modern that Entertainment Weekly had been using led us in the direction of relatively low contrast for a headline face. We tried to make up for the sturdiness of the hairlines and serifs by keeping other connection points sharp, like where the arches meet the stems in n and h. After first trying traditional Modern contrast in the heavier weight, keeping the serifs and hairlines the same weight as they are in the Regular, we changed direction to a more unexpected slab serif approach instead, inspired by the chunkiness of the heavier weights of Bookman and Cheltenham. This gives more tonal difference between the weights, and makes for more dramatic layouts when the lighter and heavier weights are mixed.
Top: Standard ascenders and descenders; Bottom: Short ascenders and descenders
The long ascenders and descenders in the original brought a real elegance to the face, but they turned out to be impractical for tightly-leaded decks and pullquotes, so we created a second version with short extenders to prevent collisions in these situations.
Top: Default italic forms; Bottom: Alternate g v w and y.
Bodoni restlessly explored different italic forms throughout his career, including some truly bizarre swashes and a few lowercases that are one step away from being connecting scripts. We found a few of the options for different characters too good to choose between, so we included both, with the forms on the top line being more closely related to his later work, and the forms below derived from his earlier italics.
Regular, Regular No. 2, Medium, Semibold, Bold and Black weights, with italics.