Poet Alastair Reid exploits the often tenuous relationship between words and meaning in Ounce, Dice, Trice. He takes particular pleasure in the musicality of words—whether real or invented—and so this is a book best read aloud. Ben Shahn’s illustrations are a delight.
This exhaustive work by typographer Adrian Frutiger examines symbols in their myriad forms, including the history of writing and writing’s origin in drawing. Frutiger is persuasive in arguing that every mark has meaning, and that “emptiness does not mean ‘nothing.’”
This compendium of 78 of Zapf’s book and title page designs is less about reading than it is about seeing. The American paperback edition, Typographic Variations, is quite good and worth owning. The original German casebound edition, however, is a revelation and my comments relate to that version. The German edition is letterpress printed and, at 8 3/8 x 12 1/8 inches, is around 130 percent larger than the American paperback. The generous margins of the original page design present the work in a way that invites study; the extra space also allows Zapf to blind deboss the folio and rules indicating the original title page trim sizes. The resulting hierarchical effect is wondrous. The synthesis of type design, page design, paper, and printing as realized in this work is a paean to German book arts. The experience of reading/touching/seeing this book produces pleasure, certainly, but ultimately it induces reverence (and joy!) because it reminds us of what a book can be. The introduction by Paul Standard celebrates what he terms the “courteous typographer” whose craft serves “the book, and so of civilization.”
Ostensibly a comic book about comics, in this work McCloud broadens our understanding of symbolism, the relationship between words and images, narrative, time as a function of narrative, and communication. I share his concept of “amplification through simplification” with my graphic design students every semester.
This slim but dense book explores the relationship between art, advertising, desire, and capitalism. One of my favorite passages exposes the sociopolitical dimension of advertising, using the British term publicity: "Publicity turns consumption into a substitute for democracy. The choice of what one eats (or wears or drives) takes the place of significant political choice." A seminal work.