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Mitch Van Dusen – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari poster

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Nov 21st, 2022. Artwork published in
October 2019
Mitch Van Dusen – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari poster
Source: Darryl Norsen. License: All Rights Reserved.

Poster for Mitch Van Dusen’s live soundtrack performance to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Presented by the Pine Hill Community Center, it was the second annual live silent film soundtrack concert to celebrate the Halloween season.

Designer Darryl Norsen composed a collage with stills from the 1920 German silent horror film classic. For the type, he forewent an obvious period choice – like the expressionist Irrlicht or Caligari – and instead contrasted the imagery with Block, a set of three-dimensional caps reminiscient of toy blocks. In this context, and rendered in black and white, this 1970s design with its shifting counters takes on a creepy, claustrophobic vibe. Block is accompanied by various styles from Futura and an unidentified italic for the artist’s name.

Block was designed by John Gorham as a custom set of initials for a special educational series in The Sunday Times Magazine in 1970, and soon after released by Face Photosetting. I’m aware of one (uncredited) digitization, made available by Richard W. Mueller as Knockout Initials in 1993. Since that freebie is distinguished by a simplified A, and this poster has the glyph as drawn by Gorham, I assume that Norsen sourced the letterforms from a showing of the original, possibly the one in New Alphabets A to Z. If that’s true, he must have added the period himself – Block’s character set covered the basic capital alphabet only.

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