An independent archive of typography.

Alien Island by T.L. Sherred (Ballantine)

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Jan 9th, 2021. Artwork published in
January 1970
Alien Island by T.L. Sherred (Ballantine) 1
Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

Photo-Lettering, Inc. is sometimes hailed as a center of typographic inventiveness, fueled by the work of numerous skilled lettering artists. And there’s truth to that. However, not all of the tens of thousands of styles in their phototype library are great, obviously.

Williamson Template is arguably one of the weakest PLINC designs. Combining letterforms made of straight monolinear strokes with big circular counters, the face can only score on a conceptual level, if at all. Even within the already naïve genre of cookie-cutter faces (see e.g. Shotgun), Template stands out as being simplistic. A can be distinguished from R merely by the position of the counter. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t see a lot of use. In fact, this paperback cover is the only time I’ve ever seen it outside type catalogs. Chances are Template was chosen because its counters resemble the holes and planets in Carol Inouye’s cover art. Adding insult to injury, it’s used with stretched letterforms. Alien Island is a science fiction novel written by T.L. Sherred (1915–1985) and published by Ballantine Books in 1970.

[More info on ISFDb]

Alien Island by T.L. Sherred (Ballantine) 2
Source: topherlundell. License: All Rights Reserved.
Alien Island by T.L. Sherred (Ballantine) 3
Source: Drümmkopf. License: CC BY.


  • Williamson Template
  • Futura Extra Bold Condensed




Artwork location

7 Comments on “Alien Island by T.L. Sherred (Ballantine)”

  1. The designer of Template, Robert “Bob” Williamson, is a colorful character. Originally from Canada, he “was, at one time, a miner in the Yukon. Later in life he built up a successful graphic design business in London”.¹ “Robert Williamson Design operated from offices in London’s West End for 30 years”.² In 1968, he designed a poster series for the Oxford Committe for Famine Relief (Oxfam), and in 1981, he worked on the logo for WJ Groundwater Ltd. Photo-Lettering accepted seven of his type designs, at least two of which are available in digital form: Williamson Skidoo (as Skidoos) and Williamson Program’32 (as Reboot NF).

    “A heart attack persuaded him to change his lifestyle.”¹ “Bob bought a yacht and set sail in 1994. Robert the Bald, as he now refers to himself, says he invaded the island, population 60, on 31 May. He has thrown a 200-mile exclusion zone around the island, declared his girlfriend Liz as Queen Elizabeth, and adopted a letter Q on a yellow background – an internationally recognised sign for quarantine areas – as the kingdom’s flag.” In 1998, he “surfaced, after a long period travelling the high seas, claiming to be King of the Caribbean island of Redonda.”²

    As a writer he published many stories, one of which was his trip to Russia to have built a replica of the old sailing galleons, in 3 inch thick softwood! Getting together a scratch crew of eccentrics he then sailed her across the Atlantic to Antigua. Some of the antics of this crew are very entertaining and were included amongst Bob’s many published short stories. His boat appeared very briefly in the film ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.”¹

    King Bob the Bald passed away in 2009. His website can still be visited via the Internet Archive.


    1) “Antigua”, ACIP24, 2017.
    2) “The man who would be King of Redonda”, Design Week, 1998.

  2. Churchward Roundsquare is similar to the Williamson Template but with different letterforms. There are 5 styles: Solid, Outline, Fill-In, Setback Shadow, and Deep Shadow.

    A freebie digital version of the solid was made by Chank in 2002 and I’d suppose that font is currently floating around the internet.

  3. Thanks, Jay – Churchward Roundsquare now has an entry in the database.

  4. Charlie Maignan has made Gregam in 2023, which was inspired by Williamson Template.

  5. Yes, I had sent him a specimen scan. :) Nice to see Gregam released. Wish he’d mention Robert Williamson.

  6. Princess Lisa Maria says:
    Aug 1st, 2023 7:57 pm

    Happy Birthday to the real king of Redonda.

  7. Just found out that there’s another interpretation of Template by Fontstruct’s frongile recently, as Pathways, made four weeks ago.

Post a comment