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Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83)

Contributed by Stephen Coles on Apr 9th, 2018. Artwork published in
circa 1978
.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 1
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.

    As Steven Heller noted in this week’s interview for Lubalin 100, ITC Avant Garde Gothic has seen more than its share of misuse in the nearly 50 years since it was released. So much so, even early on, that its author Herb Lubalin is said to have regretted ever designing it. In many cases it’s the typeface’s many alternates and ligatures that are abused, but one designer who treated them with respect and skill is Christof Gassner. See his logo for Canton, for example, or these excellent booklets for German television network ZDF.

    Gassner is a fan of Lubalin, and it’s apparent in his work. He didn’t hide his admiration in interviews, either. Two years after Lubalin’s death, Gassner was featured in U&lc, Vol. 10, No. 2 (June 1983):

    “I have two big ideals (sic) for my typographical works: First, the calligraphers and book artists before Gutenberg: second, Herb Lubalin, who gave back, with his epochal work, the lost imagination to typography.”

    From the same U&lc article:

    Gassner’s work has appeared in U&lc before, but you wouldn’t know it; each time the look is different, with new surprises in typographic design. It would be more apt to call his work typographic illustration, for he has a gift for making type talk to us, even when we don’t understand the language. He was born in Zurich and was educated in the highly respected “Swiss” school of graphic design at the Kunstgewerbeschule. Upon graduation, he went to Germany and discovered, to his amazement, “There were other typefaces available than Helvetica.” This profound experience, he has aptly demonstrated in his inventive typographies.

    The brochures featured here advertise theatrical programming on ZDF from 1979 to 1983. Each 21×19.8 cm issue has black-and-gold covers and three to six opening spreads of display typography, much of it masterfully set in Avant Garde, and some in other fantastical designs, including Gassner’s own typeface, Knirsch. All issues credit Gassner for graphic design and Jobst Barkewitz for production.

    My thanks to Florian who graciously received my lucky find from a German dealer and scanned two favorite spreads from each booklet. We gladly add it to our small collection of Avant Garde Used Right.

    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 2
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 3
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Gassner substitutes umlauts with small-E alternatives, tucking them inside letters or between them.
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Gassner substitutes umlauts with small-E alternatives, tucking them inside letters or between them.

    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 5
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Gassner may have pulled some of his lettering from the popular Lettera sourcebooks by Armin Haab and Walter Haettenschweiler. The flourished ‘L’, for example, is found in Lettera 2 and credited to a 16th-century Italian manuscript (namely the works of Vespasiano Amphiareo, 1554). The superornate Fraktur ‘N’ is from Paulus Franck’s Schatzkammer, Nuremberg, 1601.
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Gassner may have pulled some of his lettering from the popular Lettera sourcebooks by Armin Haab and Walter Haettenschweiler. The flourished ‘L’, for example, is found in Lettera 2 and credited to a 16th-century Italian manuscript (namely the works of Vespasiano Amphiareo, 1554). The superornate Fraktur ‘N’ is from Paulus Franck’s Schatzkammer, Nuremberg, 1601.

    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 7
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 8
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 9
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 10
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 11
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 12
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    ‘SE’ and ‘SA’ appear to be custom Avant Garde ligatures. ‘A’ is from Romano, an alphabet designed by Spanish artist Ramón Stirling in the early 19th century and reprised in Lettera 3 (1968).
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.

    ‘SE’ and ‘SA’ appear to be custom Avant Garde ligatures. ‘A’ is from Romano, an alphabet designed by Spanish artist Ramón Stirling in the early 19th century and reprised in Lettera 3 (1968).

    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 14
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    The 3-dimensional letters aren’t from Avant Garde Gothic, but rather based on a bold Futura.
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The 3-dimensional letters aren’t from Avant Garde Gothic, but rather based on a bold Futura.

    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 16
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 17
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 18
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83) 19
    Florian Hardwig. License: All Rights Reserved.

    7 Comments on “Schauspiel im ZDF (1978–83)”

    1. I share this love for ITC, and this post made my day!

    2. The unidentified font for Neurosen could be Bizarro (digitized by Dieter Steffman in 2000).

    3. Good lead, Jay! I have added Bizarro, although it’s unlikely that that’s the original name. Christoph Gassner probably used a phototype adaptation of the same historical source, or a reproduction in an alphabet source book.

      The booklet featuring these pictorial letters was designed in 1979. Bizarro was digitized only in 1992, by David Rakowski. All that Steffmann did was adding the missing W. Unfortunately, he didn’t include the readme text file that comes with Rakowski’s release. It states that Bizarro is derived from “an old 17th or 18th century source”, and that it’s distributed as shareware ($3), to be paid to Columbia University’s Music Department.

    4. I have just found Manfred Klein’s digital version of Bizzaro from 2005. It is called Silhous for Jeff. Let me know if you would like this interpretation!

    5. Thanks, Jay. I have added the info about this other digital interpretation to the page for Bizarro.

      Both versions, Bizarro by Rakowski/Steffmann and Silhous for Jeff by Klein unfortunately are of poor quality, and appear to be autotraced. Shown below is the letter U from Gassner’s booklet design (left) compared to Bizarro (center) and Silhous for Jeff (right).

      Note the differences in the faces, but also in other details like the knuckles at the bottom. It looks like the original design didn’t include glyphs for V and W. In Bizarro, these are derived from U. In Silhous for Jeff, they were made from M. Klein flopped several letterforms to offer different forms for the upper- and lowercase, see HIMOTUX. Furthermore, k and S are flipped; Q tilts more.

    6. Looks like there are other interpretations of Bizzaro like Devilish by Celebrity Fonts and Netherworld by Scriptorium. Both are commercial and have differences in these two fonts.

    7. Netherworld (1993) appears to be directly derived from Bizarro, but is even worse, with less details, a different U and W, and a flipped Y. Shown below are its glyphs for UVW. Takes some audacity to ask money for this crap.

      Devilish combines two pictorial capital alphabets in one font. While the roman caps in the uppercase are based on (the same source as) Bizarro (but with differences in V and W), the lowercase has Gothic caps that are likewise made from silhouetted characters. Designer Jose Jimenez mentions “2 decorative lettering sets […] from the end of the 18th century [and] the 19th century” respectively, but doesn’t mention any specific sources for his revival. Shown below is his solution for UVW:

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