Sunday, December 21, 2014

Souvenir...You Ugly Duckling

When I'm thinking of publishing material that is inspired by a particular iconic book I sometimes like to get the fonts right. So B/X used the font Souvenir. Accordingto this article it is #7 of the 8 worst fonts ever.

"Real men don’t set Souvenir," wrote the type scholar Frank Romano in the early 1990s, by which time he had already been performing character assassination on the type for over a decade. At every opportunity in print and online, Romano would have a go. ‘Souvenir is a font fatale . . . We could send Souvenir to Mars, but there are international treaties on pollution in outer space . . . remember, friends don’t let friends set Souvenir.’

I'm not a typesetter and I realize that typesetting and graphic design is a delicate and intricate art and a true professional can spot bad fonts and bad font choices when the other 99% of us will NEVER see what the heck they are talking about. I mean, these people pay attention to the kerning for pete's sake. The size of a serif matters. So I can accept that, among professionals, this font is no good.

But I love Souvenir. It's a great font. And I know this is really ONLY because of B/X D&D. Had that book been typeset with some other font I would love that font. Heck, I love Futura for no other reason than AD&D.

In a sense this gets at what it means to be a "fan" of a thing. Do we love D&D because it is a fantastic game system...or do we love D&D because it's the game we grew up with and the game that has the history? Is it because D&D gave us joy and we want to hold onto that joy? I suspect it is more the latter than the former. And this is coming from a self-professed D&D maniac.

I love Souvenir because it was the face of B/X D&D and when I see the font it makes me happy. Not because is a superior font, but because it is a familiar, beloved conduit between me and my favorite version of my favorite game. Warts and all.


  1. Greetings Mister West (yep, its a WWW reference)

    So I prefer the Tactile, meaning is there any chance in Hades, that you could offer up a Lulu template version of your modules? then I could have them print them out...I would even pay you more for the privilege......(also I've used CooperBlack as a font I hear ya)

    1. Jason, both Howler and Ice Forest are currently being prepped for print. The PDFs will remain PWYW at RPGnow and the print version will be at Lulu.