Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brad Walker

"Bette Davis"
Source Media Cover

Check out the illustrator's site:

Caroline Attia

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Captain EO returns to Disneyland

article from the Orange County Register

December 18th, 2009, 11:58 am · 29 Comments · posted by Eric Carpenter

“Captain EO,” the 3D film starring the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, is returning to Disneyland for a limited time starting in February, Disney announced today.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Torn by Johann Lippowitz with Natalie Imbruglia

A Little Military Humor

On some bases, the Air Force is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field, with the control tower in the middle.

One day the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, "What time is it?"

The tower responded, "Who is calling?"

The aircraft replied, "What difference does it make?"

The tower replied, "It makes a lot of difference. If it is an American Airlines flight, it is 3 o'clock. If it is an Air Force plane, it is 1500 hours. If it is a Navy aircraft, it is 6 bells. If it is an Army aircraft, the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3. If it is a Marine Corps aircraft, it's Thursday afternoon and 120 minutes to 'Happy Hour.'"


During training exercises, the lieutenant who was driving down a muddy back road encountered another car stuck in the mud with a red-faced colonel at the wheel.

'Your jeep stuck, sir?' asked the lieutenant as he pulled alongside.

"Nope," replied the colonel, coming over and handing him the keys, "yours is."


Having just moved into his new office, a pompous new colonel was sitting at his desk when an airman knocked on the door. The colonel quickly picked up the phone, told the airman to enter, then said into the phone, "Yes, General, I'll be seeing him this afternoon and I'll pass along your message. In the meantime, thank you for your good wishes, sir."

Feeling as though he had sufficiently impressed the young enlisted man, he asked, "What do you want?"

"Nothing important, sir," the airman replied, "I'm just here to hook up your telephone."


Officer: "Soldier, do you have change for a dollar?"

Soldier: "Sure, buddy."

Officer: "That's no way to address an officer! Now let's try it again!"

Officer: "Soldier. Do you have change for a dollar?"

Soldier: "No, SIR!"


Q: How do you know if there is a fighter pilot at your party?

A: He'll tell you.

Q: What's the difference between God and fighter pilots?

A: God doesn't think he's a fighter pilot.

Q: What's the difference between a fighter pilot and a jet engine?

A: A jet engine stops whining when the plane shuts down.


An Air Force Chief Master Sergeant and a General were sitting in the barbershop. They were both just getting finished with their shaves when the barbers reached for some after-shave to slap on their faces.

The General shouted, "Hey, don't put that stuff on me! My wife will think I've been in a whorehouse!"

The Chief turned to his barber and said, "Go ahead and put it on me. My wife doesn't know what the inside of a whorehouse smells like."


"Well," snarled the tough old Navy Chief to the bewildered Seaman, "I suppose after you get discharged from the Navy, you'll just be waiting for me to die so you can come and piss on my grave."

"Not me, Chief!" the Seaman replied. "Once I get out of the Navy, I'm never going to stand in line again!"

Amazing Rice Fields in Japan

A Sengoku warrior on horseback has been created from hundreds of thousands of rice plants, the color is created by using different varieties, in Inakadate in Japan.
The largest and finest work is grown in the Aomori village of Inakadate, 600 miles north of Toyko, where the tradition began in 1993.
The village has now earned a reputation for its agricultural artistry and this year the enormous pictures of Napoleon and a Sengoku-period warrior, both on horseback, are visible in a pair of fields adjacent to the town hall.
More than 150,000 vistors come to Inakadate, where just 8,700 people live, every summer to see the extraordinary murals. Each year hundreds of volunteers and villagers plant four different varieties of rice in late May across huge swathes of paddy fields.

Napolean on horseback can be seen from the skies, created by precision planting and months of planning between villagers and farmers in Inkadate.

Fictional warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife Osen appear in fields in the town of Yonezawa , Japan and over the past few years, other villages have joined in with the plant designs.
Another famous rice paddy art venue is in the town of Yonezawa in the Yamagata prefecture.
This year's design shows the fictional 16th-century samurai warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife, Osen, whose lives feature in television series Tenchijin.
Various artwork has popped up in other rice-farming areas of Japan this year, including designs of deer dancers.

Smaller works of crop art can be seen in other rice-farming areas of Japan such as this image of Doraemon and deer dancers.
The farmers create the murals by planting little purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru roman variety to create the coloured patterns between planting and harvesting in September.
The murals in Inakadate cover 15,000 square metres of paddy fields.
From ground level, the designs are invisible, and viewers have to climb the mock castle tower of the village office to get a glimpse of the work.
Rice-paddy art was started there in 1993 as a local revitalization project, an idea that grew out of meetings of the village committee.

Closer to the image, the careful placement of thousands of rice plants in the paddy fields can be seen.

The different varieties of rice plant grow alongside each other to create the masterpieces.
In the first nine years, the village office workers and local farmers grew a simple design of Mount Iwaki every year.
But their ideas grew more complicated and attracted more attention.
In 2005, agreements between landowners allowed the creation of enormous rice paddy art.
A year later, organizers used computers to precisely plot planting of the four differently colored rice varieties that bring the images to life.

Amazing Rice Fields in Japan

Stunning crop art has sprung up across rice fields in Japan. But this is no alien creation - the designs have been cleverly planted.

Farmers creating the huge displays use no ink or dye. Instead, different color's of rice plants have been precisely and strategically arranged and grown in the paddy fields. As summer progresses and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to emerge.


Facts on Honey and Cinnamon:

Honey is the only food on the planet that will not spoil or rot. It will do what some call turning to sugar. In reality honey is always honey. However, when left in a cool dark place for a long time it will do what I rather call "crystallizing". When this happens I loosen the lid, boil some water, and sit the honey container in the hot water, turn off the heat and let it liquefy. It is then as good as it ever was. Never boil honey or put it in a microwave. To do so will kill the enzymes in the honey.

It is found that a mixture of honey and cinnamon cures most diseases. Honey is produced in most of the countries of the world. Scientists of today also accept honey as a 'Ram Ban' (very effective) medicine for all kinds of diseases. Honey can be used without any side effects for any kind of diseases.

Today's science says that even though honey is sweet, if taken in the right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm diabetic patients. Weekly World News, a magazine in Canada , in its issue dated 17 January,1995 has given the following list of diseases that can be cured by honey and cinnamon as researched by western scientists:

Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, apply on bread, instead of jelly and jam, and eat it regularly for breakfast. It reduces the cholesterol in the arteries and saves the patient from heart attack. Also, those who have already had an attack, if they do this process daily, they are kept miles away from the next attack. Regular use of the above process relieves loss of breath and strengthens the heartbeat. In America and Canada , various nursing homes have treated patients successfully and have found that as you age, the arteries and veins lose their flexibility and get clogged; honey and cinnamon revitalize the arteries and veins.

Arthritis patients may take daily, morning and night, one cup of hot water with two spoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder. If taken regularly even chronic arthritis can be cured. In a recent research conducted at the Copenhagen University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon Cinnamon powder before breakfast, they found that within a week, out of the 200 people so treated, practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain, and within a month, mostly all the patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis started walking without pain.

Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It destroys the germs in the bladder.

Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in 16 ounces of tea water, given to a cholesterol patient, was found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two hours. As mentioned for arthritic patients, if taken three times a day, any chronic cholesterol is cured. According to information received in the said Journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of cholesterol.

Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold, and clear the sinuses.

Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also clears stomach ulcers from the root.

According to the studies done in India and Japan, it is revealed that if Honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.

Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacteria and viral attacks. Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use of Honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles to fight bacterial and viral diseases.

Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.

A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ' Ingredient' that kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.

Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly, arrests the ravages of old age. Take four spoons of honey, one spoon of cinnamon powder, and three cups of water and boil to make like tea. Drink 1/4 cup, three to four times a day. It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age. Life spans also increase and even a 100-year-old, starts performing the chores of a 20-year-old.

Mix three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder paste and apply this paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it next morning with warm water. If done daily for two weeks, it removes pimples from the root.

Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts on the affected parts cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infections.

Daily in the morning one half hour before breakfast on an empty stomach, and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup of water. If taken regularly, it reduces the weight of even the most obese person. Also, drinking this mixture regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high calorie diet.

Recent research in Japan and Australia has revealed that advanced cancer of the stomach and bones have been cured successfully. Patients suffering from these kinds of cancer should daily take one tablespoon of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder for one month three times a day.

Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey is more helpful rather than being detrimental to the strength of the body. Senior citizens, who take honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts, are more alert and flexible. Dr. Milton, who has done research, says that a half-tablespoon of honey taken in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder, taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at about 3:00 P.M. when the vitality of the body starts to decrease, increases the vitality of the body within a week.

People of South America, first thing in the morning, gargle with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water, so their breath stays fresh throughout the day.

Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder, taken in equal parts restores hearing. Remember when we were kids? We had toast with real butter and cinnamon sprinkled on it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If Miracle Whip Is Rebellious to You, You May Be a Douche Bag

article from "Garfield's Adreview" in "Advertising Age" trade newspaper and on


If Miracle Whip Is Rebellious to You, You May Be a Douche Bag

Ad Holds Up Sandwich Spread as the Che Guevara of Condiments

Due to the baseball playoffs, we've accidentally seen a lot of TV commercials and we offer these thoughts:

1. The lady in the Symbicort asthma-inhaler commercial has a nice set of lungs. Literally. The rest of her is in silhouette, but her lungs light up, E.T.-ishly (perhaps to distract you from the "asthma-related death" disclaimer). Still, we can't look away. Yikes.

Title: We Will Not Tone It Down
Marketer: Miracle Whip
Agency: McGarryBowen
A badge of defiance? Hardly.
2. The Viagra guy having a conversation with his storefront reflection, who looks torn from the pages of a Kohl's circular, is far stiffer than the character he plays. And the dialogue is insipid, in the typical filming-the-research fashion. But the reflection effect is seamless.

3. The "All you need is love" spots are irresistible. The female breakdancer is fabulous. And the fashion designer does more good acting in six wordless onscreen seconds than Al Pacino has since the Clinton administration. But, in terms of fulfilling your creative dreams, BlackBerry is relevant ... how? Sort of preposterous -- albeit, on the weekend preposterometer tally, by no means the champ. For we have witnessed ...

4. ... something that had inexplicably eluded us for months. It's an anthem. A manifesto. A generational declaration of defiance. Some excerpts:

"We will not be quiet!"

"We will not try to blend in, disappear in the background, play second fiddle!"

"We're not like the others, we won't ever try to be!"

"And we will not tone it down."

Whoa! Attitude! You've seen this sort of thing before, from such varied advertisers as Nintendo, Nike, the U.S. Army, Camel filters, Stroh's beer and Dr Pepper, all trying to flatter their prospects into imagining themselves as a breed apart, heroic iconoclasts who find the ultimate expression of their singular boldness in, you know, a mass-produced product.

Manufactured goods also like to lay claim to our highest earthly aspirations. This we've learned from such great spirit guides as Lincoln-Mercury, Levis, Johnnie Walker, Gatorade and Brother, the Dalai Lama of color printers. Of course, if you think a printer or a jug of sugar water or a smartphone or even a bloated luxury car is inspiring, then you are what we in journalism call "a douche bag."

Yet, as the Marlboro cowboy has demonstrated for about 50 years, this approach can be phenomenally successful. You'd think there'd be a backlash for marketers who think you're such a douche bag that you can fall for this malarkey, but au contraire. Like we said: Marlboro, Nike, the old Beetle ... it works, and from this we can conclude only one thing:

There are a lot of total douche bags out there, douche bags so douche-baggy they don't even realize they are treated like douche bags by the very brands they think are cool.

But now we as American face the ultimate insult to our self respect, via the "We will not be quiet" anthem sampled above. Because the advertiser is ...

... Miracle Whip.

That is correct, the salad dressing/sandwich spread/middle finger to the Man.

Or at least to the mayonnaise.

The commercial is filled with attractive but slightly grungy young people of no mind to accept mere mayo, because obviously mayo is ordinary. Mayo is establishment. Mayo is surrender. Whereas Miracle Whip is Che Guevara in a jar.

Was this conceived during 'shroom day at McGarryBowen?

See, in non-psychedelic reality, Miracle Whip is not a badge of defiance but rather the quintessence of middle-American déclassé, the turquoise pants suit of condiments. To assert the opposite is just a slap at our collective intellects, our collective honor, our collective non-douche-baggery.

If this succeeds, ladies and gentlemen, we do indeed surrender. If Miracle Whip is cool, the terrorists win.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Creative Talent Network Animation Expo

The CTN Animation Expo is this weekend, Nov. 20 - 22, 2009
Brubank, CA
Mariott Convention Center

Gary Taxali

Gary Taxali is an award-winning illustrator whose work has appeared in every major magazine and newspaper.

visit his site:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Matt Collins

Check out the illustrator's site:


Boy in Transformer costume at comic convention.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christina Ung

See the artist's site:


How many different ways can you represent the letter "M" or the number "6"?

explore the site:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jim Steck

visit the artist's portfolio site:

Halloween Tips

Just in case you have forgotten the "rules" for a safe and Happy Halloween:

1. When it appears that you have killed the monster, NEVER check to see if it's really dead.

2. Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, even as a joke.

3. Do not search the basement, especially if the power has gone out.

4. If your children speak to you in Latin or any other language that they should not know, shoot them immediately. It will save you a lot of grief in the long run. However, it will probably take several rounds to kill them, so be prepared. This also applies to kids who speak with somebody else's voice.

5. When you have the benefit of numbers, NEVER pair off and go it alone.

6. As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.

7. Never stand in, on, or above a grave, tomb, or crypt. This would apply to any other house of the dead as well.

8. If you're searching for something that caused a loud noise and find out that it's just the cat, GET THE HELL OUT!

9. If appliances start operating by themselves, do not check for short circuits; just get out!

10. Do not take ANYTHING from the dead.

11. If you find a town that looks deserted, there's probably a good reason for it. Don't stop and look around.

12. Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're sure you know what you're doing.

13. If you're running from the monster, expect to trip or fall down at least twice. Also note that, despite the fact that you are running and the monster is merely shambling along, it's still moving fast enough to catch up with you.

14. If your companions suddenly begin to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination for blood, glowing eyes, increasing hairiness, and so on, kill them immediately.

15. Stay away from certain geographical locations, some of which are listed here: Amityville, Elm Street, Transylvania, Nilbog (you're in trouble if you recognize this one), the Bermuda Triangle, or any small town in Maine.

16. If your car runs out of gas at night on a lonely road, do not go to the nearby deserted looking house to phone for help. If you think that it is strange because you thought you had half of a tank, shoot yourself instead. You are going to die anyway, and most likely be eaten.

17. If you find that your house is built upon a cemetery, now is the time to move in with the in-laws. This applies to houses that had previous inhabitants who went mad or died in some horrible fashion, or had inhabitants who performed satanic practices in your house.

The Economy is Soooo Bad...

* CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

* Hotwheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

* McDonalds is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

* Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their
children's names.

* A truckload of Americans got caught sneaking into Mexico.

* The most highly-paid job is now jury duty.

* Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

* People in Africa are donating money to Americans.

* Mothers in Ethiopia are telling their kids, "Finish your plate, do
you know how many kids are starving in the US?"

* Motel Six won't leave the light on.

Prevent Swine Flu - Good Advice

The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6. Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Life in the 1500's

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

--- Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

--- Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. "

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.

--- Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.

--- That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway.

--- Hence the term, "thresh hold."

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.

--- Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit and-

--- chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach into the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so,-

--- tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top-

--- or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

--- Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be-

--- saved by the bell or was considered-

--- a dead ringer.

And that's the truth...Now, whoever said history was boring?!!!

How "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" Should Have Ended

All Girls High School Band (Japan)

Where Did the White Man Go Wrong?

Indian Chief CrazyBear was asked by a white government official, "You have observed the white man for many moons. You've seen his wars and his technological advances. You've seen his progress, and the damage he's done."

The Chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, "Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?"

The Chief stared at the government official for over a minute and then calmly replied, "When white man find land, Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water. Women did all the work, Medicine man free. Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing; all night having sex."

Then the chief leaned back and smiled. "Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that."

H1N1 vs a Cold

Monday, October 26, 2009

Clockwork Apple

Check out the stuff from this Design company:

Daniel Krall

Check out the artist/ illustrator's site:

Lavar Munroe

See the artist's s portfolio site:

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Hermann Zapf was hesitant to share the preliminary designs for his Optima® typeface. “I did not show anything to the type foundry until the design was finished,” Zapf recalls in his book, Alphabet Stories. “I wanted to avoid pressure by sales people until I found the best solution.” While he was able to protect his design, Zapf was denied the right to choose its name. “The sales manager of D. Stempel AG did decide on the name of the typeface,” continues Zapf. “My preference was Neu Antiqua, but this was rejected in favor of Optima.” Zapf designed Optima early in his career, when he had recognition as a gifted young designer – but not the eminence that precludes questioning.

First Optima Sketches
In 1950, Zapf was researching Italian typeface design at the Basilica di Santa Croce, in Florence, and happened upon an ancient Roman gravestone that would have been missed by most tourists and casual observers. The letters cut into the gravestone were unusual in that they lacked the traditional serifs. These delighted Zapf and appealed to his classic sense of design. The problem was that he had run out of drawing paper just prior to finding the gravestones. As a result, the first sketches for Optima were made on a 1,000-lire bank note.

Zapf worked on the design, refining character shapes and proportions for two years before he turned final drawings over to Stempel’s master punchcutter, who made the first test font. This was in 1952, but, because making fonts in metal was much more complicated and time-consuming than making fonts using current digital tools, it wasn’t until 1958 that Optima was made available as hand-set metal fonts. Matrices for the Linotype® typesetter took even more time and these were not made available until two years later.
Technical Limitations

Fonts for metal typesetters, such as the Linotype and Monotype® typesetters, had to be created in accordance with a crude system of predetermined character width values. Every letter had to fit within and have its spacing determined by a grid of only 18 units. This meant that if the ideal proportions of a particular character did not fit within a subset of these 18 units, it had to be designed so that it did. Type designers often made compromises from what they felt was an ideal shape to something that would work within the confines of the technology.

Because the Linotype typesetter used a “font magazine” to hold the matrices for the individual characters, and only one magazine could be put into the machine at a time, many Linotype faces were developed where the various members of the type family shared common character widths. While this allowed more than one typeface to be put into a single magazine, the unfortunate result was that italic designs had to be drawn wider and spaced more open than they should, and bold designs suffered in that they had to be drawn narrower than what would be ideal, full-bodied proportions. The first machine-set fonts of Optima suffered this fate.

Serifless Roman
Although Optima is almost always grouped with typefaces such as the Helvetica® and Gill Sans® designs, it should be considered a serifless roman. Compare it with typefaces like the Garamond and Centaur® designs, and you will find similar proportions, shapes and weight stress. Where these designs have serifs, however, Optima has a slight flaring of its stroke terminals.

Zapf considered making the flared terminals even more subtle than they are, but he noticed that metal fonts of sans serif typefaces tended to lose some of their crispness in the process of a lengthy press run. As a result, Zapf exaggerated the terminals somewhat to overcome this technical shortcoming.

True to its Roman heritage, Optima has wide, full-bodied characters – especially in the capitals. Only the “E,” “F” and “L” deviate with narrow forms. Consistent with other Zapf designs, the cap “S” in Optima appears slightly top-heavy with a slight tilt to the right. The “M” is splayed, and the “N,” like a serif design, has light vertical strokes. The lowercase “a” and “g” in Optima are two-storied designs.

Problematical Italic
One way Optima differs dramatically from serif types is in its italic letterforms. In the tradition of most sans serif designs, Zapf wanted his italic to be a sloped roman rather than a true cursive, but he also knew that this relatively simple design exercise (by current standards) would demand just as much time and effort as drawing a completely new design. While working on the basic roman design, Zapf heard of a typesetting studio in New York that was able to create seemingly magical distortions of letterforms through a photographic process.

Zapf contacted the studio, Photo-Lettering Inc., and asked if it would perform a little of its magic on his drawings for Optima. Photo-Lettering agreed, and the photo distortion it created saved Zapf hundreds of preliminary sketches and trial renderings.










Other Stressed Sans
Although the most successful, Optima was not the first serifless roman typeface. The Stellar typeface, designed by R. Hunter Middleton for the Ludlow Typograph Company in 1929, predates it by several decades. This face, however, makes a stronger calligraphic statement and was limited to display usage. Stellar has been revived for digital typesetting at both text and display sizes by Dave Farey for the Monotype typeface library and as the Stellar Classic design by Jim Spiece.

In 1960, José Mendoza drew the Pascal™ typeface for the Amsterdam type foundry – a design that clearly was influenced by Zapf’s earlier work. Other newer designs that pay homage to Optima are the Mentor™ Sans face, by Michael Harvey, and the Augustal™ Cursiva design, by Jean-Renaud Cuaz.

Optima Nova
More than 50 years after the first release of Optima, Zapf was provided the unusual opportunity to redraw the design for digital typesetting. In doing so, he was able to collaborate with Akira Kobayashi, type director for the Linotype Library. The design team seized the opportunity to undo the technical concessions made in earlier versions of the typeface. The two set about correcting all the inherent spacing and proportion problems that had been the result of metal typesetting techonology. They also drew a cursive italic, small capitals, condensed weights and a titling design to round out the Optima family: a full range of weights from very light to very bold, in roman, condensed and italic, as well as small caps and old style numerals. The result was released as the “Optima nova®” typeface family in 2003.

Using Optima
Optima can be set within a wide choice of line spacing values – from very tight to very open. In fact, there are virtually no limits to the amount of white space that can be added between lines of text. As an example, Zapf once created an exceptionally lovely and highly readable book using Optima set 9 on 24 point.

Optima also benefits from a wide range of letterspacing capability. It can be set quite tight, with spacing as established by Linotype, or even letterspaced. If there are any guidelines, Optima should be set more open than tight. It’s not that readability is affected that much when Optima is set on the snug side; it’s just that the unhurried elegance and light gray color created by the face are disrupted by letters that are set too tight.

Optima is also about as gregarious as a typeface can be. It mixes well with virtually any serif design and a surprisingly large number of sans serif faces.

The Optima typeface is an excellent communicator, and the added benefit is that it does so with beauty and grace.






Augustal and Mentor are trademarks of Monotype Imaging Inc. and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Centaur and Gill Sans are trademarks of The Monotype Corporation registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. Helvetica is a trademark of Linotype Corp. registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions in the name of Linotype Corp. or its licensee Linotype GmbH. Optima and Optima Nova are trademarks of Linotype GmbH registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. Pascal ND is a trademark of Neufville Digital.

Article from "Illuminating Letters", number four, October 2009
by by Monotype Imaging