Steven Heller’s Font of the Month: Moron

When I hear the name Jonathan Barnbrook, it conjures up a selection of his typeface designs that are guaranteed to piss someone off. He was the original bad boy of digital type and typography, either for his arrogance (Manson/Mason), politics (Exocet), sarcasm (Comics/Cartoon), or ballsy irreverence (Explicative Script). Of course, the font names are also trigger points. However, as a recovering reactionary modernist, who once critiqued his rebeliousness, today I praise Barnbrook’s devil-may-care attitude and acute ingenuity.

Moron typeface in action. Designed by Jonathan Barnbrook & Marcus Leis Allion.

The font that tickled my increasing openness to new, quirky, and eclectic fontography is called Moron, a highly charged derisive word that is a label for a cognitively challenged person, as in “You have to be a moron [or moronic] to use this decidedly convoluted design”—or “What kind of moron would design it in the first place”? Well, if I may speak for all us morons who enjoy rule-breaking typographics, I would spec it for the various delightful tweaks, including what Barnbrook says are personality traits broadly inspired by the show-off display wood and metal Victorian epoch faces.

Moron typeface in action. Designed by Jonathan Barnbrook & Marcus Leis Allion.

There are indeed some terrific variations: Although few of these letters were made to work together as ligatures, there are some novel lettering convolutions. Particularly outrageous are the “A”, “G”,  “H”, “L” and “N”. Starting with the last letter, “N”, nothing in the entire alphabet prepares one for this otherwise normal “N” with a big bump in the diagonal crossbar. What about the “A”? This design resembles a familiar picnic table. But to truly appreciate the playful curiosities of the font, the user can position any of the silly letters in the midst of a sentence of worlds with comparatively normal letters; i.e., letters such as “L”, “Q”, “M’, “Y”  and “K” each with an alternative character that will be nothing like anything used before, even during those quirk-filled vintage Victorian days at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Font of the Month: Moron
Designers: Jonathan Barnbrook & Marcus Leis Allion Foundry: Barnbrook Fonts

Steven Heller is nothing short of a legend in the design community. Award-winning graphic designer, author and editor of hundreds of books (yes, 100s!) and one of the world’s foremost authorities on graphic design history; and arguably its best design commentator. Follow Steven on the must-read The Daily Heller and read his latest book, Growing Up Underground: A Memoir of Counterculture New York.

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