cover image What the Font?! A Manga Guide to Western Typeface

What the Font?! A Manga Guide to Western Typeface

Kuniichi Ashiya, trans. from the Japanese by Jocelyne Allen. Seven Seas, $13.99 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-64505-639-3

Ashiya delightfully anthropomorphizes typefaces in a manga that’s equal parts magical-realist narrative and desktop reference guide for typographic designers. Amateur designer Marusu travels through the imaginary world of personified typefaces, guided in part by Helvetica, the “highly versatile king of typefaces” (and in which most of the reference material that accompanies each page’s strip is set). As Marusu delves deeper into the world of font, she meets typefaces whose character designs incorporate their real functionality and histories—Arial is shy about being born as a Helvetica knockoff, Times New Roman’s represented as a college lecturer, and Caslon wears her hair thicker on one side to represent the differing widths of her strokes. The manga takes its influence from Himaruya’s Hetalia series (though amusingly the Japanese original was published as Tonari no Helvetica or “My Neighbor Helvetica,” a sly Miyazaki reference). Ashiya’s nerdy, pun-filled sense of humor is a joy and a pleasant counterpoint to the well-sourced reference material. This one’s a no-brainer for lighthearted manga fans and design and publishing professionals alike. (Nov.)