The Fonthead (An Epic, of sorts)

Even if I’m lucky enough to be in that generation that gets to live past a hundred and twenty, I doubt I will ever reconcile myself to fonts. I love fonts–I’ve been doing graphic design now for the better part of a decade. Titles, book covers, book layouts, pamphlets, movie posters–you can’t get away from fonts for defining the look and feel of something with words on it.

So, fonts are cool.


Well, fonts are weird. I laid out a cover for a short story earlier this week, and this particular story needed a different font-ish approach than I normally take with the covers for my short stories. Finding the right font involved typing the relevant text at the appropriate sizes, and then cycling through my font database.

Let me tell you, if you want to have a transcendental experience, there’s not a lot you could do that would be more effective than testing fonts.

I’ve had the name “J. Daniel Sawyer” since I was ten–before that, I had varients of the first and middle name, trying to find something that fit, but I found the fit when I discovered the joy of stylized signatures. It’s just fun to have that first initial hanging out there on its own, as if daring the universe to unravel what it’s hiding under the period that follows.

But cycling through fonts, narrowing the field, it occurred to me that “Daniel” is just a really, really weird looking name. I mean, what’s with that “a?” And the “ie” near the end, doesn’t that seem like overkill in the vowel department? And why had I never noticed before that “Daniel” is an anagram for “D. Alien?” And, while we’re at it, the space between the letters in a non-proportional font looks a little…suspicious. Like the “i” and the “l” are social rejects, the rest of the letters edging away from them like they’ve got really bad gas. And, for the love of all that’s holy, how could anyone think that a word that looks THAT weird be a real name?

But soft! I thought Maybe that’s the zen of the thing. The name is just a label. It has no meaning–I mean, really, why would an atheist need a name that means “God is my judge” or “Justice from God?” I’m not exactly expecting a final judgment, and I certainly don’t need a divine mandate to dollop out justice upon the annoying. This name is a kind of cosmic irony. Yes, that’s it! Names are a joke, meant to mislead people who read too many bad paraphrases of The Golden Bough . Calling myself “Daniel” instead of “Loki” is surely a feeble attempt at humor. Names are really just labels to distinguish the illusion of identity from the background chaos that forms the universal consciousness!

I was down to the Zs in the font selection tree, so I eased myself out of my meditative state and wondered if I hadn’t accidentally stumbled on the true secret of the universe. If I could find a way to put it on a T-shirt, I thought I could be the next Depak Chopra! Low overhead…high profits…and I’d get to use the word “Quantum” a lot…Such possibilities!

It was at this point that I realized that the temperature had climbed north of 80 degrees and I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since waking up five hours before. I grabbed some tea and a packet of nori and settled back down to work, surprised to find that my name no longer looked like the projection of an alien face through my computer screen.

Just goes to show you that the yogis were on to something: Fast long enough, and you’ll get transcendental visions. And for an antidote to the visions, just reach for a picnic basket!

If you find this post entertaining, please consider buying a copy of any of the books you’ll find listed in the right sidebar. Writing is how I make my living–I enjoy it and would like to keep it up!

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  1. Hoopy Freud (Formerly Kilroy)

    Very true, Daniel-san…

  2. No. It was suggested to me by a friend on IRC, when my usual name (which WAS HoopyFrood) was taken. I have since adopted it.

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