Yesterday I stopped by the H-110 auditorium at Concordia University’s Hall Building, a room I haven’t been to in a few years, to see the local premiere of Helvetica, the movie. It’s a surprisingly fascinating and well-done documentary about one of the world’s most prolific fonts, with tons of pictures of signs and logos that use it and conversations with type designers (like Hermann Zapf of Zapf Dingbats fame and Matthew Carter, who created Verdana and my personal favourite Georgia).
The surprising thing about both the movie and its presentation was how funny it was (granted, the room was filled with geeks so it might not be so universally funny). The designers (type and otherwise) all had differing opinions on Helvetica, calling it ubiquitous, genius and boring. You couldn’t help but laugh at how absolute they were about their opinions.
To add to the fun, the screening staff had t-shirts that read “Helveticrew” and there was a small group of Arial enthusiasts in the crowd (they were playfully booed as they were announced and again as one of them won the first door prize – a Helvetica movie poster).
What got much fervent applause was the line right after the Arial introduction:
“We’ve stopped the Comic Sans people at the door.”
P.S. There really were a librarian, an archivist and a graphic designer among the people I knew at the screening. The librarian and designer are sisters, for what it’s worth.