The double life of a typeface

The latest pocket familiar from Four Corners Books is Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda, illustrated by Mireille Fauchon. As with its books to date, design is paramount but, for this release, it’s the bespoke typeface Rudy that really shines

The latest pocket familiar from Four Corners Books is Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda, illustrated by Mireille Fauchon. As with its books to date, design is paramount but, for this release, it’s the bespoke typeface Rudy that really shines…

The face is used for the book’s title pages and chapter headings and was designed by John Morgan and Adrien Vasquez.

Cleverly it echoes the book’s theme of doppelgängers, which is also implied through a doubling up of title plates on the cover (one is a hologram, a nice take on the notion of authenticity). To create the Rudy typeface, Morgan explains, “the distortion of each letterform is rationalised to a twice vertical repeat.”

Rudy is named after King Rudolf Rassendyll of Ruritania from the story (and after one of Morgan’s sons) and was apparently an attempt to give the book’s pages the texture of Blackletter. Morgan also cites the typographic experiments of Raymond Hains as a direct influence on the work.

While beautifully realised, Rudy is also a great example of a book design that complements its subject matter. It works really well with Fauchon’s work, too, and a series of colour plates, folded into the book, add to its handmade appearance.

Apparently, after completing the work, the typographers had to create a final symbol, one that readers wouldn’t even see in the text: they realised they required a double @, for the email address on the book launch invitations.

The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope, the seventh in the series of Four Corners Familiars, is available now from Four Corners Books; £9.99.

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