Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Helvetica Black and the Colon Conspiracy

'Meet Helvetica Black, a maverick typeface who doesn’t play by the rules.
In downtown Geneva, glyphs are starting to disappear, and when a courier turns up dead, ligatures slashed, trouble starts brewing at the foundry. Pretty soon, Helvetica’s swamped by myriad problems, with a pangram missing, the monospace sabotaged, old-style heavies roaming the city, and rumours of upheaval in Cambria and Georgia. 
The futura’s looking grim.'

That’s the jacket blurb for the first Helvetica Black mystery, The Colon Conspiracy, a gritty thriller from the pen of Italo Garamond, the bestselling author of Pantone’s Labyrinth. In celebration of a major new player in the font-based detective genre, I’ve got an exclusive extract from near the start of the book, just as things start to get nasty.

'Helvetica took the ascender up to the top floor, shoved open the door and strode into the room. The walls were spattered with ink, and there was a font lying sprawled on the floor, typeface down. It was hot, and she wished she hadn't worn a hat as well as a jacket. Detective Lucida Roman was already there, dusting for prints. She scowled at Helvetica.
“What took you so long?” 
Feeling a spot of colour rush to her cheeks, Helvetica took off her small cap and explained. “Somebody’s blown up that bookshop by the beach.”
Lucida thought for a moment. “The one that sells graphic novels?”
“Yeah – Comic Sands.”
“Must have been a pretty heavy impact.”
Helvetica grimaced and tried not to think of the scene. “There were text bodies everywhere. I think Tahoma Blackletter’s mixed up in it, but I can’t prove anything.” She nodded at the corpse. “What’s the story here?”
Lucida narrowed her eyes. “Jenson’s dead, and it’s a pro job.”
“How the hell?” Demanded Helvetica.
“It’s a long story.”
“Give me the condensed version.”
Lucida looked down at the dead letters, her face grim. “Looks like somebody’s shot the serif."'


  1. Dude, you can't write stuff like this... I was laughing and started searching all over the internet thinking this was based on a real book, a book of typography puns. But alas, it is a facade-- seems pun books for typographers is a niche market. :/ Great funny piece of writing though!

  2. Wow, I'd more or less forgotten about this! Thank you for your kind words. For what it's worth, I really wish someone would do a whole book of typography puns, too. It would be a bold move.