Carolyn Porter was combing an antique store in Minnesota for inspiration for a typeface when she stumbled upon a bundle of World War II era letters. Carolyn was "immediately drawn to their beautifully expressive pen-and-ink handwriting".
I believe curiosity is one of any creatives greatest attributes and after noticing all the letters were sent from Berlin During the war Carolyn's inquisitiveness lead her to translate the beautiful script from French to learn more about their writer as she set about designing the typeface. Reading the translation transported Carolyn to a different time and place - she was shocked to discover her Muse was writing home from a Nazi labour camp.
"Marcel was a French forced labourer, one of a relatively small group of civilians sent to Germany to “backfill” the labour need after German men were sent to the eastern or western fronts to fight. Marcel’s letters were written to his wife and three daughters, who, as it turned out, were waging their own battle for survival in rural France. Marcel’s handwritten letters are filled with both tender words of love and brutal descriptions of survival inside the camp. He wrote about boiling veal bones, seeking shelter from an aerial bombing, constant hunger, and clothes that were falling apart."
P22 type foundry creates computer typefaces inspired by Art & History, they have a strong catalogue of revivals and period inspired faces and were the perfect foundry to distribute Marcel... "The font Marcel is named in honour of Marcel Heuzé, a Frenchman who was conscripted into labour during World War II. During the months Marcel was in Germany, he wrote letters to his beloved wife and daughters back home in rural France. Marcel’s letters contain rare first-person testimony of day-to-day survival within a labour camp, along with the most beautiful expressions of love imaginable. The letters — stained and scarred with censor marks — were the original source documents used by designer Carolyn Porter to create a script font that retains the expressive character of Marcel Heuzé’s original handwriting."
The Marcel Script Family took Carolyn 12 years to design, develop and release - it became a labour of love - contains 6 styles, more than 1300 glyphs and eloquently reflects the look of ink on paper. The fonts also feature more than 200 postmarks, cancellation and censor marks, and other embellishments found within the original bundle of letters and documents. Marcel has received multiple awards and honours, from: New York Type Director’s Club, a Certificate for Typographic Excellence; Communication Arts magazine; Print magazine; and AIGA-Minnesota. Marcel was also selected for the international 2015 Project Passion exhibition. You can grab yourself a Letterpress Poster Free with Purchase of Marcel Script Family (while supplies last).
But for Carolyn honouring Marcel Heuzé with her award winning typographic design work was not enough. She wanted to know more about this mysterious man, Who was Marcel? Why had he been in Berlin? She wanted to know how the cache of beautiful letters came to be in Minnesota and "most importantly, whether he ever returned to his beloved wife and daughters after the war." Did he survive?
Carolyn's new book “Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate (Skyhorse Publishers, June 2017)." - is the result of years of research. Documenting both the type design process and her increasingly desperate search to uncover the mystery of Marcel’s fate during WWII, seeking answers across Germany, France, and the United States. "The chapters of the book go back and forth between the design of the font, and piecing together answers about Marcel, one puzzle piece at a time."
This book is a love story, a history-mystery, and full of lots of geeky type design goodness too. Currently, available to pre-order via Amazon (I have ordered my copy from there and I cant wait to read it!) as am desperate to find out what happened to Marcel. Carolyn did mention that the publisher has secured other distribution rights so I am really hopeful this will be available in book stores down under soon too - in which case I will be sure to update you on options for availability!