Modern Gothic

by AllCaps

Modern Gothic is an all-purpose typeface with American roots, suitable for a wide range of applications, from subway signage to baseball headlines. The family follows a graded, hourglass-shaped model in terms of widths – the regular weight intended for typesetting long texts has been made narrower, while the black and thin cuts are wider for more display-oriented applications. This allows typographers to create efficient copy-fit sections using the medium and light cuts, while preserving the original gothic flavour in the extreme styles for moments where it can flex its strong character. Within the family, there is only one interpolation, each weight being fine-tuned for its intended use.

Grotesques originated in Europe and their distorted counterparts in the US were named gothics. Gothic Modern was an early attempt, released circa 1895 by Chicago type foundry Barnhart Brothers and Spindler.¹ Since gothics were first utilised as headlines in newspapers and on broadsides, quirks were likely welcomed as a way to garner attention. However these same oddities harsh the flow in text sizes, and certainly do not meet contemporary drawing standards. Some characters from this genre turned into celebrities, refined over generations and later got work in the telecommunication industry;² this was not the case for Gothic Modern, which was left forgotten in a dusty book in Chi-Town, until…

In 2016 the process of synthesising the ’merican roughness of Gothic Modern into Modern Gothic was initiated. Bentzen has skillfully navigated the classic challenge in type design – how to keep the sauce pungent, without preservatives; dropping a sans in 2021, sans an expiration date? The capitals have been optically corrected to avoid the classically heavy caps typical of the genre, at the same time preserving their character by maintaining their wide-set frame inherited from the gothic style, and perhaps, a mid-western American diet. I’ll have the wings, the deep dish, and an XL Coke. No body shaming (today is my cheat day, we hit the gym tomorrow), and also – I was born this way – born in the USA.



Malte Bentzen



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