Marlene is an elegant, high contrast Egyptian face with a distinctive and contemporary calligraphic flourish. When I first saw it I was impressed at how incredibly crisp it was, as if drawn with a pen so sharp it could just as easily cut the paper as leave ink there.
The italic expresses this sharpness with a wonderful sense of speed; those beautiful thin upstrokes and unusually high connection points of the bowls on a, g and y, and the standout exuberance of the k feel as if it can’t wait to get you moving on to the next letter, with the stark horizontal of the terminal serif seemingly flinging you onward. The horizontal serifs along the x-height and baseline also create strong lines that add yet more of a sense of urgency and pace to text set with it. This face isn’t hanging around for anyone.
The face is contrasty too, not just of the thick and thin of upstrokes and downstrokes, but of the speed and sudden direction changes that give this face such quirky character and appeal. The regular ‘a’ is unusual in carrying through such a heavy serif from more open characters like the ‘c’ and ‘r’, and as a result ends up with a tiny counter that successfully keeps the character balanced. It’s a sign of the quality of overall design in this face that such a conceit not only works well but adds a distinctive and appealing character. I think the face is a great release and while it’d work well for body copy, especially for magazines and short copy, it will really shine in a display setting.
Aegir Hallmundur is a designer and illustrator living and working near Brighton on the south coast of England. He also runs The Ministry of Type, a website mainly about type and sometimes calligraphy, illustration, architecture and photography, and which doesn't get updated nearly enough these days.