Where no font review has gone before…
Although invented writing systems are not an alien concept, ones for cultures that don’t actually exist are rather rare. Thankfully, that didn’t stop the cosmically inventive Jeremy Tankard from designing not one but three styles of Queezoid for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. The Queezies are a decidedly cuddly alien race that infiltrates the hospital, leaving its mark — literally.
The Queezoid script is essentially a direct mapping of the English letters (with the nice bonus of many ligated forms), which might make it feel like a cop-out. Crucially, though, this renders it decipherable: one can imagine the delight of children naturally curious about the aliens, working to read their writing, giddily sharing their results.
Nonetheless, it might be difficult to justify writing a review for a typeface with no actual users. Especially since an earthling might be accused of appropriating a non-Earth writing system. But there are unique insights to be gained from observing how people, including fellow designers, approach such a project, and the results it yields. The Sans style, for example, feels a bit corporate, arguably reflecting our expectation that functionality is connected to the commercial; while the Hand style is allowed to be more endearing, especially with its unpredictable weight contrast (somewhat reminiscent of the designer’s own Fenland). The illustrations of the Queezies reveal that they do have hands, but thankfully theirs seem to work differently than ours!
Orbiting those two styles of Queezoid is a component named Earth, with conventional Latin capitals only — but affording five variants of each letter, to make it look more spontaneous. Quite charmingly, the Latin glyphs of this style are less accomplished than the two “native” styles; needless to say, the aliens are not as proficient at a script that’s alien to them!
But the icing on the cake is the otherworldly level of attention afforded to something with imaginary users. Tankard meticulously studied numerous non-Latin scripts (such as Burmese) as well as invented ones (like Pollard) to acquire a grasp of how he might visualize writing that’s just as alien to himself. He furthermore produced multiple documents with various levels of detail on the genesis and development of the project. There’s even a bibliography! You can feel the joy he harbored while trekking through this adventure — the inspired and inspiring spirit of design.